Reflections In Hindsight

Grace in the Rearview Mirror…it's closer than it appears

  • Ephesians 4:29

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      2016LAUREL AWARD WINNER!This year, At First Sight took home Clash of the Titles's sixth annual Laurel Award. Over the course of six weeks, the novel's first chapters were read and judged by avid readers of Christian fiction who determined At First Sight to be the worthiest to receive the 2016 Laurel Award.Clash of the Titles extends a heartfelt con […]
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      So, Simple Thoughts on Philippians is now available in Kindle and Print formats. It's free for all Kindle Unlimited subscribers and only $2.99 for Kindle purchase and $6.99 for print. I get about the same royalty for either type of purchase so I'd recommend the Kindle version. It's cheaper. Please remember to post a review once you've rea […]
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      When Pat Taylor wed Tom Allanson he had no way of knowing it would destroy his life in just a matter of weeksIn fact, Pat destroyed a lot of people’s lives. The attractive Southern belle was spoiled by her mother and she expected to live a lavish lifestyle at any cost. Nobody crosses Pat who was fascinated with Scarlett O’Hara. Pat could pour on the charm, b […]

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Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

The Sunday Book Review: It Really IS a Wonderful Life, Linda Rondeau

Posted by elainemcooper on December 16, 2012

Posted by Elaine Marie Cooper

Dorie Fitzgerald’s life is a whirlwind of grief, and there seems to be no end to the downpour of discouragement. Widowed a year ago when her husband was killed at war, Dorie not only has to cope with his loss, but has moved back to small town Midville where the only thing deeper than the snow is her troubles. Raising two youngsters on her own is the frosting on her fear of failure.

The young widow is determined to stay in this Adirondack community where her parents live. But after four months of living in the frozen small town without finding work, she is feeling hopeless.

A small blurb in the local paper, however, draws her attention: The Midville players are putting out a casting call for their upcoming production of “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Perhaps circulating with new townsfolk would open up opportunities for employment, Dorie hopes. Little does she know the real drama that will ensue.

It Really IS a Wonderful Life is so rich with believable dialogue, family dynamics, and interesting characters, that I was quickly drawn into this appealing tale of the woman in mourning who struggles to survive in a new life not of her choosing. Dorie is such a sympathetic and appealing character who, more than once, brought me to tears.

Author Linda Rondeau’s prose was so descriptive and pleasant: “…pretense fouling the air like over-sprayed perfume;” “the frigid air biting like a hundred mosquitoes:” and my favorite line of all, “Perhaps that’s where trust was born, in the belly of the storm.” Rondeau’s words draw you in like the smell of cider on a chilly afternoon. Lovely.

I highly recommend this romantic novel at Christmastime, or any time of year.

I give this book, 5 out of 5 Reflections

Author Bio:
Winner of the 2012 Selah Award for best first novel (The Other Side of Darkness/Harbourlight), LINDA RONDEAU, writes stories of redemption and God’s mercies. Walk with her unforgettable characters as they journey paths not unlike our own. After a long career in human services, mother of three and wife of one very patient man, Linda now resides in Florida where she is active in her church and community. Readers may visit her web site at

Her second book, written under L.W. Rondeau, America II: The Reformation, Trestle Press, the first in a dystopian trilogy, is a futuristic political now available in ebook on and Barnes and Noble. Also with Trestle Press is her serial story, Rains of Terror which can be found on Amazon.Com. A Christmas Adirondack romance , It Really IS a Wonderful Life, is now available through, published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.

Available at Amazon here.

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The Sunday Book Review – The Seventh Dimension: The Door

Posted by Lisa Lickel on November 25, 2012

Product Details


The Seventh Dimension-The Door

By Lorilyn Roberts
c. Oct 14, 2012, Amazon Digital

YA Adventure/Fantasy


$.99 E-book


A truly epic adventure for readers of all ages: although Lorilyn calls this a YA coming of age story, it’s every bit as wondrous for adults. The author has studied the classics, and only subsequent reads will help you find the planted symbolism that makes Seventh Dimension-The Door a clever read.

