Showing posts with label books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label books. Show all posts

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Basic Tips I Learned on My Self-Publishing Journey

Self-Publishing Tips for Newbies

Let me start by saying that I'm NOT a self-publishing guru. I'm just a work-from-home-self-taught woman who decided to jump in and tackle some of those dreams left dying on the table.

I've written quite a bit here on ReviewThisReviews about self-publishing books. You'll find a list of the links below.

To date, I've self-published eight books and am currently writing the ninth. 

The topic of the books are Riddles, Poetry, and Sayings for Cards. Currently, I'm focussed on building a series of Riddle Books. There are five riddle books in the series and the sixth should be published in one to two months.

A General Overview of What to Do When You Self-Publish (According to my Personal Journey)


Note: To date, I've only published via Amazon's KDP self-publishing platform

  • Amazon Author Page: Once you've published your book, complete a detailed page about yourself on Amazon's Author Central Page. Here's Amazon's author central page for the USA. When publishing my books, I had to create author central pages for the UK and USA separately. Perhaps, Amazon will amalgamate things at some point, so we only have to do it once. Here's the UK author central page in case you need it.

  • Amazon Author Page Photo: Decide whether your Author Central page will feature a Logo or your personal photo. At first, I put up my logo but changed it to my personal photo. I prefer to emphasize that I'm just a regular person, not a 'big company.' 

  • Build a Website that Relates to Your Books: If you've never built a website or can't, you can hire someone or just build a blog related to your books. I've built websites (I'm not a website building guru either!), so I was able to create a website to coincide with my Riddle Books. You can take a look at my StumpedRiddles.com website here. Think about how you want people to navigate your site before you build it; write it out, give it a lot of thought. The ease at which people can work their way through your website is important. The top navigation bar on my riddles website features these tabs: Home, Riddles, Answers, Riddle Books, About/Contact. Within those headings are subheadings. Don't forget to include all the legal jargon you need on the site.

  • Facebook Business Page: Build a business Facebook page that features a Shop with your books. It takes a little learning, and you need a certain amount of products before you can build a shop. I chose to link my books back to each of their product pages on my website; that way, when you publish your book on multiple platforms (not just Amazon), you don't have to worry about changing links - since each product/book will direct back to your own product page on your own site.

  • Social Media Main Photo & URL Names: Create social media pages for your business/books. Decide whether you want to use your logo or your personal photo. I decided to use my Riddles logo for my social media pages, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. However, I created a Promo-Video and included that video at or near the top of each social media site: It features my personal photo and personal story. You'll have to choose your social media URL based on what's available; I wasn't able to get "Riddles" - it was taken. However, I choose URL's that were close: Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

  • Promo-Video: Create your promo video using your favorite video platform. I used Animoto. If your book/business dictates it, I would suggest being personal while describing your books' purpose. You can take a look at the promo video I created here.

  • Your Tag Line and Book Purpose: If you're able to establish a "purpose" for your books, create a consistent tag-line that describes your purpose and includes that tag line on your social media, website, and books. The tag-line I came up with is "Turn the World Off With a Smile." It's a twisted variation of a lyric line in the Mary Tyler Moore theme song. I know, I'm aging myself! That lyric was "she can turn the world on with her smile." Given the craziness of the world today, I decided my riddles are created for the distinct purpose of helping people to "turn the world OFF with a smile."
Here are some additional articles I've written relating to self-publishing - Again, I'm not a guru, just learning as I go!

As I learn more, I'll add more articles here on ReviewThisReviews. My next learning journey will be how to self-publish on platforms other than Amazon. That should be challenging.

Here's the first riddle book I created - I went through several cover designs before finally deciding on this one:

#StumpedRiddles - Riddle Book
#Stumped - Riddle Book - First Volume






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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Heather Morris' Cilka's Journey, A Book Review

Heather Morris' Cilka's Journey, A Book Review

Following the very successful novel The Tattooist of Auschwitz, comes Heather Morris' 2019 book, Cilka's Journey. Yes, it is a sequel of sorts to the first book though it definitely stands alone. 

Frankly, this book is another dark look into a horrible time in man's history. That's to be expected based on the subject of the novel. Initially, I did not care for how the story flipped back and forth between the main character's time in the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp in Germany and in her time in the Vorkuta Gulag Labor Camp in Russia but I quickly managed to overcome the darkness and the style and be absorbed by the very real characters in the story.

Cilka was sent to Birkenau when she was taken from her home at the age of 16 simply because she was Jewish and young and healthy and able to work. When Birkenau was liberated, she was tried and sent to the Siberian labor camp for having slept with the enemy. For her crime, she received a sentence of 15 years of hard labor. 

Whether the beautiful 16 year old really had any choice about whether to sleep with the enemy or not is debatable but the book is about her journey through and survival of both facilities. I don't need to say how unpleasant that situation was and I will not reveal how it ended.  Here's the official book trailer:


 


This second video is from the author and discusses albeit briefly the connection between this book and her first, The Tattooist of Auschwitz. 

Warning, this next video has LOTS OF SPOILERS but it does do a good job of telling you about the story.



FICTION OR NON-FICTION?

If you watched the preceding video, you know the answer to this question. Cilka's Journey is a fictional account of the true-life story of Cecília Kováčová. 

