In the new year, we have a lot to celebrate!

Books & Buzz Magazine, January 2022, Volume 4 Issue 4A Letter from the Editor

Every new year holds promise, and as we move into 2022, we’ve got a lot to celebrate in our writing community.

So many new books are taking shape at ChapterBuzz, and you’re invited to read them! Some are in the beginning stages, while others are just about ready to be published. And while you’re there, check out our selection of published novels.

We look forward to celebrating more book releases this year—with your help and support—as we work hard to complete them.


This article is from the latest issue of Books & Buzz Magazine. Not a subscriber? Start getting all of our great articles by subscribing for free!


With the themes of celebration and hope in mind, let’s reach into our goodie bag and see what we’ve got in this month’s issue:

On the cover this month is Jennifer Lieberman, actor, independent film and theater producer, and award-winning author of the play-turned-novel Year of the What? Achieving commercial success with her novel was no easy feat, but it went on to become a #1 bestseller on Amazon and win the Literary Titan Silver Book Award, so it’s clear the journey was worth it. “All the recognition and accolades are tremendous,” Jennifer says, “but the biggest achievement was not giving up on this piece, because I wanted to—and I tried to—so many times.” In our interview, you’ll find out what helped Jennifer stick it out in the face of so many setbacks.

Then, bestselling thriller author Kristina Rienzi is guessing that after reading her novels, you’d be surprised by her real-life personality. “We’d talk,” she says, “and you’d see that I’m bubbly, outgoing, positive, and intently engaged in our conversation.” At the same time, her obsession with darkness—which she calls “real”—allows her to explore another side of herself. “I write dark stories where, as the author, I’m in control,” she says. “Through my stories, I can face my fears and grow.” Learn why Kristina considers herself to be two different people—that are actually one and the same.

Next, have you ever been in a writing rut? Rachael Tamayo, bestselling and award-winning author, has the solution. “Don’t be afraid of the darkness outside of your little box,” Rachael tells us, and recalls how reading books in a different genre did wonders to open up her mind when she was feeling stuck. “What does this have to do with ruts and writer’s block?” she asks. “Could be everything.” Rachael’s simple advice can help you revitalize your writing.

Finally, you may remember that in last month’s issue, Craig DiLouie explained how a reader’s brain processes words on a page. Now, this award-winning thriller and sci-fi author lays out what happens inside the brain of a writer. “Writers are awesome,” he observes, and discusses some of the common traits that writers share. If you’ve ever wondered which areas of the brain are involved in the creative process, you’ll love Craig’s fascinating article.

Once you’ve seen your holiday guests off and put away the last of the fancy tableware, take a deep breath, fall into your most comfortable easy chair, and enjoy this issue of Books & Buzz Magazine.

Happy reading,

Timothy Pike
Editor-in-chief, Books & Buzz MagazineSubscribe now for free!

Discovered a book! “Four sons. One throne. A world on the precipice.”

Learn more about TimHere’s some buried treasure from Tim’s Discovery List, a spreadsheet of really good self-published books that you’ve been helping us build!

(Got one for us? Submit it here)

Today’s find:

Book cover for Empires of Bronze: Son of Ishtar by Gordon DohertyEmpires of Bronze: Son of Ishtar by Gordon Doherty (Historical Fiction)

(Review: Jon F. Zeigler of Sharrukin’s Palace gives it 4 stars.)

Here’s what it’s about:

1315 BC: Tensions soar between the great powers of the Late Bronze Age. The Hittites stand toe-to-toe with Egypt, Assyria and Mycenaean Ahhiyawa, and war seems inevitable. More, the fierce Kaskan tribes—age-old enemies of the Hittites—amass at the northern borders.

When Prince Hattu is born, it should be a rare joyous moment for all the Hittite people. But when the Goddess Ishtar comes to King Mursili in a dream, she warns that the boy is no blessing, telling of a dark future where he will stain Mursili’s throne with blood and bring destruction upon the world.

Thus, Hattu endures a solitary boyhood in the shadow of his siblings, spurned by his father and shunned by the Hittite people. But when the Kaskans invade, Hattu is drawn into the fray. It is a savage journey in which he strives to show his worth and valour. Yet with his every step, the shadow of Ishtar’s prophecy darkens…

Available on Amazon!

Have you discovered a self-published book that deserves a spot on the Discovery List? Whether you wrote it, reviewed it, or just discovered it, you can add it here and help others make discoveries of their own.

3 reasons that 2022 is looking more & more like the first year of the rest of your (writing) life

Via Pexels

Remember that idea you had for a story?

Maybe it came to you out of nowhere, maybe it was inspired by someone you know.

Maybe it keeps nagging at you as you go about your day, or maybe you’ve already turned it over and over in your head and have a pretty good idea of where you want to take it.

