Where Romance and Suspense Collide

Tag: Sandra Kerns

SMJ’s Christmas Countdown #10

Christmas Tree Viewing with New and Old Friends.

Welcome back everybody! I think this will be the last time for a Christmas tree post. Well, unless I see one that I just can’t resist showing you. If that happens I’ll sneak it into a post somewhere. Teehee. Hmmm, that reminds me. I haven’t posted Sandra’s decorated Christmas tree yet. Look for it in a future post.

Let’s start tIMG_20151209_075649his adventure through Christmas trees with an introduction to a new Sock Monkey, Reindeer Sock. I can’t remember ever seeing a monkey with antlers before, but I try not to judge by looks. Besides, he is pretty cute. He’s also generous. See the sticker on the floor next to him? It says Sock Monkey Peppermint Candy Canes. Really, they were labeled as HIS candy canes, so there was no doubt who they belonged to. However, he shared them with anyone who came by him. What a guy! I LOVE candy canes. If we hang them on the tree at my house they don’t last long because I keep climbing up the tree and eating them. I know, it’s naughty, but I just like them so much! Mom just shakes her head and reminds me I still have to eat dinner. Anyway, back to Reindeer Sock. I really wanted to bring him home with us, but mom said no. I didn’t gripe or whine, though. It is only a couple weeks until Christmas. I don’t want anymore naughty marks on Santa’s Naughty or Nice list. I did glance up at her soon after we walked away from him and she had this silly little smile on her face. That usually means she has a surprise planned. I wonder if she already arranged for Reindeer Sock to live with us after Christmas. I hope so. If not us, I hope someone gives him a great home because he’s such a sweet kid.IMG_16691559204088

The next friend I wanted to introduce you to is hidden inside this shiny tree. Can you see him? Look right in the middle and you’ll see two little eyes and a pink nose. That’s Pooh, Casey’s kittie. When I saw this picture I imagined I was in a safari with lions and tigers hiding everywhere. Then I remembered there aren’t any white, frilly, trees in the jungle and they definitely wouldn’t have pink and blue lights on them. Whatever Pooh was thinking, he looked a little silly with all the white branches and sparkling lights around his little face. He’s usually not this daring. On the other hand, his brother Tigger? He’s another story.


You met Tigger before. He was in the black and white picture I had in a previous post. His eyes were glowing just like the tree lights in that picture. Here I think he’s trying to help decorate. Granted, it’s more likely he was trying to knock it over or grab something off of it to play with. Tigger is one of those kitties who looks for trouble. He really doesn’t have to look hard. It usually finds him.

I shouldn’t pick on him too much. He’s a Cool Cat. Like how I did that, made him sound like he’s the Cat’s Meow. Oh, someone stop me!

“Thanks, Tigger.” He gave me a little swat with his paw (no claws, he wouldn’t do that) to snap me out of silly line phase I’d fallen into. See, I can always count on Tigger to help out.

Next up in the Christmas tree tour today is Casey’s tree. This one is reminiscent of CharlieIMG_20141201_101205 Brown’s tree in A Charlie Brown Christmas. The show came out in 1965 and it’s still a favorite of people everywhere. Just so those of you living out here in Colorado’s time zone don’t miss it, here’s a link to all the best Christmas movies and where/when to watch them. I don’t think A Charlie Brown Christmas will be on again until Christmas Eve. Although, you can see his tree right here. Or, Casey’s version of his tree. She puts it up every year. I think she feels sorry for all the passed over trees left in Christmas Tree lots. This is her way of telling them someone loves them no matter how many needles they’ve lost. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about, showing love to the world? That’s what I believe.

What do you think is the true meaning of Christmas. I’d love to hear it. Leave a comment and I promise I’ll read it and comment back. Connecting, that’s another great part of Christmas!

More later!


#9 on SMJ’s Christmas Countdown

Find a Great Book for Christmas!

IMG_20151210_081114Hey everybody! I don’t know about you, but I love books. Of course, you already knew that since I help promote Sandra’s books. What you don’t know is I love going to the library. I think I got that from Granny. She lives behind a library and walks over a couple of times a week. Man, can that old lady read.

