November 30, 2009

Cyber Monday: Christmas Book Pre-orders and Christmas Shorts Ebooks

Christmas is coming, so what's better than a book or something fun to read?

** Coming Dec. 5: "Christmas at the North Pole Compound" - It's a crime wave and Chief Elf Investigator Finius Flaherty is on the case. Can he find the missing gifts - and save Christmas? Coming to Echelon Shorts. For some Christmas cheer, come back here tomorrow for The 12 Days of Christmas in Miniature, with links to mine and other great stories.

* Pre-Order The Bitter End: Tales of Nautical Terror at

A collection of horror and other stories related to the sea from Pill Hill Press.

In my story, "My Dear Mrs. Jones," a woman in Victorian times faces financial disaster, but a mysterious suitor offers a way for her to save her family.

TIMESHARES Time Travel anthology from DAW Books: visitors to this (time) travel agency get to take the trip of a lifetime.

In my story, "A Night to Forget," a woman visits an exhibit on the Titanic that is more real than she ever expected.

* PRE-ORDER The Bitter End: Tales of Nautical Terror at

November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving! Enjoy every single bite!

* If you like to make your own turkey (in miniature!), here's a great tutorial at the Mini Food Blog.

November 24, 2009

Preview: The Bitter End anthology cover

Very cool looking cover for The Bitter End: Tales of Nautical Terror anthology coming out in December from Pill Hill Press. It includes my story, "My Dear Mrs. Jones" by C.A. Verstraete.

(The skeletons in my miniature haunted house are clamoring to read this too!) haa!
Link coming soon!

November 23, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving in Miniature

Since everyone will be busy Thursday with their own turkey, I figured I'd share my miniature Thanksgiving table today.

The food was made by other collectors in a miniatures food swap several years ago. I forgot I had the items and finally dug them out a few weeks ago.

The cabinet is an antique medicine cabinet hanging on my kitchen wall.

I had originally papered the walls yellow, but decided to tack in different paper backgrounds on each shelf to match the holiday. I think it looks much better.

There is a dark scratched paint look for Halloween at the bottom; gold pattern paper for Thanksgiving in the center; and a green print for Christmas on the top shelf.

It's a good way to share a few miniatures that would be sitting in a box until the holidays. I'll share the other shelves on another day.

* Do you have a special holiday display or an all-seasons display at your house? What is it?

November 18, 2009

New Story Coming in The Bitter End by Pill Hill Press

I've been a busy little bee! Another story has been accepted, (yay!) this time to The Bitter End: Tales of Nautical Terror anthology, to be published by Pill Hill Press.

My story, "My Dear Mrs. Jones" is set in Victorian times and involves a woman's mysterious suitor, Mr. D. Jones, and her financial decision on how to save her family. (Hint: I loved the pirate movies. ha!)

Here's the lineup from the Pill Hill Press blog:

Titles (in no particular order):
With Open Arms by Patrick Rutigliano
Deadliest Cachalot by Jameson T. Caine
Drift by Lucas Pederson
Food Chain by Laura Eno
Between the Devil and the Deep by Sam Battrick
Wellenkrieg by Stephen D. Rogers
The Beastie of Loch Dhu by John McCuaig
Sirens' Folly by Jessica A. Weiss
The Occurrence Out At Sea by Jacob Henry Orloff
Black Gold by Christopher Jacobsmeyer
Hanover's Gold by Kelly M. Hudson
Driftwood by Michelle Bredeson
Blood for Passage by Miles Boothe
The Revel by Allen Wise
Blackbeard's Ragnarok by Alva J. Roberts
Last One Standing by Anthony Giangregorio
The Thing in the Crosshairs by Anne Maclachlan
My Dear Mrs. Jones by C.A. Verstraete
Lifeboat by Joel Arnold
Welcome to the Hotel Marianas by Mike Chinn
Last Vacation by Kassi Shimek
The World in Strips by D. Nathan Hilliard
Flotsam by Scott Harper
The Devil Hunger by Bill Ward
Those Left Behind by Flora Winters

November 17, 2009

Got a Kindle? How about Kindle ebooks for your PC?

The ebook war is getting hotter, with ebook readers like B&N's Nook being listed as "the" hot new Christmas gift this year.

