Coming Soon: Author Spotlight Series

Author Spotlight

It can be tough for indie authors to get their work out there. We’re individual people, sometimes with small publishers, and we can’t do what the huge publishing houses do. Our resources are finite, and, many times, quite minimal.

Based off of the pool of indie authors I interact with (which is, admittedly, small in comparison to the number of indie authors in the US alone), many of us understand and acknowledge that we aren’t really each other’s competition. There are enough readers out there for everyone, and we can be allies.  We can help each other.

We’ve all been there (or are there). Spending every scrap of spare time posting to social media, attending events, and coming up with ways to reach new readers, in order to share a story that we love enough to put forth all this effort. It’s a full-time job, usually on top of our full-time day job.

So we have each other’s backs. We share and retweet other indie author posts; we pimp each other’s books; we try, whenever possible, to help each other out, because we understand.

In that vein of cooperation, collaboration, and alliance, I’m starting an author spotlight series. It’s hardly the first of its kind, nor will it be the last, but I’m trying to make it unique, or at least a bit different.

The spotlights will be short, 5-8 questions, usually. I’ve provided the first and last question to every author, but the middle three-six, each author gets to choose their favorite 1 or 2 questions from 3 groups of 10. This means that each spotlight will feature a set of questions unique to the author, so be sure to take a look at them all.

And these won’t just be shameless plugs for books. Here’s a sneak peek of some of the questions:

  • Have you ever had anything edited out of a book that you wish had been kept in?
  • What one person would you most like to get your book(s) noticed by?
  • What is the hardest scene you’ve ever written?
  • Does what you’re writing at any given time ever feature in your dreams?
  • How long do you honestly think you’d survive in a zombie apocalypse?
  • Would you rather be invisible, or able to read minds?

I’ll also be doing video interviews to go with some of the posts, as soon as I’m done moving and have my workspace set up. I really doubt you want to see a mess of boxes in the background.

I’ll be starting the author spotlight series with fellow authors from my publisher, Burning Willow Press, but I hope it will expand to include any indie author who would like to introduce themselves.

I will, of course, be sharing all of the author spotlight posts via social media, or you can sign up for email updates. The first spotlight should be up in a few days, so stay tuned.

If you know anyone who’d be interested in participating, have them leave a comment below and contact me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

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Friday Reads #2: Love You Forever

It’s Friday again! Time for Friday Reads.

Cover of Love You Forever by Robert Munsch

Love you Forever by Robert Munsch is one of the first books I remember my mom reading to me as a child. She read it to me so many times, that at one point I had it memorized and would repeat it with her. I can still remember the poem:

I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be.

I think part of the reason that particular piece stuck with me is that my mother often shared a similar sentiment with me, just as her mother had shared it with her. “You could be 50 and you’d still be my baby.” As a child, that was just about the worst thing I could hear (I wasn’t a baby). Now, I’d give so much to hear her call me her baby again. 

You could be 50 and you'd still be my baby

As I grew up, my mom stopped reading to me, as you’d expect, and I basically forgot all about Love You Forever. I don’t even remember, at this point, what brought it back to my attention. I do remember looking it up online and being hit by a wave of nostalgia simply by looking at the cover.

I bought a Kindle edition just so I could read it again. It’s a good thing I didn’t go to a bookstore, because I got hit in the feels HARD. I went through several tissues.

It starts out so sweet, you can’t help but smile. But then it comes around full circle, and it hits home in a way you wouldn’t expect for a children’s book. I’m surprised my mom was able to read it to me so easily. If I had a child and was reading it to him or her, I’d be bawling. Poor thing would probably be traumatized.

I’d highly recommend reading this to your kid(s), though. It’s an amazing book that stands the test of time. Just make sure to read it by yourself, first, to make sure you can make it through without turning on the waterworks.

Illustration from Love You ForeverI’m not ashamed to say I still enjoy it. The poem still pops to mind occasionally. I even still hear it in my mom’s voice. After all, as long as I’m living my Mommy she’ll be.

Have you ever heard of Love You Forever? Did one, or both, of your parents read it to you as a kid? Or have you read it to your kid(s)? Leave a comment below and let me know, and share this with your friends to clue them in to Love You Forever.

Check out last week’s Friday Reads, Little Women, and come back next week for another awesome book.

