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The Royal Palm: multi award-winning children's book!

Runaway Clothes:multi award-winning children's book!

Good Morning, World!:Multi Award Winner

The Trees Have Hearts:Multi Award Winner

Follow Carlo the Mouse Series!5 books are coming in 2017-2020!

Join The City Kittens and the Old House Cat

The Little Girl Praying on the Hill- Readers' Favorite International GOLD Award Winner

That Is How Things Are - Coming in fall 2017!

Who Will Feed Stacey First? Story 1:Coming 2018!

The Mysterious Life Inside a Closet-A New Children's Book Coming in spring 2018!!

A Beautiful Tribute From My Fans

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Cool Quotes for Writers on Books, Reading & Writing

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Cool Quotes for Writers on Books, Reading & Writing

We all have days when we need a little extra inspiration. Writers especially can benefit from a little added encouragement, and sometimes the best way to stay focused and positive is to listen to the words of other writers.
Here are a few of our favorite quotes about writing, reading and books. Do you have a favorite quote that helps keep you motivated or inspired? Let us know in the comments below.
On books & reading:
“Good books, like good friends, are few and chosen; the more select, the more enjoyable.”
— Louisa May Alcott
“If one reads enough books one has a fighting chance. Or better, one’s chances of survival increase with each book one reads.”
— Sherman Alexie
“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.”
— Confucius
“When I get a little money, I buy books. If any is left, I buy food and clothes.”
— Erasmus
“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”
— Stephen King
“I find television to be very educating.  Every time somebody turns on the set, I go in the other room and read a book.” 
— Groucho Marx
“If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” 
— Toni Morrison
“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.”
— Joyce Carol Oates
“Be awesome! Be a book nut!”
— Dr. Seuss
“Reading usually precedes writing and the impulse to write is almost always fired by reading. Reading, the love of reading, is what makes you dream of becoming a writer.”
— Susan Sontag
“Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience:  this is the ideal life.” 
— Mark Twain
 “Books had instant replay long before televised sports.” 
— Bern Williams

On writing:
“Why do writers write? Because it isn’t there.”
— Thomas Berger
“And what, you ask, does writing teach us? First and foremost, it reminds us that we are alive and that it is a gift and a privilege, not a right.”
— Ray Bradbury
“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.”
— Cyril Connolly
“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”— E.L. Doctorow
“The Six Golden Rules of Writing: Read, read, read, and write, write, write.”
— Ernest Gaines
“The most important things to remember about back story are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn’t very interesting.”— Stephen King
“The secret of good writing is telling the truth.”
— Gordon Lish
“The first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written.”
— Joyce Carol Oates
“Writing is the best way to talk without being interrupted.”
— Jules Renard
“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”
— Gloria Steinem
“It takes a heap of sense to write good nonsense.”— Mark Twain
“If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.”— Virginia Woolf
[Picture of writing desk from Shutterstock.]


Wednesday, September 5, 2012



Preparing for the publishing world

Query Shark - great for your blurb;

Smashwords Style Guide  and The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success - free ebooks regarding formatting and other information;

Amazon KDP Voice of the Author Forum - this is a forum (a lot of experienced authors);

Frank Steele - inexpensive covers, book trailers and swag;
Robin Ludwig Designs - beautiful designs;
DIGITELL DESIGN - book covers, illustrations, posters;

Great illustrations  and book covers!!


Amazon KDP  - Kindle Direct Publishing for;

Smashwords - Distributes to iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, Diesel, and more;

After You've Published 

Goodreads - Goodreads is a great place to get your stuff out there without daily upkeep and still be available to your readers; - check your rankings on the International and US iTunes charts;

iTunes Link Makers - Link to your books on iTunes with the widget or link maker tools;

5 Girls Book Reviews
Main blog URL: Best method of contact: email at 5girlsbookreviews AT gmail.comGenres accepted: YA, MG,  Picture Books, Chick Lit, Contemporary, Mystery. Genres NOT accepted: Sci Fi, Erotica, Horror, Historical, Non-fiction.
100 Stars or Less

This site has moved to currently accepting ONLY CHILDREN'S PICTURE BOOKS and POETRY books for review and requires a physical copy of the book in order to review.
A Mom After God's Own Heart
Reviewer prefers Christian, (both fiction and non-fiction). Will accept: mystery, self help books, general living like parenting, money management, and true crime books. Contact her for acceptance of all other material or genres. Also accepts product reviews. CONFIRMED DIRECTLY. Contact information is listed on her blog.