Anyway, I stopped into the local library the other day and took some pics with the trees theIMG_20151210_081031y have displayed around the place. This one was pretty cool with all different kinds of ornaments on it. I liked sitting by it. It made me feel as special as a present.

This one has hats and scarves on it. I think, but I’m not sure, the hats are going to be given to kids who don’t have hats to keep their heads warm in the cold. It was decorated by the Loomy Knitters and is appropriately called the “Hat Tree.” Pretty cool for the library to do something like that. I liked that they used the hats to decorate the tree. It looks like the tree is playing dress up.

This next one might be my favorite. It’s called the “Oragami Tree.’ All the ornaments, IMG_20151210_080928eve the gold star on top are made with paper. That’s a lot of folding and creasing. I hope it wasn’t one person doing all the work. Can you imagine how long that would take? Some of these ornaments are really detailed. Although I’m usually not into white trees, this one really shows off the paper ornaments.

These three trees were brought to you by the Loveland Public Library. Right now they have a special Winter reading program going on. Click the link above and you can learn all about it. Kids from K-12 can win prizes for reading this winter. Cool deal!

If you visit the library, I’ll bet you can find some of my favorite Christmas books. A Christmas Carol, The Nutcracker, The Night Before Christmas, and of course the original The Christmas Story about baby Jesus. Sandra has a set of all four books and they’re pop-up books. In The Night Before Christmas one there’s a page where Santa pops up while putting presents under the tree. In The Christmas Story, the first page has a donkey and lamb that pop up. These were the books she read to her boys at Christmas time before they grew up. She still has them and someday her boys will probably read them to their kids. It’s one of those Christmas tradition things.

So, do you have a favorite Christmas book? Leave a comment telling me what it is so I can go to the library and check it out.

Time to go grab a book to read before I go to bed. Until next time!


RomCon 2015 Paperwhite & Admission Giveaway


Would you like to win a Kindle Paperwhite or Saturday Admission to RomCon’s Reader Weekend?

If the answer is yes, then click on the link below and enter the Rafflecopter – RomCon 2015 Author Promotion Giveaway! Every option you complete gives you another chance to win one of these wonderful prizes. Remember, you could win …

RomCon 2015 Paperwhite & Admission Giveaway

The RomCon Reader Weekend is a great way to meet your favorite romance authors in person, get free books, collect autographs, meet other romance readers and so much more!

Join me for a fun-filled Saturday full of reader events, an amazing luncheon (at my luncheon table!), the book signing, and the Wild West Party on Saturday night! (16 hours of non-stop fun)RomCon 2015 Author Paperwhite & Admission Giveaway

Remember, I’m hosting a table at the Reader’s Luncheon and there are only four seats left. Please join me. I would love to meet more of my readers in person. There will be free books and prizes at the luncheon as well as specials at my table for my readers.

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Hope to see you there!


From eBook to Audio



My guest today is an author friend I met through Bee Zee Books,  Rik Stone. Rik has recently put his debut novel, Birth of an Assassin out in audible form. He graciously agreed to visit and give us a look at his journey into audio publishing. You can click on the picture of the handsome rogue from the UK to learn more about him and his writing, but first let’s jump into the meat of this post.

A cyber friend of mine, author Thomas Drinkard, read and enjoyed my debut novel Birth of an Assasin. He reviewed the work, put it on Amazon, and then made contact. The conversation went something like this:

Tom: Tbirthassassinhought I’d drop you a line to tell you I have read and reviewed your book. You won’t be disappointed, so I don’t mind giving you the link … Giving thought to your work a little later, I think it would make a great audio book; have a look at the site  http://www.acx.com/ and see what you think.

Me: Yeah, thanks, Tom, it looks good, but I think it’s a bit rich for my blood. Thanks for thinking of me, though.

Tom: Look again. It isn’t necessarily going to cost you anything, other than maybe the cover. Read up on the SHARED option.

