Month: March 2019

A Beta Reader…The one thing I never knew I needed and now can’t live without!

This time last year I was busy getting Call Me Charlotte ready for release in Florida, and all was well with the world. Or so I thought. Several weeks before our journey my 93 year old mother sustained an injury that pretty much incapacitated her. While I was grateful that the The Captain and I were headed to Florida, and could help as caregivers, I knew it would be hard to really concentrate and enjoy releasing my book when my mom was in such pain.

When we returned home I knew it was time to get moving on The Greysons, but a comment from another author about Charlotte, paralyzed me. Was I not a good writer after all? Had Lottie Loser just been a fluke? The thoughts were like a tornado swirling in my head and for the first time I found myself doubting my decision to leave a job I loved to write.

Enter my Beta Reader. I call her mine because while she Betas for lots of authors, it’s because of her that I found joy again in writing. She’s become my friend, the keeper of my secrets, and a character in the book I’m working on, The Four Seasons of Summer. In the book her name is Dena Daniels, and to “protect the innocent” as they say, that’s what I’ll call her here.

I asked “Dena” how she became a Beta, because trust me she does this for lots of authors, and this is her story.

One of her dear friends from her high school days wrote a book and asked Dena to read it for errors. Together they smoothed out the wrinkles, and she found that she enjoyed the task. With some urging from her friend, Dena decided to go public with her editing/Beta abilities, and voila! A Beta Star was born. She now reads books daily, giving feedback and editing suggestions to authors like me.

I’m not at all sure if Dena knows what she brings to me every day, both as an author, and as a person. I’ve never been good about sharing my work ahead of time, but Dena has read The Greysons, and gives it two thumbs up! But better yet she’s instilled in me the belief that I need to write what I enjoy and what makes me happy. Those words coming from a person who reads for a living, were music to my ears.

And Call Me Charlotte? Well as you know I won Gold Medal, a National award, from The Florida Authors and Publishers Association 2018 Presidential Awards, so someone liked it!

Now here it is a new year, and I’m preparing to release The Greysons. This time though I’m thinking a Virtual Release and maybe a party at my home for friends. This past year has brought me every emotion under the sun but I’m thankful to tell you that today my mom has recovered and I’m back to being me. The person who left a 32 year career in banking to write a book, and made her Fairytale come true.

Thank you “Dena” for your friendship and support.

Until we read again📚


Dana L.❤️

Be watching for the cover reveal of The Greyshons

AMI…The Place, Not the Series 🌴

Years ago I knew that someday I wanted to write a book that would take place on Anna Maria Island, Florida. It was a really long time from that goal to the completion of Lottie Loser, but it happened, and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

Why AMI, you might ask? In the early seventies my parents retired and bought a condo on Long Boat Key. They didn’t plan for Florida to be their permanent home, but they fell in love with the area, and never looked back. From the condo they bought a house, and eventually built a home at Key Royale, in the sleepy little village known as Anna Maria Island.

Today AMI is booming, the sleepy little village a thing of the past, but our family still loves it, and travels there as often as possible. My parents sold their home and moved inland quite a few years ago, and sadly my dad passed away, but mom is still active and goes to the island every Sunday after church for brunch.

Because of my book series I get asked a lot for recommendations on restaurants and places of interest on the island. Since this is spring break season, I thought it would be a good time to share our family favorites.

Hands down the best place to eat is The Cortez Kitchen. The atmosphere is old Florida and the food is out of this world! A grouper sandwich, onion rings, cheese grits and a Blue Moon Beer is pretty close to heaven on earth. The restaurant is off the beaten path, and can be hard to find, so definitely get directions, but definitely go.

The other place you’ll want to go is The Donut Experiment. People get up at the crack of dawn…and I do mean dawn…to wait in line to order donuts that are made fresh to order. They have everything from my favorite, Key Lime, to The Captain’s favorite, Maple Bacon. The donuts are good, but it’s the experience that you go fo. I hear you can order online now, but where’s the fun in that? http://thedonutexperiment

A trip to AMI would not be complete without stopping at the Island Coffee Haus for a delicious start to your day. The release event for Call Me Charlotte was held there, and things couldn’t have gone better.

Your last venture has to be to Ginny’s & Jane E’s! This wonderfully eclectic Cafe and Costal Store has everything you need for your adventure on Anna Maria Island, plus they sell Lottie Loser and Call Me Charlotte! You can take home a memory made by a local artist, have lunch, or even a beer or a smoothie, but it’s definitely a destination in itself.

