Friday, August 31, 2018

Interview with Jennifer Rayes Author of Intricate Deceptions

Let's welcome Jennifer Rayes today! Jennifer will you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Jennifer Rayes. I have written a fictional new adult series, Intricate Series, based on experiences from my life and other people I know. I am originally from Lebanon and grew up between there and the US. I studied Chemical Engineering in Ohio, and now work in the UAE with my Great Pyrenees, Koby.

What a beautiful dog. What brought about the idea for this book?

I have always enjoyed writing, and began doing so at an early age. A few years ago, I was watching a series on television with family, and thought to myself I can write something like this. That same night, I started working on Intricate Deceptions, and those first few pages turned into a chapter, then that chapter turned into a book. It’s something I enjoy doing, and my inspiration comes as I write.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I’d like to be writing and see my series turned into a movie or a show.

Best of Luck. You never know what could happen. It seems like all of the great movies and shows stem from a book. Have you been given any helpful advice? If so What?

To become a writer, you just have to write. I find writing to be like exercise; the more you do it, the easier it gets, the longer you stop, the harder it is to get back into.
If going through a block, I recommend reading.

Jennifer, currently, what are you working on?

Book 3 in the Intricate Series.

What has been the most difficult thing you have struggled with since you began a career in writing?

My best writing comes out in the middle of the night between 2 and 5 am. Unfortunately, it’s a very difficult time to write, as I’m usually asleep.

I understand, many a times have I been comfy in my bed when inspiration strikes. Tell us a little bit about your main characters
My main character is a girl that is a victim of kidnap and human trafficking, who then, through several twists, comes into power and decides to fight these organizations and corruption.

What has been the best compliment you have received?

That a reader couldn’t put the book down.

How do you handle criticism when it comes to your writing?

At first, it used to sting a lot. Now, I am able to step back and take the positive from whatever feedback I get, and use the negative to improve.

Is there something you learned from writing your first book?

It’s a journey, a long journey.

It is and a lot of work but if you persevere you can get through it. How many times do you think you read your book before going to print?
I’ve lost count.

Jennifer, thanks for stopping by and sharing with us today. HAPPY READING!!

Amazon Link

Monday, August 27, 2018

Interview with Robbin Miller author of Breaking Barriers: A Girl’s Dream to Play Little League with the Boys

Today I would like to welcome author Robbin Miller. Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Robbin Miller. I am a Children’s Book author since 2015. My current book titled, “Breaking Barriers: A Girl’s Dream to Play Little League with the Boys” is my first chapter book for children ages 8-11 years. It is a memoir of my experiences playing little league baseball in 1975 after it became legal in 1974.

I am a licensed mental health counselor in private practice and an adjunct faculty and success coach at a community college. I have my own TV show titled, “Miller Chat” which is cable-casted on Channel 28 in Shrewsbury, MA. I produced over 300 shows on different topics pertaining to families and to persons with disabilities. I am a mother of a 9 year- old boy and married for 27 years.

Robbin, will you share an excerpt from your book with us.

My name is Robbin Miller and this is my story. I played baseball with boys from 1975 to 1977; however, it was not always possible to do. That’s because girls were not allowed to play Little League Baseball until late 1974. It took several court cases and a US President to sign a new law before girls were allowed to enjoy playing the game alongside boys.

Prior to the signing of the law, girls and women either played in their own leagues or in the minor leagues with men. Sometimes the women’s baseball careers were cut short due to society’s expectations of what a woman was supposed to do in those days.  

I consider myself a pioneer because I rose to the challenge of becoming only one of four girls playing Little League baseball in Bayside, Queens, New York with boys. I learned that being calm and collected built up the self-confidence I needed to face the verbal abuse I received from the crowd and from fellow boy players in Little League. I also learned how outside influences such as struggling in school and trouble with friends resulted in poor performance, causing a setback in my baseball career. However, working hard for the comeback is the sweetest accomplishment. It’s a valuable lesson for any young person to learn during their formative years.

When I tell my story to others, their facial expressions reflect utter disbelief at the meanness directed at me when I was trying to play Little League baseball with boys. It was not just the kids; adults played their part in trying to discourage me from my goal.

What brought about the idea for this book?

I wanted to inspire girls to play little league baseball. I find through the literature that not many girls play little league baseball as they are encouraged to play softball instead. For girls who do play little league baseball, they are discouraged from playing baseball with boys after they turn 12 year-olds and are directed to play softball with girls.  

