Ellwyn’s Blog

Interview With Bethany Beach Books

Photo courtesy of Bethany Beach Books

Bethany Beach Books is the 9th stop on my Independent Book Store tour. In an effort to bring awareness of how vital these places are, I’m interviewing the great folks who manage them.

Bethany Beach Books is an independently owned bookstore, located only a few steps off the boardwalk in Bethany Beach, Delaware. The store was established in 1991 and has been independently owned since the day it opened. They are open every day at 10:00 am, year round!

The moment you a peek through the window, a vast cheerful room entices you to enter. Once you enter, a host of books for readers of all ages and genres, invites you to open your mind, channel your inner bookworm and dig in!

FYI: In addition to the regular staff, high-profile characters have been known to make appearances at the store. I have it on good authority (with pictures to prove it) that The Cat In The Hat, The Grinch and Pete the Cat have all turned up for different events over the years.

Amanda, the manager of Bethany Beach Books, was kind enough to answer a few questions about the store and the value it adds to her community of readers. 

Hello, Amanda, welcome to Angel Kiss Publications. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview.

Thank you for having me.

What motivated you to open (or work at) an Independent Book Store?

The store opened in 1991 so I was only a year old and can’t speak for the motivation for opening the store, although I assume the reason was something very warm and fuzz.

I decided to apply for a job at Bethany Beach Books when I was in high school because I have always been a bookworm. I thought, what better place to work than an independent bookstore?

I’ve been at the store for 13 years now and can’t imagine being anywhere else. Bookstores are super special places, especially independent bookstores!

Can you tell us a little about Bethany Beach Books?

Bethany Beach Books opened in 1991 and is Bethany Beach’s only independent bookstore. We are located just steps from the sandy beach and boardwalk of Bethany Beach – we can hear the ocean in our store most days when we prop the door open.

We’re a smaller bookstore (about 2,000 square feet) but pride ourselves on having a really great selection of everything from new releases and bestsellers, adult fiction & non-fiction to middle grade, young adult, and children’s books.

Since we are at the beach, our business is very seasonal, so the summer months are crazy and full of excitement while the winter months are a bit more cozy and quiet; it’s a great balance.

Photo courtesy of Bethany Beach Books

What’s involved with running an independent bookstore?

Shew, where to start?! When I tell people I work at a bookstore most of the time they assume I read all day… which would be lovely but is far from the truth!

Like most small businesses, we have a smaller staff who do a great job wearing multiple hats. Besides the normal, boring tasks all businesses must tackle like bills, HR, paperwork, etc., we get to do some really fun things, too.

Our event coordinator, Zandria Senft, plans a ton of really epic author events for us, we have super fun story times for children during the summer, we get to make book displays, and recommend books to readers.

My favorite part of my job is ordering all of the new books, you get to see what is coming out in the months ahead and curate the store’s selection of titles.

I also love being able to recommend my favorite reads to customers, the best part is when they return to the store and insist you give them more suggestions because they loved your recommendation so much!

Is competition with online retailers difficult?

We are very lucky to be located at the beach where vacationers want and need books all the time so fortunately, we don’t have to compete with online retailers quite as much as other independent bookstores we are familiar with.

It is still difficult, though, when customers come into the store and expect us to price-match what Amazon is selling the book for… which obviously we can’t do if we want to stay in business.

The worst is when a customer comes in, asks for a bunch of recommendations, takes pictures of our books, doesn’t buy anything, and goes home and buys the books online. Eek!

Like many small businesses today, we all have to compete with the big box and online stores. We accomplish that by providing great customer service, being involved and immersed in our community, and hosting really great events… things our online competitors can’t do.

Photo courtesy of Bethany Beach Books

What makes your store unique?

Our location definitely makes us unique! As with any bookstore, I think our selection of books also makes us unique. We try to have the big bestsellers while also keeping deep backlist and hidden gems on our shelves for readers to find.

What are your biggest sellers?

Our biggest sellers for genres: fiction, “book-club” fiction, children’s picture books.
Specific titles from last year: Where the Crawdads Sing, Summer of ’69, the Dog Man series.

Photo courtesy of Bethany Beach Books

Do you have promotions throughout the year?

We do a big promotion every year for Small Business Saturday (the day after Black Friday). We also always discount the hardcover New York Times bestsellers and any pre-orders on our website.

Do you have author book signings?

We do! Our event coordinator, Zandria Senft, does an epic job planning fantastic events for us!

We host author book signings throughout the summer months, concentrating on mid-June to mid-August, when all of our vacationers are here in Bethany.

