Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Vacation Time

Sorry, no good vacation image available, but ya gotta luv the duck!  :-)

We're taking a brief blog vacation as some of our reviewers head out, books in hand, for a little R&R.  We'll be back in a few weeks, refreshed and ready to go.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Finds

Friday Finds is hosted

Check out the summer reading list!  These books just arrived this week for review.  Come back soon to read the reviews!

On the Strangest Sea They were babies in "The Storyteller" and children "In the Chillest Land"... now they are adults, and the mismatched twins face the greatest challenge of all "On the Strangest Sea"-- the sea of love-- where stories of hope and self-discovery entwine and arrive at a stunning journey's end.

The Battle for Tomorrow The Battle for Tomorrow is about a sixteen-year-old girl so deeply concerned about the bleak future young people face that she leaves home to participate in a November 2010 blockade and occupation of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. As the story opens, Angela Jones is the primary caretaker of her invalid mother. A relationship with a 23-year-old political activist opens her eyes to the urgent political and environmental issues facing humanity - a bankrupt global economy, catastrophic climate change, and looming water, energy and food shortages - all with alarming consequences for her life as an adult. Ange is arrested for her participation in the non-violent blockade and occupation of the Capitol and winds up in a juvenile detention facility in Alexandria, Virginia. While there, she also finds herself fighting for the right to live independently, owing to arbitrary emancipation laws that require her to be released to a parent or guardian. She wins this battle, thanks to the ACLU and a blog she starts to gain national attention for the blatant age discrimination confronted by many teenagers. The Battle for Tomorrow: A Fable is a novel, but its truths ring true.

Just a Bunch of Crazy Ideas This book is about thoughts and ideas on a wide range of subjects. The topics include building a space elevator, new approaches to space travel, Star Trek reboot themes, ideas for energy conservation, what to do about our federal debt, modifying the game of chess and others.

Lebensborn In the summer of l941, an elite SS force under the command of the charming but cruel Major Reinhardt Hurst takes over a small French village. Antoinette Gauthier, her family, friends, members of the Resistance, and even their pets, find life difficult under the exacting SS rules. For Antoinette, it means being a servant for Major Hurst and his officers as they take up residence in her home. She succumbs to his advances to learn their secrets for the Resistance, only to have Hurst later discard her. Then, finding herself pregnant, she is sent by Hurst to a Lebensborn home, where the residents believe she is a spy and treat her shabbily. At the SS Party House next door, she works in the kitchen and later discovers a wounded British pilot hiding in the woods behind the home. The tension builds as Antoinette is commanded to join one of the Nazis' wild parties. She agrees in the hope it can help her to rescue the pilot and, together, they can escape.

Pecan Gap Detective Jake Somers has made many memorable trips from Dallas to the East Texas town of Pecan Gap. The quiet little town contains what remains of his mother Josie's old family home and is the source of many of his happiest childhood memories. However, the past few trips have given him cause for concern. Old friends have told him about the unusual disappearance of residents, vandalism, and flickering lights moving in the night--all very unsettling in a quiet farm community. These stories have triggered memories of strange things that happened to him when he visited as a child. Jake's intuitive nature, and his love for the ancestral home, will not let him rest until he solves the mystery in Pecan Gap. On the other hand, his drive to unscramble the puzzle is hampered by his need to deal with an equally troubling situation in Dallas that involves his girlfriend, the D.A.'s office, a city councilman, a drug dealer, and the FBI. Jake's personal family ties to Pecan Gap and his close relationship with the Dallas district attorney's office forces him to deal with both cases at once.

Southern Gold n 1864, the Confederate Army possessed two billion dollars in gold bullion; before surrendering, the rebel soldiers buried the gold somewhere in Atlanta, Georgia. General Joseph Johnston, a commander under General Lee, was the only living person who knew where the gold was buried. Union soldiers burned Atlanta to the ground in search of the gold, but it was never found—that is, until now. One hundred and fifty years later, the gold’s location is discovered, buried underneath the Zone Three police precinct by Major James Butler, a descendant of Johnston and an Atlanta police major, as well as a Civil War enthusiast. Butler masterminds a plan to get the gold: Blow up the precinct killing thirteen police officers. Bring in ex-cop John Sinclair, who sustained total memory loss five years ago. Team him Seville Patterson, a young beautiful female detective, and assign them to investigate a bogus terrorist attack. It’s a dangerous, deadly, and a masterful game of cat and mouse to figure out how to dig up the gold and disappear into thin air without a trace.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Spelling Mistakes Can Costs