Of course, the story is filled out with details the author cannot really know but in large part it is said that the book is based on the conditions and situations people including Cilka found themselves living in at those two facilities. 

Descendants, however, declare the story to be outrageous calling it "lurid and titillating." They say that this is not the way Cilka shared her story to them.

The author defends the book saying that it is based on first-hand testimony given by people she interviewed and the experiences of women who were subjected to the life in those camps. She says, "It is a novel and does not represent the entire facts of Cilka's life." You can read more about the controversy here on The Guardian

In another interview with ABC, the author defends the disputed fact that women were used sexually in the camps and sums up with, "If it's all the same to you I think I'll go with their testimonies because they were there."


Heather Morris' Cilka's Journey Book Review


IS IT RECOMMENDED?

Yes, this book is HIGHLY RECOMMEND by me. The book has an average 4.39 stars on Goodreads and 92 percent of the reviewers on Amazon gave the book a five-star rating.

WARNINGS

Well, I feel that writing a warning about the unpleasant reading that comes in a book set in Nazi Germany and a Siberian Labor Camp in the 1940s is almost unnecessary I will say that this book deals with sex, starvation, murder.  The main character's work in the Labor Camp finds the reader face to face with terrible workplace accidents. It is definitely not nice but it is present and it is an intricate part of the story.  Plus, of course, there is the controversy of just how true this story really is.

WHO SHOULD READ THIS BOOK

Anyone who has an interest in historical fiction will enjoy the book, with consideration to the warnings given above. Anyone who read The Tattooist of Auschwitz and liked it will enjoy this book. As author Heather Morris says in the second video shown above, you should enjoy this book "not for the horror and evil that is included but for the humanity and the compassion and the love and the hope." I agree.

You can find your copy of Cilka's Journey on Amazon by clicking right here. Be sure to come back and let us know what you think of the book.

See you
at the bookstore!
Brenda

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Sunday, October 18, 2020

Book Related Home Decor - A Review of Various Product Ideas


With the holidays creeping up, gift ideas start rolling around in our heads.

For the avid reader, book-related home decor is an excellent choice. Generally speaking, home decor can be quite expensive, so you may want to pool your resources. 

You Can View a List of Suggested Book Related Home Decor Products Here

Book Themed End-Tables

You have to check these out. They vary in design and style, and some feature the base or tabletop in the shape and/or look of stacked books. They're quite pricy, so as mentioned above, you may need to pool resources to give one of these as a gift.

Area Rugs Featuring Book Art

These particular rugs come in multiple styles. The most common designs are the book-themed area rugs for children. You've probably seen many of those online. They're bright and colorful and ideal for a nursery, playroom, or even the classroom. Nowadays, they're a practical addition to the homeschooling work area.

There are other styles of book rugs suitable for an adult space. They feature original artwork of books or book pages on the rug. An adult-themed book area rug is ideal for a home office, home library, a reading room, or a bedroom designed with a book theme. 

Lamps Designed With Books

If an area rug or book-themed end table is too large an investment, take a look at these book-themed lamps. Some are sculpted with a prominent figure standing on top of a stack of books. Check out the prices; I think you'll be surprised at their affordability for a wedding shower or birthday gift. The likelihood that someone else shows up with one of these lamps is probably slim to nil, so you're sure to be gifting something unique.

Book Wallpaper, Murals, Art and Decals

When we consider book-themed decor, we generally think in terms of art pieces. You can find wallpaper that mocks the look of a library wall or go with smaller vinyl graphics. Wallpaper that looks like a bookshelf filled with books makes a stunning addition to a room decorated in a warm, deep, comfortable theme. You can view a larger variety of book artwork on the product page link above; however, here are a few examples to give you an idea of just how rich-looking these can be.




So, for that book lover in the family, you don't have to resort to just giving books as a gift - go for something different. The above product page also features several additional book-themed items not discussed here - be sure to take a look.




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Saturday, October 17, 2020

Review of Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector

 I have to say that I loved the Denzel Washington & Angelina Jolie movie, The Bone Collector that was based on the book by Jeffrey Deaver so when I heard that they'd made a television series I just had to watch it!

Lincolm Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector television series
Hunt for the Bone Collector Publicity Photo from NBC.com

Lincoln Rhyme was Denzel's character in the movie and in the television series he is played by Russell Hornsby.   We see in the first episode how he became a quadriplegic and we also meet Amelia, the NYPD officer who is to become his eyes and ears.   Like the character in the movie played by Angelina Jolie, Amelia (played by Arielle Kebbel) stops a train to save the evidence.

The storyline isn't exactly the same as the movie which means that both the fans of The Bone Collector and people who have never seen it before can enjoy this series.

As well as hunting for the serial killer known as The Bone Collector, the team headed by Lincoln also delves into other cases such as the kidnapping of a politician's daughter and another serial killer who has perfected the perfect murder ..... until he came into Lincoln's orbit that is.

If you love the thrill of vicariously trying to catch a serial killer while solving other crimes and being on the edge of your seat as members of 'your team' are put in danger then you will love this series.

There's only one problem with this series, they decided to cancel it after one season so my tip is to stop watching it about five minutes before the end of the final episode.   Otherwise, you'll be like me and forever be asking a question that was left as a cliffhanger.