Zandria works throughout the year planning great events and is already planning our 2020 Summer Author series now.

Photo courtesy of Bethany Beach Books

What advice would you give to authors just starting out?

My advice for authors just starting out is to do your best to get in with a great publisher (easier said than done, I know).

Cover design is huge! I know we’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover but everyone does.

Never give up. Your first book may not have the impact you hoped for or may not be as well received but don’t stop writing. Even if you’re not writing for publication anymore, keep writing for yourself.

Photo courtesy of Bethany Beach Books

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you and your store?

If you can’t come visit us in Bethany Beach, please do visit us online! We always have a lot of books available to pre-order, most of them are signed first-editions that come with swag (yay!).

We also have a subscription box, The Book Drop, where we send our favorite hidden gem reads once a month.

We know not everyone is fortunate enough to have an independent bookstore close to them so we are bringing the independent bookstore to you.


What are some of your favorite books/authors?

Ohhhh, this is so hard. This is equivalent to what I imagine asking a parent which is their favorite child… actually, this question might be harder (just kidding, kind of!).

I absolutely loved Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, I read it a few months before publication and instantly fell in love.

Something a little less in the spotlight right now that I have loved and always recommend to someone looking for something incredibly beautiful but heart-wrenching as well is A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra. Ugh, so beautiful.

Another one of my all-time favorites is The Heart of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker. Something coming out this spring that I read a few months ago and CANNOT wait to be published in May is Alex George’s The Paris Hours.

Whoever is reading this right now, go pre-order your copy now from your favorite independent bookstore because I loved, loved, loved this book. I’m also a huge Harry Potter nerd. #Hufflepuff

If you could have a writer’s group with authors from any time period, who would you invite?

Oh what a great question! I’d definitely invite Chuck Palahniuk because I love his work and wow, what must go on in that creative mind of his!

J.K. Rowling for sure. Paulo Coelho, Jewell Parker Rhodes (I heard her speak once, she’s amazing), Sharon Creech (she was my favorite author growing up!), Neil Gaiman, and Jason Reynolds.

Do you have a website/Facebook page, etc?

We do! Bethany Beach Books can be found on Facebook (Bethany Beach Books), Twitter (@BethanyBooks), Instagram (@BethanyBeachBooks), and online at www.BethanyBeachBooks.com

Our subscription box is The Book Drop, more information can be found at www.TheBookDrop.com

If anyone wants to keep tabs on my beloved one-eyed cat named Winks or to see what I’m reading, I can be found on Instagram at @az.andthe.atlas

Thank you, Amanda, for spending time with us and sharing your story. We wish you and Bethany Beach Books continued success and lost of luck!

Photo courtesy of Bethany Beach Books

Interview With Author Sonnet O’Dell

By way of introduction, here is Sonnet O’Dell’s Bio:

Sonnet was born at the John Radcliffe in Oxford and spent many years living in different spots all over the UK.

Sonnet now lives in Worcester, Worcestershire, home of Lea & Perrins and the site of the last battle of the Civil War. Sonnet enjoys nothing more than reading or writing a good book. She is fascinated with worlds created by words and has a passion for mythology that can be seen in some of her works.

She has a BA Hons Degree in Creative Writing & Writing for Performance and a writing companion in the form of a large black tom cat called Salem.

When not busy writing, her favourite thing to do is to curl up with Salem on her lap and read a good book. Her favourite is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Now that you’ve been introduced to Sonnet, let’s get to know her a little better!

Hello, Sonnet, welcome to Angel Kiss Publications. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview.

Thank you for having me.

How and when did the writing bug ensnare you?

I wrote my first story at aged five. It was a class project. I wrote about a knight saving a princess from a dragon. I think my parents still had it until a quite recent clear out.

Is writing your full-time profession?

I wish. I have to maintain a regular day job.

Dark series – road to surreal sunset

How long have you been writing?

I think I became serious about writing in my early teens. I wrote short stories and sent them off to the addresses published at the front of some of my favourite books. I got some very nice, encouraging rejection letters.

Have you won any literary awards?

Not yet. But I was a Golden Book Award Finalist for my novel Kris in 2017.

Dark series – road to surreal sunset

How many published books have you written?

I have written and published 23 novels and novella’s. A large majority of which are out of print at the moment since I left my publisher in 2017. I am slowly working my way through my back catalogue to get them reformatted, recovered, and back on amazon.

Which genre do you write?

I tend to stick to paranormal with some elements of romance, crime, and other things 😉 tossed in.

What do you find most challenging writing for this genre?

Plausibility. Even though it’s a fantasy-based story, I like to make it believable.

