Archive for May, 2013

Vonnie at Carroll County Farmer's Market I love to imagine stories, then jot them down. I enjoy researching, revising, and polishing a story. I like sketching, then painting cover art. Quiet talks with other writers, readers, and fans about my fiction are fun. But I do NOT like to promote, even though I realize promotion is a necessary part of building a reader base and letting people know that a book is available.

I’ve thought a lot about why many writers and illustrators, me included, hate the promotion part of the book business. I’ve decided it’s because when we draw attention to our books, stories, or artwork, we feel like we’re bragging somehow. For me, it’s not about “look at what I’ve done,” so much as inviting readers to enter the fantastical worlds I’ve created. It’s about telling a story around a campfire and having people listen.

And so, with an eye to promotion, I invited you to visit a few guest blogs and interviews I’ve done recently:

Thanks to romance writer, Allison Merritt, for inviting me to guest post Speculative Romance: http://havenovelwilledit.blogspot.com/2013/03/guest-post-vonnie-winslow-crist.html

Thanks to fantasy author, Jennifer Allis Provost, for inviting me to guest post Where the Magic Begins: http://jenniferallisprovost.blogspot.com/2013/04/where-magic-begins-by-vonnie-winslow.html

Thanks to the wonderful author, Jaleta Clegg, for interviewing me on her blog: http://jaletaclegg.blogspot.com/2013/04/author-interview-vonnie-winslow-crist.html

Thanks to fantasy author, J. Michael Squatrito, Jr. for inviting me to guest post Location Matters in Fantasy: http://theoverlords.blogspot.com/2013/05/a-guest-blog-with-vonnie-winslow-crist.html

Skean copy And last, but certainly not least, thank you to Douglas R. Cobb for interviewing me for The New Yorker Times (and asking very specific questions about The Enchanted Skean): http://newyorkertimes.com/2013/05/vonnie-winslow-crist-interview/

I hope you’ll read and enjoy the interviews and guest posts, and I hope I get more comfortable doing book promotion!

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Rachel Z. Ikins Thanks to author Rachael Ikins for stopping by and sharing her journey as the writer of The Complete Tales from the Edge of the Woods. Enjoy!

My Journey as a Fantasy Writer by Rachael Ikins

I began writing fantasy in 1995 with a very simple goal in mind. I had a young friend who was going through teen angst. We’d been friends since she was a child of 3. We had travelled many magical places in our minds and play, and shared a love of possibility. So, when she was hurting, I started to write stories for her based on stuffed animals who’d come to life. Sometimes she starred in the story, even to the point of posing in costume for some illustrative photos.

Life moved us both on and apart. Two moves later, I faced life without my husband and the loss of almost everything we’d had. After prying open a stuck file cabinet drawer, I found the stories which would become the beginnings of my first book, The Complete Tales from the Edge of the Woods.

Since I’d been in a lot of pain myself all those years ago, and with so much upheaval between then and now, I did not remember writing the stories. I was astonished to see them again as my fingers smoothed the wrinkled pages. Two writers conferences for YA fiction later, and after becoming pen pals with an established author in the genre who later wrote a review of The Complete Tales from the Edge of the Woods and encouraged me to allow the book to be nominated for an award – I was ready. A la’ Peter Straub, I listened for the voices of characters to speak to me, read some passages aloud to my first adult writers’ group, and soon a book was born.

What I have found profound and most powerful about the process of writing a fantasy novel, is the power to touch readers’ hearts. Simply put, the stories I wrote have moved others so deeply. The Complete Tales grew from the simple desire to comfort a friend to the desire to become a “real writer” and to solve my personal life dilemmas. Long ago, I had sought refuge in those forests when my own life was bleak beyond description. And so, I wrote of ensorcelled characters able to face their tormentors, to free themselves at last.

I had no idea how fantastic it would be to complete a book. Until now. Until I did it. Those tales came back into my life the year I decided for no particular reason to pry open a stuck drawer, to uncrumple the wad of pages far in the back of it. It was almost as if they were hidden there awaiting me… like a real magical spell when the time was right.

Rachel Z. Ikins Tales from the Edge of the Woods The Complete Tales from the Edge of the Woods seems to resonate with readers ages 8 to 83. I have faith in the magic of these tales. Book 2 has been written. Book 3 will follow. And I will allow the story to lead me out into the world, to take me where it may go.