I wanted to share my story when I played in 1975 as a pioneer who took on the challenge to overcome the adversity and resistance I endured from the boys and from the fans. A law was passed in December 1974 and signed by a US President that allowed girls to play little league baseball.  I thought my entrance in an unknown domain would be easy and accepting. Apparently, I was wrong and learned some powerful lessons to achieve my dream.

I bet that was quite an adventure being one of the pioneers. Where do you see yourself in five years?

I want to write more chapter books/picture books on issues important to children. I love writing stories that I have either observed or experienced in my life. I enjoy promoting important growth and transformational lessons for children to learn from and to continue in their lives.
I would like to teach full-time at a college and retire from mental health counseling.
Best of Luck to you, I hope you find the time to write more. Have you been given any helpful advice? If so What?

I have learned to follow your passion and do what you love in life. Don’t look back and regret, instead, move forward with grit and self-determination to accomplish your goals and dreams in life.

Currently, what are you working on?

I am not working on anything currently. However, I am seriously thinking of writing a sequel to my chapter book that tells the story of my academic struggles in school and how little league baseball helped me get through it.

Robbin, what has been the most difficult thing you have struggled with since you began a career in writing?

I work two part-time jobs and volunteer in my community and in my son’s school on the PTO. Writing is more a hobby for me and not a full-time job. I wish it was the other way around but I need to be realistic in setting my priorities and paying the bills. However, I do make the time to write pieces of my work a few days a week as I find writing to be very therapeutic for me.

I think that's a struggle a lot of authors have, just trying to find the right balance. Tell us a little bit about your main characters:

The main character is me as a 9-year old girl learning wanting to play little league baseball without knowing that it was illegal for girls to do so in 1974. Fortunately, the law was passed that enabled the main character to play with boys; however, she was na├»ve in believing it would be smooth sailing for her. She entered unchartered territory that resulted in a tailspin of enduring verbal abuse and bullying but with the determination and grit to prove she can play as well as the boys in the baseball diamond.  The main character learned some important lessons that became life-long for her.

What was your favorite scene to write?

The favorite scene was writing about the parade and how myself and three other girls received loud boos, jeers and name-calling from 300 boys and fans on the baseball diamond.

That must have been hard to live through as a young girl. What has been the best compliment you have received?

“Thank you for sharing your story and inspiring girls to play little league baseball with boys.”

What kind of research do you do before you start a new story?

I look on the web for information from reliable sources to see if my kind of book has been written before and historical research if I am writing a memoir, non-historical non-fiction- of my past experiences in a particular life -changing event.

How do you promote your books? Any tips you can share?

I use social media such as Facebook to join author and parent groups interested in my books.
I also advertise on children’s books websites.
My publisher has a marketing director who is responsible for writing my press releases on my book and emailing them to appropriate prospects.

Robbin, do you have people read your drafts before you publish? 

Yes, I have hired professional editors to read my rough drafts before emailing to prospective publishers and/or self-publishing them by myself.

How do you handle criticism when it comes to your writing?

I take it in stride. I have come a long way to improve my writing skills since I was a child. I appreciate the feedback and take steps to polish up my writing.

Is there something you learned from writing your first book?

My first picture book was “Playgroup Time,” in which I self-published it on my own. I learned about the challenges in marketing your book to prospective customers and to book stores as many of them prefer a traditional publisher and/or agent to pitch your books to them to sell for you.

Unfortunately that is a struggle I think most Indie Authors have to face. Which do you find more challenging inventing the hero or the villain?  Why?

I find it more challenging to invent the hero as I have to make sure the character follows the direction and transformation on the “Hero’s Journey” path.

How many times do you think you read your book before going to print?

Enough times to know before it goes to print.

Robbin, any last words that you'd like to share with us today?

Write what you love and share your story.

Thanks for sharing with us. Happy Reading!!
Playgroup Time
Three Best Friends
Breaking Barriers: A Girl’s Dream to Play Little League Baseball with Boys.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Interview with Scott Kinkade author of the Divine Protector Series

Today I would like to welcome Scott Kinkade. Scott, can you tell us a little about yourself? 

My name is Scott Kinkade. I’ve written nine novels and a few short stories. My books usually fall into either science fiction or fantasy categories, but I occasionally veer off into non-genre stories. I have two series’ thus far, my steampunk Infini Calendar series, and my urban fantasy Divine Protector series. Everything else I’ve written stands alone.