Not only do I 100% recommend watching this series if you haven't seen the movie yet - check it out!  My husband and I are thinking of re-watching it since we've finished this series (which we did over two days - it's definitely binge-worthy!).

We watched the series on one of the free to air channels here in Australia, but I was thrilled to find that it's also available to watch on Amazon Prime.   I really do enjoy having Amazon Prime, we get to watch great shows and I also get to read some great books and that's just two of the perks!




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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Books I Read (Or Tried To Read) During Spring and Summer 2020: A List


Books I Read (Or Tried To Read) During Spring and Summer 2020: A List

The spring and summer of 2020 unfolded in ways none of us could have foreseen. The virus that plagued the world changed our daily life forcing many of us to stay home for all but the most essential errands. As a home-based eBay seller, I was able to work again after the initial lockdown was over. However, with family, friends and all of my other interests and activities unavailable there was definitely more time for reading.

This page is a look back at the books that I read. Hopefully, it will steer you toward or away from a new book.

WHAT DID I DO?


I met several generations of a powerful and influential family. I survived industrialized 19th century Britain. I settled on the harsh Canadian prairies. I visited but failed to enjoy St. John’s, Newfoundland. I raised sourdough bread. I solved a murder mystery and finally, I visited short stories.

WHAT DID I READ?


JEFFREY ARCHER'S CLIFTON CHRONICLES


JEFFREY ARCHER'S CLIFTON CHRONICLES     


The best book that I read was actually a seven-volume saga about the adventures and misadventures of a powerful and influential family by Jeffrey Archer known as the Clifton Chronicles. It was so good that I struggled to put each book aside in order to make time to read the latest book for my book club. This series is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by not only myself but also my husband and my sister-in-law and my friend Alanna and her husband. There is a lot of well-crafted reading here with threads that cross generations. You will find the seven-book boxed set here on Amazon.


CATHERINE COOKSON'S RILEY


CATHERINE COOKSON'S RILEY


I was reunited after a long absence with author Catherine Cookson via her book Riley. I wrote more about the book, which is set in industrialized 19th century Britain, and talked about the prolific writer here. It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and if you have yet to 'meet' Catherine Cookson and you like historical fiction, you should give her a try. You will find it here on Amazon.


SHANDI MITCHELL'S UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY


SHANDI MITCHELL'S UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY


Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell is a Canadian novel set in Alberta in 1938. It was good book, a close look at the extremely tough job of settling the prairies. However, it was dark with tragedy upon tragedy heaped upon the Ukrainian settlers. It is RECOMMENDED by me for those interested in the history of the prairies and immigrants to Canada but NOT RECOMMENDED if you need something a bit more positive, which was something I felt that I needed during this difficult time. You will find it here on Amazon.


MEGAN GAIL COLES' SMALL GAME HUNTING AT THE LOCAL COWARD GUN CLUB


MEGAN GAIL COLES' SMALL GAME HUNTING AT THE LOCAL COWARD GUN CLUB


The next book that I read was Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles. It is a Scotiabank Giller Prize nominated book set in St. John’s, Newfoundland. A very dark, dreary modern-day story and I only read half of it. Six or so of the members of my book club made it through but not happily and four did not. One determined reader intends to keep trying.

A review on Google Books says that Small Game Hunting "is a difficult book to read because of its brutality -- people are mistreated and not valued because they are women, non-white, or gay. But it's worth it." Quill and Quire says, this book "forces the reader...to be made uncomfortable and prompted to think rather than be simply entertained." These might be reasons for you to consider reading this book. However, it is NOT RECOMMENDED by me unless you are looking to challenge yourself about difficult subjects. If you really want to, you can find it here on Amazon.


ROBIN SLOAN'S SOURDOUGH


ROBIN SLOAN'S SOURDOUGH


The next book was Sourdough, a brilliantly funny fictional story about sourdough bread, about the computer world and even about San Francisco. Very funny, it is truly a book you should read if you want a add a bit of levity to your reading and your life. My full review of Sourdough can be read here if you want to know more about this book during this time when people ‘knead’ to stay home more and make bread. Sourdough the book and the bread is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me. You will find it here on Amazon.


DONNA LEON'S QUIETLY IN THEIR SLEEP


DONNA LEON'S QUIETLY IN THEIR SLEEP


I have a few series that I am working my way through including Donna Leon's Commissario Guido Brunetti Mysteries. This volume, Quietly in Their Sleep, delivers for an armchair traveler who wants to travel to Venice, Italy from the comfort of home, which of course is the kind of travel that we can do right now. It suits someone who would like to visit as well as someone who has been there who will recognize landmarks in and issues of the city as the story progresses. It is not the first in the series but I do HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book or any that came before it.  You will find it here on Amazon.


ROALD DAHL'S THE GREAT AUTOMATIC GRAMMATIZATOR AND OTHER STORIES



ROALD DAHL'S THE GREAT AUTOMATIC GRAMMATIZATOR AND OTHER STORIES


The latest book that I pulled from our collection of books that has been hanging around our house unread for too long was Roald Dahl's The Great Automatic Grammatizator and Other Stories or The Umbrella Man and Other Stories, as it is called in the United States. It's a book of short stories chosen from Dahl's adult stories picked with the intention of suitability for teenagers. I haven't read all of the stories yet because I prefer to enjoy short stories one by one and truth be told, I don't usually care for them at all. However, I am thoroughly enjoying these stories thus far and am comfortable HIGHLY RECOMMENDING this book of stories to you and you will find it here on Amazon

Well, once again, I hope to have given you inspiration for your book list. I apologize to any books that I forgot to include on this list.

