Monday, June 20, 2016

Target Market vs Target Reader: The Importance of Pro Reviews

On the road to publication, there's one moment that never gets old: when the box of ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) arrives at my doorstep. FINN'S CHOICE arrived in Colorado just last week. I danced a jig, took some pictures, then sent them on their way to the gracious and supportive librarians and bloggers who have followed Finn's journey from the beginning. Very cool beans.
Then, this past Friday, Spencer Hill Press let me know that ARCs had also been sent to the pro reviewers (School Library Journal, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, VOYA, etc). As my publisher said in her email, now we cross our fingers. Oh, man, that's for sure!

You see, middle grade books need the affirmation of those big name reviewers to get the attention of schools and librarians (the book's target market). In many ways, schools and libraries are the force behind a middle grade book's success. They're the ones who will purchase the book and promote it to upper elementary and middle school students (the book's target reader). Schools and libraries have a limited budget, and they must be selective in what books they purchase. So, they depend on the gatekeepers (pro reviewers) to help them use their budget wisely. And, in some cases, to justify their spending.
Because of the volume of books published each month, it's difficult to get a review from the pros. It takes time and money for a publishing house to send the ARCs, and some houses cannot afford it. I was so very fortunate that the first book in this series, FINN FINNEGAN, landed a nice review from School Library Journal back in 2013. It helped. A lot.
And that's why I'm so appreciative of Karen Hughes, and the team at Spencer Hill Press, for all their support of this series, and especially of the final book in Finn's adventures. Who know? Maybe the luck o' the Irish will be with us again. Fingers crossed, to be sure.


Thursday, June 2, 2016

Summer Giveaway: FINN FINNEGAN by Darby Karchut

Spencer Hill Press and I are giving away six (6) copies 
(Book One in The Adventures of Finn MacCullen series)

“Overall, a great choice for adventure-loving readers who prefer their battle scenes with a hefty dose of ancient weaponry, ground-fighting skills, and just a touch of magic."   --School Library Journal

 The fourth and final book, FINN'S CHOICE, will release September 20

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Finn Finnegan by Darby Karchut

Finn Finnegan

by Darby Karchut

Giveaway ends June 19, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Stone's Heart by Darby Karchut

 No way, blue jay, and never again. That’s the vow Linney Van Horn has made regarding single dads and their adorable children. After all, that’s why she tucked tail and hauled herself and her beloved Arabian horse clear across the country from New Jersey to the small town of Venture, Colorado. To mend her bruised heart—and ego—and start over.

However, the good Lord has a different “do-over” in mind for Linney. She finds herself living next door to Stonewall “Stone” Wheeler, the frustratingly stubborn, but oh, so ruggedly handsome farrier, and his seven-year-old son, Beau.

A widower, Stone has buried himself in his work to avoid the grief of losing his wife. Determined to grow his horse-shoeing business and raise his child, falling in love is the last thing on his mind. Until an equally stubborn—but pretty as a daisy—teacher moves into the cottage besides his, and charms both him and his son.

Divine intervention. Yup, it’s a beautiful thing. 

It’s going to take one adorable little boy, a pair of spirited horses, and a near-fatal accident to convince Linney and Stone a second chance at a Grace-filled forever is theirs for the asking. 
Barnes & Noble (link to come...)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Book Review: A FAMILY FOR LEONA by Beverly Stowe McClure

From Goodreads:
Ten-year-old Leona Chapter doesn't understand why her papa left his six children at the Brooklyn Home for Homeless Children after their mother's death in 1921. Each day she prays he'll return and take his children home. God, however, isn't listening. Her brothers and sisters are either adopted or run away, leaving only Leona and Baby Mildred in the orphanage. Leona promises she and Mildred will be together for always. A promise she cannot keep, for Leona, along with her friend Noah, who she defends from the bullies Hiram and Jehu, and several other orphans, are soon on a train headed to Texas, while her sister stays at the orphanage. Leona vows she'll go back to Brooklyn, the first chance she gets. An Orphan Train tale during the 1920s.

My Review:
Where do I begin with this review? This book came along just when I was hunkering for some American historical fiction. I have to admit: I didn’t know much about the Orphan Trains of the 1920’s, but after reading the blurb, I wanted to learn more about these children who journeyed West.

I couldn’t stop reading this book! I just had to find out what happened to stubborn (but brave) Leona, artistic and loyal Noah, and the kindly couple, Matthew and Jessie. And Sunbeam, of course. Because kittens, no? Not only was A FAMILY FOR LEONA a sweet coming of age story, I also learned a bit more about this time in American history, and about the stark beauty of the Texas countryside.

Some of my favorite parts of the story were when the author wove in bits and pieces of American life during the 1920s. For example, I didn’t realize that girls back then read LITTLE WOMEN and BLACK BEAUTY. Or that some folks were avid photographers. (Do I detect a bit of the author in the character of Emma?)  Or that Eskimo Pies were such a treat.

As she always does, Beverly McClure wrote a tight, well-crafted story and a compelling ending. Throughout the entire book, the old saying:  “blossom where you’re planted” kept running through my head.

However, the greatest moment for me as a reader was when I went back and read the author’s note, and discovered that the main character—a plucky girl who had to leave her family and ride a train to Texas, and then was adopted, was actually Beverly McClure’s real life mother! 

Pick up a copy today!  Amazon   Barnes & Noble    Goodreads


About the Author:
Most days you'll find Beverly Stowe McClure at her computer, typing stories little voices whisper in her ear. When she's not writing, she and Tiger take long walks, where she snaps pictures of clouds, flowers, and wildlife. She's sometimes know as the "bug lady." She's not telling why. Visit her at:

Saturday, May 14, 2016

FINN'S CHOICE by Darby Karchut

Even though I couldn't be at the 2016 Book Expo America (BEA) this year, Finn was nicely represented at the Spencer Hill Press booth.

FINN'S CHOICE (the fourth and final book in the Finn MacCullen series) will release September 20th!