Anna Questerly

Anna Questerly
Bookseller and bibliophile turned author, Anna Questerly writes medieval fiction and fairy tales for smart kids and young hearts. For adults, she creates Utopian fantasy as A.J. Questerly.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Indie Bookstore, Dog-Eared Pages, names 2014's top 15 Indie Authors

Every year, we have tons of indie authors who drop off their books for our store to carry. I try to read as many of them as I can, and always ask my customers what they think of the books.  The following, in alphabetical order, are our top-selling and best-reviewed indie authors. Congrats to all of you!

Signed books by these authors are available at Dog-Eared Pages in Phoenix, AZ or online at

If you've read any of these authors and enjoyed their work, please make sure to tell your friends. The more readers they have, the less marketing they have to do themselves, and they'll have time to write more great stories for all of us!

Linda Andrews-paranormal, apocalyptic, sci-fi

Alan Black-sci-fi, young adult-humor

Les Brierfield-supernatural mystery

Tia Dani-romance, erotic romance

Ethan Russel Erway-sci-fi, middle grade children

Morgan Kearns-contemporary sports romance

Gini Koch-sci-fi, humor

Bill Lamperes-mystery-historical-humor

Virginia Nelson- paranormal romance

Deena Remiel- paranormal romance

Vijaya Schartz-sci-fi, historical, fantasy

J.D. Scott- young adult

Sharon Skinner-young adult, fantasy

Kris Tualla-historical romance and historical suspense

Todd VanHooser-fantasy, RPG


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

2015 Writing Workshops Beginning

If you're in Phoenix, stop dreaming about it. Become a writer this year!

Learn the ins and outs of writing, rewriting, editing, proofreading, critiquing, layout, formatting, and publishing in this series of workshops.

Find out more on Saturday, December 27th from 1:00-2:20 at this FREE Orientation to Anna Questerly's 2015 Writer's Workshop Series at Dog-Eared Pages bookstore.

16428 N. 32nd Street Phoenix, AZ 85032.
Store is 1/4 mile south of Bell Road on the west side of 32nd Street.

Hope to see you!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Pangaea is coming...

Just finished the interior formatting!
Cover is being designed as I type this!
Just a few more proof-reading read-throughs to go!

We're looking at Saturday, January 24th for the Release Party at Dog-Eared Pages in Phoenix, AZ.

I can't wait until you can visit this world.

Friday, October 31, 2014

A Novelist's Nightmare

Previously posted on Starbound Lover's Blog:

I wish the following story was fiction. I’d hoped it was no more than a dystopian vision of the future of the United States of America. Then, I wanted it to be a publicity stunt for the author to sell more books. Unfortunately, it was none of those. This is what it’s come to and it paints a terrifying picture for every writer.

On September 1, 2014, The Atlantic published an article titled, “In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment for a Novelist.” For anyone who reads or writes, it’s worth taking a look at, and includes links to the disturbing original reports from local media. For now, let me just give you the highlights.
A twenty-three year old Language Arts teacher has been ‘disappeared’. He was never arrested, no charges have been filed, he’s not allowed to leave, and the police will not reveal his location. Before he was spirited away, he was forced to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and his home was searched for weapons and explosives – none were found.


Because he self-published a book depicting the most tragic school shooting to ever happen – 900 years in the future. That’s right, he wrote a sci-fi story someone in the Sherriff’s Department and on the School Board, didn’t like and poof he’s gone. No charges. No trial. No … what was it called? Oh, yeah, that pesky little right guaranteed to every American Citizen – habeas corpus.

If that doesn’t send a shiver through your muse, the spin by the local media will. You see, he used an alias on the cover of his bookNot a pen name, pseudonym or nom de plume: an alias, as in “using a false name with the intent to conceal one’s identity in performance of a criminal act”. In addition, his photo is being circulated around the community, through law enforcement circles, and the throughout the school system to make everyone aware that he is prohibited from being on school grounds.

So basically, because he wrote a book, his life is ruined. When he’s released from wherever he’s being held, he’ll probably have a hard time finding another teaching position, (at this time, he’s been placed on administrative leave). I’m sure his neighbors think he’s a psycho by now. I can only imagine what must be going through the minds of his friends, family, and students. The one bright spot is that the article in The Atlantic includes a link to his book on Amazon, and apparently the news coverage has increased the sale of his books. Good thing: if he ever gets a trial, he’ll probably need those royalties to pay legal expenses.

After reading this, I’m hesitant to publish my newest book, Pangaea. There’s sure to be someone in law enforcement who will take issue with my utopian vision of a world without gods, government, or gold. Will police raid my home, search through my things, and then lock me up in a psych ward for writing it?

I’m hoping there is more to this story. At least, some type of threat or credible reason to detain this man besides the fact that, like most writers,  he has an overactive imagination. Otherwise, this does not bode well for the future of fiction.

I’m also surprised, I’m not seeing this play out more on social media. I posted a link to the story on my Facebook page, but haven’t seen anything else about it. Coverage is also glaringly absent from major news media, and I find that a bit disconcerting.

As writers and readers of sci-fi and fantasy, I think we should all keep a close eye on this story and see how it plays out. Maybe I’m making too much of it? I’d be interested in reading your comments.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Questerly's Quest

Librarians and teachers, I need your help to stop young readers from being penalized for reading my books.
Let me take a moment to explain.

·         A while ago, I received a copy of a letter written by the mother of one of my young readers. Ms. G. is a Director of Elementary Education for one of Arizona’s school districts. She’d read my book with her nine year old son and they loved it. They were both disappointed to find out her son would receive no AR (Accelerated Reader)point credit for reading The Minstrel’s Tale. Ms. G. wrote to Renaissance Learning Center, the company who makes up the quizzes and assigns AR points to books, and requested they assign points to The Minstrel’s Tale. I was thrilled to learn she’d done that.