Whatever the case, you just know it would make a great novel.

But now, as you get ready to unwrap a new calendar and pin it on the wall, something within you is being stirred into action.

It’s a restlessness—a sense that this is the time. And here are 3 reasons you might be feeling this way:

1. You’ve got an idea. It’s amazing how many different types of stories are out there, isn’t it? Especially if you’re someone who likes to read many different genres, you’ve probably noticed that the books you’ve read really run the gamut in terms of plot and premise.

To me, this is proof that you can take just about any idea and turn it into an excellent story. If you’ve ever been worried that the idea for your novel isn’t “good enough,” worry no more … and let’s set it into motion in 2022!

Via Pexels

2. You’re ready & determined. Even though you still have questions, writing a novel is something you’ve been wanting to do for a long time, and you’re finally ready to get busy with it.

Carpe diem! Many novelists have been unsure at first, but have developed confidence once they got into it. That’s why I invite you to enter the 365-Day Indie Author Challenge, where you’ll get the guidance you need to write that brilliant book. Jump right in … or start slowly and pick up steam!

Via Pexels

3. You want to create your own success. The world is full of successful authors who bucked the system—who weren’t content just to sit there and wait for someone to tell them their manuscripts were worthy of being published.

Authors like Andy Weir, E.L. James, and Mark Dawson all decided their stories simply had to reach readers, and weren’t going to wait for the slow-moving traditional publishing industry to propel them to stardom. It all started when they made the decision to publish their own works!

If this is getting the wheels turning for you, then your writing future depends on how you decide to spend this upcoming year.

Next year at this time, your life could look much the same as it does now. Or it could look quite different: you could be throwing a book release party!

Happy New Year, and here’s to your success!

What makes Tosca Lee and other successful authors tick? Let’s find out

Books & Buzz Magazine, December 2021, Volume 4 Issue 3A Letter from the Editor

We love their books, of course. But this month we’re getting inside the heads of the talented people behind the words, in order to find out what drives them. Have you ever wondered, for example, what inspires the stories they write? What encourages them to keep telling those stories? And why so many feel such an intense need to write?

These are the questions we hope to answer in this issue.


This article is from the latest issue of Books & Buzz Magazine. Not a subscriber? Start getting all of our great articles by subscribing for free!


Before we get started, have you been itching to write a novel? Now’s your chance! Join us in the 365-Day Indie Author Challenge, and by this time next year, you could be an independently published author—with a growing audience to boot. It’s the perfect way to turn over a new leaf as you unwrap your 2022 calendar and pin it up on the wall.

And now, let’s dig in! This month’s issue is like a holiday feast with all the trimmings:

Tosca LeeGracing our cover is New York Times bestselling author Tosca Lee, who’s currently adjusting to life on a Nebraska farm. “I lived in the city before this,” Tosca says, “so I’m still new to farm life.” In my interview with Tosca, you’ll hear what her original choice of profession was (hint: not a writer), the offer her father made her one summer that she couldn’t refuse, and her number one rule for writing a novel. And by the way, did you know this versatile author is working on a new book? When you hear what it’s about, you probably won’t be surprised, even if it’s not what you expected.

Sherile ReillyNext, for author Sherile Reilly, it was two people who didn’t like each other very much—at least not at first—that set her writing career in motion, and served as the premise for her first novel. But one book wasn’t enough for Sherile. “I knew I hadn’t finished my characters’ stories,” she explains. “A mystery had to be solved and the love story needed time to develop.” Sherile talks about her writing past, and why she just couldn’t stop writing once she started.

Craig DiLouieNext, do you read a lot? Craig DiLouie, thriller, horror, and sci-fi author, explains exactly what happens inside your brain as your eyes move down the page and you process the words. “A number of years ago,” he writes, “a woman told me that one of my horror novels had made her cry.” At that point, curiosity got the best of him, and he wanted to know how the simple act of reading could produce such reactions. “This started me on an exploratory journey,” he says, “a meditation on what happens to our brains on reading and writing, and what insights we can glean from that.” You’re sure to learn a lot when you, well, read about Craig’s fascinating findings.

Ann CharlesFinally, over the years, bestselling author Ann Charles has built a large fan base of loyal readers, and now she’s revealing how she did it. “The truth of the matter is that there has been no magic involved,” Ann tells us. “In my experience, there are very few shortcuts to success, and the opportunities for instant fame are few and far between.” Ann proceeds to detail the tried-and-true methods that have worked (and continue to work) to bring readers into her corner—and keep them there. Best of all? They’re simple, and they can work for you, too.

A semi-normal holiday season means we get to enjoy each other’s company again. Yay! When you get a few minutes to unplug from the festivities, fill a glass with egg nog, sprinkle some nutmeg on top, and enjoy this month’s issue of Books & Buzz Magazine.

