Top Ten Authors I’ve Read the Most From

Oh my goodness it’s so nice to have you with me again! Hahaha now I feel like Mr. Roger! Would you be mine? Seriously though, I’m thrilled you’re hanging out with me, and I’ve got awesome news! I’m going to start posting several times a week (don’t worry they won’t all come to your inbox), and talking about other topics of interest to you… books, working around distractions, interviews with other makers, and more! And at the end of the week, I’ll do a weekend wrap-up in my newsletter. (So make sure you’re subscribed!)

Alright. So, Tuesday’s I’m gonna do Top Ten Tuesday. There was a link-up for this back when I was on Blogger. Oh nostalgia. But this one? This one is book related. Yeeeeessss. I’ll test it out. And I want to hear from y’all. If you’re loving it, I’ll stick with it (and I want to see YOUR Top Ten’s). If you’re not digging it, I’ll do my own on varying topics. 😀

top ten tuesday graphic

I see many of the bloggers are posting theirs in order of how many books they’ve read from that author. Uhhhhmmm nope. I won’t be doing that. lol These are the ones that come to mind*, and I’d have to think way too hard, to figure out how many I’ve read from each of them. 🙂

*Some links are Kindle, some are paperback. Any purchase using those links gives me a small commission.

1. Pearl S. Buck

Okay, so I’ve had a long term fascination with China. I’d love to see the country, try the local cuisine, learn the language, help rebuild/improve their orphanages, go on a missions trip, sponsor a child, and adopt a child from there. So of course, I’ve read one of the biggest authors of books about that country.

If I had to choose a favorite, I think it would have to be The Imperial Woman. The look into the life of the last Empress is fascinating! One I haven’t read yet, but want to soon, is Living Reed. It takes place in Korea!

2. Lawrence Yep

So again… China. I first fell in love with Lawrence Yep after reading Dragon’s Gate. But then I discovered it was in the middle of a series. I found a few others in the series, but never the whole thing (it’s ten books total). Bummer dude! Later I discovered his fantasy series that was based off of Chinese mythology… very fun!

A favorite would be Ribbons. It was a departure from the majority of what I’d read, which was his historical fiction. Ribbons dealt with an Chinese-American family, and the main character’s culture clash when her grandmother arrives from Hong Kong. What I’d like to read, is Hiroshima. I’m noticing a theme here. Apparently I’m intrigued by author’s writing about a topic that’s different from the usual for them.

3. Ted Dekker

Oh my goodness. Ted. Dekker. That man has written some of the freakiest books I’ve read. But they’re so good, I just can’t stop. I don’t even know off the top of my head, which book was the first.

A favorite would be Immanuel’s Veins. Super cool, non traditional take on vampire myth. Oh, and it was the very first book that I ever pre-ordered. And the very first deckle-edged book I ever owned. The one I haven’t decided how I feel, is Identity. I think I like it, but it’s one of those twisty-turny books that makes you feel a bit disoriented once you’ve come out of book-land. If you do want to check it out, I’ve included the Kindle link, and the Kindle version is free. The rest of the series isn’t, but he wanted Identity to be something of a pilot. The one I’d like to read next of his.. . well I think I’d like to finish the series that Identity started. I’m curious.

4. Frank Peretti

The godfather of Christian supernatural thrillers. I was, like most people, introduced to Frank Peretti by reading This Present Darkness. I pretty much devoured all of his other books, including the Cooper Kids series, and House, which he teamed up with Ted Dekker on. Yeah that’s right. Both of them, on the same book. Creeeeeeepy!

One of my favorites is The Prophet. It’s about an anchorman who thinks he’s lost his marbles when he starts hearing voices, until he discovers he’s been given a beautiful gift. The one I haven’t read yet is Illusion. Supernatural novel involving a magician? I’m in!

