Animation by Kayelle Allen at The Author's Secret

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Wednesday's Writer - Nikki Lynn Barrett


One of the things I love to do to put me in the mood for Christmas is watch those colourful, sentimental films on TV (so what if they're mainly aimed at kids - aren't we all children at Christmas?) or curl up on the sofa in front of a blazing log fire, with the Christmas tree all lit up and read a heart-warming Christmas story.  Well, today's author has offered me exactly that and it's a story with great visual appeal that plays out in your head like a film as you read.  So I want to thank Nikki Lynn Barrett for putting me in the Christmas mood a little early and hand over to her so she can tell us all about herself and her magical new story.

About Nikki Lynn Barrett 

Hi! Thank you SO much for having me here today! I appreciate it.  My name is Nikki Lynn Barrett, and I'm an author. Wow, doesn't that sound a little too much like I'm at some kind of 'aholic' meeting? Well, maybe I am.....Though really, there's nothing wrong with being a write-aholic, is there?

I hope there's no blank empty stares to that as I continue on...

 Anyhow! Back to the subject at hand...which is apparently me! I live in Arizona with my husband and son, and I hate temperatures over 80 degrees. Yeah. I know. Wrong state then. But my hubby loves it here, so I'll just write myself a cool vacation paradise.   I just published my first book, The Secret Santa Wishing Well.  I've always been a writer. I penned my first 80 page book by the 5th grade, all hand written (horribly, mind you) in one of those spiral notebooks.  That's enough about me, though, how about I introduce you to my story?

The blurb:
    The magic of Christmas has been lost to Jacob Winston. At the suggestion of his ill sister, Jacob takes a job as a Secret Santa at the mall, hoping to restore his Christmas spirit. Even that doesn't seem to work, until a special little boy ambles up to make a very special wish...

Cheyenne Jensen is struggling to raise her two kids without the help of her ex-husband who refuses to acknowledge his daughter's existence and doesn't provide for the son he does. This Christmas is shaping up to be as heartbreaking as the last until her son, Ben's kind actions lead a stranger to them.

Ah, but it's Christmas time and the magic has begun.

When Jacob and Cheyenne meet, neither can deny their immediate attraction to one another. As situations arise that require they spend more time together, their feelings grow stronger and stronger.

With Christmas fast approaching, the pair learn what matters most in life. Now, if only they could ditch the ghost of Christmases past.  

Maybe this holiday will bring some wishes come true- for everyone after all.


  And here's an excerpt from The Secret Santa Wishing Well

“I'm sorry, Mommy.  I won't run off again.  I promise.”     
The sad face had to go.  Cheyenne grabbed the front of Ben’s pajama top and pulled him so he fell on the couch beside her.  Then she pounced.  “You promise?  You promise?”  She tickled him until his blue eyes shined and he called out between the bouts of giggles. 
  “Yes!  Yes!  I promise!"
Laughing, she said, “That’s what I thought.”  Cheyenne tugged him onto her lap and squeezed.  “I love you, Benjamin William Jenson, and don’t you ever forget it.  Now, how about a small cup of hot chocolate before bed and you can tell me all about this wish, okay?”  She only hoped she’d be able to afford whatever it was he wished for.  God knew her little man deserved at least one special present this year.
Hot on her heels, Ben said, “I can’t tell.  It was Santa’s secret wishing well."
“Secret, huh?”  That wasn’t going to help her find out what Ben wanted, Cheyenne thought.  Vaguely, if she remembered right, last year the mall’s setup around Santa also included a large Christmas tree with tags on it for those families who needed help.
“Mommy, can we go back?”
She turned from the cupboard.  “Why?”
“Mister Helper, cause he isn’t the real Santa, he said it couldn’t hurt.  He said I could wish again.  He gave me a penny to throw in the water.  He said sometimes that’s all we have.”
Maybe she'd go to the mall on her next day off.  If the same man was even there.
For the next half hour, while they drank their cocoa, she tried to make sense of what Ben had said.  All he kept talking about were wishes and Santa's helper.  Cheyenne was glad for the kind man.  Grateful in fact that he’d kept her son safe.  But her bed was calling.  It had been a long day.  “All done?”
She tucked Ben under the covers and kissed his forehead.  He hugged his teddy bear and said, “So, can we go back, pretty please?"
“I don’t know, Ben.  We have so much to do tomorrow."
Before she could walk away, Ben grabbed her hand.  “Mommy, it's important.”  At the door, as she turned off the light, Cheyenne made a wish of her own.
I wish for a meaningful Christmas this year for Ben and Desiree.
One far better than she believed it would be.