What are you working on now?

I’ve just re-published the second book in my Cassandra Farbank Series. The last in the Cera Raine Trilogy is due out on the 1st of Feb 2020. After that I’ll be endeavoring to get the third Cassandra book back out and finish the second book in the Clockwatcher Trilogy.

Where do you find inspiration for your characters?

I like mythology and lore – I think I get a lot of inspiration from there.

What are your favorite books?

I like a lot of different books. Recently I’ve been very into the Ben Aaronovitch Rivers of London Series, but recently I just finished The Last Wish (The Witcher) by Andrzj Sapkowski after watching the series on Netflix.

When you’re not writing where can we find you?

If I’m not writing, I’m reading. If I’m not reading then I’m probably sewing – which I recently took up as a hobby.

A movie producer wants to turn your book into a movie and you get to make a cameo. What would you do in the movie?

I don’t consider myself very photogenic. I’d be someone in the background, someone another character gives an order to or brushes past.

An elf named 12-25 approaches you. He’s sneezing, wheezing, coughing and there’s a strange tattoo of a snoring dog on his cheek. What do you do?

If I know his name, I assume he’s already introduced himself so I’d probably hand him a tissue and ask if he was alright.

Do you have a website/Facebook page, etc?

My website is www.sonnetodell.co.uk, links to my facebook and blog are easily found from there.


Website: www.sonnetodell.co.uk

Blog: www.sonnetodelldustypages.blogspot.com

Thank you, Sonnet, for spending time with us and sharing your story. We wish you continued success and lots of luck!

Dark series – road to surreal sunset

Available On Amazon

With Cera declared dead, Nicholas Grafton must come to terms with his loss and move on with the next case without her. He must put aside his feelings about a one time friend, to put together his clue, and avert the biggest disaster to face Central City yet.

Cera, alive and well, has her own problems. Trapped on a space station, her only hope may be to jump from the frying pan into the fire.

A reunion with the people she loves might be short lived, as circumstances threaten to end everything permanently this time.

All will be revealed the exciting conclusion to the Cera Raine Series.

Interview With Karen Eisenbrey

By way of introduction, here is Karen’s bio:

Karen Eisenbrey lives in Seattle, WA, where she leads a quiet, orderly life and invents stories to make up for it. Although she intended to be a writer from an early age, until her mid-30s she had nothing to say.

A little bit of free time and a vivid dream about a wizard changed all that. Karen writes fantasy and science fiction novels, as well as short fiction in a variety of genres and the occasional poem if it insists.

She also sings in a church choir, plays drums in a garage band, and was surprised to find herself writing songs for her debut YA novel The Gospel According to St. Rage , a finalist for the 2016 Wishing Shelf Book Awards.

A YA wizard fantasy, Daughter of Magic, was released by Not a Pipe Publishing in 2018 as part of The Year of Publishing Women and was also a Wishing Shelf finalist. Wizard Girl, the sequel to Daughter of Magic, was released in July 2019.

Gospel was re-released in a 2nd edition from Not A Pipe in August 2019 and will be followed by a sequel, Barbara and the Rage Brigade, in November 2019. Karen shares her life with her husband, two young adult sons, and two mature adult cats.

Now that you’ve been introduced to Karen, let’s get to know her a little better.

Hello, Karen, welcome to Angel Kiss Publications. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview

Thank you for having me.

How did the writing bug ensnare you?

For as long as I can remember, I have always loved stories. So it was exciting to discover that learning to read and write included learning to write stories!

It was always my favorite homework—getting to make up whatever I wanted, being allowed to lie, on purpose, for schoolwork! Or finding a way to make the assigned parameters work for what I wanted to say.

Is writing your full-time profession?

For 2 years in a row, I have earned in the low three figures, so … no. It is a full-time obsession, though. It’s rare that I’m not thinking about a story at some level.

How long have you been writing?

Since elementary school! But seriously, with intent to publish, about 20 years.

Have you won any literary awards?

One short story won 2nd place in a small local contest and 5th place in big national contest. Two of my novels have been finalists for the Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards.

How many published books have you written?

Four, not counting anthologies: The Gospel According to St. Rage (2016, re-released 2019); Daughter of Magic (2018); Wizard Girl (2019); Barbara and the Rage Brigade (2019).

Which genres do you write?

I write fantasy and science fiction for teens and adults. The published books are all YA; two are high(ish) wizard fantasy, two are contemporary superhero fantasy.

What do you find most challenging writing for these genres?

Coming up with an original take on these very popular genres. I decided at the outset with my wizard fantasy that there would be magic but no kings, no battles, no monsters, no magical creatures, and very few magical objects.