5. Marissa Meyer

Okay, this is one of the very few ones, that I can quantify how many I’ve read. 4. Which is all of the Lunar Chronicles ones that have been released so far. And I don’t know that I could pick a favorite, but I’m dying to read Winter. Which doesn’t come out until November 10th. Dang it! In case you don’t know, these are dystopian twists on fairy tales. It starts with Cinder, which is based on Cinderella (you’re shocked right?), and it goes from there. Despite it being in the wrong time for true steampunk, the tech being placed in a realm torn apart by political intrigue and plague, gives it that vibe.

6. Agatha Christie

The absolute queen of the cozy mystery. Forget Team Edward or Team Jacob. It’s all about Team Marple or Team Poirot. Although I enjoy Hercule Poirot (and his name is rather fun to say), I’m Team Marple all the way. She’s a feisty old lady, and I’m a very big fan of the Little Old Lady Investigates trope.

All that having been said, my 2 very favorite of her books, don’t have either one of them! My absolute favorite is Death Comes As the End. This whole book takes place in Ancient Egypt… that loves goes back even further than my love of a good cozy mystery. My 2nd favorite is And Then There Were None. By the way, if you’re a fan of cozies, you should absolutely check out Miss Fisher Mysteries on Netflix. 1920’s Australia. Need I say more? I thought not.

7. Max Lucado

No one said this list had to be fiction, right? Okay, I feel in love with the simple way that Max Lucado presents the gospel. I think my grandmother was the first one to give me one of his books. His writing is clear, simple, and very storyteller based. I adore people who tell stories well. I’ve long since lost track of which books I’ve read, and what I’d like to read next. My favorite of his books, is actually a children’s story book though. It’s called You Are Special, and it’s about a little wooden man, who begins to feel like he’s not special, because his paint has worn off and he’s chipped and scarred.

8. Frank G. Slaughter

Although he’s renowned for his medical fiction, I’ve never read a single one! His historical fiction was what drew me in. Sadly, most of his books appear to be out of print, so I don’t even recall which ones I’ve read. I think, if I can track one down, I might have to give his medical books a shot. 🙂

9. Timothy Zahn

Whoop, whoop, nerd alert! Yep that’s right. I read the whole dang Thrawn Trilogy, and then some. It’s been a really long time since I read them, because although I’ve read more of his books than most other people’s they weren’t my very favorite of the Star Wars books. That claim to fame goes to The Courtship of Princess Leia… a little sappier than my usual fair, but I adored this “behind the scenes” peek at how their love story unfolded. And I loved Steve Perry’s Shadows of the Empire. It takes place in between The Empire Strikes Back and Return to the Jedi. And the villain Prince Xixor is such a creeper!

10. Dr. Seuss

Hahahahaha! You didn’t see that one coming did you? This is by far, the author I’ve read the most from. By a landslide. Between loving his books as a child, still loving them as a teen/adult, and now reading them to my own children… he’s been a heavily influential part of my life.

I adore both of the Bartholomew Cubbins books, but I’ll go with Bartholomew and the Oobleck. Because who doesn’t want to read about green goo precipitation pelting people? (Say that 5x fast!) For the record, my kids voted for the Sneetches. Which is a family favorite. Mostly because Sneetches is fun to say. The one I’ve never read (and there aren’t many) but I’d like to, is Happy Birthday to You. It has one of my favorite Seuss quotes…

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

Alright!!! I hope that you enjoyed this little peek into my favorite books. Have you read any of them? What are some of your favorites?

Be Human

Have you ever found yourself frustrated by the lack of humanity in today's communication?

I have a feisty personality.

Anyone who tells you otherwise, is merely going off of my appearance. I suppose at 5’1″, I don’t cut a very imposing figure. That having been said, I am ex-military. So there is that.

Me, back in my hardcore military days
See? That’s not a threatening face!

Actually, funny thing… I was a fitness instructor. But my friends (and sometimes my family) like to joke about siccing me on people like some sort of attack dog. As though military automatically equals hand-to-hand combat training. And yet… I’m more likely to make you do push-ups than I am to take you down. Although, as my mother points out, that may be even more terrifying.

