I’m delving into the world of indie publishing. Some authors go the quicker route and use a source like Kindle Direct to immediately get their books out there.

There’s nothing wrong going that route but I’ve decided to take a different path.



A writer ‘s life comes with so many challenges, it’s a wonder anyone makes it to becoming a published author. But I think most writers are well suited for the solitary life of putting words together to create something never heard of before. 

These past two weeks have been hard. There’s no denying the struggle which comes from having multiple writing deadlines but no way to meet them. My computer died two weekends ago and I’ve spent the past fourteen days fighting with different customer service departments. No one wanted to take responsibility for the fact I bought a brand new computer with two different warranties on it and now it crashed because of a defective hard drive. 

I know there were opportunities I missed because of a crashed computer…

  1. NANOWRIMO…I’ve been writing in a notebook but it’s not the same  and I have fallen horribly behind with my word count on LUNADAR: Candra’s Revenge. I probably won’t hit the 50,000 winning words, but any I write this month is more than I started the month with, so I’m okay with that.
  2. Critique group…My critique partners are expecting their November critiques by tomorrow but I couldn’t access their submissions to work on them. I finally have access again so that is one deadline I will only miss by a few days and I hope they will understand…
  3. Blog posts…I had to be REALLY creative to get last week’s posts done and lined up to drop every day when I had no access to my computer. Today I’ve spent most of the day working on all of next week’s posts so I can roll into my Thanksgiving weekend without the stress of creating those posts.

Fingers crossed, I’m setting up my new computer now and will be fully functional within the next few days. Then it’s full steam on book three and my critiques. I will also begin my search of an illustrator for my historical fiction chapter book series. Know any good illustrators? Send them my way…;)





I’m happy to announce the winner of week eight of my TWELVE WEEKS OF LUNADAR free giveaway! Laurie Kutscera has won the Yankee Candle fragrance locket. Thanks for following me on Twitter! Congratulations! Look for my email on how to get your prize…

Week Nine


***DON’T FORGET! It’s week nine of THE TWELVE WEEKS OF LUNADAR giveaway and this week you get a chance to accessorize your desk or nightstand with the cute doggie bookstand shown above! Just click on the pile of presents to the right of this post and choose how you would like to enter the FREE giveaway. Winners will be announced every Monday in my INDIE AUTHOR’S JOURNEY post!

***Also, both ebook and paperback versions of LUNADAR: Homeward Bound are on sale through the holidays! You can grab the ebook copy for just $1.99 and the paperback for $12.49 through Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Nook, Books A Million or dozens of other online retailers. Books make great Christmas gifts!


LUNADAR cover jpg


Ruler by day, a reluctant pirate by night, 18-year-old Princess Ariana fights for her subjects in the waterfall city of LUNADAR. In a kingdom surrounded by fairies and mermaids, and ravaged by deadly Drundles, only a chosen few are trusted to guard her daughter, Candra, as the secret heir to the throne.

But it only takes one ill-fated meeting for Ariana to suddenly be plunged into an escalating web of secrets found in her father’s journal, a deadly kidnapping, and an ever-weakening resolve to turn her back on the call of the merman’s song.

With Ariana’s world falling apart and the future of LUNADAR at stake, how will she bring her father’s murderer to justice and fulfill a deathbed promise to protect Lunadar’s legacy?




International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in ebook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.






Here is another post in my WRITERLY WISDOM series I first ran back in 2013. Five years later, I’ve updated the material and made sure it still applies to today’s writers. This week’s post is from children’s book author, Janee Trasler, on how to be able to tailor make a critique group…


Tailor-made Critique Groups
by Janee Trasler


Like Jim Averbeck, I count myself lucky to be a member of an excellent critique group. But don’t be fooled; it is by no means dumb luck. What I have is a tailor-made, suits-me-to-a-T critique group.

Unlike Jim, I was not lucky enough to find my perfect group on my first try. I had to shop around a bit before I knew exactly what I liked and needed in a critique group.

Once I had the answers, I just needed to ask the questions.


Who did I want in my group?


Some critique groups are made up of members who are at varying levels in their writing education and careers. This can work out really well. It gives the newer writers access to the more seasoned writers’ experience and gives the seasoned writers the chance to see how far they’ve come and to give a little back.
Other groups are made up of members who are all at a similar level, whether that be a total newbie, almost published, or published. This type allows the members to grow together and offers an equal level of confidence across the board.

I knew I wanted a group of writers at a similar level, so I chose to ask people who were all represented by the same literary agency but by different agents. I figured this would keep it all in-house and make the sharing of information easier. At the same time, we would avoid any hurt feelings if an agent spent more time with one writer than another.


What did I want my group to be about?


I’ve been in groups that have writers from board books to YA, and I’ve been in groups that stick to one genre. Both have merit and it is strictly a matter of personal taste.

I know I am not equipped to comment on novels (and you can only say, “Yup, I like it.” so often before your critique group also realizes how little you know about writing novels), so I opted to ask writers who write picture books/board books.


Where would we meet?


In-person groups allow for more socialization. You can bring along a book you’ve found, break bread, and just get to hang with other writers.