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Friday Reads #1: Little Women

For the foreseeable future, Fridays here will be the Friday Reads series (to go with the hashtag). What better way to start the weekend than the suggestion of a good book? I’m sure there are hundreds, if not thousands of reviews on the different books I’ll discuss, so I’m not going to review them. Instead I’m going to share what they mean to me. I’m starting the series with the book that I think sealed my fate as a lifelong reader: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

* ~ . ~ *

My mom bought me several versions of Little Women as I grew up. I remember owning five different versions, three of which were quite literally read to death. And I’m looking for a sixth, fancy, version to start my “favorite books” bookshelf. Leave a comment if you’d like to hear more about that.

Great Illustrated Classics, Little WomenAnyway, I remember the first version I received when I was maybe 6. It was part of the Great Illustrated Classics series. Hardcover, illustrated, and abridged with large type. I thought the illustrations were so pretty. They were black line, like a coloring book, and I so wanted to color them all in, but I couldn’t bring myself to “deface” a book like that, even then.

Some time later, when my first version was looking a bit worse for wear from reading it so much, I received an unabridged paperback version. I can remember the bright yellow back cover, even now, although the front cover details are lost to me. It was illustrated as well, in a more elegant style. I specifically remember there being a fabulous stylized illustration of Meg in her borrowed ball gown with Laurie staring on disapprovingly. It was captioned with: “Don’t you like me so?” asked Meg. “No, I don’t,” came the blunt reply. 

This second version was roughly the same physical size as my first version, although perhaps a bit thicker. It might have even been a little smaller along the height and width. I didn’t understand why. Shouldn’t it be much bigger if it was unabridged? Then I opened it. The text was tiny! It didn’t matter, though. I think I finished reading it in a couple days. And I didn’t stop. Over the next few years, I read it so many times it fell apart.

It was while I owned this second version that my mom took me to see the play version. It’s the first play I remember seeing. Generally when we went to the theater it was for some type of dance (ballet, river dance, etc) or some other type of performance altogether, like STOMP! It was simple, the only set changes were during intermission, and our seats weren’t the best in the world, but I remember being rather young, and, seeing as I don’t have many other memories of that time period, it clearly meant a lot.

I bought myself my third version of the book. An inexpensive paperback, as I fully expected to read it to death as well. But before I could, eBooks became a thing. So I bought myself an eBook version. And I’ve read it a few times as well. Thankfully, the digital version won’t fall apart.

In the final days of my mom’s battle against cancer, she was somewhat coherent, but couldn’t really hold a conversation. I assume it must have been horrible for her to be stuck with no form of entertainment. Out of a loss of what to do, I decided to read to her, as she had done for me so often as a child. I chose Little Women.

It wasn’t her favorite book. I honestly don’t know what her favorite book was. But it was comforting, and I hoped it would remind her of good times we’d shared. Of all the times we’d watched the different movie versions together. It may not have been the best decision, though, as I find the book rather difficult to read now. I haven’t read it since she died in 2013. It’s probably the longest I’ve ever gone without reading it.

But hopefully soon I’ll find the strength to read it again and remember all the wonderful memories associated with it. Regardless, it’s a very important book to me. So much so that I even reference it in my own upcoming book The Most Special Chosen.

Click to check out the Little Women Graphic Novel ProjectI also recently discovered a Little Women graphic novel project that has some amazing artwork. I hope the artist continues it, as currently, only the first 7 chapters have been done. Go take a look and see what you think of it.

Have you ever read Little Women? Have you watched any of the movie versions? Which one is your favorite? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.

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Hashtag vs OctothorpeEveryone knows “hashtag”. It’s a fairly young word, but it has completely saturated the world. According to Merriam-Webster, it’s first known use was in 2007 — it’s probably safe to assume it was on Twitter. Merriam-Webster declared it the word of the day on 6/23/2014, the same year it was added to the dictionary. But what came before hashtag?

The little symbol “#” that precedes our hashtags today has been known as a hash, square, pound sign, number sign, tic-tac-toe sign, noughts and crosses sign, and — my personal favorite — octothorpe.

Octothorpe’s history, however, isn’t as definitive as it’s cousin, “hashtag”. By most accounts, workers at the Bell Telephone Laboratories invented the word sometime in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s.

There is nearly universal agreement that the first half of the word refers to the eight lines projecting from the center square. The “-thorpe” however, remains a mystery, with far too many stories behind it to pinpoint the real one. Some of the most interesting include:

  • A Bell Telephone Laboratories employee who burped while talking about the symbol.
  • It’s a derivative of the Old English word for village (thorp) because the symbol looks like a village square surrounded by 8 fields.
  • Don Macpherson, a Bell Labs engineer, added -thorpe to “octo” because he was part of a group trying to get the olympic medals of athlete Jim Thorpe returned from Sweden.