See you
at the bookstore!
Brenda

Books I Read (Or Tried To Read) During Spring and Summer 2020: A List





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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Book Review of Honeysuckle Season

Greenhouse

In this book we are introduced to Libby a young women who has many recent struggles and an unknown future.


Summary of Book


Libby is a young woman who has just gone through several miscarriages, a painful divorce and the death of her father.  Since she is at a true crossroads in her life she decides to return to her roots in Bluestone, Virginia.  Here she moves into her father's home and begins a career as a wedding photographer.

She is asked to photograph a wedding at the historic Woodmont estates.  This is a place she remembers going to as a child with her mother.  The place brings back memories and after the wedding the owner Elaine Grant asks her help in getting the place ready for special events.  Elaine has also asked a young widower, Colton Reese to help in the restoration of a greenhouse on the estate.

The greenhouse was once the scene of many community gatherings.  It was built as a wedding gift for Elaine's grandmother and was at one time a beautiful and magical place.  The years have not been kind to the place and it is overgrown with honeysuckle vines and lots of weeds.  The greenhouse is said to be haunted and it hides secrets from years gone by.

It has been months since her father's death and Libby is now ready to start going through some of his things.  When she does, a letter she finds in his desk will bring to light long buried secrets with ties to the Woodmont estate.  

The author, Mary Ellen Taylor, weaves a wonderful story of love and loss, secrets and forgiveness, and a wonderful hope for the future.  Along the way you meet interesting characters and become caught up in their lives.

My Thoughts on the Book


I liked this book from the very beginning and was delighted with the way the author introduced the characters.  There was a hint of the secret throughout the book but I really didn't catch on till near the end.  This made it a real page turner.  The characters were lifelike and I took a real interest in their lives.  This would be a great book for book club discussions.

Other Books by This Author


Mary Ellen Taylor is an award winning author of Winters Cottage and Spring House and several other women's literature books.  She also writes under the name Mary Burton as a New York Times best selling suspense novelist.




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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Catherine Cookson Riley Book Review

Catherine Cookson Riley (1998) Book Review

Many years ago, I parted with most of my Catherine Cookson books, retaining only the few that I had not read, like the one shown here called Riley. It had been decades since I had picked up any of Cookson's books but I remember fondly having loved the stories, which are set in the 19th century in and around what was then at least a heavily industrialized area of northeast England called Tyneside. 

With the arrival in 2020 of the virus that would lock down most of the world, I set to reading through some of my old piles of books and hence returned to the works of Catherine Cookson via this novel, Riley. 


IS RILEY RECOMMENDED?

Riley was indeed very good and it did not in any way fail my memories of Cookson’s books. It is the story of a young lad with no direction who was surely bound for trouble but was indirectly 'rescued’ by a few heated comments from a caring teacher. The result of those comments was a tumultuous but successful life on the stage and marriage to a woman 20 years his elder. 

Riley is Highly Recommended by me for anyone who loves historical fiction.


THE AUTHOR

Author Catherine Cookson, despite being from an extremely poor, working class home in Tyneside, England, went on to become one of the richest women in Britain. More importantly in my mind at least, she also went on to become Britain’s most read author in the mid-1990s and remains on the list of the twenty most read British novelists. She wrote a remarkable two books a year in many years and, when she died in 1998, she left behind 103 novels and a fortune for charity. 


ROMANCE OR HISTORICAL FICTION?

Catherine Cookson's novels were often categorized as romance despite the fact that, as Cookson said herself, there was nothing romantic about the times or the situations in her books. Her stories offered up more than historical romance and are extremely well done in terms of depicting a time period in history, which would surely make them qualify as historical fiction today. 

I do not want to stop with recommending Riley, however. I want to make my post a call for people to pick up Catherine Cookson’s books whether they knew her before they arrived here on this page or not. It doesn’t matter which book you start with whether it be Riley or another, they are all sure to please. Just be careful if you start with a series like Mary Ann Shaughnessy, Tilly Trotter or the Bailey Chronicles that you pick the first one.  You will find Riley on Amazon by clicking right here.

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda

Quick Links

Buy Riley on Amazon.
Catherine Cookson’s Life 
Discover the new, used and vintage books in my eBay store by clicking here but be warned that unfortunately there are no Catherine Cookson novels!
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn reviewed. 
Fast Girls by Elise Hooper reviewed. 








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Thursday, September 10, 2020

Review of Across the Winding River

Across the Winding River was another one of those books I couldn't put down once I started reading it.  The author did a wonderful job of intertwining a story from World War II Germany and present day San Diego.  When Beth is helping her father go through his WWII mementos she discovers a photo of him and a mysterious women in Germany who is obviously pregnant. Who is this woman and what if any part did she play in her father's life. 