Well this sounds like a lovely story, Nikki, and it's going straight onto my Kindle for my Christmas reading line-up.  I have a feeling I'll need a box of Kleenex handy!

If you want to download this story, just click on one of the following links:



(Kobo, print, and other ebook retailers coming soon)

Find out more about Nikki Lynn Barrett at the following:





Saturday, November 24, 2012

Changing Genres - For Better or Worse?


I'm coming up to my first anniversary as a published author.  A published romance author, that is.  My first novel, The Apple Tree, was released last December and since then I've had three further romances published.  Now does that make me a romance writer, I wonder?

I never saw myself as such, but it seems that my readers do.  Not that I mind that, but I worry a bit about changing hats.  Last month I published a short science fiction story (Surveillance) with my lovely son and it was such a great experience that we'd love to write more in that particular sub-genre of sci-fi - providing, of course, people want to read our work.  But what I have found is that reaching a whole new set of readers is not easy and the last thing I want to do is upset readers who only want romance but are faced with something else.

Next month I plan to publish another speculative fiction (Killing Jenna Crane) and quite frankly, I'm feeling rather nervous!  Although it centres around romance, it's by no means a traditional romance, more what I would classify as a psychological drama and I wonder what readers will make of it.  I intend to try to make it clear that it's not a romance, so that no one will feel cheated.  At the same time I hope that readers will be open to trying slightly new and difference genres and that I find lots of new readers without driving away my old ones.

Releasing a new book is always exciting (and rather nerve-racking) and moving away from a tried and tested formula also takes courage.   I just hope it will prove worth it.

Here is an extract from  the short story, Surveillancein which six year old Harrison's parents discuss their fears about losing their second child.

Long after Russell had retired for the night after a further generous helping of single malt, Brandon and Claire sat in the study talking.  Brandon preferred the study, not just because it was completely safe and soundproof, but because it commanded surveillance of the entire house.  If Harrison awoke or Russell decided to go for a wander, he could be ready to act immediately.

"I wish we could just...disappear," Claire said, panic sounding plainly in her voice.

"You know that's impossible, Claire.  There is nowhere we could hide." He above anyone knew what a surveillance society meant in terms of hiding from the authorities.  "Dammit, I just hadn't banked on Russ coming back so soon.  It gives us so little time to think of something."

"Can't we put him off?  Maybe say we have something else planned?"

"The last thing we want to do is arouse his suspicions by doing something out of character," Brandon pointed out. "He's only trying to do his job, after all."

"Then what are we supposed to do?  Sit back and let them take him away from us?  Just because he's too clever?"

Brandon gnawed at his lower lip as he glanced absently at his bank of screens.  "We can't change the law.  We've known the risks all along.  We chose not to deny his thirst for knowledge, knowing it could be his biggest threat...correction, our biggest threat."

"Didn't some old writer say the law was an ass?" Claire's voice sounded bitter as she rubbed at her temple to smooth away the pain that was threatening to engulf her.  "There's no way we can let him be used as some experimental laboratory guinea pig, just because he's so clever!" Tears began to slide down her face, causing her husband to groan in love and concern for her misery, which no one understood better than he.

"Don't worry, darling.  We're not giving up yet.  There has to be a way to fight this and I'm determined to find it.  If there is a way to protect him, I'll find it.  I promise you that, Claire, if I have to die in the process."

Surveillance is available from Amazon, Smashwords and other e-book outlets, for  just  99 cents (£0.77).

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I've Got The "LOOK"! - ziggy zig zag tag...


I don't know who exactly started this fun idea, but I was tagged with "You've got the LOOK" by the wonderful Paula Martin and I know following her will not be easy.  The idea of it is to take my latest work in progress and search for the word "look" then post some of the surrounding text or paragraphs.  Well it didn't take me long at all as the word appears first in the third paragraph, so I thought I'd share part of the opening chapter with you.