You’ll find a loving nod to Pilgrim’s Progress if you follow the little white dog into the woods. Shale Snyder has a dreadful accident as a young girl, and finds it difficult to forgive herself or move forward when the victim refuses to accept her grief or confession. Grief is accompanied by hatred which colors Shale’s world.

She is given a second chance, however, in a fantastic land of talking animals (grown from Roberts’s first story, The Donkey and the King), an allegory which makes teaching your children about forgiveness, good and evil, a much easier task. Follow Shale and her new friends as she travels on an adventure of a lifetime to find the king while also growing out of her bad habits into a self-assured young woman who learns obedience and gratitude despite willfulness in the face of despair. Finding the father she always wanted, and his new wife and mysterious servants, help Shale unravel the truth of her long-ago accident, and face the consequences with a clean heart.

Truth, time travel, self-doubt, sacrifice, forgiveness and even all four loves, are explored in depth in this soon-to-be beloved tale of supernatural grace. Told in third person from Shale’s point of view, with humor, dread, sorrow and shame, Roberts’s time-honored story-telling will make you feel part of the adventure and eagerly anticipating the next book.

Buy on Kindle

♦♦♦♦♦ Reflections

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The Sunday Book Review: The Diaries of Pontius Pilate

Posted by Lisa Lickel on November 18, 2012

The Diaries of Pontius Pilate

by Joseph Max Lewis

c. August 2012

Trestle Press

Genre: Contemporary Thriller

e-Book $4.99


The Diaries of Pontius Pilate opens with the murder of a member of an archeological team along the shores of the Dead Sea. We learn that the murderer and victim are both spies observing the expedition and grappling with the fact that the team has just discovered some controversial artifacts.

In fact, archaeologists Kevin Elliot Jill Gates have unearthed twenty mysterious copper scrolls. They manage to open one scroll far enough to take a series of digital photographs of the writings and email them to a Professor of Ancient Latin for translation. Unaware of the content, Kevin and Jill are unprepared when they’re caught between an ancient conspiracy of global power that’s determined to destroy the scrolls along with everyone connected to them and a small interfaith group of former military volunteers, the only force on earth that stands between the truth and certain death.


My review:

Joseph Max Lewis, former Green Beret, debuts with a page-turning thriller. Although the author asked for a review and sent a review copy, I did purchase the e-book.

Diaries is part conspiracy theory, part archaeology, part special ops and technological suspense with some torture and a little romance.

The reader is sent between international and inter-denominational power groups, but it’s not clear at first who are the good guys and which are the bad, which only ramps the tension. Moving through Israel, the US, academia, and anonymous torture chambers where evil reigns, readers gradually learn along with archaeologists Kevin and Jill exactly the importance of the long-held secret they unearthed. Never published, documented, or even more than faintly rumored, the existence of Pontius Pilate’s, one-time Roman ruler of Palestine at the time of Christ,  investigation into the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus could affect the faith of the world. Pilate hid the diaries perhaps too well, for they lay silent for two thousand years, along with other artifacts from that horrible time.

Running from those who want to destroy evidence of the diaries and anyone who knows about them, Kevin and Jill must figure out who to trust as they are forced into close quarters on a ship. They wonder if they can even trust each other. Over the course of time, they examine their feelings as well as matters of faith while trying to keep the scrolls safe.

Diaries is not for the faint of heart, as scenes of massacre and torture are somewhat graphic. Intriguing details of military operations are detailed, as one would expect given the author’s background. Little formatting glitches and occasional other errors don’t stop the action much; I occasionally buzzed through extra-long passages of technology which others would probably enjoy. The romantic relationship was a little rough and spastic, but the story was not meant to be built around a romance, and those elements will only get better in future work, I suspect. I look forward to more from this author.