·         I checked Renaissance Learning’s website and followed their directions to mail them two copies of each of my books to request a review. Three days after I mailed the package, I learned – as part of the new Common Core Standards – that my book, The Minstrel’s Tale, had been listed along with about nine other books as additional reading for 6th, 7th and 8th grade students studying medieval history. Here’s the link:

Imagine, my book, listed with Beowolf!
And a book by one of my favorite children’s authors, Mary Pope Osborn!
And one of the books I used for my research (which is an excellent way to learn about the time period), The Time Traveler’s Guide to the Fourteenth Century by Ian Mortimer.
I am beyond delighted to be listed in the company of each of them.

·         At once, I sent an email to Renaissance Learning Center, along with a link to the site where I found the information, and my contact information.

·         They called me. They’d received my books, but wouldn’t be able to develop a quiz for them. The woman explained that it takes time to produce the quizzes and assign the point value. She went on to tell me, they really need to expend their limited resources on quizzes for books, which are most likely going to be purchased by libraries and bookstores. Therefore, their policy was to provide quizzes for books which have already been reviewed by the School Library Journal.

·         What she explained made sense and I told her I understood, but asked if the recommendation for Common Core might mean The Minstrel’s Tale would be more likely to be read by students. She agreed it might make a difference, but that they wouldn’t be able to do my book unless it was reviewed by the School Library Journal.

·         I thanked her for taking the time to call, and then checked on the process of getting my books reviewed by School Library Journal. No dice; they only review books by major publishers, and only review recently published books. My book was already four years old and it was self-published.

·         I called Renaissance Learning back and made my request again. Could they make an exception? She told me there was one other way I could try to get points for my books. Which brings me to why you’re reading this, and why I’m asking for your help.

·         Renaissance Learning will keep my books for two years. If, during that time, enough teachers and librarians from across the country request my books on the AR website, they’ll do the quizzes.

·         I’m asking – no, let’s make that begging – that you’ll share this link with as many teachers and librarians as you know. Please? I realize I’m battling bureaucracy and challenging conformity, but I can’t stand the looks of disappointment on the faces of my young readers when they learn they won’t receive credit for reading my books.

ü  If you are a teacher or librarian, please visit the AR site here:
ü  Click on the upper tab to SUGGEST QUIZZES.
ü  Add The Minstrel’s Tale by Anna Questerly ISBN 0982996705
ü  Add The Minstrel’s Tale II by Anna Questerly ISBN 0982996721
ü  Add The Minstrel’s Tale III by Anna Questerly ISBN 098299673X

·         I wouldn’t expect you to do this without knowing the first thing about me or my books, so if you’ll email me, I’ll send you a free .pdf of my first book for your review. (I know you’re busy and have a ton to read, so feel free to delegate the reading to one of your favorite students.)

·         Judge for yourself if you feel it deserves to be included in the AR points program. 

Will you help me on my quest for AR Points, please? Pretty please?

With heartfelt gratitude in advance,

Anna Questerly

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Buried Noses: Getting Your Child to LOVE Reading

I've been curating info from all over the web to make this blog a one-stop-shop for for parents and teachers. The links below are filled with valuable info to help you get your child into storyland. Click on the links to learn more.

Try this from PBS

And this from Aha Parenting

This is from the Huffington Post

From RIF (Reading is Fundamental)

Take a look at archived posts for additional info and resources and be sure to check back for more info and please share your tips, tricks, and success stories in the comments. We'd love to hear what works from real parents and teachers.

Please share if you know a parent struggling to help their child.

Read on, my friends!

Anna Questerly


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Planet of the Apes

Previous published by Anna Questerly on

I know this isn’t book related, but I’ve been bothered by something I learned this week. As sci-fi lovers, I thought it might interest you as well.

We don’t get out much, but we did get to see Return to Planet of the Apes last weekend. Great movie! Keep in mind, I’m one of those who always read the book first, and then complains about the movie. Yeah, I know, but I practically live at Dog-Eared Pages bookstore so what do you expect?

Anyway, I didn’t read the book before seeing this movie. I don’t even know if there is a book. What I do know is that I truly enjoyed the film as its own medium, without having to compare it to a book. I guess you could call it a novel experience.

I was amazed at how the ape called Caesar played the main character. His face was so expressive, you knew his thoughts without him saying a word. The scene between he and his son almost had me in tears. How did they do that? These weren’t masks. Masks couldn’t portray emotion so clearly. And I’m almost positive Caesar wasn’t a real ape.

After the movie, my friend Don Gerron, (Don worked on the short film that took first place at this year’s Phoenix Comicon and designs my bookcovers — lucky me!) began to fill me in on some background. They use CGI (computer-generated imagery) animation to create the apes.

Of course, I had no idea what that meant. So Don explained further. The actors have sensors attached to their faces and bodies and then perform their scenes. Their movements are tracked by special software, and then animated for the film.

“Wait, you mean to tell me. That guy produced such meaningful facial expressions with sticky stuff all over his face? Now that’s acting. The only animation I’d ever seen I thought was better, was the scene in Lord of the Rings when Gollum is arguing with himself. I remember being transfixed by that scene.”

Imagine my surprise when Don tells me Caesar and Gollum were played by the same actor; Andy Serkis. I googled Andy, and learned he’d been cast in lots of great movies. This guy is mega-talented. How could I have never heard of him? Granted, I’m not a big movie buff and rarely pay attention to such things. Many of you may already know this, but it was news to me and figured I can’t be the only one in the dark.

According to my friend Don (and IMDB), although Andy Serkis has been critically acclaimed for his performances, he was ruled ineligible for Best Supporting Actor nominations at the Academy Awards because his characters Gollum in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes were computer generated.

What? That’s crazy!

I don’t understand. Can’t the Academy create a new category for CGI (also called Motion Animation) actors? It strikes me that it might take as much talent to do what Andy Serkis does. Seriously, how do you do serious acting with globs of gunk all over you?

It also seems rather obvious that we’ll see more of this type animation in the future. I believe great talent should be recognized and to be ineligible for the highest award in your industry seems quite unfair to me.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in our comments section. If you think I’m making too much of this, I’ll just go back to my books and enjoy Andy’s work whenever it’s playing. If you agree, maybe we could start a #OscarsForMotionAnimationActors campaign on Twitter.

Empathy begets synergy,

Anna Questerly

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Don't Just Take My Word For It...