And then to try to make it interesting enough to hold a reader who may have come for the dragons and unicorns. Same with the superhero series: I didn’t want my supers wrecking up the city fighting supervillains, so what do they do for truth and justice?

What are you working on now?

I’m coming off a hiatus while beta readers take a look at the draft of the third book in my wizard series. The working title is Death’s Midwife, and I’m looking forward to digging back into the story and turning it into a book.

I’m also in the early stages of a collaboration with LeeAnn McLennan, who also writes about teen supers in the Pacific Northwest. We’re going to write a crossover story where our characters meet and interact.

Where do you find inspiration for your characters?

Everywhere! My own personality and experience, everyone I’ve ever known, people I observe or overhear out in the world… A couple of my characters started out based on specific people, but most are a mishmash from the start.

What has been your most rewarding experience since publishing your work?

I’m going to give you two because they’re neck and neck. 1) interacting with readers who have enjoyed one or more of the books; 2) interacting with the other authors at Not A Pipe Publishing.

We do events together, go to each other’s solo events, promote each other’s work, plot world domination, and generally have a great time.

What advice would you give to authors just starting out?

Write the book! Write something you’d want to read or that past you couldn’t find. Somebody else out there is just waiting for whatever it is you’ve dreamed up.

If you don’t have a big idea, use whatever little ideas you do have. Get it down however you can, then spend the time to make it good. Find someone you trust to read it and give honest feedback to make it better.

Learn from other writers but don’t compare yourself and your work to them.

Is there anything else you’d like your readers to know about you?

I’m also a musician! I’ve always sung, and I started drumming in elementary school. In our 50s, my brother and I started playing together as a band called Your Mother Should Know.

This directly affected my writing because Barbara, the main character of my St. Rage books, is a songwriter and leader of a garage band. Someone had to write her songs, and to my surprise, that turned out to be me!

My brother helped me come up with music for the first batch of songs; then I did both words and music for a couple of the newest ones. We have recorded all 11 songs and happily perform them live, too.

What message are you sharing in your books?

After writing them, I discovered my books fit into a subgenre called “hopepunk.” Everything I do tries to be uplifting and encouraging while also being subversive and countercultural toward authority and domination.

I especially want to encourage people who are something other than cis-het-white-male to unapologetically claim their power and live their own truth.

What are your favorite books?

I have been a big fan of Ursula K. LeGuin since my pre-teens. I’m probably a fantasy writer because of her Earthsea series, and I consider The Left Hand of Darkness to be my favorite book.

I also love Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next books, which are just extremely funny and smart. A recent favorite is The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. It is exactly the kind of warm-hearted, low-stakes sci-fi that I want to write.

If you could create an author’s group with writers from any time period, who would you invite?

Well, Ursula LeGuin, for sure. Kurt Vonnegut. Charlotte Bronte. Virginia Woolf. Walt Kelly would be fun! And Stan Lee. I should probably stop or we’ll need a bigger table.

Who has influenced your writing the most?

Ursula LeGuin set the example of character-driven genre fiction with excellent writing. I absorbed a lot about voice and dialogue from Walt Kelly’s Pogo comic strip.

And I have to thank the friends and family who read my early efforts and didn’t cringe but encouraged me that it was good enough to spend more time on.

When you’re not writing where can we find you?

I’m always writing, from a certain point of view. But when I’m not actively at my computer, I might be found in the kitchen, baking cookies or bread.

Four mornings a week, I’m at my day job, managing the office of a small Seattle church. Sunday mornings, I’ll be singing in the choir at a different church. And I spend far too much time on Facebook.

A movie producer wants to turn your book into a movie, and you get to make a cameo. What would you do in the movie?

I could easily see myself as the main character’s mom in a movie of Barbara and the Rage Brigade, or grandmother in Wizard Girl. But those are large enough roles that they probably wouldn’t cast me.

For an actual cameo, I’d love to be part of a band playing in the background of a scene. I actually wrote our band into a scene in The Gospel According to St. Rage.

An elf named 12-25 approaches you. He’s sneezing, wheezing, coughing and there’s a strange tattoo of a snoring dog on his cheek. What do you do?

Offer a tissue and ask if he’s OK. Try to get him indoors, if possible; it’s winter here and no one wants to be outside when they have a cold.

Once we have our hot tea, I’d want to hear his story. I’m not that familiar with elves, so I’m not sure how common tattoos are in their culture. If he doesn’t bring it up, I’d probably ask.

What are your most effective marketing strategies?