Buy on Nook

Buy on Kindle

♦♦♦♦ Reflections

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The Sunday Book Review: Lost in the Heart by Cathy West

Posted by Lisa Lickel on November 11, 2012

Hidden in the Heart

By Catherine West

Buy on Amazon

Hidden in the Heart

Paperback: 248 pages

Publisher: OakTara (September 15, 2012)

ISBN-10: 1602903298

ISBN-13: 978-1602903296

From the publisher:

Everything Claire wants seems to be beyond her reach… After losing her mother to cancer and suffering a miscarriage soon after, Claire Ferguson numbs the pain with alcohol and pills, and wonders if her own life is worth living. Adopted at birth, Claire is convinced she has some unknown genetic flaw that may have been the cause of her miscarriage. She must find a way to deal with the guilt she harbors. But exoneration will come with a price. With her marriage in trouble and her father refusing to answer any questions about her adoption, Claire begins the search for her birth mother. For the first time in her life, she really wants to know where she came from. But what if the woman who gave her life doesn’t want to be found?

My review:

Cathy West seems to excel at poking for your heart, cutting it into tiny little pieces, ripping out your guts and sewing it all back together with a little extra love and admiration added in.

No sophomore syndrome for this author, in my opinion. Right from the start of West’s new novel, Hidden in the Heart, I walked with Claire, who was completely out of control with grief and fear and loss of identity despite having everything most people only dream of. She certainly wasn’t likeable, nor could she even like herself. In her determination to find a cause or someone to blame for her miscarriage she sets out to find her birth parents.

West drew the threads of her story together tactfully. It wasn’t hard to figure out who was who, but, rather, the novel was more an exploration of who they became. Why do we abandon the things or people we love? Only from great depths can people rise to new freedom, and sometimes only when we are offered a second chance to revisit our past can we learn to forgive ourselves, let alone the people we wound.

Claire might have had everything from a husband determined to love her no matter how self-destructive and hatefully embarrassing she’d become, wealth and a loving home, but she threw it all away in order to search for answers to fill the hole in her identity, even if the rest of her birth family is determined to keep secrets or bent on revealing the worst of themselves. Readers shouldn’t be surprised at the real conclusions, but will certainly grieve and rejoice with Claire and her new-found sense of self and family.

West says her novel is very loosely on her own experiences of being adopted. I’ve come to admire this author for her realism, the depth of character and the beauty-in-the-face-of-ugliness of her story lines. Well done.

♦♦♦♦♦ Reflections

About the author

Catherine West is an award-winning author writing inspirational stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. Educated in Bermuda, England and Canada, Catherine holds a degree in English from the University of Toronto. Her first novel, Yesterday’s Tomorrow, released in 2011, her second, Hidden in the Heart, in September, 2012. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two college-aged children. Catherine is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America, and is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary. Catherine loves to connect with her readers and can be reached at

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Sunday Book Review: A Farmer’s Daughter – awesome new cookbook

Posted by Lisa Lickel on November 11, 2012

By Dawn Stoltzfus



224 pages – eBook and print

Pub Date: October 2012

Looking at a book that says “Over 300 mouthwatering recipes!” I’m excited! And when I check it out, this book, is so much more than a cookbook. Reminiscent of the Raised on Sunshine and Raised on Rainbows, Stoltzfus includes little tidbits such as Food For Thought that’s almost a devotional and a challenge at the end of chapters.“How do you prepare for your own day of rest?” she asks at the end of Chapter Four. “I encourage you to incorporate this principle of rest and see what it will do for your soul!” The author also makes plenty of suggestions for additions and substitutes on many recipes – a great time-saver when you’re in a hurry and don’t have or care for or are allergic to some of the ingredients.

I page through, seeing a few favorites, such as cheddar potato chowder, variations on meatloaf and all kinds of yummy breads. Things to do with tomatoes…tomato toppers with bacon and onions and Worcestershire sauce. Ah – Hubby has a newfound love of rosemary. I think I’ll try the Baked Rosemary Chicken tonight and get back to you. – the next morning: Pretty Good! I had to make a few adjustments as I used plump breasts and cut them open, and had no celery, so used celery seed. But it was great using our own garlic, apples and onion for the main fill. Very easy and tasty.