I found a few great articles online to help get kids reading.  Here's what James Patterson, Oprah Winfrey, and Donalyn Miller have to say about it:

Feel free to comment and tell us any ways you've tried to get your kids to read. My goal for #1000BuriedNoses mission is to have a site parents, grandparents, and teachers can visit for helpful hints, tips, and support.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


This post was originally written for a blog I contribute to. If you like sci-fi/fantasy, check it out! 


“Wingardium Leviosa!”

I admit, I tried it. Of course, I didn’t fly, nor did any of the objects around me take wing. But, for a fleeting instance, it might have happened. That magical moment when you place the book down and your eyes are beginning to adjust to distances further than ten inches in front of your face. That split second, between the tick and the tock, when two worlds bump into each other. One, a world created within the pages of the book — a world you’ve been living in for the past few hours. The other, reality.

These worlds make us beg for more when we turn the last page. Not for the characters, but for the place. I wanted to open every door and cabinet at Hogwarts. I wanted to explore on my own — without Harry and friends tagging along and getting into trouble, Just let me snoop around all by myself for a while.

How do these writers create these fictional worlds that, for a time, seem more real than our own. Middle Earth, Hogwarts, and Harry Dresden’s Chicago are such places. It must be magic, right? What other explanation is there?

I have a theory — actually its more of a hypothesis at this point; more testing is needed to confirm it, and that’s where you come in. You, the readers and writers of Sci-fi and Fantasy can help me to validate/repudiate my claim.

Assertion: In order to create a world, in which a reader can fully immerse themselves, the author must be fully immersed during the writing process.

Granted, it sounds simple and makes sense, but in all of the ‘World-Building’ books I’ve studied, not one has mentioned it. They go on and on about charts, timelines, histories, graphs, geography, biology and lots of other things, but never advise the author to just go and live there for a while.

I stumbled across this realization while writing Pangaea, (not yet released). At first, it was brief, like that tick between the tock — I forgot where I was. That same ephemeral bliss, I enjoyed as a reader of other worlds, I was now experiencing as a writer in Pangaea.

Some might call it being In-The-Zone, but it was more than that. I’ve been In-The-Zone before with my characters, where the characters talk to me; making me feel more like a stenographer than an author, as I dutifully take down their story. (In The Minstrel’s Tale, the narrative voice was Patrick Stewart, a voice I enjoyed listening to for many, many hours.) This wasn’t that.

I’m not sure how to explain it so that I don’t come off as insane but, then again, almost every sci-fi/fantasy writer I know is a bit crazy, (and I suspect most readers are, too) so at least I’ll be in good company. Here goes:

There were times as I was writing Pangaea when, out of the corner of my eye, something odd would catch my attention. Something I hadn’t planned into this world. I would wander over to investigate, and immediately recognize that it did belong in this world. Spooky, right? It gets better.

Everything in my ‘real’ life began to be filtered through the lens of Pangaea. The news; this would never happen on Pangaea or how would the Pangaeans have handled this? My friends; how Pangaean were they or how would they fare living on Pangaea? Even history; how would this relate to Pangaea or did the Pangaean’s have anything to do with this? Food; would Pangaeans eat this? How would they prepare it? Even my sex life became merged with this world, but we won’t go there.

In the midst of my first draft, I found it difficult to separate the worlds — and I lived in Pangaea. Crazy, right? I warned you.

Anyway, it remains to be seen whether my readers will enjoy that immersive experience, too and my hypothesis gains credibility. Pangaea won’t be out until next year and I’m impatient to see if my theory is sound. Hence my call for test subjects. I’d love to hear your experiences with immersive reading and/or writing. Do you think I’m on track or off my rocker?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Thought some parents and teachers might find this helpful.

#1000BuriedNoses. You can make a difference. email  your picture of your nose buried in the book that made you fall in love with reading to  I'll post it on this site. You never know, it may give a mom or dad an idea of what their child may love and create a brand new booklover!

Friday, July 18, 2014

1000 Buried Noses: More Tips to Get Your Kid's Nose Buried in a Book

In my last Buried Noses post, I suggested getting other family members involved. This time, let's involve your child's friends. After all, peer pressure is a powerful thing. Make it work for you.

I know what you're probably saying to yourself right now, "If I can't get my kid to read, how can I encourage even more kids to read?"

Don't worry, there's power in numbers.  This may take a bit more effort, but you'll have special memories, which can last a lifetime.  Depending on your child's age, choose an appropriate theme and then use your imagination to tie the book to a few other fun activities for your child and his/her friends.

Let me give you a few examples:

Ages 8-11  Read Little House on The Prairie and then try making homemade bread or pies from scratch.  Dan Gutman writes some great sports books.  Have the kids choose a book to read. Meet to discuss it and then take a field trip to a game, or play the game at the park.  Choose one or more of the Animal Ark Series and then visit a petting zoo or farm.

Ages 10-14  Read Black Beauty, The Black Stallion, or Misty of Chincoteague and then visit a horse farm or horse rescue. Have the kids read John Flanagan's first book in the Ranger's Apprentice series, and then practice archery in the backyard or at a range. Read a Goosebumps book and then visit an old cemetery.

Obviously, there are so many ways to get kid involved and make reading a more holistic experience.  Make sure to take plenty of pictures and keep your book club going. Use your imagination, meet monthly, alternate parents hosting if possible, have fun!

Let me know in the comments of any tips you have to help parents get their children's noses buried.  And please don't forget to email me a photo of your child with his/her nose buried in their favorite book.


Monday, July 14, 2014

J. D. Scott tagged me for Blog Tour

What exactly is a blog tour, anyway?

That's exactly what I asked when I was tagged by a fellow writer whose book I enjoyed reading. I liked her description. "Don't worry," she says,"a Blog Tour is tag for grown-up social media junkies." I felt honored to be “tagged” for a blog by a writer I admire and so, of course, I decided to tag two awesome authors to play along. Alan Black and Ethan Erway. They agreed to post their blog next Monday 'tagging' two to three other authors. Ethan and Alan will answer the same four questions about their writing process that I discuss below, and so the Blog Tour continues. Want to play? Contact Alan or Ethan and introduce yourself. They just may tag you in their post. Their profiles and links will be at the end of this blog.

