Saturday, May 29, 2010


My cousin, James Jackson, has more than 20 years experience as a book restorer. He learned the trade from his father and took over the family bindery business, Restor-A-Book, in the early part of this century when James Jackson Sr. died.

I accidentally left a book outside and of course it rained that night and it got soaked. It wasn’t an expensive book, just one that I love and use a lot. It has great photos of native flowers and was published by the Audubon Society in 1986. I searched online but didn’t find it available in print. Naturally, I turned to my cousin for advice on the best way to dry out the book so the pages wouldn’t stick together or curl up. I wasn’t sure if I should try to iron it dry.

Here is what James advised:

If the pages are enamel paper, they will more than likely stick together regardless of what you do, but to start with, you need to try to get most of the water out of the book. Using a dry towel, pat each page to absorb the excess water. You might even put paper towels between the pages to draw the water out of the paper.

However, remove the paper towels as soon as they absorb water or they may stick and cause a worse mess. When you get as much of the water out as you can, put the book in a frost free freezer and leave it for a month or two. The freezer will continue to draw moisture out of the book.

Even if you iron the pages, the spine will still be wet. It’s best to take the book apart and iron each page, but the iron only needs to be lukewarm. If it sizzles, it is too hot and may burn the paper. When the pages are dry, send it to us and we will put it back together (rebind it) for you.

If you have books, Bibles, church hymnals, genealogy papers, newspapers, tabloids, or courthouse record books that you want to preserve, give James a call at (318) 995-6800. See before and after photos of some miraculous transformations at

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Friday, May 28, 2010

Three Things Make the Biggest Difference in Moving Your Writing Forward

By Dawn Goldberg

As writers, we all want to continuously be moving along in our goals. Think of it as a river. A river constantly flows. There may be places where it looks very calm and barely moving, but if you look close enough, you'll see a current.

At times, your project feels like it's a rushing river; other times, it's trickling along like a small stream.

We have to manage our energy, time, and resources in both places and everything in between along the project spectrum. It's easy to get caught up in your own writing and let it pull you along. The problem with that, though, is that when the torrent is done, you may feel as if you've been deserted. And that can lead to self-doubt. "What's wrong with me? Yesterday, I cranked out 5,000 words! Why can't I write anything today?" And that leads further to "Oh, maybe this is an awful idea, and I should stop." Or, "No one is going to read this. Who the heck do I think I am?"

If we find ourselves in the slow and steady part of the meandering writing river, we may question if we're ever going to get there. It seems as if everyone else you know is passing you by, full steam ahead.

Here's the thing—life, business, writing, you name it—is a cycle. We have our high energy states, and that's followed by a low energy state. We have our low energy states, and that's followed by a high energy state. What can confuse it even further is when our creative energy doesn't match our physical energy. Then we're even more frustrated because we have all these ideas without the physical ability to put them into play. Or, worse in my opinion, plenty of energy and not one creative idea in sight.

What's the key to managing your writing project, without getting caught up in the negative mind chatter, and keep it sailing along? Three things: kindness, small steps, and celebrations.

First, recognize that there are cycles. Be in those cycles. Feel the gift that they bring. If you're moaning that you have all these ideas, but you're exhausted from a 10-day business trip and can't possibly write a word, understand that you need rest and rejuvenation. The physical energy will come later. Capture the ideas so that you don't lose them, and know you'll come back to them when your physical energy is more in alignment with your creative energy.

Part of that recognition means being kind and understanding - to yourself. Most of us fall down in that area. We have such high expectations of ourselves, and we think we should be writing books, running businesses, raising kids, cooking healthy, gorgeous meals, training for a marathon, going to spinning class, volunteering in the PTA . . . Um, no.

Imagine that you're talking to a friend who's being awfully hard on herself. What would you say to her? Now turn that kindness and compassion inward.

Next, nobody ever writes "write my book" on their to-do list on Monday and then crosses it off on Friday. It just doesn't happen. Break down your writing project into as many small steps as you can think of. Your steps should be as concrete as find two competing books, research statistics on fuel usage in New York City from 1950–1990, brainstorm chapter titles, write the introduction. Put each step on an index card. Then put the cards in order. Take the top three, and that becomes your current to-do list for this project.

Finally, and this is the important part that almost everyone misses. When you complete one of those action steps, celebrate it. Give yourself a pat on the back. Call your staunchest supporter and crow! Cross it off the list with glee. Put a gold star on that index card. Truly let it sink in that you're making strides in this project.

Following these three steps will keep you moving, and eventually, you'll get to your destination.

Dawn Goldberg brings life to words and writing - and helps others through their writing and publishing journey. Sign up for Fuel For Your Writing Journey at Write Well U ( and get the Nifty Guide for Writers checklist free.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Poetry Corner May 2010

Miss Sophie Catches Bugs
Pamme Boutselis

Miss Sophie
catches bugs, raptor style,
on a murky May

Perched on
the porch, body erect;
her tiny jaw continuously
snaps, easily catching
her prey.