But Amazon jumped ahead with what seems logical: a Kindle app for your pc.

Now almost anyone can read Kindle ebooks on their computer, well at least a pc, as well as IPhone and IPod Touch. Apps are also expected soon for Mac, Blackberry, and Droid users. Is there anyone left after that?

Think it's a good idea? Bad idea? Indifferent?

Consider this:
* The Kindle store offers more than 373,000 ebooks.
* There's a free daily new Kindle book offering and plenty of free classics. Can't beat that.

* Yes my kid's book is in Kindle:

* Searching for A Starry Night

* Other ebooks to try:

COMING SOON - Christmas at the North Pole Compound - someone's tampering with the Christmas gifts... can Chief Elf Investigator Finius Flaherty find the Grinch -- and save Christmas? See ebooks for details.

November 12, 2009

New Short Story coming in Timeshares Anthology

In my new story, "A Night to Forget," by C.A. Verstraete, a woman's dream of visiting an exhibit of items from the RMS Titanic gives her a closer look at the fabled ship than she ever expected.

The short story will be published in the TIMESHARES anthology from DAW books, coming March 2, 2010. The book is available for pre-order, see link below.

About the book: Sixteen original stories about taking your dream vacation-in any era you desire.

Take a vacation through time with the help of a Time Travel Agency offering excursions into the past and future. Readers will find themselves in exotic, adventurous locales-and in all manner of trouble and mysteries. And figures from the past will be able to squeak by the other way.

Picture Cleopatra in modern-day New York City, or Hannibal searching for elephants at Wisconsin's Circus World. And that's just the beginning of the thrills and danger...

November 11, 2009

Guest author: Fiona Ingram, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab

Today we welcome Fiona Ingram, author of the fascinating children's book, THE SECRET OF THE SACRED SCARAB. See her tips below for turning kids into successful readers.

In THE SECRET OF THE SACRED SCARAB, a 5,000-year-old mystery comes to life when a scruffy peddler gives Adam and Justin Sinclair an old Egyptian scarab on their very first day in Egypt. Only when the evil Dr. Faisal Khalid shows a particular interest in the cousins and their scarab do the boys realize they are in terrible danger.

Dr. Khalid wants the relic at all costs. Justin and Adam embark upon the adventure of a lifetime as they search for the legendary tomb of the Scarab King, an ancient Egyptian ruler. They are plunged into a whirlpool of hazardous and mysterious events when Dr. Khalid kidnaps them.

Surviving various dangers in a hostile environment, the boys must translate the scarab's hieroglyphic clues plus rescue a missing archaeologist and their friend before time runs out.

Turning Children into Successful Readers
By Fiona Ingram

Any parent who is an avid reader will have already thanked their parents for getting them started on the road to reading.

Through the magical world of storytelling, children learn, experience emotions, and begin to understand the world within as well as the world around them. But, in an age dominated by digital entertainment, how does the somewhat "old-fashioned" habit of reading for enjoyment develop in a child?

It’s all up to you, the parent, to ignite that spark within your child and it’s a lot easier than you think.

* Capture and keep your child’s attention by projecting reading as the most interesting thing anyone can ever do. Make the reading process a fun, desirable activity by using creative ways to incorporate books into your child’s daily life.

* Get enthusiastic about books for starters. At meal times, chat to everyone about what you’re reading and how much you’re enjoying it. Children love to share things with their parents and even if the idea of books isn’t exactly what they had in mind, they’ll go along with you … and that’s all you need.

* Go shopping for things to do with books: words, games and puzzles. Most book shops are laid out in an interesting way with loads of gloriously exciting book covers, posters, display tables, etc. Browse with your child and then make him or her part of the experience by asking, “What do you think of this?” or “What would you like to buy?” Often shops give away postcards or bookmarks related to a particular book they’re promoting. On your book expeditions make sure to purchase, not just browse.

* If your child is not quite ready to dive into something bulky, start small with a board game involving words. Scrabble is an old favorite, for excellent reasons. Set up a family challenge night with team Mom and one child versus team Dad and someone else. Make popcorn, keep proper scores, and offer a prize for the winner—a book gift voucher, of course.