How the Blog Tour Began for me.

I met J.D when she presented at Dog-Eared Pages Friday Night Writes event a few months ago. She gave us so much great information, I had to read her book, The Disillusionment of Anahera Daniels, and can highly recommend it to teen and adult readers. J.D. created an intriguing world that will sweep you away from Earth for a while.

J.D. Scott is a lover of reading, writing and good movies. She has been the organizing member of Abba's Writers in Phoenix, Arizona, for three years. She leads, organizes, and teaches both critiquing and story development to its members In 2013, J.D. Scott became part of the team at A Book's Mind as a Publishing Consultant. She enjoys working alongside writers, helping them fulfill their dreams of becoming published authors. Before being bit by the writing bug, she spent 20 years working with children as a nanny, mentor, camp counselor, and youth group leader. With a heart for today's youth, J.D. Scott set out to write books entertain and inspire them to rise above the current culture and see their value. Paperback edition of The Disillusionment of Anahera Daniels is available at

Here goes!

What am I working on now?

Most of you know, I’m currently rewriting and editing a sci-fi/fantasy novel tentatively titled, Pangaea.  This is quite a departure from my previous work. It’s not for kids and I’m thinking of using the penname, A.J. Questerly, for this book to differentiate it from my work for children.

Pangaea is a place where Tolkien’s Elves and Star Trek meet. A bit of fantasy and a bit of science fiction. I'm not really sure which way to classify it. The land has almost become a character in its own right. I can see the architecture of the buildings, ancient forests, and unexpected wildlife here. I'm hoping my rewriting will allow my readers to see Pangaea just as vividly.

I love living in this make-believe realm. It’s so different from ours.  Since I've been working on it, I haven’t had to discuss politics with Thom. I just tell him, “that kind of thing would never happen on Pangaea. That alone, is worth all of the hours I've put into it. If up to me, I would never leave.

But then I fell in love with another idea, so while I'm rewriting Pangaea, I'm also writing the first draft to another book. My working title is #RKBAM. I can't tell you what that means yet. This one is a contemporary young adult novel.  I’m about a third of the way into it. I know how it will end, and what needs to happen. I just need to get it on the page in the right order.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Unfortunately, according to publishers and agents, it differs too much. For example, I wrote my books, The Minstrel’s Tale Trilogy, for smart kids (ten years old and up). Every rejection I've received from agents and editors said, “although I like the story,  since it doesn't have a child as the main character, it’s NOT a children’s book”. Can’t sell it to a children’s publisher, can’t shelve it in the children’s section of a bookstore. No deal.

I guess I could have rewrote it and cast Amos as a younger minstrel, and tried harder to get a contract from a major publisher. I thought about doing it, but didn't feel it would be fair to Amos. After all, he told me his story, trusted me with it. I only wrote what he whispered into my ear as my fingers hovered over the keyboard. I decided to self-publish instead and Amos is thrilled with that decision.

Besides, some of my favorite novels when I was younger did not have young main characters; 1001 Arabian Nights, Gulliver’s Travels, and The Hobbit, to name a few. When I brought this up to the first publisher who rejected The Minstrel’s Tale, his answer was, “but those are classics.”

Well, I wouldn't want to write one of those, would I?

Anyway, I’m almost certain to come up against the same type of argument with Pangaea. Since it doesn’t follow the formula for either sci-fi or fantasy, and has romantic element, but isn't exactly a romance. It won't fit neatly into any genre, which is what the five big publishers seem to require. I'm still going to submit it and try the traditional route first, but I'm not holding out much hope and I’ll have no problem self-publishing if needed.

I guess my problem is that I don't write for publishers; I write for people who enjoy reading the same kinds of books, I do. Smart kids, open-minded adults, and escapists.

I'm okay with that. I'm also fortunate enough to live in a time where self-publishing is an option. Sure, it’s a lot more work. The editing, proofreading, cover design, formatting, and marketing, but I'd rather self-publish than write a different type of story from the one which captured my imagination in the first place. I don’t think I'd have the patience to even finish such a book.

Why do I write what I do?

Because I’m crazy? I write what the voices in my head tell me to write. I don’t know how else to explain it. Ideas bombard my brain like flights of butterflies. Every day, I have dozens of ideas for new stories.

The ones I write, are the ones which pester me the most. They haunt my dreams at night and plague me during the day. A scene plays out in my mind, complete with dialogue, emotion, and body language. Or an entire world begs to be called into existence. Or a house implores me to close my eyes and explore every nook and cranny.

With The Minstrel’s Tale, it was Amos’s constant whispers. His fairy tales, his problems, his worries and concerns. Pangaea was sparked by a question my son frequently asked when he was little. “Why do we have to have money?” #RKBAM ignited my imagination with picture of a beautiful home for sale. The ultimate dream home. A home designed with love and money. So much money, even if I'd won the lottery I couldn't afford it such a house. So much love, I was inexplicably drawn to the people who lived within its walls. Since I couldn't exactly stalk the actual owners of this home, I made them up. They're great people, I can't wait for you to meet them.

How does my writing process work?

I'm ADHD so I need absolute quiet when I write. No distractions whatsoever. No music. No one else in the house. My phone turned off. To resist temptation, I don't have cable or the internet at home and I only keep books in my house which I've already read.

I schedule two days a week to stay home and write while Thom runs our bookstore, Dog-Eared Pages. This way, I know I have plenty of uninterrupted time to really get into my scenes. I also take advantage of early mornings. I write at 4:30 in the morning. I don't get much accomplished during this time, since there are so many things that need to be done in the mornings, but I’m at least able to work on some minor parts of my book or my blog during this time.

I can usually finish a first draft within 30-45 days. However, I've found it takes about a year to rewrite and edit each book. Although this may sound discouraging, I've found rewriting to be just as rewarding as creating. In fact, more so. Many writers think of their books as their children, and that analogy holds here. As wonderful as it is to bring a child into the world, the real joy is in helping to shape that child’s life. To me, rewriting is shaping my book to face the world. Making it strong enough to stand on its own, without me there to explain what I meant to each reader. Like child-rearing, rewriting can be frustrating, delightful, surprising, and terrifying. Sometimes all in the same day.