Sounds like you've been busy. Will you share a short excerpt from one of your novels?

As he walked back to the hotel, he mentally went over his itinerary for the next day. Attending the New Birth bash wasn’t the official reason he had come to Seraphim City. In truth, he had come here to visit Seraphim City University. He had recently graduated from high school, and now he needed to find a college. He was considering a law degree. He wanted to uphold justice throughout Morovia, and he felt that was the best way to do it. He would defend the innocent and punish the guilty.
While he thought about this, he suddenly realized he was alone on a dark street. That made him nervous; Seraphim City, for all its splendor, had a high crime rate. He feared he might become its next victim.
He passed an alley. Without warning, a raspy voice whispered, “Ev Bannen.”
Ev stopped, frozen. Had someone in the alley just called his name? “Is someone there?” he said weakly.
For a moment there was dead silence. Then, “Ev Bannen.”
“W-What do you want?”
He couldn’t explain why, but he felt compelled to obey the voice. He walked into the alley. Only a dim bulb above a backdoor provided any illumination. He was terrified but found himself unable to stop.
When he finally stopped deep into the alley, he detected faint movement in front of him. It looked like a dark swarm of things. He stood transfixed. Every instinct he had told him to run like a maniac, yet he couldn’t get his legs to obey him.
The swarm soon coalesced into a vaguely human shape. “Vaguely” was definitely the applicable term; the proportions were all wrong. It had huge bulbous arms, toothpick-thin legs and disk-shaped head. Ev couldn’t make out any more than that because of the lack of light, but he didn’t want to.
It reached out and stroked his face with its oversize hand—or maybe it was a claw. Ev wanted to cry out in terror, even though that wouldn’t have been very manly.

Yes,” it wheezed. This is it, he thought. I’m going to die here, before I even have a chance to do anything with my life.
However, from somewhere above him, a radiant orange glow appeared. The…thing…jumped back, raising a massive hand in front of its face. It was then that Ev got a better look at it. The whole creature was black as midnight, and its skin—assuming that was skin—looked oily, like a snake. But the worst part was the face; it had none. It might as well have been a black hole.
Ev thought the scene couldn’t get any more surreal. He was wrong. Another figure came out of the air and landed in front of him. It was a man dressed like a college professor, with a dark suit and short cropped hair of a muddy hue.
Not fair,” the creature hissed. Ev had no idea how the thing was talking with no mouth.
The man raised a fist. No, not just a fist—a flaming fist. He swiftly rammed it into the thing’s chest. It let out an earsplitting howl before emitting an orange glow and turning to ash.
Before tonight, Ev had no idea how much he had taken reality for granted. He realized, now, that it was a precious anchor, keeping you in the world you know, a predictable world full of rules, rules that all living things had to abide by. But this world he now found himself in, it had no rules. Anything could happen, and that was the truly terrifying thing about it.
The man turned around to face Ev. He looked to be in his forties, with hard features lining his face. Yet there was also compassion there. “Are you all right?”

All right? No, Ev was far from all right. He had been shaken to his core, and he honestly didn’t know how his bodily fluids had stayed inside him this whole time. In truth, he had experienced the terror of realizing he didn’t know anything about the world he lived in.
The man gave him a cursory examination. “Good; it didn’t hurt you. If it did, you’d damn sure know it.”
Finally, Ev managed to form a sentence. “What…what the hell was that?” He stared at the smoking remains.
The man eyed it with disgust. “A refghast. Low-level monsters. They feed on humans.”
Ev shook his head in disbelief. “I didn’t want to come in here, but I did anyway.”
“The refghasts emit a hypnotic signal that compels people to obey them,” he explained.
“But you didn’t obey. You…punched it with a flaming fist!”
He grinned. “One of the perks of being a god.”
Ev blinked. He could not possibly have heard that right.

“A…god,” he said in disbelief.
“Yes, Ev. I’m a god.”
He shook his head vigorously. “No way. That can’t be true. Wait—how do you know my name?”
The man said, “We’ve been watching you, Ev. We think you have what it takes to become a god yourself.”

What brought about the idea for this book?