Anastacia Knits Designs contact information listed on her blog. Currently only accepting craft-related books for review.

An Eclectic Bookshelf (previously Books and Things)
Description: Reviewer’s name is David. He accepts a wide range of genres, except romance. Main Blog URL: http://killie-booktalk.blogspot.comAccepts ebooks and technology or science-based non-fiction. NO ROMANCE.

Arms of a Sister

Family-friendly book and product reviews. This reviewer posts to all the major websites. Check her review guidelines on her blog. They are clearly stated. Accepts children's books and Romance, mystery, suspense, chick lit, inspirational fiction. Does NOT accept: Fantasy, science fiction, poetry, nonfiction. Contact before submitting.

Audacious Reader (previously: Sugarpeach)
Main Site: Reviewer's name is Evangeline. Best method of contact: (Contact form on website) Genres accepted: Young Adult, Teen, Middle Grade, clean Romance, Historical fiction, clean Chick Lit, Christian fiction, Suspense/Thrillers, Dystopian and Memoirs/Biographies. Genres NOT accepted: Supernatural horror, erotica, GLBT, supernatural (extreme), poetry, vampire, paranormal. Site is "PR Friendly" and open for promo, author interviews, and advertising. Only accepts physical copies.

Between the Pages
Reviewer accepts printed books and Kindle-compatible formates. Main blog URL:  ttp:// Genres Accepted:  that you accept: Anthologies, Suspense, Crime/Detective, Romance, Historical,  Fantasy, Futuristic, Western, Sci-Fi, Mystery, Adventure, Women's Fiction,  Children's, and Young Adult, Teen, and Tween categories in PRINT format, only

Bitsy Bling Books

Very nice review site, frequently updated.  Reviewer Charlie Courtland accepts ebooks as well as pbooks.  Contact before submitting. No non-fiction or poetry. A list of accepted genres is posted clearly on the sit under the submission guidelines.

Book Discovery
Reviewer Jeanne is a former librarian and book reviewer. Accepts: Most fiction, mysteries, books in translation, YA. DOES NOT accept: Romance, horror, anything with vampires or werewolves, etc.  Accepts some nonfiction: History, biographies, memoirs, science meant for the general public, cookbooks. No ebooks.

Book Lovers Paradise 
Main blog URL: Best method of contact:  Reads mostly: YA, Paranormal, Historical fiction or Childrens' books. Reviews will be posted on reviewer's blogsite, Facebook site, LibraryThing, Goodreads, and any place requested by author/publisher. Genres NOT accepted: Erotica, Adult themes, Horror. Generally does not accept non-fiction, but will accept Biographies. NO adult or EROTICA accepted.

Books on the Knob
Reviewer Karen Oland enjoys fiction and other genres. Posts free and bargain reads. This is a frequently updated review site. PREFERS e-books and Kindle format, so if you have an e-book, this reviewer is a good resource, since many review sites do not accept e-books. Also has an excellent beekkeeping blog, so if your book has anything to do with bees, she would love to see it. Contact her before submitting at  oland.k AT gmail DOT com. Reviewer prefers: fantasy and science fiction, mystery and suspense, but NOT horror. Will read romance, but prefers the dark fantasy subgenre (and will seldom read a pure harlequin type romance anymore, although I make exceptions). Generally does not accept: non-fiction and straight erotica.