To me, writing truly is a journey and each story is an adventure to be treasured.

Tag! Alan Black and Ethan Erway, you guys are it!

Alan Black

I've read several of Alan's books and plan to read more. He's also been very helpful as one of my alpha-readers for Pangaea. That should give you an inkling as to how much I respect his writing. 

Alan Black has been writing novels since 1997 when he started Eye on The Prize. His writing tastes are as eclectic as his reading preferences. Alan admits that he loves writing much more than editing the whole publishing process. Marketing of his work leaves him as baffled as the whole string theory thing.

Alan was born in central Kansas, but grew up in Gladstone Missouri. He graduating from Oak Park Senior High School and eventually earning a degree from Longview Community college in liberal arts. He spent most of his adult life in the Kansas City area. The exception came at the orders from the U.S. Air Force where he was stationed in Texas, California, Maryland and Japan. He and his wife were married in 1977 and moved back to Independence, Missouri, but they now live in sunny Arizona. He says the dry desert air stimulates his creativity more than the juicy air in Missouri (pronounced here as ‘misery’) and he has yet to shovel sunshine out of the driveway.

His desire to write started in the second grade. He was given an assignment to write a short story about Greek mythology. His teacher took the time to call his parents. Although neither his father nor his mother remembered the incident, it had an impact on him eventually leading him to on the Price. He has gotten faster since them completing his last manuscript in three weeks.

So far, Alan Black has written the following books. Check them out!

1. Metal Boxes. Published September 2014 by CreateSpace. Military Science Fiction at 140,000 words. Print Length: 339 pages.

2. Chasing Harpo. Published June 2013 by CreateSpace. General Fiction, Humor, Action Adventure at 62,000 words, Print Length: 214 pages.

3. Chewing Rocks. Published December 2013 by Create Space. Near Earth Orbit Science Fiction at 82,000 words. Print Length: 214 pages.

4. The Friendship Stones. (with Bernice Knight, book one of An Ozark Mountain Series). Published November 2013 by CreateSpace. Young Adult, Historical, Christian, Action Adventure at 62,000 words. Print Length: 245 pages.

5. The Granite Heart. (with Bernice Knight, book two of An Ozark Mountain Series). Published February 2014 by CreateSpace. Young Adult, Historical, Christian, Action Adventure at 62,000 words. Print Length: 193 pages.

6. Steel Walls and Dirt Drops. Published June 2014 by CreateSpace. Military Science Fiction at 110,000 words. Print Length: 390 pages.

Ethan Erway

Ethan Russell Erway, author of the ADVENTURES OF MICHAEL BELMONT young adult fantasy series, and THE BLEEDING STAR CHRONICLES and BLOWING OFF STEAM adult novellas, has been a life long fan of the fantasy and science fiction genres. His third book, MICHAEL BELMONT AND THE CURSE OF THE THUNDERBIRD, is due for release in late 2013. All these works are available from and various retailers. Ethan is a regular participant in Phoenix Comicon and other sci-fi/fantasy conventions.

He is currently the Minister at Agua Fria Christian Church in Humboldt, AZ where he lives with his wife Kara and sons Gabriel and Caleb, who are homeschooled. The family also provides care for foster children.

When you get a chance, give these guys' books a try. They're fun reads!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My New Mission

One Thousand Tiny Noses Buried Between Pages!

Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics advised parents to read to their children from birth. This offers a great start, but how do we get the kids we already have to love reading?

I’m on a mission to bury one thousand tiny noses between pages.
Want to help?

Whether you’re a parent, teacher, sister, brother, grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin or friend you can make a difference. If each of us buries just one tiny nose this year, we can improve the lives and futures of so many children and their children.

As a bookstore owner, a children’s author, and a mother I’ve been helping kids find their love of stories for years and plan to continue. But I don’t have all the answers. If you know of a way to get kids reading, please post it in the comments. By working together, we can make this a go-to site for parents. 

Comment, share, post a pic of your NEW reader with their favorite book and let's get 1000 tiny noses buried this year!

Check out my 1000 Buried Noses Page on this site for updated pics of new readers!

Tip: Turn reading into a family affair. To a child, spending time with Mom, Dad,  an older brother or sister is precious time. While being handed a book and told to "go read" feels more like punishment. Instead, spend 15-20 minutes a day either reading to or reading with him or her. Take turns with other family members reading with your child and don't get discouraged. With some kids, it takes a bit longer to find the magic book. That one book which they can read like a movie in their mind that hooks them forever.  

Also don't forget to recruit extended family. Reading is a great way for aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents to bond. Even if done over the phone, these moments can become so meaningful to young children. 

Think back to when you were younger and I'll bet your favorite books were those you read with your parents or someone else to whom you felt close. Reading together creates fond family memories that will last a lifetime. I have adults who come into the bookstore and catch a glimpse of an old children's book, and exclaim, "I remember reading that with my grandma," as their gaze takes on a faraway look.

I'll leave you with a few links for more info.

In the meantime, grab a kid and a book and journey to another world!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Secret Mystery Message Winners!

So proud of these guys! Emily, Kimmy, and Spencer downloaded a copy of the Minstrel's Tale during Comicon and emailed me the next day. Not only had they already read the entire book, they had solved the secret message hidden inside of The Minstrel's Tale!

Today, they all came into the bookstore and I was able to congratulate them in person. This wasn't an easy puzzle to solve by any means. It's been three years and no one has even come close to unraveling the secret code. Have I mentioned how much I love writing for smart kids?!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

It's Official: I'm a Geek!

I’ve long suspected I was a geek. After attending my first Comicon, I can now confirm it. I wore out my camera within an hour of arriving. The costumes were incredible and everyone was so friendly; happily posing for pictures, flashing smiles, and echoing ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ over all the cool Cosplay. (Just learned what this means over the weekend; basically it’s dress-up—which I love to do—and I did get to wear my medieval gowns!)