So back around to the feisty personality. I’m not just feisty, I’m also very passionate about topics that strike my fancy, or get my blood boiling. 

And here lately, I’ve got a doozy brewing.

When did communication get so impersonal? After years of marketers wisely stressing the value of real, genuine connections, people have gotten… salesy. 


I’ve popped in on Periscopes, webinars, Facebook groups, etc., that have flat out made me feel slimy just by association. People have gotten pushy. They’ve abandoned connection & conversation, in favor of likes & hearts.

I want to encourage conversation. I adore comments. I am thrilled when I get to chat with someone on Periscope, talk with them in the comment section, or even email back and forth.

But I just can’t get behind the demanding thing… it’s just not me. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE hearts, likes, follows, etc. But I want people to do those things, because I said or did something they truly appreciated. Or something that entertained them. Or something that touched them.

We’re over complicating this.

All you have to do? Be human. That’s it. There’s the big secret. It’s as old as time itself… do unto others. Be kind. Be generous. Above all else, be human.

If I’ve moved  you in some way, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. 😉

It’s Only Halftime

Did your first half of the year not go according to plan? Relax! It's only halftime.A lot of entrepreneurs approach July, the way Pain & Panic watched Hercules fight the Hydra. With trembling & nail-biting. Why? Well, if you’ve seen Disney’s Hercules, you already know. If you haven’t, let me set the scene…

Hercules is on a mission to prove he’s worthy of becoming a god, so he can go to Mount Olympus and hang with with Papa Z and the rest of the godly crue. (Yes I misspelled that on purpose. Music joke. Sue me.) Meanwhile, Hades, knowing of Hercules’ desperation to be admired, sets up a battle with the Hydra. (You remember the Hydra right? What? No? Dang, go read your Bullfinch’s Mythology, right now! Wait… no! I was only kidding… get back here! Please?)

The battle rages furiously, and Hades’ imps Pain & Panic are sweating big time. Mostly because their pointy-tailed booties are on the line, cause Hercules was kinda supposed to be dead already. Whoops! But then it happens! With some fancy footwork, and a mighty swipe of the sword, the Hydra’s head is gone. The crowd roars! Pain & Panic wait for Hades’ wrath to descend upon their head. But instead, he smiles a sickly grin, and utters the sinister words “Guys, guys, relax! It’s only halftime.” 

And as those words escape his grim lips, the Hydra’s neck pops out 3 new heads. But you knew probably already knew that was coming. You’re clever like that.

So where am I going with this?

It’s halfway through the year. And right now, we have 3 options.

  • We can quiver like Pain & Panic, and mope that we didn’t succeed.
  • We can get excited like Hercules, and we can start our victory celebration.
  • Or we can smirk like Hades, and realize that the fight ain’t over yet. It’s just getting started. 

So the year is halfway over. Amazing things can happen in 6 months time. And even if you don’t make as many sales during the summer, that doesn’t mean you can’t start laying foundations. That you can’t make plans. Or you can’t contact someone and see if they’d like to collaborate. Or that you can’t set your goals for this last half. 

First half of the year didn't go as planned? Relax, it's only halftime. Click To Tweet

So here’s where we can add the modern twist to this tale. Take a moment for the halftime show. I don’t watch much football (although my Dad used to bribe us into watching the Superbowl with him, by telling us the Superbowl Oreos were only for Superbowl watchers… sneaky, sneaky Dad!), but I do love a good halftime show. And by show, I mean music, or dancing… not “wardrobe malfunctions”. I can do without that show.

So enjoy the moment. Celebrate how far you’ve come. And then dig in! Make those things happen… collaborate, plan, dream, make magic.

That Hydra ain’t gonna slay itself guys. Let’s get in there and crush the last half of 2015!