Books & Tales
Main blog URL: Main reviewer’s name: Annette Gisby. Genres accepted: M/M Romance & erotica, M/F romance, GLBT, fantasy, ghost stories, sci-fi, thrillers/conspiracy, historical, mysteries, whodunnits, horror (no vampires or werewolves/shifters please - unless their shifted form is a penguin - then we can talk ;)
Genres NOT accepted: Sweet romance, inspirational/religious fiction, literary fiction, biographies, YA, children's, no urban fantasy unless it's M/M, which I will consider. Pet peeves: when authors or publishers contact you for a review? That they haven't read my guidelines and send me genres I don't read such as M/F erotica. I do read M/F romances though, maybe that's where the confusion arises.
Bookingly YoursURL: Reviewer Jenai accepts a variety of genres, but only accepts a maximum of 6 books a month, contact info is on her blog.

Main blog URL: Main reviewer’s name: Andrew Thompson. Best method of contact: Emailathompson AT c9creviews DOT com. Genres that you accept: Thrillers (espionage, action, military, YA, etc), Science Fiction (space). Genres that you do NOT accept: Romance, Police Procedurals, Vampire, Paranormal, Children, Ghosts, Historical, Erotica, Urban. Will accept e-books.

Reviewer only accepts books with cat or dog-related themes. Good genre-specific site. Best method of See blog site for full details:

Chocolate and Croissants
Does reviews on Goodreads. Likes: books related to food, travel, other cultures May review: literary fiction and non-fiction.   According to the reviewer, she will accept French-themed books as well.

Christian Bookshelf Reviews
A book reviewer that reviews Christian books. No adult content or erotica accepted. Main blog URL: Reviewer Melanie accepts all types of Christian fiction (suspense, mystery, romance, historical, Amish, paranormal, YA, etc.).

Clark's Eye on Books
Main blog URL: Please see review guidelines on the site. Also accepts non-fiction (Business related, motivational, environmental, biographies, cook books, children's books). Will not review a book will serious spelling errors or typos, so please make sure your book is edited before submitting.
Closed the Cover
Main blog URL: Submit review requests through the website. Genres accepted: Historical Fiction, Autobiography, Memoirs, Biography,  Western, Mystery, Sports.  Genres NOT accepted: Erotica, paranormal,  Science Fiction, Young Adult. Nonfiction is accepted: autobiographies, memoirs, biographies, and history of all kinds.

Curling Up By The Fire

Reviewer Stephanie will accept indie and small press on a case by case basis. Well-organized site that also hosts giveaways and other promotions. suspense, mystery, thriller, fantasy, YA, paranormal, historical fiction, science-fiction. Does NOT accept: Erotica. Posts to: LibraryThing, Amazon, Goodreads. Please query before submitting.

Deco My Heart
Main blog URL: Contact via e-mail: Will accept: fiction, Christian fiction, mysteries, clean romance. Genres that NOT accepted: erotica, paranormal.  Accepts some nonfiction: memoirs, autobiographies, self help, religious, etc. NO adult content or erotica.

Dive Under the Cover
Main reviewer’s name: Shelly Greninger. This website accepts YA, paranormal, romance, contemporary romance, sci-fi, horror, mystery, thriller, etc...DOES NOT accept:  poetry, most non-fiction. Contact via e-mail (on  her review policy page)

E&K Family Book Reviews
Reviewer accepts: Junior Fiction, YA Fiction, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Sci Fi, Adult Fiction, Adult Non-Fiction, Military, Dystopia, Children's Literature, Picture Books. Does NOT accept: Romance Novels. Will accepts some non-fiction: cookbooks, how-to-manuals, and biographies. Will accept some adult-themed books on a case-by-case basis.

Edgy Inspirational Romance

Reviewer accepts ONLY Christian romance on a case by case basis. Contact the author first before submitting, she will request a sample chapter. Very nice blog design and frequently updated. 500+ followers. 