I’m not sure I can call them strategies, but I try to do a variety of things. I post in promotional groups, do online author events, post in my own social media, blurb other people’s books, and do live events with other authors and on my own.

It’s really hard to tell whether anything is working in the moment. I seem to do best face-to-face, even though I’m not much of a people person. If I can talk with a potential reader about my books, I will generally make a sale.

Do you have a website/Facebook page, etc?

Website: https://kareneisenbreywriter.com/

Blog: https://kareneisenbreywriter.com/blog/

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/KarenEisenbreyWriter/

Twitter: @KarenEisenbrey

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7577611.Karen_Eisenbrey

Bandcamp: https://strage2.bandcamp.com/

Where can we find your books?

If you don’t find them on the shelf, any independent bookstore can order them from IngramSpark. They are also available online from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Thank you, Karen, for spending time with us and sharing your story. We wish you continued success and lots of luck!

While an epidemic rages and a strangler stalks the streets of the city, Luskell trains and works as a healer, but she aspires to greater power.

Though everyone knows girls can’t become wizards, she persuades Wizard Bardin to make her his apprentice. Luskell leaves the city on a quest for new magic and to explore mysteries that have more to do with love and desire.

But the strangler follows her. She must gain the trust of old friends and an unexpected ally if she’s going to stop the murderer before he strikes again.

Barbara’s starting over.

She’s happy to leave high school behind, but doesn’t know how she’ll make new friends when her bandmates leave town for college. She has no plans for the future beyond driving school, a part-time summer job, and community college in the fall.

OK, and getting control of her rage-fueled superpowers without her parents finding out. It would be so much easier if an experienced superteam would take her on.

Just when an invitation for another band’s record release explodes into the gig of a lifetime, Barbara starts noticing weird circumstances around a cult-like church.

Other superpowered kids are showing up left and right, looking to her for guidance. Guess Barbara has to make her own superteam! She’ll need all the help she can get to battle dangerous, cult-like megachurch.

Look out, world — here comes the Rage Brigade.

Seumas Gallacher’s: Strangely, I’m Still Here

Available on Amazon


Fact is often more incredible than fiction.

Seumas Gallacher has survived long enough to savour places, characters and events for more than forty years in the Far East and the Arabian Gulf.

He started life in Scotland, travelled far and wide as a wannabe Trainee Master of the Universe, but the Universe had other plans for him.

From a career in banking, he escaped to become a corporate trouble-shooter.

He discovered the joy and torture of becoming a wordsmith, writing five best-selling crime novels, a book of poetry, and being hyper-active on social media.

‘Strangely, I’m Still Here’ is his story.

Author Bio:

SEUMAS GALLACHER escaped from the world of finance years ago, after a career spanning three continents and five decades.

As the self-professed ‘oldest computer Jurassic on the planet’ his headlong immersion into the dizzy world of eBook publishing opened his eyes, mind, and pleasure to the joys of self-publishing.

As a former businessman, he rapidly understood the concept of a writer’s need to ‘build the platform’, and from a standing start began to develop a social networking outreach, which now tops 30,000 direct contacts.

His first four crime-thrillers, in what has become the ‘Jack Calder’ series, THE VIOLIN MAN’S LEGACY, VENGEANCE WEARS BLACK, SAVAGE PAYBACK and KILLER CITY have blown his mind with more than 90,000 e-link downloads to date. The fifth in the series, DEADLY IMPASSE, was published in the third quarter 2016. When he reaches the 100,000 sales/downloads mark he may indulge an extra Fried Mars Bar to celebrate.

He started a humorous, informative, self-publishers blog, never having heard of a ‘blog’ prior to that, was voted ‘Blogger of the Year 2013’ and now has a loyal blog following on his networks. He says the novels contain his ‘Author’s Voice’, while the blog carries his ‘Author’s Brand’. And he’s still LUVVIN IT!

Blind Date With A Book At Lahaska & Doylestown Bookshops

Website Info

Blind Date with a Book!

Running at The Doylestown & Lahaska Bookshops through the month of February

Have you ever been on a blind date with a book?

Our booksellers have carefully selected some of our favorite titles, ranging from science to historical fiction to young adult, and wrapped them up so you are not able to see the title or the cover.

With clues like “magical,” “1940s France,” “very intricate pocket watches,” “LGBT,” or “zombies,” written on the front to lead you in your selection, you will then choose a book that sounds amazing to you, buy it, take it home, and unwrap your date!

For every “date” you bring home, you may enter our raffle to win a special prize. The raffle winner will be chosen on February 29th. So come in, browse, and have fun finding your new favorite book!