I’m going to love this book! Divided into chapters that are more than just the usual meal portions, Stoltzfus includes whole chapters of season items, “Summer Sandwiches and Winter Soups,” and Spring Salads and Dressings.” And two separate chapters of sweets. A woman after my own heart for sure.

About the author:

Dawn Stoltzfus is a wife, a mother of two sweet little boys and a lover of anything creative. She started and ran The Farmer’s Wife Market until 2008 when she sold it in order to stay at home to raise her family. She loves to cook, for one or three hundred and sees cooking and entertaining as an opportunity to serve them out of love and joy rather than out of a sense of obligation. Her love for cooking was inspired by her mother and developed as she cooked for her family of six on their active, working dairy farm in Ohio.

“Available October 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

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The Sunday Book Review: America II: the Reformation, by LW Rondeau

Posted by Lisa Lickel on November 4, 2012

America II: The Reformation, book 1

LW Rondeau

© July 2012

Trestle Press

Spec/Sci Fi Fiction

ISBN: 9781622080595

$4.99 Kindle

In a frightening view of near future Earth, Rondeau starts her story of Reformation with an act of defiance against Unity.

The world has gone amok, but will The Preservation Act save it? In this new world order, people live in the city; others who have defected live in the Outlands in the US, in soddies, making their own food on the farms and trading on the Network, which seems to be something city dwellers want.

Ethnicity is banned and Separatist Ideology is forbidden – everything is regulated: trade, education, style, religion, even marriage.

From the opening quote from Benjamin Franklin to the continental congress regarding forming a constitution 1787 to a prologue showing us the euthanasia service in 2073 shortly before Rondeau’s story opens, this action-packed, page-turning story will make you wonder what it would be like if the world truly did achieve unity. It might not be such a good thing.

Taking all the little pieces of the Children’s Rebellion, Fahrenheit 451, the burning of the library at Alexandria and even a faint tingle of the Third Reich and Hunger Games, Rondeau creates a world devoid of empathy and progress, where Treasure Keepers save art and science, and global democracy is a cruel chaos.

Rondeau writes what I like to read; however, the introduction of so many people in so many situations made me need to take notes to follow along. If you can, set aside a good block of time so you don’t have to put down the book before you are well into the story. Excellent and realistic research and deduction put the reader smack dab in the middle of a potential Dark Age, with no one to blame but ourselves.

About the author:

A graduate of Houghton College, Rondeau has spent a previous career in the field of human services, often engaged with families in crisis. She credits these experiences in human drama as the edge in creating unforgettable characters. Furthermore, her prior work has shaped her vision of a future world should current sociological issues remain unchecked over the next several decades.

After more than thirty years in the Adirondack region of Northern New York, Rondeau now resides in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Steve and their cat Duffer. When not writing, she enjoys theater, golf, and hiking.

She is a member of the Florida Writers Association, American Christian Fiction Writers, and several on-line writing groups. She is the owner and founder of Pentalk, a community of writers that features networking pages and a blog. Rondeau contributes a monthly column to her former community newspaper entitled, This Daily Grind and maintains a blog of the same name. Other blogs include Back in the Daze.

Also writing under the name of Linda Wood Rondeau, other books by this author include The Other Side of Darkness.

♦♦♦♦◊ Reflections

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The Sunday Book Review: Journeys, An Ice Adventure by Tim Fox

Posted by Lisa Lickel on October 28, 2012

Journeys; An Ice-aged Adventure

Journeys; An Ice Age Adventure

By Tim Fox

c. 2012

Amazon Digital Services

$2.99 for e-book for Kindle and Nook

$12.95 for paperback

$6 cross-curriculum for teachers


202 pages

Tim Fox connected with me through Wisconsin Authors and asked for a review. Although he sent me his story, I did buy the book.

Fox’s richly-imagined story takes place in Ice-Age central Wisconsin where good and evil and life and death, as they always do, hang in the balance. There are mastodons, boys with candy bars in their back backs, good aboriginals and evil-intended aboriginals, lots of laughter, discovery of new foods and even a highly-embellished language.