Free Book Reviews
Reviewer Albert accepts small press and Indie books for review. Does NOT accept erotica. Prefers ebooks. Hosts blog tours and also giveaways as promotional opportunities for authors. Posts reviews to: Amazon. Smashwords, Hubpages, Facebook, Twitter, Yousaytoo, Zimbio, Goodreads, Shelfari. Contact info clearly stated on the blog.
Reviewer Fran posts to ; Main blog URL: and This blogger is prolific, and posts to all the major websites, including Amazon, Facebook, Bookmasons, and BookBlogs. She gives incredibly detailed reviews, and hosts a radio show on blog talk. Authors may be interviewed for her radio program. Please check her submission guidelines before submitting. She does media kits for authors.
Historical Novel Review
Just like it sounds-- this group of bloggers reviews only Historical Fiction. Will accept ONLY: historical fiction novels:
- trade paperback, hardcovers, or advanced reading copies.  NO EBOOKS. This is a well-organized and respected site.Contact director Mirella Patzer for submissions. Updated daily.

Hysterical Reader
Main blog URL:   Best method of contact: email (sara.edens55 AT Genres accepted:  mystery, thriller, YA, romance, and most others. Genres NOT accepted: LGBT, erotica. Do you accept nonfiction? Yes: history, Christian/Spiritual, self-help, others on a case-by-case basis

I am a Reader, Not a Writer

Blogger reads clean fairy tales, fantasy and romance. Books must be "family friendly", meaning free of language, gratuitous violence and sex scenes. Check the bloggers review guidelines and contact before submitting. Frequently updated. Posts to Goodreads, and has 5,000 Goodreads friends.

Iowa Bookworm
Main blog URL: Main reviewer’s name: Shannon Doner. Will accept: fiction, historical non-fiction, biography, short story. Prefers submissions in hard copy format. Genres NOT accepted: Political. Contact before submitting.

JanetteFuller.Com; Books, Inspiration and Life
Main blog URL: Main reviewer’s name: Janette Fuller. Genres accepted: Non-Fiction, memoirs, children's books, Christian books. Genres NOT accepted: Erotic -she accepts very few novels or adult fiction.

Jersey Girl Book Reviews
Main blog URL: Accepts: mystery thrillers, contemporary romance and chicklit, as well as some other genres on a case-by-case basis. Does NOT accept (in general): erotica. Posts to: amazon, b&n, smashwords, goodreads, shelfari, etc. Contact at: jerseygirlbookreviewsATyahooDOTcom.
Just Reviews
(Previously My Gabina) Main blog URL: Best method of contact: Genres accepted: See submission guidelines on the website. Genres NOT accepted: erotica. Will accept nonfiction on a case-by-case basis. Accepts only print copies.
KC Book Girl
Main blog URL:  Genres accepted: Romance, Contemporary
romance, Young Adult, Paranormal romance, Adult romance, and some  Erotica. Genres NOT accepted: Non- fiction, cookbooks,  memoirs. 

Kindred Spirit Mommy
This blog mainly reviews Christian books and children's books. Contact directly. 
Literary R & R
Reviewer Mandy accepts books on a case by case basis.  Contact before submitting. Currently accepting all genres.

LL Book ReviewA Long-running, well organized review site (since 2008) that accepts most fiction genres. There is a form on the website to submit a review request, please follow submission guidelines.

Luxury Reading
Main blog URL: Will accept most genres on a case by case basis. Must query first. The site is collaborative and also hosts blog tours.
Mama's Book Corner
Review policy is clearly stated on the website. Main blog URL: Genres that accepted: young adult, fantasy, general fiction,  mystery/suspense, historical fiction, science fiction, thrillers, etc. I also
have children and will accept children's books.Genres NOT  accepted: western, graphic novels, erotica
Man of La BookSerious male reviewer who accepts self-published books, but only if they are professionally edited. Accepts:  History, historical fiction, Jewish themes, Jewish protagonist, biographies, fiction about Africa and the Middle East, fiction and non-fiction espionage.Genres that he DOES NOT accept: Horror, romance, fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal, or chick-lit.

Midwest Book Review (★★★★ Long-running, well respected site, Highly Influential)The Midwest Book Review has been around since the seventies and they are highly respected. You might not be able to get your book reviewed right away, but there's a good chance that you will-- they give top priority to self-published authors. There's no guarantee that you will get reviewed, but this one is really worth a try. A really big fish.