Link to Book through Amazon


                                                                    

Main Characters

  • Max-  Max is a dentist, who served as a medic in World War II.  He met several German resistance members whom he helped whenever he could.
  • Beth-  Max's daughter.  We meet her in the present day after her mother has died and she is taking care of her invalid father.  She wants to spend as much time as she can with him and engages him in talking about his time in the war.
  • Johanna- We first meet Johanna just before the war when Hitler is just starting to rise to power.  Johanna and her family have been able to hide the fact that she is one quarter Jewish through a grandfather who has since passed away.
  • Harald- Harald is a professor who marries Johanna.  During the war he is  pressed into service for a cause he does not believe in.
  • Margarethe (Metta) - Metta is a younger sister who marries a strict Nazi, before she realizes his true character.  She sneaks away whenever she can to work for the resistance.
  • Ansel- Ansel is Metta's husband and a very cruel person who is loyal to the Nazi cause.
  • Jonas and Heide- They belong to the German resistance.  When Jonas is wounded, Metta meets an American medic in the forest and brings him to help Jonas.

My Thought on the Book

I really loved the book.  It was easy to read and clearly marked whether you were in the present day or the World War II era.  Each chapter completed a section on one of the times.  There were several side stories on Beth, that endeared her to me.  She was a very likable character as was her father Max.  I found myself really routing for them and hoping they could solve the mystery that had lasted for over 50 years.



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Sunday, July 26, 2020

12 Step Summary of Preparation Tips for Creating a Niche Book Series

Preparation Tips for Creating a Book Series

In October of 2019, I decided it was time to tackle one item on my bucket list: To publish a book featuring a collection of my personally written poems.

I've written several articles on my experience as a newbie self-publisher. Here's my most recent article that talks about Glossy versus Matte Finish Book Covers.

In the beginning, self-publishing wasn't easy! In fact, it took perseverance, patience, and a bit of holy water followed by soap to wash my mouth out with!

Creating My Series of Riddle Books

Once the poetry book was under my belt, I decided to create a series of Riddle Books. I have this crazy knack for writing riddles, so I decided to use this quirky ability for books.

My driving force for writing riddle books is to create something light, fun, and distracting. It turns out 2020 needs a lot of that!

I started with one book, then decided to create a series under the same topic. I'll keep adding to this series until my mind runs out of ideas.

To date, I've written and self-published four riddle books. I've just completed the content for Riddle Book number five, Halloween Riddles, which is scheduled to be published in August 2020. I also have a sixth riddle book halfway completed but don't have a date planned for that release yet.

Although I'm not a guru-self-publisher, I'd like to share my own process for creating a series of books for a niche. Note that as of this date, I've self-published via Amazon's Self-Publishing platform; however, I plan to expand to other writing platforms in a few months. I'll write about that learning process later.

Note: These are summary tips. I didn't delve into the detail of each. The tips are meant to give you a mental picture of the entire thought process before you dive into the process. In other words, things to consider if you're truly serious about your endeavor.

My Personal Twelve-Step Summary Guide to Creating Your Own Niche Series of Self-Published Books:
  1. Choose a topic for your series of books.
  2. Write and self-publish your book in both eBook and Paperback format. 
  3. Don't rush, take it one book at a time and don't limit yourself to a specific number of books.
  4. Decide if the format for each book will be the same: For example number of chapters, introductions, closing pages, and structure.
  5. Be willing to change your covers several times in the beginning if needed - I did this a lot.
  6. Create a website that reflects your book's topic.
  7. Design and decide upon a Logo for your series.
  8. Create a business Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter page for your book's topic.
  9. Create engaging posts about your book's topic on these social media business accounts.
  10. Create a video that speaks about who you are and put that video on your website and your social media accounts.
  11. Include your social media links and website links at the back of your ebooks and paperback books. Be sure to follow Amazon's rules on links in eBooks.
  12. Create and set-up your Amazon Author page - be sure to link to your website's RSS feed to your Author Page so that the new posts on your websites are updated automatically to your author page. 

Here's a Four eBook Series of My Riddle Books

Amazon automatically created an eBook Series for me. In other words, I didn't have to create the amazon page that offered my eBooks as a series. They put two and two together and created the page. However, for a paperback series, I'll have to assemble that offer to the public myself. I'll let you know how that goes - I still have to learn how to do it!

My About Me Video

Here's the video I created for my Website and Social Media Websites. It's intentionally not 'guru-professional.' My goal was to introduce myself to my followers - to be real - to be who I am, nothing more. There are several video services you can use online, I used Animoto.


Again, these tips are meant as an overview to help you consider the big picture before you start writing your book series.

Happy Creating!


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Thursday, July 9, 2020

Review of The Lending Library

The Lending Library by Alice Fogelson is a delightful story about a teacher's love for books and how she helps the community when the town library is temporarily closed.  I found the book when it was one of the Amazon Prime monthly First Read books.  I love that feature on Amazon because it has introduced me to so many interesting books and authors.


Summary of the Book

The book is about a confirmed bibliophile and frustrated artist, Dodie Fairisle, who moves from New York city to a small Connecticut town where she teaches art in the elementary school.

When the Chatsworth town library is found to have asbestos it is forced to close indefinately.  Dodie is so frustrated for herself and the town that she decides to create a lending library in the sunroom of her home.

Dodie is very committed to making the library a success and she uses her skills as a baker providing treats and her love of books to recommend books for each person who comes into the lending library.