Twelve and ten-year-old brothers Mark and Barry go on a camping adventure at Natural Bridge State Park with their uncle. Uncle Steve and the boys’ father have been estranged since the death of Steve’s sister, Mom to Mark and Barry. Using a mastodon tooth and stone spear point found on the book-opening adventure, the boys travel back in time to Ice Age Wisconsin, where they encounter a lost Ice Age boy and two mastodons. Running from a band of warriors intent to kill them, the odd little family joins together to survive. Through the Natural Bridge, which becomes a time portal, Steve can peek at the events the boys experience, as well as the Ice Age boy’s grandfather. Conquering fear of the unknown encourages life-changing decisions. Fox sums up his story in a quote near the end:

“There’s a purpose. Are you ready to listen? Somehow it clicked. He (Mark, main character) realized he would never understand it all, but it was enough to know there was a purpose. He realized that the joys, the struggles – they were all part of something greater. It made their lives more than just a collection of experiences. They were a part of a rich tapestry – an interweaving of time, events, people, and animals that challenged and enriched not only their own lives, but the collected experience of creation.”

Although the author, a former school teacher, breaks away from most common guidelines of YA literature, I found the story interesting. Touching up the text by tightening, staying in one perspective per scene, choosing language for the audience – average three years younger than the characters, or elementary set, a few less bathroom jokes, and watching formatting issues, Journeys would make a great classroom read. Fox provides a cross-curriculum guide at extra cost on his web site. Visit for more information.


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Sunday Book Review: Confessions… by Lianne Simon

Posted by Lisa Lickel on October 21, 2012

Confessions of a Teenaged Hermaphrodite 
By Lianne Simon

Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite

c. 2012
MuseItUp Publishing
ISBN 978-1-77127-157-8
eBook 5.95
paperback 9.95

Set against the perfect backdrop of the most traumatic events in modern American Culture, Confessions of a Teenaged Hermaphrodite is one of those unforgettable novels that make you want to DO something. You just don’t know what.

Confessions, set during the volatile Vietnam War era, is about secrets, but not ones you’d guess at. Sure, we’ve all wondered at the athletes that seemed pumped on testosterone, the effeminate men and women who we feel the right to “know” in the media; the giggling, the jokes…but what if that person is you?

Lianne Simon is truly the bravest author I know. Maybe sexual orientation is no longer the fad joke of modern society, but that doesn’t mean a person ever gets used to it. After all, America still has profound racial issues. Simon gathered several stories from people she’s met and novelized the rarely discussed androgen syndrome. It’s not sexual orientation – it’s not a choice. It’s a fact of biology. What if your child was born with equal male and female traits? Do you choose or let your child choose what sex to be?

This is Jamie’s struggle. Homeschooled during the sixties, Jamie feels like a girl inside – always has – but Dad wants a son. Mom goes along with Dad during this cultural frame of fifties Americana; but perhaps her dithering is one of the issues that causes so much confusion in Jamie’s life. The sexual condition was always there. Jamie is smaller than most of his/her peers and siblings. Early completion of high school let Jamie experience college life at sixteen, but living as a male just wasn’t cutting it. In the summer of a lifetime, Jamie is allowed to live out her dream of being a girl and knows for sure that’s who she is. Getting engaged to a man about to be shipped out who knows her story and loves her anyway, is just gravy. But summers end. Jamie obeys Dad and quells the woman inside – at what cost?

This unique story opens a whole new dimension in literary works for today’s culture. Not only is Simon a brave author in fictionalizing a puzzling and true condition, she’s a true word lyricist who makes Jamie’s story sing across society, time, and gender.

Please visit the Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS) society for more information AIS is one of a number of biological intersex conditions. Intersex results from a variation in the embryological development of the reproductive tract, often determined by a known genetic mutation.