Whatever its origin — and I’m rooting for the village square because it’s whimsical — octothorpe’s first appearance in print is in a 1970’s US patent filing, spelled “octothorp”. Other variations of the word include octothorn, octalthorp and octatherp.

I think we should use octothorpe more often. It’s just so fun to say. Oc-to-thorpe. In my opinion, it rolls off the tongue quite nicely (although perhaps not as quickly as “hashtag”).

What do you think? Should we become linguistics necromancers and bring back octothorpe, or let it die away completely? Leave a comment with your thoughts.

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Live, Learn, and Rebrand

When I self-published The Most Special Chosen, then known as The Most Special Chosen of All, I decided to brand everything by the book series, rather than by my name. I wanted the series to stand on its own, to shine. Consequently, my URL, Facebook, etc. are all variants of Exalted Bloodlines. I did all of my designing around the first book, without ever truly stopping to consider what the series as a whole would be like.

Now several years older (and hopefully wiser), I’m finding many things I should have done differently back then (see “New Logo!“), and am fixing them to general accolade and appreciation.

My most recent revelation is that I should have branded everything with my name. I should shine, and carry my books along in that glow. That’s why this site is now As I continue writing, there will be changes to the branding of this site as well, but for now I intend to keep it Exalted Bloodlines-centric.

So expect to see some changes to my social media profiles. I’ll be changing the names, and perhaps the profile pictures. Make sure to update any bookmarks you may have. I’ve gone back and updated links in past posts, so everything will go to the right places.

Thanks for sticking with me through the changes.

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Top 10 DC Photo Walk Pictures

A little back story to my photo walk: I bought a nice, entry-level DSLR camera last year around my birthday. A Canon Rebel T5. But I don’t make anywhere near as many opportunities to use it as I should, which means I’m not as familiar with it as I’d like to be.

I’m going on vacation in December and plan to take the T5 with me. To help become more familiar with the camera, I’ve decided to take some photo walks and capture anything that catches my eye. Practice makes perfect, after all.

I walked around Southwest DC, namely the tidal basin and national mall. There’s so much to see and photograph around there. I think I ended up with about 100 photos. Most of them were pretty good, thankfully.

Here are my 10 favorite photos. Which one is your favorite? Do you ever go on photo walks?


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My Superpower: Writing

The word writing writing in a rainbow of colors.Writing. The childish fascination of ink flowing unimpeded from the tip of a pen. Forming lines. Curves. Joining together to form letters, words, stories. Color miraculously appearing where previously there was only blank space. Flowing neatly. Arching into a messy scrawl. As much personality as a person, if one only knows how to look.

Keys clicking, recording each tap. An emphatic thump to separate words. Two for paragraphs. Allowing thoughts to be recorded almost as fast as they appear. Effortlessly. Getting lost in descriptions so that one almost forgets having to press the keys.

The simple joy of transmitting thoughts to words. Whether it be pen on paper or fingers on a keyboard. Providing a glimpse, however brief, into the mind. A window into the cogs in motion. Spinning. Churning. Creating life.

It’s a superpower. Being able to call to mind an image using only a handful of simple words. The mind seizes them and is off into a wonderland of imagination. Just letters. Yet capable of sending the reader on an indescribable journey that is over far too soon.

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‘Gramming It Up

AInstagram logo with the Exalted Bloodlines logofter some deliberation, I’ve decided to start an Instagram account for the Exalted Bloodlines Series. I haven’t quite figured out a schedule just yet, but that won’t stop me from posting regularly. Follow Exalted Bloodlines on Instagram for sneak peaks, behind the scenes looks at my writing process, funny memes, and more.

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Social Media Overhaul

We’ve all heard about how important social media is for promotion. I’ll admit, I didn’t pay much attention to that when I self-published The Most Special Chosen. But I’ve been given this second chance. A second chance to really make things work.

To that end, I’ve updated the Facebook and Twitter pages for the Exalted Bloodlines Series. The profile and cover images for both have been updated to include the new branding for the series. I’m happy to say that the cover images feature the character renderings from my very talented friend Kyle McGill.

As you may recall from my post “From Mind to Paper“, Kyle drew my main characters — Elysabeth, Damien, and Shawn — a few years ago and is currently doing some more illustration work for me.

Now then, go check out my updated profiles. They look great. Make sure to like Exalted Bloodlines on Facebook and follow @ExltedBloodline on Twitter if you like the updates.

EDIT 7/14/17: With the rebranding of my site, you’ll find me under authorracheldlf on both Facebook and Twitter.  I’ve updated the links in the post, but I left the text as it was to preserve the post in its original form.

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