Online groups, which allow you to critique at your own convenience, give you the opportunity to really study a submission before you comment. They are easier to fit into a busy schedule and don’t require geographical closeness to the other members.

I’m an online type of gal. I like to read a manuscript several times before I comment, and I like to get feedback in writing. It makes revising much easier for me.


How big?


Just how many members should you invite? This is an important question because it dictates how much time you devote to critiques.

I prefer a smaller group, so I invited three other people.

Once all had been invited and inducted (Oh, you don’t even want to know about the initiation ritual we all had to go through. Let’s just same some of us look better in lampshades than others.), we still had a few logistical questions to answer:


When would we meet and submit work?


This is heavily influenced by whether you meet in-person or online.

I’ve been in critique groups where members just submitted whenever they had something, and I’ve been in groups run like a military boot camp. It’s up to you how often you meet or submit work, but I’ve found having a set schedule helps me get work done.

As a group, we chose to have a designated member submit work on the first four Tuesdays of each month. (I’m Third Tuesday Girl.) The other three members have until the following Tuesday to send comments.

Life gets in the way sometimes, and we’ve been known to swap a Tuesday here or there. We also try to remain flexible as to what you can submit. If we don’t have a complete draft ready, we can submit what we have and ask for brainstorming help. I’ve also been known to sneak in two board books instead of one picture book.


How would we submit and critique work?


This is one area where I feel online groups have the advantage over in-person. It’s so much easier to read and comment on manuscripts online.

We send our work in MS Word format in my group and use the comments feature to put our feedback right in the document.

After all these tough questions where answered, we found ourselves right back to “Who?”
Who are we?

We are:

Kim Norman (
Tammi Sauer (

Janee Trasler (

Jessica Young (
We are the PBJeebies, and since we joined forces seven and a half years ago, we have collectively sold numerous books.

My critique group suits me to a T. It ought to; it was tailor-made.


Janee Trasler.jpg

Janee Trasler is the author-illustrator of eight books for kids, including the board book series for HarperCollins, BEDTIME FOR CHICKIES.



Here is another post in my WRITERLY WISDOM series I first ran back in 2013. Five years later, I’ve updated the material and made sure it still applies to today’s writers. This week’s guest blogger is the award-winning children’s book author, Jim Averbeck, who shows us how to create a successful critique group.


The 5 Cs of a Successful Critique Group
By Jim Averbeck


I am a very lucky writer. With some friends, I founded a critique group, the Revisionaries, in 1998 and that group is still going strong. When we started we were all unpublished and just learning the craft. Now everyone in the group is multi-published by prestigious houses. I’ve lost track of the awards, honors, stars, and  contracts we have under our collective belt. And I marvel at the longevity of the group. So, how did we manage to stick around long enough to find success? I give  you the 5 Cs of an accomplished critique group.




One of the most important things my group did was to make it clear from the beginning that we had high expectations of anyone who joined. Members were expected to pursue their writing education by signing up for classes, attending conferences, and reading extensively, both craft books and current and classic bestsellers. We expected people to come to the meetings, whether they had work or not. We expected participation and cooperation as we all strove to find our voice and our place in the industry.




Once we found people who met our expectations, we very explicitly made them commit to the hard work ahead of us. There were no formal rituals- no killing of chickens or drinking of blood – but we did have a very formal meeting where we outlined our goals, both those of the group and our individual goals. We made this a yearly custom. Each year around Christmas we set aside our stories and reimagine what we want to do with our work and our creative lives. We commit to following through (and talk about how we did the previous year.) This might sound a bit grim, but we float our goals on a sea of wine and good food, so it’s really something to which we look forward.




This is the fun part. The part all writers and illustrators live for: the spark of ideas, the bringing together of words and sentences (or lines and colors for our illustrators). And, of course, the sharing of what we made.



This may sound like a no-brainer. Of course your critique in a critique group. But I have been surprised to hear many stories of crit groups that become mutual admiration societies, or moan and groan sessions, or just fun parties. Sure it is important to support each other and to listen to each other vent on issues in the industry. But ultimately you are there to help each other improve your work. It’s time to put on your big boy (or girl) pants, grow a thick skin, and listen to what people are telling you. You’ll find that each person has something at which they specialize. This one is great at finding just the right word. That one is superb at pinning down the emotional heart of your story. Another knows every punctuation rule in the book. Learn to listen. You needn’t take all the advice given, but you should consider it all.




This is the other fun part. When someone sells a book, or wins an award, or gets a starred review, take the time to celebrate. Buy a cake. Do a dance. Have a party. And most importantly – pop open the champagne.

Because that is the sixth “C” of a successful critique group.






Jim Averbeck works, plays, and evades the law in the San Francisco Bay Area. Between dodging the falling bodies of vertiginous blondes, crouching to avoid killer birds, and taking quick and fearful showers behind a triple-locked bathroom door, he writes and illustrates for children. His first book, In a Blue Room, was a Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book. His popular books, Except If and Oh No, Little Dragon! feature charming protagonists with long pointy teeth. His book The Market Bowl was a JLG Premiere Selection. A Hitch at the Fairmont, his first novel, was released Summer 2014 from Simon and Schuster. Spy agencies can find Jim online at