Mike Draper
Main Blug URL:  Genres accepted: mystery and thrillers ONLY. Posts book reviews to Goodreads, Shelfari, Library Thing, Google. Only accepts physical copies. 

My Book Addiction and More
Main blog URL:  Contact on blog. Genres accepted: romance (all sub-genres),fiction, Christian, Children's,Young Adult, Audio,erotica(with limits),non-fiction(with limits) Genres NOT accepted: none outright, will accept books on a case by case basis. Also posts reviews: Amazon, BN Librarything, Shelfair, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads

My Life. One Story at a Time
Main blog URL: Reviewer Donna accepts: non-fiction (memoirs), romance, suspense, historical romance/fiction, chick lit, contemporary romance, and sometimes comedy/humor. Doe NOT accept:  Horror, Erotica, YA, Paranormal, Sci-Fi,

My Words Ate Me

Reviewer Izzy accepts anything Young Adult or Middle Grade. No erotica, NO adult material. Pbooks only (no ebooks). Will accept some non-fiction (pop-science) on a case-by-case basis. A good resource for YA.  Very cute blog that is frequently updated. Nice professionalism-- all the book covers are posted and listings are precise.
OkBo Lover
Reviewer prefers: Fantasy, Sci-fi, Historical Fiction, mystery/thriller/suspense, YA novels. Does not accept: Christian, romance, E-Books, and self-help books. Contact before submitting. CONFIRMED DIRECTLY. 

Reading is my Superpower
Main blog URL: Main reviewer’s name:  Annie the Superfast Reader
Best method of contact:  email or contact form on site. Genres that you accept:  chick lit, young adult, middle grade, fantasy, Christian, literary fiction, some historical fiction. Genres that you do NOT accept:  war, espionage, thriller, horror, political, comedy, erotica. Will accept some nonfiction on a case-by-case basis

Red Square Reviews 
URL: This site id collaborative (eight reviewers). A printed book is required for submission. Genres accepted: Most fiction and non-fiction, including children’s books.
Genres NOT accepted:   

Silver's Reviews
Reviewer ( )accepts mystery, suspense, thrillers, family dynamics, light historical fiction, fiction, women's fiction, female protagonists etc. Does NOT accept anything with vampires or science fiction. Fiction only-- will accept non-fiction only rarely. No erotica, no adult themes. Contact information and submission guidelines are on the blog. preferred e-mail is: silversolara AT gmail DOT com Will accept ebooks (iPad).
Sunset Reader Reviews
Main blog URL: http://sunsetreaderreviews.blogspot.comReviewer Mineliz (Minnie) accepts: Paranormal Romance, Historical Romance, Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance, Young Adult(YA). She does NOT accept: Horror, Science, Philosophy, religious, or children's books. Pet peeve: when authors do not send the books in a timely manner, or when authors try to influence the review.
Susan Heim on ParentingReviewer Susan Heim is a published author (Chicken Soup for the Soul series) as well as an influential reviewer. Don't send sloppy or unedited content. Will accept: young adult, adult fiction, historical fiction, children's books, self-help, religious, memoirs. Does NOT accept: Erotica or Horror. Will accept some non-fiction: Inspirational, self-help, motivational, memoirs

The Active Voice
Main blog URL: Genres accepted: I will consider a book in almost  any genre, fiction or non-fiction.  My  selectivity  isn't applied to a book's genre, but to its  quality.  I want to find and promote outstanding books. You won't get  a  negative review from me (though I might point out a weakness or two). If your book doesn't grab me, or if I think it's not strong enough, I just won't review it. Genres that NOT accepted: I  don't  review  cookbooks, how-to manuals, or other books that would require  me to apply the book's contents in order to assess the its quality.
The Book Diva's Reads
A new review website that focuses mainly on romance. Reviewer also accepts: Romantic Suspense, Mystery, Thrillers, Fantasy, and Contemporary/Modern Fiction. Reviewer does NOT accept erotica or adult themes; no science fiction.