I’ve given you options to get your vacation started but you’ll want to find your own pieces of paradise, and that can only happen by exploring this charming island, and taking chances. You can’t go wrong…just go, and start making your own memories.

With my mom at The Cortez Kitchen
At the Island Coffee Haus release event for Call Me Charlotte

Until we read again📚

Blessings, ❤️

Dana L.

James Rowlands Author, Composer and My 1000 Twitter Follower!

On March 10th I got up to see that I was only two followers away from 1000 on Twitter. For me that was a huge achievement so I put out the offer that I would highlight the 1000 follower on my weekly blog.

Today, on my Wednesday Wake-up Blog it’s my pleasure to introduce you to James Rowlands, my 1000 twitter follower, and my new friend. Please enjoy his story!

James: Morning!! It’s 5:21 here and as promised:

I come from the UK, more specifically the area around the River Dee which is the border between Wales and England. I was born right on it but consider myself Welsh and speak the language (lot of fun – very different). I was reading at a very young age and books replaced friends for large swathes of my youth.Age 18 I left home, studied Linguistics and Moral Philosophy – not high on company exec wish lists – and decided to live in France.

Now 47 (sniff) married to Béatrice, 2 daughters, 5 cats, 35 koi carp and a house made of wood on a hill-top in the Brittany countryside 🙂 I teach English at the French Officer Academy “St Cyr” – their Westpoint. I sang and composed music and lyrics for 25 years and that was great fun, more than a 1000 concerts and loads of travelling, but although lyrics are “writing” I needed something outside my comfort zone.

So last year I wrote my first novel “Each Code Remains” – time travel, love, war, strangeness, and this year a book of poems “The Tree Knew” about childhood (not specifically mine but in general). It was a joy to write and I’ll definitely be doing that again, once novel 2 is done.
They are available on amazon:Each Code Remains

The Tree Knew
As well as the soundtrack I composed:

Garanti sans virus.

I’m the chubby one on the left in the picture below.

Best Regards – Cordialement – Yn gywir…James

Jim RowlandsNew book out now “The Tree Knew”

Until we read again📚…


Dana L.

Garanti sans virus.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Writing a Book (Writer’s Cruise Part Two)

I’ve never tried to hide the fact that I’m not a trained writer. One day I decided I wanted to write a book, and I did. End of story? Not quite. Lottie Loser turned out to be my Fairytale come true in every way imaginable. Because the most amazing thing happened; people actually liked it.

It’s funny how the success of the AMI Series gave me confidence as a writer. To be honest, I really knew very little about writing when I started, other than I liked romance. At that time I had no idea that most genres have a formula and for romance it needs a protagonist, an antagonist and a Happily Ever After. Who knew there were rules for writing?

Last week I mentioned that I was told on the Writer’s Cruise that my current novel, The Four Seasons of Summer, was not romance but women’s fiction, because my protagonist is married. Another eye opener. I also learned about pacing, sensual and emotional tension, and conflict, an area I already knew I struggled with.

“Don’t dump your backstory” was a big topic with the editors on the cruise, and since I like to bring in the past, I had lots of questions about that statement. Apparently it means save some for later, instead of giving it all away at once, so thankfully my Now and Then chapters in Lottie and Charlotte are okay. Whew!

At the end of the day, or the cruise in this case, this is what I took away. There are rules for writing, but like with all rules they’re subjective. Just as an artist needs to paint what they enjoy, and what brings out their passion, an author needs to write what brings them happiness. I love my series, and many of you do as well, and that’s all I ever wanted.

Would I like to be a best selling author? Heck yes, but more than anything I want to write what I love and what you, my faithful readers, enjoy. And of course I want my books to have a “meet-cute”; yep something else I learned at sea!😉

Another one of the words used a lot by the publishing professionals was Trope. I could never get a clear understanding of what it meant so I reached out to my Twitter friends, and the definition is below. Personally it’s not a word I’ll use, but at least I won’t feel stupid the next time I hear it.

The actual definition is “any literary or rhetorical device, as metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, was and irony, that consists in the use of words in other than their literal sense.” But it can also be used for cliches. EX: dumb jock, brooding YA hero, manic pixie dream girl…

So now you’ve learned everything that I did on the writer’s cruise, but you got the Readers Digest version. It was actually extremely enlightening and if I’d have gone on the cruise before writing Lottie Loser, she would still be an idea floating in my head.

Have an amazing week and why not try a new author? Your next favorite read might be sitting on a shelf but you’ll miss it, because you won’t take a chance.

Until we read again 📚…


Dana L❤️