One person that comes regularly to the library is a construction worker named Shep Jamison.  Shep is very handsome and Dodie spends a lot of time picking out books that she feels Shep would like.

The first part of the book is setting up the library and the people that Dodie meets.  The second part of the book becomes bogged down with many side stories, including love interests of friends, death of a friend, adoption processes and Dodie's stressed out desire to become a mother.

My Thoughts on the Book

I picked up this book at a time when I was looking for something lighter to read.  The book, for the most part filled that need.   I particularly  enjoyed the parts about Dodie and her work with the library. I also enjoyed the interesting cast of characters, including Dodie's friends and the people that frequented the library.

 There were times though in the second half where the story became a bit intense and perhaps unbelievable.  Even so, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it.

Find the Book on Amazon

                                                                     


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Sunday, June 28, 2020

Matte or Glossy Covers on a Self Published Book? Which One To Choose?



That is the question, matte or glossy?

Let me start off by admitting that I'm not a self-publishing guru! The entire self-publishing process has been self taught.

In 2019 I made a decision to tackle a bucket list item; publish my personally written life's collection of poetry. Since then, and to this date, via Amazon Self-Publishing (KDP), I've self-published a total of seven books, and am in the middle of writing my eighth and ninth book.

I've written multiple times about the learning curve to self-publishing. I have to admit it wasn't easy. However, now that I have a few books under my belt, I'm learning more about the nuanced details that make a difference in a book's appearance and presentation.

As an example, I learned how to create professional-looking book covers, and have changed my covers multiple times to what they are as of this date. I actually made another slight modification to one of them again today! I'm planning on stopping these changes soon - Nah, probably not lol - but hopefully I'll get the covers to a place where I'm completely satisfied! Building book covers from scratch is tough at first, but after you get the hang of it, it's a ton of fun and very addictive!

A Matte or Glossy Finish on the Cover of Your Self-Published Book - Which Should You Choose?

I googled the crap out of this. Watched videos - you know, the usual stuff we do when we have questions. However, I didn't get a suitable answer. So, when I published the first editions of each book, I decided to go with a matte finish for the covers.

Guess what? For my books, a glossy finish is much nicer and more practical. So, I'm in the process of changing them all to glossy. I'll do all future books in a glossy cover format from now forward.

Why a Glossy Cover Works for This Genre of Books

I write riddle books, books about sayings for cards, and of course, a poetry book. I haven't written, nor plan to write novels. Novel covers may be better in a matte finish, but honestly, I can't give you advice on that.

For Activity Books (Like My Riddle Books & Saying Books and Poetry Books), Here's Why I Believe a Glossy Cover is Best
  1. These types of books are picked up and put down often, and a glossy cover is more durable. The matte cover actually ended up with smudged fingerprints on it from too much handling. 
  2. They look way more professional with glossy covers! My husband put it this way - he said, 'the matte finish made it look like it was purchased at the dollar store, and a glossy finish gives it a bookstore feel' - Yikes!
  3. A glossy cover feels nicer to hold in your hands (a personal thing)
  4. The shiny cover helps the colors to pop more. With fun activity books, the colors are essential, so yah ... glossy all the way for that reason alone.
  5. The matte finish looks more like a school book, the glossy finish gives it an 'author feel.'
The Cellphone Photos of the Books Below Don't Really Capture the Difference Between Matte and Glossy However There is A Big Difference:


Both of These Riddle Books Have a GLOSSY COVER
 #STUMPED - A Party Game

The Book on the Left is a MATTE Finish
The Book on the Right is a GLOSSY Finish
Boredom Buster Riddles - #Stumped Volume 4

The final vote of approval came from my adult kids and my husband, they all agreed that the glossy covers were superior to the matte covers. Sorry matte.

My Non-Guru Self-Publishing Journey in Articles:
1. How to get started on that eBook you've been meaning to do for decades
2. Confessions of a Newbie Self-Publisher
3. 5 Helpful Tools from a Newbie Self-Publisher
4. 3 More Tips from a Newbie Self-Publisher


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Father's Day Gift Ideas That Won't Break the Bank!

It's a great time to start thinking about Father's Day.


Although many of us have not been able to get together with family like we have in the past, it's no reason to forget Father's Day which is coming up shortly!  

June 21st is the third Sunday and the one dedicated to those men who have the honor of being the Father or Father Figure in our lives.  Just so you know, this can also include Grandfathers, Uncles and Step Dads  as well.



Dads can be really hard to buy for!  (Moms tend to be easier, chocolates and flowers every year works.)  Not so much for Dad!  Tools and Dad stuff tends to be more expensive somehow!  But check below and see some really inexpensive alternatives!

10 Great Gift Ideas for Dads


  1. Family Manicure Kit, not just for the ladies anymore.  
  2. Car Stickers (some are really funny, like this one) But there are many others that can work for your Dad!
  3.  iPad Protector (there are many to choose from but this is an Amazon Choice with 5 star rating)
  4. Father's Day T-Shirts (this one says it all, but there are many more to choose from)
  5. Fisherman or Hunter Dads (great tools to use while out in the wilderness)
  6. For the musical Dad, Guitar Picks (sing me a song)
  7. A Special Key Ring 
  8. A Special Book
  9. B.B.Q. Tools
  10. Man's Apron
This list is Dad Approved by both my other half and my son (who happens to be Dad to 3 children).  They looked it over and each of them without being asked said they would love any one of the items in this list!   