The Book Review

This blogger accepts self-published books gladly, but requests an e-mail first to check if the genre is acceptable and if he is not backlogged with review requests. Contact Allen at his blog:

The Book Tree

Popular blog with lots of reviews and author interviews. Contact reviewer before submitting, or requesting an author interview.The Fairytale Nerd
Main Blog URL :  Reviewer JoAnne accepts strictly young adult books (young adult paranormal romance, fantasy, dystopian; sometimes contemporary YA lit). Genres  NOT accepted: anthologies, erotica, middle-grade, men's fiction. Does not accept nonfiction. Contact before submitting.

The Flaneur
Main blog URL:  Main reviewer’s name: Jonathan Powell. Best method of contact: bookreviewsAT Genres accepted: Literary fiction, historical, poetry, art and culture, picture books, humor, Christian. Genres NOT accepted: Adult, erotica, paranormal, romance, true crime, western, horror,  Nonfiction genres accepted: arts, culture, biography, autobiography, cuisine, fashion, photography. No adult content, please.

The Flashlight Reader

Reviewer Alanna is a middle school Language Arts teacher, and she works with students 12-16 years old. She prefers to review books and content that would interest that age group. Accepts: children's books, YA, paranormal romance, fantasy, poetry, historical fiction (I prefer books that focus on American or European history), fairy tales, mythology, folktales, realistic fiction, action/adventure, short stories, romance (not graphic... "clean" relationship stories), mysteries, ghost stories, sci-fi and non-fiction (depending on the topic). Does NOT accept: EROTICA or any adult content. Will accept some non-fiction on a case-by-case basis. Her review policy and contact information is clearly listed on the site.

The Next Best Book Blog Reviewer Lori accepts most forms of adult literary fiction and experimental fiction. Does NOT accept: Non-Fiction, YA, Self-Help, Historical, and Romance/Erotica. Contact information is on the website. Please check her review guidelines and submissions policy before contacting her.

Unorthodox Mama
Main Blog URL; Genres accepted: Science fiction, fantasy, children's books, picture  books, young adult fiction, historical fiction, non fiction, steampunk, cyber  punk. Reviewer will also accept parenting, bopgraphies, and educational books. Genres NOT accepted: Romance and  Erotica.

Welcome to My Life

A relatively new blogger, but posts serious reviews. Will do author interviews and other author promo if asked. contact at samajama27 AT yahoo DOT com. Will accept most genres on a case-by-case basis. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

10 awe-inspiring American castles

By Justin Ocean | Budget TravelCastello di Amorosa (Photo: Brian Jannsen / AgeFotostock)

Who doesn't go a bit giddy at the sight of a castle? The good news is that you don't have to head to Europe for honest-to-goodness ones of the Cinderella variety—we have plenty right here in our own backyard. Railroad barons commissioned most of these estates, but at least one housed a legitimate king and queen (bet you didn't know this country had its own history of royalty!). Each is an engineering wonder in its own right, with some even constructed out of old-world castles that were shipped across the ocean. And each is open to tours should you decide to make a trip (a select few will even let you spend the night). Read this and you might just discover a side of America you never knew existed.
Castello di Amorosa

Word to the wise: Imbibe the cabernet sauvignon and pinot grigio at the Castello di Amorosa winery carefully, because somewhere in the 121,000-square-foot, 107-room, eight-level complex there's a dungeon with a functional Renaissance-era iron maiden. It took 14 years to construct the castle using historically accurate medieval building techniques. The end result is an "authentic" 12th- and 13th-century Tuscan castle with drawbridge and moat. The frescoes in the Great Hall and Knights' Chamber are hand-painted, some 8,000 tons of Napa Valley stone hand-chiseled, the Hapsburg-era bricks, hand-forged nails and chandeliers, and 500-year-old fireplace all tediously imported from Europe. That sense of awe? Very modern. 4045 N. St. Helena Highway, Calistoga, CA;