I couldn’t believe how many people I knew there. Friends I hadn’t seen in years popped up wearing steampunk, Dr. Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, medieval, pirate, and mermaid costumes. Best of all, I made lots of new friends too. It’s so easy to connect with people having fun and, strange as it seems, people seemed to be more themselves when in costume.

The last count I heard was more than 100,000 people attended this year’s event. I believe it. At times, it seemed as if a wall of flesh boxed me in as I tried to exit or enter the building. I found it strange that they didn’t designate separate entrances and exits and everyone was going in both directions through the same doors, creating huge blockages. Nerds are supposed to be intelligent, right? Anyway, by Sunday they did designate one set of doors as an exit, but for some strange reason they used the door on the left and so constantly had to tell people to use the other doors to exit.  (Security from the UK?) I giggled every time I tried to go through it.

After my first day of awe, the old-timers began to show this newbie the cool shortcuts—the secrets of Comicon. How to get from here to there without wading through rivers of people. Where to score the free food, where to find a hidden oasis for a few moments of quiet time, and where to get a decent cell signal.
How did I end up at Comicon? My author-friend, Linda Andrews generously invited Vijaya Schartz and me to share her table to sign our books. I didn’t plan to sell many of my books there, since I write historical fiction, and was pleasantly surprised at the response. Should have known better; I write for smart kids, and it appears the kids at Comicon love to read—everything!

Special Highlights: My friend and cover designer, Don Gerron, submitted a short film, Fists in Flight, to the Comicon contest and won the grand prize! Got to see him accept his award.

Met my new favorite author, Jim Butcher! Here’s the thing; I’m not a fan girl, I don’t care about celebrity, but I have a huge writer crush on this man. After his first panel, I ran up on stage, asked for a hug (and got one!) and then asked him to sign my book. Didn’t have a pen…panicked for a moment until someone offered him one…forgot to get a picture. Later on, this woman comes up to me at my booth and said, “You totally ‘geeked out’ with Jim Butcher, girl.”

Yep. Guilty!

It’s funny, for years I really thought the people who attended Comicon were weird and were way too into it and it just wasn’t for me. I was wrong. I found it refreshing and uplifting to spend the weekend with kindred spirits. Book lovers, geeks, nerds…whatever you want to call us…I’m proud to be one of them.

I’ll be back.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I Love Writing!

I've always been amazed at how authors like Nora Roberts and James Patterson can put out so many books. Now, I think I'm starting to catch on a little as to how they do it.  I don't think I'll ever be as prolific as they are, but at least I think I can get more than one book a year published. 

Right now, I have three new books in different stages. The Book People & Other Tales just came out and is available at Dog-Eared Pages and on Amazon. Although The Book People is new, most of the other stories had already been written and were included in various anthologies in which I was asked to participate. It's kind of nice to have them all rounded up and in their own book. 

Meanwhile, Pangaea is with my editor. I can't stand the waiting to hear back. You might say I'm a bit impatient which, of course, causes everyone within whining distance to want to strangle me. Not to mention, how much my editor dislikes my nudging texts and emails, (okay, she says nagging and

I thought I'd take the time to work on different aspects of writing. You know, working on getting emotions right in different types of scenes; really nothing more than exercises. 

I certainly wasn't planning to start another book. I've been living in Pangaea for the past year. I'm fully involved in that world. How could I possibly set it aside and start a new project?

Here's the thing; fictional characters can become pretty rude and demanding if their writer ignores them. So now, #rkbam is in the process of being written. This story is practically writing itself and I can't wait to get my first draft nailed down. 

What surprised me is that I didn't think anything could pull me away from Pangaea, yet this story did. I'm really loving where it's going. Sorry, I can't tell you anything else about it yet.  Be patient. (Yeah, I know pot...kettle.) 

It's actually working out rather well for me and for my editor. I'm fully involved in this new world unfolding in my head, and I'm not pestering her to get my edits back to me.  Plus, my friends don't have to listen to me complain about how long it's taking. Everybody wins!

My theory is that Nora and James are just as impatient as I am and they have to keep writing or they'd have no friends left. They just have a lot more experience at it than I do--so far.  

Friday, May 9, 2014

7 Simple Tricks to Save Time

It never fails, at every workshop, signing, or event at which I speak, two questions are invariably asked: the first is; “Where do you get your ideas?” Since I have an entire workshop devoted to that topic, I’ll answer the second question here; which is, “Where do you find the time to write?”

It’s a great question. I work over 40 hours a week at Dog-Eared Pages Bookstore. I love to create delicious homemade meals for us almost every night. I teach writing workshops for kids and adults. I’m frequently a guest speaker at schools and writing groups around Arizona. I attend many events such as the Glendale Chocolate Affair, the Tucson Book Festival, Arizona Dreamin’, Building the Dream, and Comicon. Like most folks, I don’t have a maid to take care of housework and, although my children are grown, I have two adorable Border Collies who love to play.

When do I find time to write? In the space between the minutes. Every effective shortcut adds minutes to my day. The more chores I can get out of the way, simply and quickly, the more time I have for my writing.  It may not seem like much, but those precious seconds and minutes add up.

I’d like to share with you my favorite seven time-savers. Even if you don’t write, I’m sure you’ll be able to find a more pleasant way to fill your time. Please know, these aren’t all my ideas, but things I’ve read or heard about, tried and then, once I realized how well they worked, incorporated into my life.

1.       Bacon! I know it’s not the best source of protein, but I do love bacon. However, I hate to cook it. Grease splatters are a pain to clean, and I hate the greasy feel of raw bacon. When I buy a pound of bacon, I immediately cut it into little pieces about ½ inch long by ¼ inch wide (about three times the size of bacon bits). I freeze the pieces in small plastic containers that stack neatly inside my freezer. You can pick up these little containers at a dollar store, (10 for a buck). They’re about one inch square and, when packed full, hold about three tablespoons of bacon.