Cover art by Su Halfwerk
The story is called Killing Jenna Crane - and I warn you now, you won't like my main character!  His name is Ellis Crawford and he's a very successful fiction writer and creator of the popular Jenna Crane mystery series, which has led to several Hollywood blockbusters.  He's also a bit of a love-rat, I'm sorry to say.  But he receives a taste of his own medicine when he meets the lovely Emily and becomes besotted with her…so much so that when she suggests he kills off Jenna Crane and focuses on more worthwhile writing ventures, he decides to do just that - but with dire consequences.

Here is the blurb as it stands at the moment:

This is not a story about a murder, but a dark journey inside a writer's mind.  Ellis Crawford, creator of the famous and highly successful Jenna Crane mystery series, finds his comfortable life swept away when he meets Emily, his perfect woman. 

Despite his deepening love for Emily, Ellis finds himself haunted by painful memories of a previous love whose heart he broke, and begins to regret his past behaviour.  On top of that, Emily wants him to kill off his beloved heroine Jenna Crane - against fierce public opinion.

But life is too short for regrets and when his own rapidly spirals out of control, taking his reputation as an author with it, where will Ellis turn for help?

Excerpt:

"Jenna Crane, we meet at last - literally!" Anderssen said, his gun pointing straight at her head. "Your last, that is. Too bad you don't have time to know me better."

Jenna crouched against the wall, well and truly trapped, and waited for her past to start flashing before her eyes.  Fear was not the emotion she felt, however.  What she felt, if anything, was anger at her stupidity which had allowed him the upper hand, not to mention the crass incompetence of A.N. Other.  I need a plan, she thought, and a bit of bullet-time wouldn't go amiss either.  Neither seemed very likely to come her way.

The explosion ripped at her eardrums.  She'd forgotten how loud gunshot sounded at such close range.  She felt no pain - absolutely none at all…which was odd.  Anderssen didn't look too comfortable, however.  His eyes slid skywards, disappearing into his skull until only the whites showed as he slowly crumpled in on himself and toppled to the floor.  That was bullet-time; real slow motion stuff.  She was reminded of a collapsing tower block, skilfully detonated to drop straight in on itself, limiting the damage to the surrounding area.  Very graceful.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Jenna demanded.

"Saving your life, again." Ellis murmured.

"Get off my case, you big weirdo!  It's not your job to do that, it's mine.  Yours is not to fight my battles for me - or have some half-wit do it.  I do my own rescuing, remember?  Who fired the gun anyway?"

"I haven't decided yet, but I thought maybe Patterson from EMPA.  He's been on your case since chapter three.  He could be your new love interest in the next series."

Jenna groaned.  "Patterson's a complete dick.  You'd have to rewrite him completely.  And he'd make a lousy love-interest for me.  Stop trying to over-feminise me, will you.  I'm Jenna Crane, not Emily Madison.  We don't work the same way.  Chloe understood me, why can't she?  Now rewrite that stupid scene or I'm going on strike."  She stood looking mutinous and lovely, refusing to say another word.

Not that she'd said a single word in the first place, of course.  Ellis shook his head at himself before zapping the seven pages of rubbish he'd written that morning by hitting Control + A then delete.  His mind wasn't on the latest Jenna Crane saga today; it had taken wing and flown out of the window and across the street to worry about an entirely different problem.

Last but not least, I'm supposed to tag 5 more ziggy zig zag writers and let them know they've been tagged so that they too can share their current work in progress with the rest of the blogging community!  I've chosen quite an eclectic group of writers and I hope this comes as a big, but not unpleasant surprise to them.  I believe they're all working on something rather special, which I'm certain will have "The LOOK"!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Wednesday's Writer - Jan Warburton


A Face to Die For by Jan Warburton

I feel rather ashamed about the length of time it's taken me to get to this particular book, when it has been high on my list of 'to be read' for several months. In fact, I was already engrossed in it following my initial 'look inside' and knew I was going to enjoy it even before I downloaded it.  And, of course, I did enjoy it - from start to finish.  The intricate plotting and close attention to social and historical detail meant that once started, I could hardly bear to put it down and often sat up late into the night reading it.  

To summarise very briefly, the novel follows the life of Annabel Spencer, an aspiring fashion designer and her gradual rise to fame and fortune in the 1960s.  Her life is interwoven with that of Kate, an attractive fellow-student who models her designs at college and whose career as a top model is subsequently launched.  Over the ensuing years Annabel and Kate's lives continually criss-cross and an intriguing friendship ensues.