* Once your child starts seeing books in a positive light, empower him or her by suggesting they spend that voucher. You can recommend titles but ultimately praise your child’s choice.

* Go one step further by making special space in your child’s room for their own bookshelf with encouragement about filling it in no time at all.

* Ask family members and friend to give books, book vouchers or appropriate age magazine subscriptions as birthday or other gifts.

* Movies are a fabulous tool for getting a child interested in a book. One splendid book-turned-movie is Road to Terebithia—a moving and creative look at the power of children’s imagination. The Spiderwick Chronicles is another excellent choice. Of course you’ll have to purchase and read the book together because (as everyone knows) they can’t put everything in the film. The initial visual stimulus will certainly be enough to get your child wanting to read up on the characters and action.

* Read together as a family. The experience brings everyone together in a wonderful spirit of sharing. Put on funny voices, get your child to read particular passages, and look up difficult words together with a dictionary (kept handy for the occasion).

The joy of reading is infectious and if parents are exuberant in their attitude towards books, the child will soon follow.

About the Author:

South African author Fiona Ingram developed a passion for Egypt at age eight after her mother gave her the Time Life book, Ancient Egypt. That passion led to a trip to Egypt with her two nephews, a short story about her Egyptian adventures, and ultimately her first book for children, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab--the first in the "Chronicles of the Stone" series.

* Finalist, children's fiction, 2009 USA Next Generation Indie Book Awards and 2009 USA National Best Books Awards.

November 10, 2009

Green Books Campaign: 100 Bloggers Today: Review - The Simple Little Vegan Dog Book

THE SIMPLE LITTLE VEGAN DOG BOOK, Cruelty Free Recipes for Canines by Michelle A. Rivera (Book Publishing Company, 2009)

If you are a vegan yourself or want to try a more plant-based diet for your canine pals, then this book provides plenty of good recipes to choose from.

With yummy-sounding names like Banana Nut Crunch Bars, Apple Puggly PupCakes, Rover's Risotto and Snickerpoodles, you might almost be tempted to try these treats yourself. And you probably can since they contain a range of nutritious ingredients from your own kitchen.

The book is informative, offering information from veterinarians (with warnings also), and tips on foods that are both good - and bad - for dogs. For instance, no nutmeg. Did you know it's linked to tremors and can be deadly to dogs? I didn't.

The author comes from a certain viewpoint blogging as "The Vegan Grandmother" at the PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) website, but the book is balanced, offering viewpoints and first person anecdotes from those who choose such a diet for its anti-cruelty stance, for nutritional reasons and for variety in the dog's diet.

A confession here: I'm a basic, bake it or nuke it kind of cook. I don't use cookbooks but many of the recipes are simple enough that even a mostly non-cook like me could make them. I might even try a few! (Well my dog will!) I give it 4 out of 4 bones!

Other highlights are a health survey on dogs fed a vegan diet versus commercial based diet; comprehensive lists of "people" foods that are beneficial to dogs and those that are harmful; dozens of recipes for biscuits and treats as well as more substantial fare.

(Note: this copy was received free for review purposes and will be passed on to someone else.)

As a sidenote, the publisher focuses on plant-based nutrition and cooking,including pioneering books in soyfoods cookery and raw foods cuisine. As a member of The Green Press Initiative, the publisher commits to printing a growing number of titles on postconsumer recycledand chlorine-free processed paper.


Today's feature was presented as part of the Green Books Campaign: 1 Day, 100 bloggers, 100 green books, 100 reviews.
Today, 100 bloggers are simultaneously publishing reviews of a "green" book of their choice. Organized by Eco-Libris, the campaign aims to encourage both publishers and readers to get greener and make sure books are printed responsibly. The event promotes “green” books printed on recycled or FSC-certified paper.

“Although there's so much hype around e-books, books printed on paper dominate the book market, and we want them to be as environmentally sound as possible,” explains Raz Godelnik, co-founder and CEO of Eco-Libris. “Very few books are currently printed responsibly and we hope this initiative will bring more exposure to “green” books. Through this campaign we want to encourage publishers to get greener and readers to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books.”

Over 35 publishers from the U.S. , Canada and the U.K. are taking part in this campaign, providing participating bloggers with their latest books printed on recycled paper and FSC certified paper for review.