 
  



Now these are great gifts for dads on their special day, but there are so many more things that Dad would love to have and might not indulge himself with.

If you need some help trying to figure out what to get your Dad for Father's Day,  ask yourself some questions...........


If Dad loves to read, there are hundreds of books available from Amazon or your favorite book retailer, like Chapters.

Does Dad love taking pictures?  How about a new Camera Strap with a bonus, you can read about it here!  Sylvester Mouse Cynthia found a great way to make this even better.

Does Dad love to build?  How about a new tool or a magazine with all kinds of neat ideas that Dad could try to make?

Does Dad like to run, walk or exercise in general?  Maybe a pair of Nordic Walking Sticks would be the ideal gift.

Is your Dad a sports fanatic, then there are literally hundreds of items big and small that would make a lovely Father's Day gift.  Pick your team and off you go!

Sometimes Dad's are just happy with a nice card.  You can make or buy one that will suit your Dad to a "T".  


Father's Day is the  21st of June this year.  Don't let the day go by without some lovely acknowledgement for all the things Dads do every day of the year.









Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Thursday, April 23, 2020

Kate Quinn's The Huntress Book Review

The Huntress Book Review
Told in three narratives, Kate Quinn's book, The Huntress, dives into Nazi-era Soviet Union and post-war Boston. It follows the post-war efforts of a small company whose purpose is hunting for and bringing to justice war criminals.

The main characters include Ian, a proper British journalist who was on the ground in Europe during the war and who turns postwar away from journalism to the task of finding war criminals. His purpose becomes a bit clouded by vengeance when he searches for the elusive target for whom this book is titled. That is, the Huntress who ruthlessly lured and killed men, women and children.

The second character is Nina, a woman who grew up dirt-poor and savage in Siberia. As an adult she becomes a pilot for the Soviet Union and a member of the all-female Night Witch bomber regiment who, during her time on the ground during the war, has an encounter with the Huntress.

Finally, we have Jordan, an ambitious teenager who lives with her father and sister in Boston. She wants to become a photographer and to break out of the societal requirement for a woman of the times that says she must get married, settle down and have children.

In the end, all are brought together by the Huntress.

THE HUNTRESS OFFICIAL BOOK TRAILER


Here’s a peek via the official book trailer from publisher Williams Morrow:




REVIEWS


Readers on Goodreads gave The Huntress a 4.27 out of 5 stars and 91 percent of Amazon readers gave it a 4- or 5-star rating. That’s pretty good.

On the back cover, Booklist says that this book is “An impressive historical novel sure to harness WWIIi-fiction fans’ attention.” I agree.

The Washington Post calls this book a “compulsively readable historical novel” and says that it is a “powerful novel about unusual women facing sometimes insurmountable odds with grace, grit, love and tenacity.” I agree.

WHO SHOULD READ THE HUNTRESS?


Fans of World War II fiction, which by the way comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me, will enjoy this book. In particular, if you would like a look into the hunt for war criminals, Russian folklore and the lesser-known world of the Night Witches, you will want to pick this book up. If you enjoyed Kate Quinn’s The Alice Network or Heather Morris’ The Tattooist of Auschwitz you will want to read this book. It quickly becomes a thriller and a page turner demonstrating how war changes people and the costs of seeking justice.

You should know that this book has numerous adult themes, which is what you naturally comes with a book about war crimes. Those themes include abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), alcohol use, war and sex.

Do be aware that there are numerous books called the Huntress. Don't make the mistake that a friend of mine made and read the wrong one. You can find your copy of Kate Quinn’s The Huntress on Amazon by clicking right here.

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

QUICK LINKS:

Buy your copy of The Huntress on Amazon.
The Ragged Edge of Night Book Review.
Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale Book Review.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Movie Review.









Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Where the Crawdads Sing Book Review


For those who love to travel, the current global atmosphere fraught as it is with many concerns, may be keeping you at home and make a strong case for sitting back and enjoying some armchair travel. If you are interested in a trip to North Carolina’s remote marshlands, you might want to pick up the bestselling novel Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

Before I read this book, North Carolina was not on my list of places that I would like to see. Now it is. I thoroughly enjoyed the book though it started off a bit oddly, at least for me. I had just finished reading Michelle Obama’s Becoming, which was an excellent book crafted with simple, straightforward language. When I picked Where the Crawdads Sing up, the language seemed overly flowery with text like, “water flows into the sky”, “clammy forests” and “the marsh’s moist breath.” It was not long, however, before I was whisked away to fictional Barkley Cove in North Carolina and wrapped up in the lives of the main characters.

THE STORY


The story? Well, simply put it is that of a girl’s marsh life from the ages of 6 to 25 both with her family and then abandoned by her family, of how she grows up barefoot and wild and, despite sparse interactions with other people, of how she manages to educate herself in her remote environment. It is rich with details about marsh life in North Carolina. It is a coming-of-age tale and it is also one of romance and murder, alternating between the years of 1952 and 1969. The author herself says that the book is about loneliness.

IS IT A TRUE STORY?