♦♦♦♦♦ Reflections

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The Sunday Book Review: Shadow Eyes by Dusty Crabtree

Posted by Lisa Lickel on October 14, 2012

Shadow Eyes

By Dusty Crabtree

Print Length: 296 pages

Publisher: Musa Publishing (February 2, 2012)

ASIN: B0074VOH16


Shadow Eyes

Iris Kohl lives in a world populated by murky shadows that surround, harass, and entice unsuspecting individuals toward evil. But she is the only one who can see them. She’s had this ability to see the shadows, as well as brilliantly glowing light figures, ever since an obscure, tragic incident on her fourteenth birthday three years earlier.

Although she’s learned to cope, the view of her world begins to shift upon the arrival of three mysterious characters. First, a handsome new teacher whose presence scares away shadows; second, a new friend with an awe-inspiring aura; and third, a mysterious and alluring new student whom Iris has a hard time resisting despite already having a boyfriend.

As the shadows invade and terrorize her own life and family, she must ultimately revisit the most horrific event of her life in order to learn her true identity and become the hero she was meant to be.

My review:

Excellent story for the YA crowd, junior-high age and up, who love the slightly weird, fantastical stories that are all the rage right now.

Ever since Iris’s tragic event on her fourteenth birthday, something alluded to brilliantly by the way, she’s lived with creatures lurking over her shoulder, around the corner, nameless and hazy terrors that it seems only she can see. Weirder yet is an eerie glow that sometimes surrounds people. She hasn’t told her mom and sister or her best friend in fear of losing the only people in the real world she can count on, however, she’s become somewhat reclusive despite dating a special someone – a death sentence for popularity in high school.

In a new school term three years later, things change when a substitute teacher comes in, wearing the brightest aura ever and seemingly unfazed by the shadows threatening the other students, who have no idea of the dangers around them. Iris has sat by, watching and shivering at this warplay, until a new student, wearing the same brilliance of the new teacher, befriends her. Iris watches as Kyra tackles the bad vibes around students, seemingly making a difference in their lives. Is Kyra part of this whole thing? And just what is going on? To make strange events even stranger, there’s a new boy in town who singles out Iris for attention. The boy is popular and seemingly good—good enough to ditch one boyfriend for another. When Kyra meets him, they apparently know each other from a different life and have nothing good to say to or about each other. Who can Iris trust?

When it comes time to make some real choices about the kind of person Iris wants to be vs. the kind of person she can be according to the gifts she’s given, Iris goes through a very real struggle.

Told in page-turning first-person format, you’ll want to block off a whole evening to yourself for this story. I agree with other reviewers: this is one great read for pretty much any age. I enjoyed it immensely and look forward to reading other books by this author.


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The Sunday Book Review: Self-Publishing Simplified

Posted by Lisa Lickel on October 7, 2012

Self-Publishing Simplified: How to Publish a Book on Kindle

By Deborah H. Bateman

Self-Publishing Simplified: How to Publish a Book on Kindle



40 pp

c. 2012

Christian Daily Resources


For those who are currently looking for directions on how to put your masterpiece on Kindle, Deborah Bateman offers this easy guide, complete with screen shots right from the program.

This is not a primer on how to get your manuscript ready. The author assumes you will have taken the appropriate steps to polish, prepare, edit to the utmost professional level and have a cover prepared by the time you get to the point of “ready to publish.”

Beginning with your dream, your passion as your reason for publishing, cautions about making your book readable, Bateman proceeds with a step-by-step primer on uploading your electronic book to Kindle. Note: this guide is published in the fall of 2012. Rules change very quickly in this world, so please note that you must also be responsible to keep up yourself with direct to publish programs and options. The Kindle Direct Newsletter subscription, a free monthly newsletter, is an excellent way to do this.

Bateman not only offers directions, but most importantly, advice on how to sell your product. As I learned when I was first published traditionally, simply putting a book on the market does nothing to sell it. You must also put on your marketing hat, and Bateman spends as much time on the marketing side as on the publishing side. Why offer your book for free? Where to promote? Along with practical advice, her experiences, and those illustrated screen shots all serve to help you be the best author you can.

This handy little guide is a gem for the current Kindle publishing community, a valuable tool for those who have a book waiting for an audience.

♦♦♦♦◊ Reflections

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