We've run numerous articles about the need for editors when self-publishing, the hows, the whats, the whys.  Still not convinced?  Check out this very interesting BBC article on how spelling errors can cut revenue in half for websites:  BBC Article

Monday, July 11, 2011

Don’t Quit Your Day Job!

by Amy Lignor of The Write Companion

I never used to read the newspaper; it usually just made me sick as a dog.  My grandfather used to read the ‘Obits’ just to see if he was in there (our hometown was THAT boring).  My Dad had sports, and Mom had the comics.  My sister usually looked for “sales.”  Me?  I always thought it was better staying with the stories in my own head, considering the outside world was like one 24/7 nightmare.  (Not much has changed, actually).

However, recently I have become immersed in the police blotters.  I know what you’re thinking.  But, no, I’m not looking for my name to appear.  I am just amazed by how hysterically stupid some of our criminals have become.  Not that Al Capone was any brighter, mind you.  If he was…he never would’ve ended up in jail in the first place.

Since we’re so close, I had to share.  A man pulls up in front of a 7/11 in a truck he stole earlier in the evening.  Therefore, the license plates, etc. can’t be traced back to him.  He’s wearing gloves, a ski mask…everything a good criminal needs.  Happily, he carries no weapon.  In fact, the criminal was quoted as saying he just “wanted the money so he could buy some beer.”  So he walks into the store, says he’s armed, and steals the cash.  (He didn’t even think to take a six-pack with him).  Running out of the store, the man jumps into his truck but…the engine doesn’t start.  What to do?  He runs away from the scene as fast as possible, knowing that he should be safe because he left no “trace” of himself behind.  Unfortunately, there was one small thing he forgot. He’d taken his dog along with him for the ride.  When the police got there and found the Labrador, they were slightly amazed to see him wearing tags on his collar that stated the name and address of his owner.  Oddly enough, the police got there before the robber and picked him up.  Yes, he might have been a criminal, but at least he was a dog-lover, and that definitely counts for something.

A truck waits in the darkness outside of a bank’s ATM machine.  A woman drives in, takes out some cash, and the robbers go straight to her car and rip her off.  Unfortunately for them, they were a little intoxicated and from out of town.  When they got back into their truck to drive away, they jumped the curb.  This was no ordinary curb.  It was actually a type of small concrete wall between the bank’s parking lot and the FBI building across the street.  The truck was stuck dangling over the wall and the criminals were picked up very quickly.  What a shock!

There was a criminal who was going around small towns throwing chains around ATM’s and tying them to his bumper.  He would hit the gas, the truck would jump forward, and the ATM would be ripped from the cement as he pulled it down the street into a garage where the criminal would take out the cash.  Unfortunately, the criminal was so tired one evening that he threw the chain and tied it to his bumper, without even noticing that this particular ATM had a concrete slab that attached it to the bank, itself.  He hit the gas and the back of his truck was torn to pieces in the middle of the road.  He was so tired, he didn’t even try to run.  All he was quoted as saying was that he hoped his insurance would cover the damage.

Someone commit’s a robbery and rushes into the street.  Holding up the first driver he sees, he steals the car - without ever noticing there’s someone sitting in the back seat - and drives the car back to his own house.  The criminal gets out and goes inside, as the backseat passenger calls 911.  See that?  Cell phones DO come in handy once in a while!

An employee of a large company went into work one day.  She’d had a bad morning - it was Monday, after all.  When she grabbed her time card and tried to clock in the machine wouldn’t work.  Then, when it finally came down on her time card, it wouldn’t let go.  The woman literally destroyed the time clock - shattering it to bits.  Although she was arrested for destruction of property, she did find a whole new way to “punch-in.”

A robbery took place where the man walked into the store and began to pile cases of beer into his shopping cart.  When he went to the cash register, he - again, with no weapon - held up the cashier and said he was leaving with his beer no matter what.  Then, without thinking, he asked for two packs of cigarettes and paid for them with his credit card (which gave the police his name and address).  Maybe he’d already had one beer too many.