Hearst Castle (Photo: Stock Connection / SuperStock)Hearst Castle

Understatement of the millennium: William Randolph Hearst's 1919 directive to architect Julia Morgan to "build a little something" on his ranch in San Simeon. Then again, a 115-room "Casa Grande" inspired by a Spanish cathedral is a relatively modest proposition compared to the 250,000 acres and the 13 miles of coastline it's set on. It's when you add in the three additional Mediterranean Revival guesthouses (46 more rooms total), 127 acres of gardens, the Neptune pool with authentic Roman temple pediment, the zoo with roaming reindeer and zebra, Egyptian Sekhmet statues on the terraces, and the private airstrip that things get a bit over-the-top. Magnificent doesn't begin to describe the museum-quality artwork, which drove the architecture as much as anything, from Renaissance statuary to Gothic tapestries and entire ceilings, nor the palatial scale of the publishing magnate's vision for "La Cuesta Encantada" (The Enchanted Hill)—still unfinished upon his death in 1951. 750 Hearst Castle Rd., San Simeon, CA;

Bishop's Palace (Photo: Galveston Historical Foundation / David Canright)Bishop's Palace

Of all the Gilded Age Victorians built by Nicholas Clayton along Galveston's Gulf Coast, the Bishop's Palace (née Gresham Castle, 1893, after its original owner, Santa Fe railroad magnate Walther Gresham) remains the grandest—and not just because its steel and stone hulk survived the Great Storm of 1900. Its small lot and oversized proportions with château-esque detailing of steeply peaked rooflines and sculptural chimneys still dominate the street, while inside the 14-foot coffered ceilings, 40-foot octagonal mahogany stairwell, stained glass, plaster carvings, and Sienna marble columns exude richness. Keep a lookout for the bronze dragon sculptures. After serving as a Catholic bishop's residence for 50 years, the house is now open for tours. Book a private guide to see the usually off-limits third floor. 1402 Broadway, Galveston, TX;

Boldt Castle (Photo: Boldt Castle)Boldt Castle

What do you do when you come across a heart-shaped isle while vacationing with your wife in the Thousand Islands? If you're upstart industrialist George Boldt, you buy it and hire 300 stonemasons, carpenters, and artists to build a six-story, 120-room testament to your love. There were Italian gardens, a dove-cote, and a turreted powerhouse, plus all the imported Italian marble, French silks, and Oriental rugs money could buy. But when his wife Louise died in 1904, the heartbroken Boldt ceased construction on the Rhineland-style Taj Mahal and left it to the elements for 73 years. Today, tourists can visit from May to October for self-guided tours—or book a wedding in the stone gazebo. +44° 20' 40.29" N, -75° 55' 21.27" W, Heart Island, Alexandria Bay, NY;

Castle in the Clouds (Photo: Castle in the Clouds)Castle in the Clouds

Location, location, location—as important in castles to fending off conquers as forgetting Gilded Age woes. And for millionaire shoe baron Thomas Plant, that meant setting his 1914 Lucknow Estate (named after the Indian city he loved) on the rim of an extinct caldera high in the Ossipee Mountains with unbroken views over 6,300 private acres of woods and lakes. The mansion by comparison is relatively subdued: A mere 16 rooms, it's practically minuscule compared to the other castles on this list. Throughout, the arts and crafts philosophy of artisanship and living in harmony with nature is expressed in the stone walls, inventive handiwork like the jigsaw floor in the kitchen, and functional decor that eschews ostentation—all planned at Plant's 5-foot-4 height—plus a few technological innovations like a needle shower, self-cleaning oven, brine fridge, and central-vacuuming system. Much remains wholly preserved today. Route 171, 455 Old Mountain Rd., Moultonborough, NH;