I assume you mean God School? The idea came about around 2011-2012. I was still working on my Infini Calendar trilogy. I don’t remember exactly what happened, but I got this idea for a series that would be sort of like Harry Potter, but on a more bombastic level. Instead of going to school to become wizards, the characters would go to school to become gods. I also decided early on that one of the students would be a traitor. In addition, I had this image of a race of giants that would menace the protagonists. This ended up becoming the Nephilim. They were originally supposed to invade the school, but I realized they’d never be able to fit in there! So I had to switch gears and make them attack outdoors.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Being a consultant on the movie version, if there’s any justice in the world. And making a lot of money.

Well best of luck to you! Make sure the movie sticks to the books, I hate it when Hollywood changes things. Scott, have you been given any helpful advice over the years? If so What?

“Show, don’t tell.” Also, avoid info-dumping. Don’t put a ton of information all in one place; space it out.

Currently, what are you working on?

I’m currently working on Return of the Nine, the sixth—and perhaps final—entry in my Divine Protector series.

Sometimes it's hard knowing where to end. Just remember you can always do a continuation series if you find that there is more to write.  Brandon Mull did it with Fablehaven and I am loving his new series. As an author what has been the most difficult thing you have struggled with since you began a career in writing?

Getting past bad reviews. A lot of people are going to tell you your writing is god-awful. And the more people that tell you that, the more you start to believe it. If you get more bad reviews than good ones, it can be overwhelming. On more than one occasion, I’ve questioned whether I’m a good writer. I even considered quitting. But the important thing is to believe in yourself but also be open to bettering yourself.

Tell us a little bit about your main characters

Ev Bannen was just a normal guy looking to have a normal life. But that all changed when he was accepted into Divine Protector Academy. Now he’s on track to becoming a god and taking on the responsibility that comes with that. However, he may always be burdened by the knowledge he’s killed people. Part of him thinks of himself as a monster for the lives he’s taken. Fortunately, he has Maya to believe in him. She has her own dark past, so she doesn’t judge him. She understands that people can be redeemed, even if she’s slow to trust others.

Scott, what was your favorite scene to write?

There are so many scenes I enjoyed writing. My favorite scenes are the ones where characters display their vulnerabilities: Maya reminiscing about her tragic childhood, Serika breaking down upon remembering her own death, etc.

What has been the best compliment you have received?

I’ll share with you the review on my short story “Hell is Everyone but You.”: Hell is Everyone But You by Scott Kinkade is a short story that was touching on many levels. It tells of a chance meeting in a holiday resort of two people that just want to escape reality. Fiction writers would say that it's harder to write a short story than a long novel. The challenge is not to rush things or introduce characters that are not fleshed out. This is a challenge that I feel Scott handled really well. This story encourages as well as offers hope for us all. One other thing I took from this story was the sensory sensitivity that people with Asperger's feel.

It's great to have a really good review like this one to go back and read when the negative ones get you down. What kind of research do you do before you start a new story?

It really depends on the setting. I had to do a lot of research for my novel The Game Called Revolution because it takes place in revolutionary France, I had to research things like Joan of Arc, the Women’s March on Versailles, the storming of the Bastille, the siege of Compiegne, etc. For my most recent novel, Aragami, I had to do a lot of research into the Shinto religion and its customs. For my novels that take place in a fictional universe, though, I usually don’t have to do much research because I decide what’s what in that world.

How do you promote your books? Any tips you can share?
Okay, so, if you’re writing a series, make the first book free outside of Kindle (say, on Nook). Then, put it on Kindle and ask Amazon to price match it. It’s not guaranteed to work, but the chances are good. Once your book is free, market the crap out of it. You’ll gain a lot more exposure than you’d have otherwise. And if people like the first book, they’ll shell out the cash for the rest.

Those are great tips. Scott, do you have people read your drafts before you publish?  How do you select beta readers?
Who designed the artwork for your cover?  Or did you design it yourself?
I’m part of a writer’s group, and we all critique each other’s work. They’ve been invaluable for my own writing. I also have an editor named Cathy Lopez ( For my covers I use Ramon MacAirap (

Thanks so much for sharing with us Scott. Be sure to check out more of Scott's works at the links below. Happy Reading!!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Book Review- Aftershock by Katherine Armstrong Walters

Aftershock: Book Two of the Arydian Chronicles

Aftershock by Katherine Armstrong Walters is Book 2 in the Arydian Chronicles.


At the end of book 1 Aqua, we are left with the California coastline in ruins due to an underwater earthquake and tsunami.