Happy reading,

Timothy Pike
Editor-in-chief, Books & Buzz MagazineSubscribe now for free!

This just in: NYT bestseller Tosca Lee reveals her #1 rule for writing

Tosca Lee, New York Times bestselling author of A Single Light and The Line Between, wants to take you on a thrill ride with her books.

And I want to take you behind the scenes—in the December 2021 issue of Books & Buzz Magazine.

I interviewed Tosca for our upcoming issue, and learned a lot I didn’t know about this award-winning thriller author, including how she’s adapting to life on a farm as a former city dweller, her background in ballet, and much more that I’m excited to share with you.

I also asked if she had any advice for novelists who are just starting out.

“Keep reading,” was her answer. “Keep learning from the books you love.”

And after that?

“When it comes to the actual writing,” she said, “my #1 rule is…”

Find out what she said next! Subscribe (for free) to Books & Buzz Magazine, and I’ll deliver the December issue directly to your e-mail inbox when it comes out.

In the same interview, you’ll also learn about the process she uses to bring her exciting stories to the page—and you might be surprised at how simple it is.

This is your chance to get to know the author behind the books you’ve been enjoying. Subscribe now!

See you there,

Timothy Pike
Editor-in-chief, Books & Buzz Magazine

Goals, goals, goals! Writers, have you set any for 2022?

Learn more about TimGet ready to publish a novel in 2022!

Obviously, being the author of a novel is something you’ve dreamed about.

But it’s not enough to dream about it—you’ve got to set goals and deadlines for yourself if you truly want to get it done.

In this series of blog posts, we’ll be laying out what we intend to do over the next year. There’s something about declaring your goals—and letting others see them—that makes you much more likely to achieve them.

This is the can-do attitude we bring to our writing at ChapterBuzz, our platform that helps you write a book while building your audience. (We’d love for you to join us if you’re serious about your upcoming—or ongoing—writing adventure.)

As for your goals:

What would you like to achieve in 2022?

I asked this question yesterday, and here are few of the responses:

“I’m now working on my next book for 2022, which will be a compilation of poetry, as well, along with fiction short stories.”
Baydreamer

“I am in the process of writing one novel and editing another, so in 2022 I would like to complete both of these …”
Tina’s writing

“My goal for 2022 is to start really pulling together my novel ideas and begin researching!”
Deanna Parenti

How about you? Comment below with your biggest writing goal for 2022. Are there any obstacles that stand in your way?

Writers! What are your goals for 2022?

Learn more about TimAs the end of 2021 approaches (I know … what?!), it’s time to declare our writing goals for 2022.

Are you in? Please comment below with what you’d like to achieve in the coming year.

At ChapterBuzz, our writing & publishing platform, I work with a lot of novelists who are all at different stages of writing their novels. Some are still getting their ideas together, others are halfway through, others have already published.

But no matter where you are now, the whole idea is to keep moving forward every day.

This means it’s time to start planning for 2022 … by making a quick list of what you’d like to get done.

So please leave your comment below, telling us:

  • What are your writing goals for 2022?
  • And for extra credit: what is the biggest obstacle that stands in your way? How can you overcome this?

Leave your comment (and feel free to reply to others). We can all help each other out!

Our new secret book society, how author Anna J Walner’s childhood inspired her stories, and the big risk you SHOULD take when writing

Books & Buzz Magazine, November 2021, Volume 4 Issue 2A Letter from the Editor

It’s not always easy to find good books to read, especially when they’re self-published and not propped up on a table at the entrance of Barnes & Noble. That’s why I, along with our literary community, have set out to create a spreadsheet list of the best independent books out there, which I call Tim’s Discovery List.


This article is from the latest issue of Books & Buzz Magazine. Not a subscriber? Start getting all of our great articles by subscribing for free!


If you’ve been following our progress over the past few months, you’ll know we’ve dug up plenty of hidden gems.

But you’ll also know that we’ve got our hands full, because our stated goal is an ambitious one: to build a spreadsheet list of every—yes, every—self-published book worth reading.

And now, we have a brand-new Facebook discussion group devoted to building the Discovery List, and we would love for you to join us. You’ll be helping to bring terrific books into our lives. Terrific books that aren’t mainstream. That may have been overlooked. That haven’t had their moment in the spotlight yet.

Writers, readers, and book reviewers are all welcome. It’s a private group that’s only open to those in the know—like yourself—so click the “Join” button and we’ll let you right in.

As for this month’s issue, take a look at all of these delectable tidbits:

Marie PowellAward winner Marie Powell takes us to Wales, where a visit to a thirteenth-century castle inspired her medieval fantasy series, Last of the Gifted. Well, for the most part. “I suppose the inspiration was a lot of little things,” she says, “but it all came to a head as I walked the ruins of Dolwyddelan Castle on that first trip to Wales.” Find out what resonated so strongly with her on that trip—and why it stayed with her for so long afterwards—as you follow Marie on her journey back in time to the Middle Ages.