Take one of the little squares out of the freezer, dump the bacon into a small skillet, and fry over medium heat until it’s done the way you like. You don’t even need to thaw it out, and it cooks much quicker than strips with barely any splatter. Add to eggs, green beans, baked potatoes, casseroles, grilled cheese, or whatever you like. Savings: less calories and fat and all the taste of one of my favorite foods. Less waste from throwing bacon away that I forgot to cook, less cleanup, makes meals more interesting with not much hassle.

2.      Another great use for those tiny containers is to freeze pesto. (My friend Gordon gave me this idea.) I add pesto to almost everything: grilled cheese sandwiches made with mozzarella, veggies, potatoes, steak, burgers, shrimp, chicken and, of course, homemade pasta. However, it’s a pain to make, and cleaning the oily food processor is something I don’t enjoy doing either. When I make a batch, I make a large batch at once (My food processor works better with the larger amount too.)  A little pesto goes a long way, so these tiny plastic squares work great for storage and, after an hour of thawing, this pesto tastes  as good as the fresh. It’s even the same beautiful shade of green!

Tip: instead of buying the fresh herbs at the grocery store, just buy an entire plant and replant it. (Usually costs about the same amount) After a couple of weeks, you should have enough leaves for a large batch of pesto and, by the time that’s all gone, your plant should be ready for another trim. Savings: preparation, clean up time and money.

3.       The Pampered Chef square brownie pan. This pan has replaced my casserole dish and loaf pan, becoming my go-to pan for the oven most of the time. Not only do we enjoy more brownie edges, but I use it for meatloaf, egg casseroles, macaroni and cheese, muffins, and I’m always finding new uses for it. I can make a dozen portion-sized meals at once and freeze the rest for breakfast or lunches. The only drawback is because of all of the crevices it does take longer to clean than a loaf pan or regular brownie pan, but, being able to throw the leftovers into a freezer bag and be done with it, makes up for it in my opinion.

4.       Have you noticed that your dishwasher doesn’t clean your dishes and glasses very well lately?  I found out a few years ago that a new law was quietly passed, banning detergent makers from using phosphorous. Once the current supply of detergent was sold out, sometime in 2012, people began trying new detergents, adding rinse agents, even going so far as to replace their dishwashers or installing water treatment systems. (It would have been nice if they’d made an announcement or two about this and saved us all a bit of money and aggravation.)

Anyway, I’d heard about this particular idea before, but it wasn’t until my friend, Karen assured me it worked and my home wouldn’t reek each time I ran the dishwasher that I tried it. Adding ½ cup of vinegar to your dishwasher really helps and it’s much cheaper than using the expensive detergents and pods. Have you seen the prices on some of that stuff!? Savings: money and time spent rewashing dishes and polishing glasses.

5.      Let’s move out of the kitchen now. Take a piece of aluminum foil and crunch it up until it’s about the size of a golf ball. Throw it in your dryer along with your clothes. Works better than dryer sheets to completely eliminate static cling and it’s reusable! Savings: no longer remembering to buy dryer sheets, very inexpensive, and I no longer have to fish panties and socks from inside shirt sleeves every time I do the laundry. Plus, we no longer shock each other or our doggies!

6.      While we’re in the laundry room, don’t worry so much about how to fold that damn fitted sheet. (Mom showed me many times, and I still can’t do it!) Fold it as best you can, and slide it, along with the folded flat sheet, into one of the pillowcases, add the rest of the pillow cases and then fold the flap over and stack it in your linen closet. When you’re ready to make the beds, grab the pillowcase and go. Everything is already in there! Savings: time searching for matching pillowcases (it’s almost like socks the way they disappear into the bottom of the closet or the corner of the fitted sheet) and less frustration trying to get that fitted sheet right. Plus, my linen closet almost looks organized.

7.      Working in a bookstore and printing out manuscript pages to edit, gives me more than my share of paper cuts. Thom read about this trick somewhere and it really works well. Instead of trying to find a tiny bandage, just rinse and swipe medicated Chapstick across the cut. It seals the edges together and stops the bleeding instantly while numbing the cut. Within a day, the cut is pretty much healed. (If it isn’t, make sure to use a triple antibiotic ointment. You might have picked up a nasty germ. If that doesn’t work, go see your doctor.)

Please feel free to comment on which of these you've tried. Also, I’d love to know what tricks and tips you’ve picked up over the years to make life easier. Happy writing and reading!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Never-Ending Job of Proofreading!

Well, I did get my *final* proof of my new anthology, The Book People and Other Tales, yesterday. Thought I'd quickly glance through it, you know, just to make sure the formatting was correct. With no warning whatsoever, a glaring typo jumped right off the page and bit me!

So, I go through the book, yet AGAIN and find more than twenty errors hiding in those peaceful looking pages, just waiting to jump out and bite my readers. Have no fear, my courageous readers, I am on the hunt, ferreting out those hideous grammar goblins and those devious punctuation pirates who keep moving my commas around willy-nilly.

It may take a bit longer for this book to be available, but your safety is so important to me, that I will not give up until I have all of the little buggers exterminated.

Be patient just a bit longer.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

One Step Closer!

Yay! I mailed my manuscript of Pangaea to my editor this weekend! Fingers crossed that she doesn't find too many major kerflaffles for me to fix.  I can't wait to hear what she thinks of this new world. It feels like putting my babies on the school bus for the first time: scared, excited, impatient, worried, and relieved all at once.

While she's working on Pangaea, I have several other projects to get caught up, including this blog. I want to be ready to roll when she sends it back.

And, my newest book, The Book People and other Short Stories should be available at Dog-Eared Pages and on Amazon very soon!  I'm waiting for the final proof to come today.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Managing Your Muse: Part 7 Technology-12 Fun iPhone Apps for Writers

We really don’t need to discuss the technology I learned to use during my corporate career; programs like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. These have become almost second nature to us by now. Instead, I would like to talk about today’s technology.

Okay, I know I was way behind the curve. I did finally get a smartphone last summer and I love it! Although, it’s not the latest and greatest, it works for me. I have with the iPhone 4S and I love, love, love Siri! I can rule the world with this phone. It’s amazing.