Marin and the Arydians have had to abandon their secret underwater home and are now on the run from Mr. Haan and Leviathan, the secret organization bent on taking control of the World.

Jayson is torn between staying with Marin the girl he loves and going home to search for his mother. He ultimately chooses to leave, unsure if he will ever be able to find Marin again. Before leaving he steals something from the Arydians that may lead to the destruction of Marin and all her people.

Mr. Haan is obsessed with his search for Marin and will destroy anyone who gets in his way. He has also been hard at work and created a weapon that could destroy the world as Marin knows it.

Walters did a fantastic job. Often times the second book in a trilogy can be slow, drawn out and a bit disappointing. But Aftershock is full of surprises. The momentum builds with each chapter. I thoroughly enjoy book 2 and couldn't put it down. I can't wait to see how Katherine wraps it all up in the final novel. My only complaint is that now I have to wait for book 3!

Happy Reading!!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Interview with Hazel Spire author of Catching the Trade Winds

Today I'd like to welcome author Hazel Spire. Tell us a little about yourself .
Both my parents were writers. Their friends met in our home in England to read their stories, which sounded fun to me. I wanted to teach, too – which I did for almost thirty years. My first middle-grade mystery, SECRET OF THE SEVENTH GATE, is set in Iran during the Shah’s reign, based on my year there at an American school. It was also where I met my GI husband. After many moves, we have retired to rural Kansas.
My second novel, ARROWHEAD’S LOST HOARD is about kids finding Roman treasure on a fictional British island. My poetry collection, CATCHING THE TRADE WINDS, and an illustrated ABC of London, X MEANS TEN ON THE FACE OF BIG BEN, should both be out by Christmas.
Share a short excerpt from your poetry book

                        THE BALLAD OF CAPTAIN JACK SCURVY

                        Captain Jack set sail one morn,
                        In a stiff nor’ westerly breeze,
                        Aboard Miss Jane, the finest ship
                        To travel the seven seas.

                        Her crew was rough, but skillful;
                        They could steer by sun and stars.
                        Jack’s only fear, apart from storms,
                        Was the lure of girls and bars.

                        This trip might prove his bravest quest,
                        To find the hoard of gold
                        He’d heard about from sailors’ tales
                        And a map he kept in the hold.

                        They set a course for Rintanzu,
                        The isles where the treasure lay.
                        The first leg took a fortnight;
                        They anchored in Jellicoe Bay.

                        The bo’sun checked the rigging;
                        Then he said to Captain Jack,
                        “Let’s row ashore and quench our thirst
                        At Ben’s Inn by the railway track.”

                        All agreed they’d earned a hearty
                        Meal and good night’s rest;
                        Before Jack left Miss Jane, he slipped
                        A scroll inside his vest.
                        He did not care for whisky;
                        Of women he’d had his fill,
                        But sounds behind a velvet curtain
                        Stirred a familiar thrill.

                        He saw the cards, the kitty, and
                        A welcoming nod from Ben.
                        Jack’s heart raced as he jingled his coins
                        And entered the gamblers’ den.

                        He parted with gilders and ducats;
                        He lost his shillings and pence.
                        Instead of quitting while he could,
                        Jack tossed in all his cents.

                        Another loss; what next to risk?
                        His silver watch and chain?
                        The hidden scroll? He stalled.
                        He heard the whistle of a train.

                        The landlord scratched his whiskers;
                        Then at last poor Jacky twigged:
                        Ben ran a shady business here,
                        And every deal was rigged.

                        “A jolly game, lads,” Jacky said,
                        “But more than I can afford.
                        Whoever wins this hand will get
                        The chance to find a hoard.”

                        The players grabbed the map;
                        They traced the X that marked the spot.
                        “That’ll cover me debts!” called Jack,
                        Escaping to his yacht.

                        His loyal shipmates followed,
                        Though without their usual zest.
                        Querying his sanity,
                        They thought they’d lost the quest.
                        “Rintanzu!” cried Captain Jack.

                        “We’re off to dig for gold.

                        Forget about Ben’s Inn, me boys.
                        The real map’s in the hold.”
                          VECTIS CHILDHOOD
                          Mermaid-hair seaweed caught between fingers,
nostrils filled with the tang of freedom,
our salty lips reshaping vanilla cones, we jumped
the waves that pounded Sandown Beach
and thought that summer would never end.
Locals and visitors flung open beach hut doors;
their kettles whistled on Primus stoves.
Mr. Earnshaw trudged through squishy sand
collecting deck-chair money while a megaphone
blared the times for launch trips across the bay.