Grey Towers Castle (Photo: Ike9898/Wikimedia Commons)
Grey Towers Castle

Most colleges contend to be fortresses of learning, but Arcadia University in the suburbs north of Philadelphia can back it up with battlements acquired in 1929. Grey Towers was built by eclectic sugar refiner William Welsh Harrison between 1893 and 1898 and modeled after Northumberland's Alnwick Castle (a.k.a. the most archetypal expression of the medieval style). The 40 rooms wowed with gilded ceilings, tapestries, ornamental paintings, and hand-carved walnut and mahogany woodwork in styles from French Renaissance to Louis XV—and of course a Mirror Room—while secret passages behind fireplaces and underground tunnels. Self-guided tours of public areas are possible while classes are in session (the building now contains dorm rooms and administration offices). Free brochures outline the history. 450 South Easton Rd., Glenside, PA;

'Iolani (Photo: Jiang/Wikimedia Commons)'Iolani Palace

Other properties on this list may be bigger and more lavish, but the 'Iolani Palace has one thing above them all: legitimacy. America's only true palace—as in, royalty resided here—was built from 1879 to 1882 by King Kalakua and Queen Kapi'olani. The goal was to enhance the prestige of modern Hawaii in a kind of Victorian-era keeping up with the Joneses. (The palace had electricity and a telephone even before the White House.) Stone-faced with plenty of koa wood inside, the two-floor American Florentine–style building includes a throne room, grand hall, and private suites, including the upstairs room where the queen was imprisoned for five months following the 1895 coup. Today, concerted efforts are underway to find artifacts and furniture (like the king's ebony and gilt bedroom set) that were auctioned off by the post-coup Provisional Government. 364 South King St., Honolulu, HI;

Fonthill (Photo: Castle

Celebrating its centennial in 2012, the former home of industrialist-turned-archaeologist Henry Mercer is an ode to artisanship: All 44 rooms (10 bathrooms, five bedrooms, and 200 windows), 32 stairwells, 18 fireplaces, and 21 chimneys are hewn from hand-mixed reinforced concrete in a mishmash of medieval, Gothic, and Byzantine styles. Thousands of handcrafted ceramic tiles were inset throughout, including Mercer's own Moravian-style tiles plus Persian, Chinese, Spanish, and Dutch productions he collected. Today, the 60-acre Bucks County estate serves as a museum to pre-industrial life, with 900 American and European prints at Fonthill and even more artifacts (like a whale boat and Conestoga wagon) in its sister building, the Mercer Museum, a fun house–like six-story castle in its own right. East Court St. and Rt. 313, Doylestown, PA;

Gillette Castle (Photo: Rootology/Wikimedia Commons)Gillette Castle

It's elementary: Get famous (and rich) by playing Sherlock Holmes on the stage; build your own Baskerville Hall. Pet project of campy eccentric William Hooker Gillette, the 24-room castle was completed in 1919 by a crew of 20 men over five years using the actor/playwright's own drafts and designs. It's also the focal point of his 184-acre Seventh Sister estate, a forested bluff overlooking the Connecticut River. Outside, the local fieldstone reads like crumbling medieval; inside, the built-in couches, curious detailing, and inventive hand-carved southern white oak woodwork is all arts and crafts. As for cat images? There are 60. (Gillette had 17 feline friends.) Gillette Castle State Park, 67 River Rd., East Haddam, CT;

OHEKA Castle (Photo: Oheka Castle)OHEKA Castle

Second behind Asheville's Biltmore as the largest private estate in the nation, OHEKA—an acronym of Otto Herman Kahn, its millionaire financier original owner—ended up abandoned in the late 1970s and sustained extensive damage from fires, vandals, and neglect. After a 20-year renovation, it's back in form and is now a 32-room luxury hotel. Think Downton Abbey just an hour from Manhattan (themed packages available), or for that matter, Citizen Kane (photos of it were used in the film). Originally set on 443 acres, massive tons of earth were moved to make the hilltop location of the 127-room, 109,000-square-foot manse the highest point in Long Island. The Olmsted Brothers planned the formal gardens, the Grand Staircase was inspired by Fontainebleau's famous exterior one, and 126 servants tended to the six-person family when they came for weekends and summers. The 1919 price tag: $11 million. That's $110 million in today's money. Sounds about right for a man whose likeness inspired Mr. Monopoly. 135 West Gate Dr., Huntington, NY;