It’s My Biziversary

My business is turning 5 years old. Celebrate with me? | Amanda Sue Howell |
I love a good party! Just kidding… I love the idea of a good party. As wild and colorful as I am, I’m very much an introvert, and parties drain me. But I love the idea of the sights, and colors, and pinatas, and confetti. Oh the confetti! It’s almost as fun as glitter. 😀

Some people think introverts are anti-social, but we’re really not… we’re selectively social. We know what saps our energy, and what rejuvenates us, and we try to strike that balance. It doesn’t always work.

But get me in on a Twitter chat, or Facebook party, and I’m in my zone. I can party it up, and talk type as fast as I like, but I don’t have to worry about feeling awkward, or getting worn out from being around people. Perfect! (Plus if you’re online, no one knows if you’re hanging out in your pjs… unless you tell them!)

So with all of that in mind, I’m turning 5!

Wait… no… not me… my business! Technically this site is much younger, because CheekyVisionaries is turning 1, but it’s been 5 years since I made the decision to work from home, and set up my first business domain.

My first logo! |
My very first logo, courtesy of my mother-in-law

Look how far I’ve come! Ha! Anyway, in celebration of this grand occasion, I’m going all out!

Blog Hop Details

How to Join

1. Choose any date between July 7th and July 14th.

2. Leave a comment below, and let me know what date you’ve picked (and where you blog at!).

3. On your chosen date, publish a post on your blog, about any of the following topics:

  • Your favorite form of creativity (and why it’s your favorite)
  • Struggles you have with making time for creating
  • Your #1 tip for getting rid of creative blocks
  • Your own creative/creativity/creative block topic 🙂

4. Don’t forget to put the description below in your blog post.

5. Share your post with the WORLD (hahaha!) and use the hashtag #CheekyBiziversary so we can find all the posts in the same spot. Fun, huh?


Blog Party Description

I’m participating in the Cheeky Visionaries Biziversary & Launch Party! Amanda Sue Howell’s business is turning 5, and she’s celebrating with the launch of 30 Days of Creative Abandon. 30 Days of Creative Abandon is a 30 day course created for makers, who are looking for new ideas to set them free from artist’s block!


Thanks so much for celebrating with me! I can’t wait to see y’all on the webinar, and I can’t wait to see your blog posts. This is going to be SO MUCH FUN! 🙂

I'm participating in Cheeky Visionaries Biziversary Party! Come hang out with me! Click To Tweet


How My Sister Helped Me Find My Voice

A conversation with my sister helped me find my voice. :)

I used to be a virtual assistant.

And back when I was a virtual assistant, I was under the (misinformed) impression that I needed to be professional. And by professional, I mean serious. My writing had a wee bit of my personality shining through, but not really. Being buttoned up made me feel stifled, and it partially contributed to me bailing from VA work, and diving head first into what’s developed into my current business.  So something did come out of that!

But when I switched to creativity coaching, I realized that the dry writing I’d been doing just wasn’t going to cut it. I saw bloggers I adored, like Mayi Carles,  and April Bowles-Olin, and I felt life shining from their writing. I wanted so badly to attract readers like they did, but it was crickets in my comment section.

So I started trying to figure out how to find my voice. I devoured everything I could find on the subject…I took classes, read books, read blogs….

Then one day, I was on the phone with my sister, and we were bantering back & forth like we always do. Seriously…we’re a freakin’ hoot when we get together. We play off of each other, and joke, poke, tease, and harass each other to the delight of anyone around us. We’ve said for years we need to do a show together…so I may have to get her in on my podcast after I start it up. 😀

My sister & I goof around a lot :)

But that’s when I had a thought… *insert sound effect of Gru saying “lightbulb”*

What if…

What if, I wrote like I’m talking with my sister? What if I was free to do that? And I joked, and teased, and said the quirky, random things that pop into my head?

So I tried it. I started casually joking around in my blog posts…and telling stories…oh my goodness do I love a good story! Someone told me that I have more stories than anyone else they know, but they’re all so fascinating…(and it’s true…ask me about the time I was felt up by a Korean madam!).