I studied everything I had overlooked on the previous browsing of the site and saw that until about ten/twelve months ago the option to independently produce an audiobook with ACX was only available to authors in the US. Not anymore, now it also includes the UK and is spreading further, strike one to me! Reading further I found that if the author is willing to split the royalties with the narrator (royalty shared option) then the whole thing can be carried out free of initial costs. For me that meant have an audio book produced or don’t, so the share didn’t seem too important. As an aside, the contract runs for seven years, so if by that time you feel you might have done better somehow elsewhere, that option isn’t dead in the water. Next steps; join ACX using your Amazon account and add your title.

Before I forget, I should mention what was said about the cost of cover work being a possibility. Unlike paperback or eBook, the cover has to be square, 360×360 as I remember. I bypassed that cost by cutting my original cover down to size, missed out a couple of bits that weren’t terribly important and dragged the name Rik Stone down onto the new cover, so the cover was cost free too.

Okay, you’re a member and you’ve claimed that you are the title owner and ACX has accepted that fact. Now you need to find a piece of text from the book that will excite the socks of a prospective narrator, I think off the top of my head it is around 400/500 words, but don’t trust me the site will tell you that. Choose something that is appealing and at the same time will stretch the range of the narrator’s voice. Found it? Then upload it and, as ACX will tell you, wait for the auditions to roll in. There are a lot of books up there begging audition, so I think that suggestion might be a little optimistic. I did have a couple of interested parties, but not enough to call it a stampede. I took the other approach, I searched through the narrators I might like, listened to how they performed samples of other people’s works and found several that sounded right for my stuff, so I made contact with them and told them where to find the auditioning sample. Job done, I waited for a response.

Because the setting of Birth of an Assassin is post war Soviet Russia, I pretty much wanted an actor whose accent was English but didn’t belong to any particular English speaking country. Enter Dennis Kleinman. You can listen to some of his samples of my book at http://rik-stone.com/audio.html and see if you can pin down the origin of his accent; I can’t.

I don’t know if all narrators work the same, but Dennis sent completed chapters to me one or two at a time and I was able to check for accuracy as we went. If there was anything I wasn’t happy with, Dennis changed the work immediately and without complaint, kudos to him. At the end of the work, which took just under three months, I gave it the okay and the rest was down to Dennis. What do I mean by that? It is up to the narrator to produce the sound quality that ACX will accept, so by this time the author is out of the loop.

Once accepted, the audio goes live. Now it is up to both sides, author and narrator, to market the book; another benefit of the shared royalty option, you have just doubled those campaigning on behalf of the audiobook.

My views: Early days to be too definite about anything. My work is available in paperback and eBook for Birth of an Assassin and The Turkish Connection. The eBooks sell copy, the paperbacks look nice on my desk stuck between two wise owl bookends and the audiobook for Birth of an Assassin gives that extra dimension of professionalism. I have several other books queued up behind what is out there awaiting publication and I’m a believer that a single successful book, I mean really successful, will sell everything else you’ve ever written, and this will also apply to that first audio book.

So far what is here, is written in the view of an independent author, but it applies to most authors. Trade published authors don’t necessarily sign away the audio rights with a book contract, so a nod from the publisher can give them the go ahead to do the same with their work.

Good Luck!


RikStonePhotAuthor Bio

Do children born into poverty become impoverished adults? It happens; pitfalls and roadblocks to advancement are everywhere. Rik Stone grew up poor amidst the slum-lands of fifties North East England, leaving school at 15 without any academic qualifications.

After working in shipyards and a stint in the merchant navy he worked quarries in South East England. Life was without horizons until he studied for, and completed, a BSc degree in mathematics and computing.

Taking a company pension at fifty, he was able to follow personal desires and began writing. Now, he is offering up his debut novel Birth of an Assassin, the first in a series. The second book in the series is also now available, The Turkish Connection.

birthassassinBirth of an Assassin Buy links:

Amazon UK     Amazon US      B&N      Kobo      Google       Waterstones    Audible







turkishThe Turkish Connection Buy links:

Amazon UK     Amazon US      B&N      Kobo      Google       Waterstones


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