I can perfectly see why anyone who 'seized the day' during those so-called Swinging Sixties would love this nostalgia trip.  This fascinating glimpse into a world of which all young girls of that time could only dream, kept me totally captivated.  Very well done to the author for capturing the era so beautifully and evocatively - this novel reads like a valuable (and very interesting) piece of social history.  Jan Warburton is a gifted and knowledgeable writer and I know I will be reading more of her work.

The main character, Annabel was very interesting but I found her self-absorption and amorality a little unattractive.  Maybe that was a symptom of the times, but it made her rather brittle and unlikeable - not that it in any way spoiled my enjoyment of the story, I hasten to add!  Annabel was capable of showing great kindness to certain people (Kate and Lynda among many) but her generosity was invariably motivated by self-interest and I found myself wishing for her to receive her comeuppance at the end - though I won't say if she did or not!  The realistic 'warts and all' presentation was extremely well done.  Kate, on the other hand, was very sympathetically drawn and I found her complex and fascinating.  I couldn't wait to find out more about her and her inner conflicts and felt a great empathy for her.  Despite the 60s setting, Kate's struggle is very contemporary and believable in the tough world of fashion. I'm tempted to give examples but am afraid of creating spoilers, which I would never dream of doing purposely.  I heartily recommend this book and hope many people will read it and decide for themselves about Annabel and Kate.

The rich enjoyment reading this story gave me makes it worthy of top marks, but my reading experience was just slightly marred by some poor editing.  Such a great story really deserves to be fault-free but the punctuation and grammatical errors grated slightly.  I thought some of the scenes could also have used a bit more spark and passion. However, for anyone interested in high society London life during that fascinating era, or just looking for a thoroughly engrossing read, I guarantee you will enjoy A Faceto Die For and I'm awarding it 4.5 cute cats.

As a postscript, I'd like to add that since finishing this novel, I've found myself thinking about it quite a lot.  It's the sort of story I'd love to have in print form to be able to dip into and re-read passages, if not the entire story again (I haven't quite got the hang of doing that on my Kindle!).  I wish I'd made it last longer - but, great news, I've just heard there's a sequel due out this month. Guess who'll be downloading that on the day it's released?!

The Blurb:

Pure nostalgia: London in the “swinging sixties” – Struck by a beautiful girl’s face in an award winning photograph, fashion student, Annabel Spencer, chooses the girl, Katherine, to model her gowns in her art college’s final year fashion show. It tells how this brief meeting with the girl becomes pivotal to Annabel’s eventual success and how these two women’s careers and love lives become uncannily and fatally entwined. An intriguing and truly fascinating love story hampered by loose morals, drug taking and emotional conflict, at a time when anything risquĂ© goes, and frequently does! The storyline reveals the scandal and glamour of a most decadent and revolutionary period in modern history.

About Jan Warburton:

Trained in fashion design at Ealing Art School, Jan first began working for the House of Worth in Mayfair, London in 1958. She then moved on to wholesale fashion as the designer’s assistant. Marriage to an army officer in 1961 took her to Germany for three years. Later, back in civilian life they moved to Singapore; “another amazing experience”, she says, which has proved valuable ‘grist’ to her writing ‘mill’.

After a painful divorce she survived 6 years with two kiddies as a one parent family - a tough period, from which she has drawn in her fiction writing. After managing a fashion boutique in Wakefield for 2 years, her last position for several years was sales rep for top designer spectacle frame company, Oliver Goldsmith, until redundancy finally allowed her to pursue her writing ambition.

She has a daughter Jayne, son Justin, and two granddaughters Abby and Alexia.
Now happily married to Mark for 32 years, they live in a converted barn in rural Yorkshire.

In the past she has sold various articles and short stories to UK magazines, but longer book length fiction has been her main interest for many years.

In December 2009 she was commissioned to ghost write a successful autobiography for black American soul singer/songwriter, Tommy Hunt; ONLY HUMAN, published by Bank House Books. (For further info visit: www.tommyhunt.co.uk )

JOANNA (a spin off sequel to A Face to Die For) will be her third novel, and is due for release on Kindle later in November 2012.
Her previous novels:
All are available on Kindle.