The more I did it, the more people responded in the comments…and I’ve gotta tell ya…comments are like Scooby snacks for me!!! I gobble them up, and they give me super powers…powers to keep doing this!

When writing is done well, you can hear the person in your head, as you read it. Kris is one of the awesome people that’s helped me finesse this talent out (and I’m working with her to hone my skills even more!). So when she asked me to join in on her blog hop, I was all over that…only promote people who I totally adore, and Kris rocks my socks off. And best of all? She’s doing a giveaway! You can have the chance to win a seat in her new program Craft Your Voice…it starts on the 25th, and I can’t wait!!!

I’m participating in a Blog Link-up with Kris (With a K), from, because she wants to hear about the role writing plays in our businesses.

She is giving a Writing Workshop for entrepreneurs and bloggers, starting May 25th,  and she wants to give away a scholarship to one of the lovely bloggers who participate in this link up. You can participate and get a chance to win too.

Just copy and paste this piece of text into the introduction of your blog post answering the question, “How has writing been beneficial to your business, and what do you want to Craft with your Voice next?” Link back to this post, so any of your friends who are entering will be able to find it for more info.

Finally, go back to Kris’s blog on or after May 12th to add your link to the link-up party there, and you could win a scholarship to her new course: Craft Your Voice. She’ll be drawing a name on the 18th of May for a full scholarship to the 6 week writing course, so you can write and link-up your post any time before then.


How has writing affected YOUR business? Have you found your voice yet? Hit me up in the comments below (remember they’re like Scooby snacks to me!), and let me know what’s worked best for you. 🙂

One (Super-Fast) Time Management Tip

I’m participating in the Startup In 60 Blog Party! Startup In 60 is a time management course for busy women for are ready to finally start their own businesses whether they’ve got 60 days, 60 minutes, or 60 seconds. Click here to join the program.

One (Super-Fast) Time Management Tip

 I was supposed to write this post on April 28th.

It sounds like the set-up to a bad joke…”blogger takes assignment to write about time management…forgets to schedule it”. But seriously, that’s what happened. I woke up last night, in complete horror at the realization that I forgot to write my post for my friend Sage’s blog-hop.

So in the ending hours of the day, or the wee hours of today (not sure which), I wrote a somewhat frazzled explanation to Sage, to see if I was too late to get in on this. I even explained that I would now use this experience to explain why time management is so important…don’t do this at home boys & girls.

I like to think of myself as organized…I use to-do lists religiously. I have a detailed calendar/PostIt setup…but here’s where I made my mistake. When I signed up for Sage’s blog post, I didn’t put it in my calendar immediately. I said to myself, that I would put it in later, when I updated my to-do list. Obviously that didn’t happen.

And it’s not because I wasn’t excited to join in. It’s not because I’m wildly disorganized. It’s because life happens. I was prepping for my own upcoming launch, dealing with storms in our area, preparing for my son’s second birthday, and dealing with a teething baby. And I forgot.

This is what makes time management so valuable. It’s there for us when life gets in our way. If I had put this blog post in my calendar immediately, and put a notification in my phone…my post wouldn’t be late. It’s like a seat belt…it can be constraining, and awkward at times, but it’ll save your bacon when you need it the most.

Time management is there to save your bacon, when life mangles your day. Click To Tweet

Sage asked us to chat about our #1 time management tip…before yesterday, I would have said “have a to-do list”. But now I would say, put any appointments, deadlines, or obligations on your calendar THE MINUTE you know about them. That way you’re not waking up in the middle of the night to message your friends with an apology. 😉

So! Do me 2 favors please? 🙂

1. Watch the video below, and hear all about Startup In 60, Sage Grayson’s new time management program, from Sage herself! (Her energy & enthusiasm are simply unbeatable!)

2. Leave a comment below with YOUR number one time management tip! 🙂 Clearly, I’ve still got some learning on this, so I’d love to see what you do to prevent this sort of situation.