Back in the VERY small town I grew up in, a man walked into the local bank dressed in a Santa Claus suit for the holidays and walked out with some major cash.  This is one criminal who was never caught.  Apparently, he had a very Merry Christmas!

And, one of my absolute favorites, a person decided to steal security cameras off a building, yet apparently had no clue that as he was stealing them, they were taking his picture.  He was stunned that he got caught!  This was one for YouTube!  Say Cheese!

A man is running away from the police and jumps a fence.  Right into the center of a ring of pitbulls.  Suffice to say he jumped right back out and threw himself into the police officer’s arms.  Oh, yeah, jail is way safer.

It’s unfortunate that there are people out there in the world today who are so unbelievably stupid that they can’t seem to do anything right.  Education might be the way to go.  Even though these are people who aren’t exactly on their way to “Shawshank Prison,” they should definitely think about a career change - maybe, politics? 

Until Next Time,

Friday, July 8, 2011

Book Giveaway!

Like Dean Koontz?  Love Dean Koontz?  Here's your chance to win a copy of his book Relentless!  Hardcover, brand-new copy.  Just enter our book giveaway contest for July.  Check it out here!

Friday Finds

Friday Finds is hosted

There's a definite cookbook theme this week! Yummy! Stop by our review site, Feathered Quill Book Reviews, soon to read the reviews.

Good Food To Share Williams Sonoma Good Food to Share is available as an application for the iPad and features Mag+, the award-winning digital publishing platform created by Bonnier for the iPad and other tablet computers. Mag+ combines everything that’s great about reading a physical book with the best elements of the web, allowing users a new way to interact with the content.

The Cook and The Butcher This friendly and accessible cookbook offers over 100 recipes for delicious meals using a wide range of popular beef, pork, lamb, and veal cuts and aims to help the home cook get the most out of meat for dinner. Each chapter begins with quick-cooking cuts and easy methods, like stir-frying, and progresses from there, offering recipes for grilling and pan-frying, and ending with recipes for more time-consuming cooking methods, such as roasting and braising. The recipes use a range of meat cuts that are easy to find at the butcher counter, and the flavors of the dishes, though varied and modern, are crowd-pleasing and familiar. The text is informative and comprehensive, but not too daunting or technical. Most of the recipes are accompanied by useful tips written by more than twenty butchers from across America.

Good Bites: Weeknight Meals One of the country's fastest growing cooking websites, Good Bite has a simple mission—to bring together the Internet's best food bloggers and give them a platform to showcase their favorite everyday recipes in short, entertaining videos. Now, Good Bite Weeknight Meals compiles 120 recipes for quick and delicious family dinners from the site's most popular contributors. With recipes from well-known bloggers like Jaden Hair of the Steamy Kitchen and Catherine McCord of Weelicious along with mouthwatering full-color photographs from Matt Armendariz of Matt Bites, Good Bite Weeknight Meals brings the blog world's very best into the home kitchen.

Dominance Fifteen years earlier. Jasper College is buzzing with the news that famed literature professor Richard Aldiss will be teaching a special night class called Unraveling a Literary Mystery—from a video feed in his prison cell. In 1982, Aldiss was convicted of the murders of two female grad students; the women were killed with axe blows and their bodies decorated with the novels of notoriously reclusive author Paul Fallows. Even the most obsessive Fallows scholars have never seen him. He is like a ghost. Aldiss entreats the students of his night class to solve the Fallows riddle once and for all. The author’s two published novels, The Coil and The Golden Silence, are considered maps to finding Fallows’s true identity. And the only way in is to master them through a game called the Procedure. You may not know when the game has begun, but when you receive an invitation to play, it is an invitation to join the elite ranks of Fallows scholars. Failure, in these circles, is a fate worse than death. Soon, members of the night class will be invited to play along...Present day. Harvard professor Alex Shipley made her name as a member of Aldiss’s night class. She not only exposed the truth of Paul Fallows’s identity, but in the process uncovered information that acquitted Aldiss of the heinous 1982 crimes. But when one of her fellow night class alums is murdered— the body chopped up with an axe and surrounded by Fallows novels—can she use what she knows about Fallows and the Procedure to stop a killer before each of her former classmates is picked off, one by one?