Gregory Erich PhillipsNext up: as a writer, are you willing to take risks with your character development? If so, the upside is a more memorable, relatable main character, says award-winning author Gregory Erich Phillips. “It takes courage to risk making your lead character unlikeable,” he writes, “but the result is almost always a better novel.” In his article, Gregory lays out the best ways to create characters that resemble real-life people—quirks, vices, and all—to give your readers the authentic main character they may not even know they want.

V.S. HolmesFinally, bestselling sci-fi author V.S. Holmes ponders what fantasy worlds would look like if they were more accessible to those with disabilities. “I think of the worlds of my novels, all the startling magical beauty in the books that made me who I am as a writer,” says V. “I couldn’t navigate those worlds anymore. Not with this body.” As it turns out, there are many ways to design worlds that anyone can see themselves in, and V gives several simple ideas for how to do this.

Anna J WalnerAnd now, our feature presentation: on the cover this month is Anna J Walner, international bestselling author of the Uluru Legacy series. When I interviewed Anna, I was struck by how neatly the threads of her own background wove into her writing career. “Growing up being adopted, there are always these questions you have about your heritage,” she says. When you read her interview article, you’ll find out how these questions eventually led her to write her highly praised debut novel. You’ll also learn how Anna found her voice as an author, why reading was so important to her as a child, and how she manages her time nowadays as a busy author and mother.

As gray fills the sky and evenings turn chilly, pour a steaming mug of hot cocoa, snuggle up next to the fireplace, and enjoy this month’s issue of Books & Buzz Magazine.

Happy reading,

Timothy Pike
Editor-in-chief, Books & Buzz MagazineSubscribe now for free!

Today’s book discovery: “The Alpha’s Hunted” by Melissa Hankins

Learn more about TimThe Discovery List is growing!

I recently set out on a quest to find every self-published book worth reading, and asked our community to submit their discoveries for this project, which I call Tim’s Discovery List. And you’ve delivered!

As we continue to build this spreadsheet full of excellent self-published books, I’d like to call your attention to one that really stands out: The Alpha’s Hunted (formerly Belonging to the Alpha) by Melissa Hankins, a mother of four who hails from Cornwall, UK.

Book cover for The Alpha's Hunted by Mel HankinsHere’s the exciting premise:

Leah is a teenage girl who also happens to be a werewolf. Her Dad is a high-ranking Warrior in the most dominant Pack that Silvermoor City has ever seen, and she is destined to be the Luna of the Alpha there. She, however, bonds with an unworthy Omega. To complicate things, the Alpha chooses Leah. After being brutally attacked by her Omega boyfriend, Leah must decide which path to follow. Her wolf or her destiny?

Readers love it:

This is the first book I read from this author and let me tell you that I loved it! Such a good book with great characters that keeps you obsessed with every page since the first one.

—Jennifer Shepard on Goodreads

See for yourself! Be sure to pick up a copy of The Alpha’s Hunted today.

Get involved by sharing your review!

If you wish to review this book on your blog, please share the review with us. It will help this book stand out even more!

Inspiration Corner: How author Jennifer Anne Gordon got the idea for her latest novel

by Timothy Pike

Sometimes inspiration can strike in the most unexpected places, and in the most roundabout ways.

Jennifer Anne Gordon

Jennifer Anne Gordon

When I interview authors, I always like to find out where they get their ideas.

For Jennifer Anne Gordon, award-winning author of Pretty/Ugly, it happened at one of her local shops, where the woman working there was afflicted with a severe skin condition. “It caused a lot of swelling,” Jennifer says, “and it was obvious her skin was cracked open and it looked very painful.”

As a teen, Jennifer had dealt with this condition herself, and knew it wasn’t contagious. But that’s when her imagination kicked in. “I started wondering about what if something like that would be contagious,” she tells me. “How would that affect the world, our world where people rely so much on their outward appearances for everything?”

Cover for Pretty/Ugly by Jennifer Anne GordonInspiration had struck. “So that was when the original idea popped into my head,” she says. “My characters Omelia, the damaged and heartbroken Instagram influencer who spends her life hoping for clicks and likes. And Sam, my failed politician who may or may not be haunted by the ghost of his twin sister.”

And then—in a pre-pandemic world, mind you—she imagined a scenario that would have seemed far fetched at the time. “I wondered what would happen to people like that if the world was ending due to a ‘flesh eating’ type of virus,” she says. “A virus that even if you live, you are left physically scarred.”

This inspiration led to her latest novel, Pretty/Ugly—and it’s yours to discover!

Be sure to read the full article about my interview with Jennifer. You can also connect with Jennifer on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.