Please visit her blog: www.janwarburton.blogspot.co.uk





Saturday, November 10, 2012

Released at Last - In Loving Hate by Lynette Sofras


It's been a long, slow journey and I'm more relieved than pleased that my romantic suspense, In Loving Hate, has finally (and very quietly) emerged from its year-long wraps to sit pristinely on Amazon's shelves, vying, with all the other new releases, for some loving attention.  Now, I suppose the real work begins of getting it noticed, which will most certainly be down to me and not the publisher.

I'm not complaining.  Since the publication of my first novel almost a year ago, I've learned that the onus for marketing falls squarely on the authors' shoulders.  Following the release of my first novel, I've also published two other contemporary romances so the fairy dust has fallen from my eyes and I have a much clearer idea of the hard work involved.  But that's next week's task.  Today I'm celebrating my latest release and talking a little bit about it.


In Loving Hate

After the devastation of her failed marriage, Lyssa returns  from Greece to her family home in London to pick up the pieces of her shattered life, only to learn that her mother, a once-celebrated actress, is now debt-ridden and has sold the luxury apartment in the top of their home to Alex Andrakis - a Greek shipping magnate.

Now why would a Greek multi-millionaire want a flat in a private house, no matter how prestigious the address, when he could afford to buy half the street?  Ostensibly, it's an altruistic act, to help out Lyssa's mother who is an old friend and former flame of his father's.  However, Lyssa soon discovers that with Andrakis, nothing is ever straightforward and the apartment is merely a pawn in a much bigger game.  A game that takes a dangerous twist when Lyssa's childhood friend and prolific businesswoman, Nell Winters, begins to take an interest and does some digging of her own.

It seems in the international business world nothing and no one is what it appears and Lyssa finds herself caught in the crossfire with her emotions pulled in different directions as she tries to unravel the mysterious wheelings and dealings of all concerned.

In Loving Hate is now available from Amazon, the Coffee Time Romance and Muse ItUp Publications book-stores (both offering 20% off) and will hopefully hit other leading retailers in the next few weeks.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Wednesday's Writer - Gay N. Lewis talks about those tender moments

I'm really honoured to be able to hand over my Wednesday's Writer slot today to the lovely Gay N. Lewis, a fellow Prism Book Groups writer.  Prism (formerly Inspired Romance) was my first publisher and therefore responsible for getting my writing career off the ground.  Prism is also the publisher of Gay's current best-selling title, Sarah: A Mission of Love.  Over to you, Gay.

Tender Moments by Gay N. Lewis

Romance…women love it, crave it, and need it. But a lot of men don’t understand what romance is or how to give it. Explicit sex is different.  A record number of men have physical passion on their minds and agenda any ole day of the week. But tender phrases and activities that lead to intimacy? Well that’s a different story.

Can’t blame them.  What is romance anyway?  Dictionaries don’t help.   Thorndike and Barnhart says, “A love story, a medieval story or poem telling of heroes.”  My old Webster’s reads, “A medieval narrative of the adventure of chivalric heroes or a long fictitious tale of adventure, heroism, or mystery.”

Well, now, that helps a heap, doesn’t it? 

Maybe that’s why romance novels are popular.  Women have their hunger fulfilled vicariously.  The fictitious heroine has a super hero who understands exactly what will thrill her down to her toes. This perfect male protagonist defines by words and actions what a female misses in her everyday existence. 

Ahhh…sigh…if only we had what she has. And so we read more romance novels—wishing and dreaming as we do that we could enjoy the life of the heroine. And when a singular moment is given to us by our special someone, we swoon and remember the occasion for a lifetime…and then we ache for more of the same.
But how does a woman teach a man to be romantic?

Well, the answer to that is simple.  Have him read a romance novel.  In these books, female authors put imagination to work. We describe how we wish our men would act, and what we yearn for them to say and do.

For Christian writers, tender scenes without too much suggestive detail are difficult. When and where should the guy touch the girl? How descriptive should that kiss be? What can he say to her that will not offend the Christian reader?

When my husband compliments me, or surprises me with a gift, I cement it into my heart—and sometimes his word or deed shows up in one of my books…as fiction, of course. Sarah: A Mission of Love has one of these moments in it. Sarah: Laney’s Angel will be out in the spring of 2013. This funny and heart-warming tale has scenes to make one swoon, but none of them were inspired by my spouse.
Gals, leave us your comments. What romantic action or word has your special someone instilled into your memory?