Is Where the Crawdads Sing a true story? Not really though Elle magazine says that the story has "striking echoes" to the author’s life in Africa with conservationist former husband, Mark Owens, both of who were linked to the unsolved 1995 murder of an African poacher though the couple has denied anything to do with the murder and no charges have ever been filed.

IS IT RECOMMENDED?


Perhaps somewhat unexpectedly the book, which is Owen's first work of fiction, quickly became a hugely successful book.

The Guardian says that “Surprise bestsellers are often works that relate to the times. Though set in the 1950s and 1960s, this book is, in its treatment of racial and social division and the fragile complexities of nature, obviously relevant to contemporary politics and ecology. But these themes reach a huge audience though the writer’s old-fashioned talents for compelling character, plotting and landscape description.”

Actor Reese Witherspoon, who picked Where the Crawdads Sing  as a book for her book club, helped it build momentum and is quoted in Town and Country magazine as having said, "I can’t even express how much I love this book…There is so much to her story…and it takes place in the breathtaking backdrop of the South. I didn’t want this story to end!"

A whopping eighty-six percent of Amazon readers gave it a 5 star review. It is a New York Times number one bestseller, it has been on that best seller list for 78 weeks and it has sold over 1.5 million copies.

Those are, in my opinion, a whole lot of reasons to check out for yourself the book Where the Crawdads Sing. The majority of readers have loved this book and it comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me. You can find your copy on Amazon by clicking right here and if you enjoy it, be sure to watch for Witherspoon's movie version of the story.

See you
At the bookstore!

Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

QUICK LINKS:


Buy your copy of Where the Crawdads Sing here on Amazon.
Read Dawn Rae's review of Where the Crawdads Sing.









Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Sunday, October 27, 2019

5 Helpful Tools from a Newbie Self-Publisher

5 Helpful Tools Discovered by a Newbie Self-Publisher

In the past two weeks, I've talked about lessons learned as a newbie self-publisher. My first attempt was an eBook and the second a Paperback. Like I said in those articles, I'm not a guru! I'm learning the ropes and sharing the climb.

Was it easy, no way! I can honestly say I'm lacking sleep, and this so-called brain of mine has been reduced to mush. But I love the feeling: You know when you've overcome something and earned a sense of moving forward.

In this article, I'd like to share some of the convenient tools I've found online to help you with your own self-publishing journey. I spent a lot of time researching various aspects of the writing and publishing process and have saved my favorite tips and tools for future projects.

Here are five handy tools/tips I discovered along the way:

1. Choosing a Title for Your Books

I'll start by saying that my titles aren't genius. Lol, but as most of you know, a title is vital. My second book is all about fun, it's a party riddle gamebook. Yah, I know, who writes riddles, right? It's a crazy freaking knack that I have, go figure?

I wanted to create interest with my title and have the title say precisely what the book was about, and what the book could be used for.

I researched some of the most potent action words for marketing and tripped on several helpful articles. The article I ended up saving for future reference was "277 Action Words to Supercharge Your Writing."

2. Kindleprenuer - Be Sure to Check it Out

Kindleprenuer is filled with handy writing tidbits. It's written in a straightforward format, and the tips are easy to implement. They also suggest useful tools to help you along your learning process.

Don't miss their article on 'How to Title a Book,' it's worth your time!

3. Title Generators - These are Handy

A title generator auto-generates suggested title ideas based on your entry. I'll admit, the title for my latest book didn't come from a title generator; however, the title generator did inspire my final decision for the title.

This title generator is a ton of fun and a little addictive! Go ahead and put in the details and see the choices it spits out. It's also a recommended tool by Kindleprenuer.

Here's another helpful title generator. As I mentioned above, it did inspire the title creation process.

4. Setting Up Your Amazon Author Central Page

Since I only have two books published, I haven't set my page up yet. However, you guessed it, I've researched the topic already.

When you're ready, check out this article on how to set your Author Page up, it's helpful.

5. Choosing Your Subtitles - Bold, Clear, and Specific

No, I didn't come up with that criteria. It's part of the excellent advice you'll get from Kindleprenuer. I mentioned them above. They also offer a helpful article on 'how to select a subtitle that sells'.

______________________

Here were my challenges:
  •  It's a riddle book
  •  The book is designed and suggested as a fun game for parties
  •  The riddles are geared towards teens and adults (all clean of course)
  •  I needed a branded name to use on future riddle books
As I researched naming my book, I had quite the challenge trying to get these points established on the cover: A party game book, a riddle book, for teens and adults as well as finding space for an action word.

Here's what I decided:
  •  "A Party Game" stated at the top since that's the point of the book
  •  #Stumped is my branded name that will be on future riddle books
  •  'Instant Party Riddles for Teens and Adults" is the sub-title
  •  The word "Instant" is my action word
  •  The back of the book features an actual riddle 
I'm not saying my choices are the right ones, or that they can't be improved. In fact, I may change the cover down the road. What I learned is that the process for choosing a title, sub-title, and design is time-consuming and crucial to the overall final product.

That's enough for today on my journey into self-publishing, here's my second book. There's an eBook version as well, but it's in the approval stage. It should be showing in a day or so. 

Oh, and yes, I've started the third book: It's not poetry, it's not a riddle book, it's not a novel, oh what could it be?

Here's book number two. Available on Amazon.
Note: I'm an Amazon Associate, but the above link
does not have my Associate ID in it.




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