Standing room only at last night’s book launch party and a sell-out of all copies only proves my point. There is magic out there. Reach for it and it will find you.”

To learn more about Rachael, visit: http://www.rachaelikins.com or http://about.me/Rachaelz Read her blogs: http://rachaelzikins.blogspot.com and http://writerraebeth.wordpress.com Find her books at: http://rachaelikins.com/publications.htm and her artwork at: http://rachaelikins.com/artwork.htm You can also find her on FaceBook: Rachael Ikins and Twitter: @justaskrache

Thanks again to Rachael Ikins for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, blogs from me, and Readers & Writers Recipes. Have a ensorcelled day! – Vonnie

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Readers and Writers Recipes: Calico Beans

This flavorful recipe can be baked as casserole in the oven or cooked for a longer period of time in a slow cooker. Like last week’s Crab Appetizers, Calico Beans work well for a book club, readers’ group, or family pitch-in or cook-out. The addition of meat gives Calico Beans more protein and a rich flavor.

Calico Beans


1/2-pound ground beef (ground turkey can be used)

1/4-pound bacon (turkey bacon can be used)

1 cup chopped onion.

1-pound can of kidney beans

1-pound can of pork and beans

1-pound can of lima beans, drained

1/2-cup ketchup

1/2-cup brown sugar

1-teaspoon salt

2-teaspoons vinegar

1-teaspoon dry mustard

Directions to make:

1-If baking in oven, preheat oven to 350º F.

2-Brown ground meat, bacon, and onions in a large pan coated with a vegetable spray like Pam.

3-Add remaining ingredients and stir until well-mixed.

4-If baking in oven, coat a large casserole dish with vegetable spray. Add bean mixture.

5-Cover casserole with lid (or aluminum foil) and bake for 40 minutes. Serve hot.

6-If using a slow cooker, place beans in cooker, cover, then cook for 3 hours on low.


1-You can beat these beans for a cook-out. Serve with hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken from the grill or other cook-out favorites. They also make a nice addition to a meal.

2-If you have trouble finding 1-pound cans of beans (often they come in 10 to 15-ounce cans), you can always add an extra can of beans so the total amount equals 3-pounds (or 48-ounces).

Appearing Monday on Whimsical Words: a guest post from author, Rachael Ikins.

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Skean copy The book world has changed enormously since my children’s book, Leprechaun Cake & Other Tales, was published. Yes, I had to do school visits and storytellings, but most of the promoting was done by my small press publisher. The Vegetarian Resource Group secured reviews and in-person interviews, placed ads in print publications, and listed the book in their printed catalog. Brick and mortar stores, both independents and chains, carried the paperback and royalty checks were issued when sales were good.

Nowadays, authors with small press publishers are often responsible for securing their own interviews and reviews. And those interviews are usually done via the internet, whether later published on a blog or offered as a podcast. Advertisements in print publications have been replaced by book trailers on YouTube, online ads, and excerpts read on a computer screen. Online book stores have grabbed a huge share of the book market, and if profits are realized, an online deposit is made in an author’s electronic account.

So what’s an author to do? I say, “Embrace the changes and learn the new world of books!” And that’s what I’m trying to do with The Enchanted Skean, my just-released fantasy novel from Mockingbird Lane Press. For better or worse, the book world is changing, and this writer is trying her best to take advantage of the new technologies and the wide support network offered by the internet.

So please check out the following, and let me know what you think.

Alesha Escobar’s Blog Interview of Vonnie: http://www.aleshaescobar.com/feature-friday-the-enchanted-skean/

Larry Matthew’s Podcast Interview of Vonnie: https://soundcloud.com/larry-matthews/vonnie-winslow-crist-talks

Book Trailer for The Enchanted Skean: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-8C9OkyJCU

Online 3-chapter excerpt of The Enchanted Skean: http://vonniewinslowcrist.com/books/the_enchanted_skean_excerpt

And giving credit where credit is do, thanks to Alesha and Larry for doing the interviews, Jamie at Mockingbird Lane Press for the book trailer, and the readers who’ve bought the book. It takes lots of support to become a successful author, and I appreciate all the support I’ve received.

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