Distress signals punctuated our pleasure. Boom!
Boom! Send lifeboat or chopper to rescue a tripper
who tried to beat high tide around Culver Cliff.
We dabbled in rock pools by lupine-lined shores,
hiked up the chalk ridge (island’s backbone) strewn
with bunny currants and golden gorse to picnic
at the top, sharing the vista with ghosts
of Tennyson and Keats. No mainland in sight,
who knew what might loom on the hazy horizon?
Submarine, schooner, battleship, even a galleon.  

             Six weeks off school culminated in a carnival:
Crepe paper streamers all down the High Street
saluted grand floats to a heart-jolting drumbeat.
Daddy winked at me under the shiny black peak
of his Town Band cap, tootling into a horn,
Oh I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside. Up
to the fairground we followed in step, enticed
by hot dogs, a Ferris wheel, candy floss, fireworks—
eruptions of magical color that made the crowd cry,
                 “Ooh! Ah! Better than last year!”

What brought about the idea for this book?
I’d been writing poems for years, inspired by the traditional verse we’d learned school, as well as free verse and other forms, such as pantoum, haiku, and terza rima. After racking up some magazine credits and contest awards, on both sides of the Pond, I put together three chapbooks of poetry in 2003, 2006, and 2013, which I sold at open mic venues. This year, I decided to put them together in a full-length collection (paperback as well as e-book) under my imprint Raemark Press, using Author’s Voice editing/design services and CreateSpace.
Congratulations, I find poetry a lot harder to write than fiction. Mine always seems to sound to juvenile. Where do you see yourself in five years?
I have about ten titles up my sleeve for children’s easy readers.  I’d like to see myself as a paid speaker at larger venues (although the introvert in me still screams NO) with stacks of new books and a line going around the block of people wanting me to sign them! I want to do more open mic readings too.
Have you been given any helpful advice? If so What?
I’ve belonged to writers’ groups everywhere I’ve lived. They’re great for giving and receiving market tips and moral support. Poet Paul Ruffin once said at a writers’ forum in Texas, “Trust the process.” I displayed that advice above my desk and try to live by it, because in every project there are moments of despair.
That's good advice. Currently, what are you working on?
Having purchased ten ISBNs, I’m compiling a collection of short stories – APPLE PIE ORDER, by my late father, L.R Longhurst; and a kids’ early chapter book, MADAME ARCHELON’S ART ROOM MYSTERIES, based on personal experience.
What has been the most difficult thing you have struggled with since you began a career in writing?

The amount of time it took from acceptance to printed book – three years for SECRET OF THE SEVENTH GATE – and the low royalties.
Yes it can be a slow going process. I think many authors would give up if they didn't enjoy it so much. What has been the best compliment you have received?
“You taught me to be a not-giving-up person.” Maria, age 10, wrote this in her thank-you card when I spoke at her school’s career day in Dallas.
What kind of research do you do before you start a new story?
My YA novels were based on my life, but I wanted to be sure of my facts about Iran, Islam, etc. for the first one, and Roman hoards for the second. The World Wide Web still being in its infancy, I read a lot of books and consulted people with more knowledge on the  subject. For my ABC about London, it’s been much easier, with so many resources at my fingertips. It helped that I was born there and go back every year. And I research the market to see how my book will fit it with – or stand out from - what’s already been done.
How do you promote your books? Any tips you can share?
I’ll go anywhere I can get my toe in the door: community events, local theater, conventions, gift shops, bookstores, libraries, literary festivals, and schools. I do free presentations and kids’ crafts, even providing a snack that suits the theme - as long as they’ll let me sell books. I’m planning to use Amazon and social media more in the future.

Sounds like you are doing all the right things. Who designed the artwork for your cover? 
With my input, Jan Gilbert Hurst of Author’s Voice designed my cover for CATCHING THE TRADE WINDS, using a stock photo from the Internet.  

Any last words?
I’m going to share a quote attributed to Mark Twain, although this has never been proven! It gave me my book title, and the impetus I needed to reboot my writing career:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

I have a site maintained by Authors Guild:
On Facebook, I’m Hazel Longhurst Spire, but hope to set up a separate author page soon.