I was thrilled to discover some apps for writers that are not only helpful, but fun to use, and did I mention they’re free. What’s not to like about that, right? 
Try them out, and let me know what you think.

1. Story Tracker-This app gives you a place to store all the info for submissions, queries, and contests. Use Story Tracker’s statistics feature to show deadlines for contest entries or response times, which is helpful for follow-ups with agents and editors. It’s also a great place to store info for submissions or contests you are planning to enter for future reference.

2. Name Dice-This random name generator is handy to have around for choosing character names. I usually spend a bit more time on major and secondary characters, but this is a perfect way to find quick names for minor characters. A few examples: Pauline Trent, Franklin Clarke, Genesis Atkins, Tate Newman. Cool, huh? For some reason, looking at randomly generated names like this, almost brings a character to mind. If you need a unique new character give this little app a try. Oh, yeah—instead of pushing a button to bring up a new name, you can shake your phone too. 

3. Daily Diary-Two things I like about this little app. First, I can voice record and second, it’s searchable! I wish my handwritten journals were searchable.

4. A Novel Idea- This is one I wish I had available on my laptop. It’s a bit too small to work on the iPhone screen for everything this bad boy can do. You can build an entire novel from this little app. Come up with an idea, give it a working title, and then attach character info, location info, and scenes right there. I use it to store snippets for future projects. 

5. Dropbox-I love not having to worry about backing up my work and then, years later, trying to remember where I stashed my flash drive. Dropbox syncs with my laptop, PC, and phone so all of my work is updated and I’m always working on the correct version. If you’ve ever lost a file or forgot to transfer a file to a different location and written a new scene in an older version, you’re going to love Dropbox. If you refer friends, you get more free space, but as long as you don’t store photos you should have enough free storage for .docx files or .pdfs.

6. Syno-Speak or type a word to quickly find synonyms. Convenient if my Synonym Finder isn’t nearby. By the way, the Synonym Finder by Rodale is the absolute best thesaurus on the planet, but it’s a real book—not an app.

7. RhymeFree-A quick and easy rhyming dictionary with syllable counts. A must have for poets!

8. Urban Dictionary-Get with it! Ever see a joke on Facebook or Twitter that you just don’t get? Want to know what’s what with the youth of today? Look no further than the Urban Dictionary, but beware…it’s not PG rated.

9. Weird WOD-As writers, we are supposed to know off-the-wall words. We may not use them in everything we write, but sometimes these unexpected gems can add a bit of pizzazz to a screwy character’s dialogue. Learn a weird word every day with this app. Here are a few examples to pack away for future use; corviform, lunarist, mugwump, and infuscate. Fortunately, the app also gives definitions. 

10. AnyList-Okay, I use this app for everything, not just for writing. I can say to Siri, “Add milk to my grocery list.” And she does. Then while I shop, I tap ‘milk’ and it’s gone. But it’s not just for grocery lists. I have To Do Lists, Today Lists, Events Lists, Christmas Lists, and Ideas Lists. Siri works with all of them. I absolutely love this app. You can also upgrade and get more bells and whistles which I may do in the future. 

11. Wordinaire-What’s that word? It was right on the tip of my tongue and now it’s gone—not with this baby! 

A couple of years ago, I lost one of my best writing friends, Chuck Mallory. Chuck was the type of guy I could call at 7 am and say, “I can’t think of the word I need, it’s got something to do with Art History and I think it starts with a ‘p’. 

Good ol’ Chuck would say, “Good morning. I just woke up. Let me think on it and call you back.” 

He’d call back in a few minutes. “Was it provenance?” 

“Yeah! That’s it. Thanks, Chuck. See you later.”

I really miss him. No one else seems to have a sense of humor about my early morning phone calls and no one has the command of the English language like Chuck did. Although, Wordinare can’t replace my dear friend, it can give me an alphabetical  list of words when I type ‘art history’ and right there in the p’s is ‘provenance.’

12. ***It did take me a while to find the most important button on the iPhone for any writer. Now, I use it religiously every day—the ‘off’ button. Not vibrate, not ‘do not disturb’; I turn it all the way off until I’m finished my word count for the day. Siri is much too distracting and, until they come up with an app to keep my butt-in-the-chair, I have to give my wonderful new tool a rest so I can get some writing done on my next novel, Pangaea.

Found any fancy new apps to add to this list? I’d love to hear about them!
I’d love for you to check out my latest book, Strategic Rewriting, for more writing tips and tricks. It’s available on Amazon as a print and as an eBook, but if you’d like a signed copy, simply order Strategic Rewriting from


Sunday, March 9, 2014


First draft of Pangaea is finished! 

We're still a long way off from publication--lots of rewriting and editing, not to mention, proofreading yet to do, but the story is done and, I gotta say, I love it!

I want to live on Pangaea. Whenever Thom starts talking politics, I get to tell him, "Shhh! I'm on Pangaea. These things don't happen there."

The best part is, this immediately changes our dinner conversation. Thom's many suggestions and our late-night discussions have led to many exciting changes from the original storyline, I've decided to add his name to the book. After all, he's been as immersed in this world as I have. 

This move actually works out well. I've been wondering how to handle my author name for Pangaea. This is not a children's book. It's definitely for adults. So we've decided to go with A.J. Questerly as our author name to differentiate it from my children's writing, while still having to only market one name--Questerly. Win/Win, right? Fingers crossed.

For now, we're rewriting Pangaea, and then it goes to our editor for another round of fun. Like I said, we're a long way from a finished book, but we see daylight. 

Also, you may have noticed my website is gone and now points to this blog. A move I'm deliriously happy about ( I did it all by myself!). Trying to keep up a website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon, and everything else was overwhelming and I found I wasn't keeping up well with any of them. My hope is now, I can simply post to my blog and play a bit on Facebook with my friends instead of dreading the Social Media Monster. Which means, I'll have more time to write and interact a bit.

I've added a few pages to this blog. My Events Calendar and My Books page. 

Look for more changes to this blog as I try to make it more user friendly.

Four years into this writing journey and I'm still in love with it. I can't imagine doing anything else. My mind is already spinning with ideas to work on while Pangaea is with my editor.