More about Gay N Lewis:

A native Texan, Gay lives in Fulshear—a small town west of Houston. She has always been involved with creative and artistic ventures.  Two videos she produced—The Canadian Rockies, English and Japanese translations, and Psalms from the Mountains, were sold in Canada, America, Great Britain, as well as all international markets. Both were well received.  For the San Felipe Baptist Association, she was a contributor for the video Many Churches, One Vision.

Graphic skills kept her busy as a portrait photographer, and for over ten years, she used her imaginative insight in the interior design field. 

Gay’s real love is writing and reading—both go nicely together.  As a pastor’s wife, she has written, produced, and photographed many programs, and her Faith Features have been published in various church periodicals.

Teaching an adult Bible study every Sunday morning is Gay’s joy, and she is often called upon for speaking engagements.  When needed, she plays the piano and serves as worship leader in her husband’s church. 
Gay’s family reside in Texas—three daughters and four grandchildren.

Sarah:  A Mission of Love is available from:
Prism Book Groups and all leading e-book retailers.

Summary:
Handsome, single, and wealthy, Houstonian Tom Shoemaker must decide if he should give up his successful business to assume a country pastorate. When a blonde, blue-eyed, dyslexic angel arrives from The Heavenlies to locate a mate for Tom by Valentine’s Day, she’s havoc in outlandish red stilettos. But despite numerous goofs in her efforts—many caused by her passion for eccentric footwear the other angels would never dare adorn—love is indeed in the air.

After Marcy Montgomery’s husband was killed in Afghanistan, she relocated to a small, central Texas town with Hope, her five-year-old daughter. When Sarah accidentally introduces Tom to Marcy, she sets about discovering if the two would make suitable mates. The Superiors certainly wouldn’t approve of a romantic link between the wrong people. But Hope wants a father, and when the five-year-old meets Tom, she immediately decides he is the perfect candidate.

Is Tom the right one for Marcy? Or has Sarah made her biggest blunder of all? Oh merciful heavens! What’s an angel to do?


Sarah: Laney's Angel is due for release next Spring.

This sounds like the start of a long and very endearing series.  Do check out the above links for more information and thank you, Gay, for such a thought-provoking post.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

That ever so tedious misplaced apostrophe


Someone followed me on Twitter recently claiming to write 'Kid's books'.  Now I try so very hard to ignore misplaced apostrophes in the general public, but when a writer demonstrates a lack of understanding of the rules for them, I get a little bit upset.  Especially when they are writing kids' books.  It makes me wonder what standards they are setting for young readers.  So here's a quick lesson on the possessive apostrophe (which seems to be the one that causes most problems) purely for anyone who is confused about the rules.

I used to teach my students a little mantra and make them repeat it by rote every time they wrote an essay (love homophones too!)  for two weeks until they'd fixed it in their minds.  If people will only take the trouble to do this, they will never misuse the possessive apostrophe again.

It goes like this:

The girl's bag
The girls bag.  To find out where the apostrophe goes, you need to ask who does the possessing or owning.  In this case, it is the girl, therefore place the apostrophe after girl = the girl's bag.

The girls bags.  Well, of course it's possible the girl has several bags, but hopefully the context will make that clear.  If we assume there are several girls owning the bags, we ask the same question: Who owns the bags? 

In this case the answer is the girls, therefore, place the apostrophe after girls
= the girls' bags.

Let's try another:

The teachers' meeting

The teachers meeting is in the library. 
Question: Who 'owns' the meeting? Answer: the teachers (very unlikely to be one teacher having a meeting alone) so, place the apostrophe after teachers 
= the teachers' meeting is in the library.



The children's toys

It works exactly the same with plural nouns.

The childrens toys. Question: Who owns the toys?
Answer: the children.  This is already plural but the principle is exactly the same, therefore, place the apostrophe after children
= the children's toys. 




Consider:


The lady's (or ladies') shoes
The ladys shoes = the lady's shoes (one lady owning more than one shoe)

The ladies shoes = the ladies' shoes (several ladies owning more than one shoe).






So just ask yourself when you write kids books - who are the books for? Answer: the kids - therefore place the apostrophe after kids = kids' books.

Kids' books

It really is that easy.