Just Grace and the Double Surprise In this seventh installment in the Just Grace series, any day now Grace’s best friend in the whole world, Mimi, is going to be getting a brand-new sister. Grace is really excited, plus nervous, plus worried, plus happy all mixed together. But both Grace and Mimi are in for a surprise when they find out that Mimi’s family is not adopting a brand-new sister—and instead she is getting a brand-new brother. (Oh, brother!) And to heighten the excitement even further, Grace is in for another big surprise!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How to Pick a Book's Retail Price

Guest post by Cynthia Boles (see end of article for contact info.)  

You can get more people to tell you about their latest sexual antics than to tell you how much they make. This same kind of prissy secrecy prevails when you start talking about pricing your ebook.
No doubt you’ve already read the articles that are out there. The advice ranges from reasonable common sense to the same kind of digitized twaddle that fills far too much of cyberspace. Here’s what we know for sure.
• Your pricing is up to you.
• You can research what others in your business space are doing.
• If you set your price too high, you will have fewer sales.
• If you set your price too low, you are leaving money on the table.
• You can change your pricing strategy if it’s not working.
Your goal is simple – you want to reach that happy balance where the customer believes your book is a good value (and buys it), and where you are making a good return on your investment of time and talent.
How do you do that?
The answer is deceptively simple. You have to determine how valuable your book is to members of your target audience.
Suppose you have written a book that explains something that no one else has been able to figure out. For example, you have finally developed a perpetual motion machine that anyone can build and you are selling the plans. You can count on high demand because of high perceived value, and you can charge a high price.
However, suppose you have written a book that, although delightful, will not be perceived as any better than any other of its type. You’ve written yet another novel that examines what happens when a lonely widow/divorcee moves to the rocky shores of Maine/Northern California, and meets a mysterious/sad carpenter when she hires him to build bookshelves. What you have is probably low demand because it’s easily replaced and (sadly) you cannot charge more than similar books in the space. (Unless the mysterious/sad carpenter is really an alien with an amazingly long…oh, never mind.)
Now, suppose you are a new author, without any other achievements that make you famous (no Olympic gold, no awards for your latest film, no notorious sex tape, no scandalous arrests), and you are looking to sell a book in a crowded space.
Either…you will have to make your book a significant value (or increase it’s perceived value), or you will have to get either famous or notorious very quickly.
Here’s what to do:
  • Do your research. What are other books in your space selling for?
  • Increase your value. Offer your book for a value price, but also offer access to other things you’ve written “for free” with a special website access code. And, consider other “value added” features and benefits you can offer that will set you apart from the pack.
  • Gain higher visibility. Use marketing techniques to bring attention to your book and to yourself. That will drive sales for this book, and increase demand for your next one.
For more information, please contact: Cynthia Boles : 903.705.0876 : Cynthia@pencodebooks.com

Friday, July 1, 2011

Friday Finds

Friday Finds is hosted

Shadow of a Quarter Moon 1839, North Carolina. As the daughter of a plantation owner, Jacy has been raised in privilege- until she discovers that she's the offspring of a dalliance between her father and a slave. The revelation destroys Jacy's sense of who she is and where she belongs in the world. Equally shocking, her biological mother and brother are still slaves on the property. As she gets to know them-and the handsome horse trainer, Rafe-she begins to see life in the South with fresh eyes. And soon Jacy will have to make a treacherous journey that she hopes will end in freedom for them all...

Cheery Cheery is a frog. He's a Chiricahua Leopard Frog, to be more precise. Okay, he's not a frog yet. At the beginning of the story, he's still a tadpole. Young readers will learn how a tadpole turns into a frog and why some frogs like Cheery are dramatically declining in numbers around the world. Author Dr. Elizabeth W. Davidson is a research scientist at Arizona State University where she is working to save these amazing amphibians. Cheery: How a Lonely Frog Finds Friends puts the problem in terms that young readers can grasp. The book contains valuable lesson guides for parents and teachers.

Horse Dreams Fourth-grader Ellie James has a great imagination. She spends a lot of time daydreaming of owning a black stallion show horse and winning trophies in the horse show. But when the answer to all her dreams and prayers gallops into her life, will Ellie be able to recognize it? Join Ellie and her quirky family in their exciting, horse-loving adventures.