** See participating blogs at the Eco-Libris website.

Read Green - Plant a Tree via Eco-Libris

Founded in 2007, Eco-Libris is a green company working to green up the book industry by promoting the adoption of green practices, balancing out books by planting trees, and supporting green books. Check the website for how to get involved.

To achieve this goal Eco-Libris is working with book readers, publishers, authors, bookstores and others in the book industry worldwide. So far, over 110,000 books ahve resulted in 120,000 new trees being planted in developing countries.

November 06, 2009

Celebrate National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week

Nov. 1-7 is National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week.

The event, launched in 1996 by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), honors the approximately 4,000 animal shelters across the United States serving an estimated 6-8 million homeless animals needing refuge each year. According to the HSUS, while 63 percent of American households include pets, only 10 percent of owned dogs and 18 percent of owned cats are adopted from animal shelters.

Police Adopt Shelter Dog

The Chicago Police Department recently found a way to help a shelter dog find a home and cut their own costs by adopting a shelter dog for the department's drug detection program.

Pantera, a 16-month-old black Labrador retriever, was rescued by police from the Chicago Ridge Animal Welfare League in May. After training in narcotics detection techniques, the dog began working last month with the Organized Crime Division, recovering drug evidence and assisting in executing search warrants.

Department officials have said they expect to continue working with animal shelters to adopt other shelter dogs.

Read more about the department's new dog.

November 03, 2009

Welcome to Nick Valentino, author of Steampunk novel, Thomas Riley!

Today, we enter an alternate universe, the world of THOMAS RILEY, (Quake/Echelon Press, Oct. 2009), a new Steampunk-adventure novel by author Nick Valentino.

For more than twenty years, West Canvia and Lemuria have been battling one another in a constant war.

From the safety of his laboratory, weapons designer Thomas Riley has cleverly and proudly empowered the West Canvian forces with his brilliant designs.

But when a risky alchemy experiment goes horribly wrong, Thomas and his wily assistant, Cynthia Bassett, are thrust onto the front lines of battle.

Forced into shaky alliances with murderous sky pirates in a deadly race to kidnap the only man who can undo the damage—the mad genius behind Lemuria's cunning armaments—Thomas' own genius is put to the ultimate test.

Miniature lovers stay tuned - you're in for a unique treat! But let Nick tell you:

"Quake/Echelon Press just released my new Steampunk adventure novel, THOMAS RILEY. What is Steampunk? I’ll show you.

"Ms. Verstraete has enabled me to write a blog on a more visual subject matter than my past few guest blogs. It’s easy to get lost in the dozens of posts about miniature things here. I literally just spent the last hour scrolling, gazing at all the fine detail of The 12 Days of Halloween in Miniature. (My favorite holiday by the way.)

"These amazing small recreations made me look up 'Steampunk miniatures.' And wow, did I find some good examples.

"This time instead of telling you what Steampunk is I’m going to show you… in miniature! "

Small Steampunk

Here is a wonderful example of Steampunk in miniature. Think Sherlock Holmes but with advanced technology all based on steam.

You’ll notice that this one has a little green creature on his shoulder.

If the genre of Steampunk is going to embellish on technology, why not everything else?

Steampunk Fashion

This is another nice example of Steampunk fashion and sense of adventure.

Here a man, complete with old world pipe, sports an African mask and stands atop a lion pelt.

Obviously this one is a safari hunter and explorer, a very prevalent subject matter in the genre.

Steampunk Villainy!

The Villain! Possibly a nemesis explorer holding a pointed parasol and three canopic jars.

You can tell right away that this fellow is up to no good and possibly has a very shady past.

Watch out for that dagger!

I usually only have fashion pictures or the cover of THOMAS RILEY to describe visually what Steampunk is, but this time we have some good third party examples. (Sculptures by Clavilier Gregory.)

The great thing about Steampunk is no one knows what it is until they see it.

Sure we can describe it as an alternative history with advanced technology, but you really get the picture when you see it for yourself.

If you enjoy debonair Sky Pirates, and high flying adventure, you will probably enjoy this genre. If you care to learn more, take a look at Thomas Riley’s website.

** BUY a signed copy from Nick.

** BUY from QUAKE