In Memory of Johnny Maestro
(Lead singer of The Crests and The Brooklyn Bridge)

He rose from the streets of The Bronx, New York
to find fortune and fame.
His songs were filled with love and joy
Everyone knew his name.

He gave his life to music
since he was a young boy.
Such beautiful poetic lyrics
for the world to enjoy.

His soul has gone to heaven
to sing for The Lord up above.
A medley of his favorite songs
for the angels to love.

Speak often of Johnny
And his spirit will live in your heart
His music will never die
We will never be apart.

May the Lord bless Johnny's family
May stardust pave their way.
Until that special moment
When they meet again in heaven

Irene Brodsky, author of "Poetry Unplugged" (Outskirts Press)


Apples, he said holding the paring knife,
Slice and mash them
The juice will hold faster

Although I'm holding the buttery spoon
Nothing comes faster than the sugary juice falling off its edges
Like an icicle in the rain.

Unfortunately, this batter turned out too sour
Better to go through the harvest again
Without dulling the knife

I become mismatched between the Granny Smiths
And the right words to convey my thoughts
Red peels - Too delicate

Too wary for the knife's blade
I turn to other thoughts:
The turning of the moistened leaves that bark up another shadow ~
It crisps through time.

Dorit Sasson is a freelance writer, educator and founder and director of the New Teacher Resource Center. Subscribe to receive your free bimonthly e-zine and e-book, Taking Charge in the Classroom when you visit the New Teacher Resource Center at

A Breath of Life
Gail Livesay

When my life first began
I was all things good and true.
God gave me strong limbs,
and a will of my own.
He has a purpose for my life.

I can see beauty when he has control,
but turmoil when I have gone my own way.

Each time my soul has cries out,
I feel his presence and love.
Now I can give back a breath of beauty.

This Old House

This old house could tell
A hundred million stories.
Every corner holds a secret,
There’s a book in every stone.
There are spirits who
Reside in every hallway
Telling tales that reach
Into the great unknown.

But there’s one story
That is still to be told.
It’s a story of you and me,
And it’s yet to unfold.
I’ve been trying to tell the world
How wonderful it can all be.
Ours is the greatest love
This old house will ever see.

All these memories
That we keep adding onto,
All the days of our love and laughter,
All the nights held in your arms.
How I long for this
To go on for forever
Here in this old house
Where we’re both safe and warm.

And we’ll keep singing
Through the joy and the pain.
We’ll fill every empty room
Though the seasons may change.
Our love will still be strong
And continue to grow.
Ours is the greatest love
This old house will ever know.

More lyrics from Rhythmic Notions by Dennis S Martin

A Writer’s Prayer

Dear God,

We believe that you called us to write; to rip open the curtain of our hearts to allow the world to grasp your love. This is a scary place to be. We feel vulnerable, unqualified and afraid. The obstacles are many, and the experts say that success is a long shot. But, you are the God of long shots, and specialize in impossibilities. We truly believe this.

We ask that you strengthen us, enable us, and anoint us. Open the path through the sea of doubt that stretches before us. The road is long, but we trust that you remain in control and are leading us through it. That is enough for us.

We envision a Promised Land of sorts; of a finished product that glorifies you and touches a life.

So, please show us how to finish this journey. And continue to give us your words to touch your world.

In Jesus Name,

Janet Morris Grimes
ACW Mentoring Retreat, Nashville, TN

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Eliminating Adverbs in Your Dialog Taglines

Let Tom Swift Inform Your Writing

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Ever heard of Tom Swifties?

Maybe you're too young to be familiar with the classic Tom Swift adventures for boys. Or maybe you're a girl who never read a Tom Swift book nor cares to.

Tom Swifties are one-line jokes lampooning the style of Victor Appleton, the author of the original Tom Swift books. People started making jokes about his overuse of adverbs and the unnecessary taglines he wrote into his dialogue. Like the Polish jokes, they were so much fun that a whole series of them became available for pun aficionados. The author of these classics, of course, laughed all the way to the bank. But that's a lesson for one of my marketing seminars, not this article on writing.

Tom Swifties were then. This is now. I haven't dared to go to the new books in the series but I assume that this outdated writing has been eliminated from them.

You'll want to minimize tags and adverbs in your writing, too!

An example from one of the Swift books will suffice to let you know what to watch for. (Thank you to Roy Peter Clark for the example.)

"'Look!' suddenly exclaimed Ned. 'There's the agent now!...I'm going to speak to him!' impulsively declared Ned.'"

Even authors who swear that adverbs are always very, very good things to use and are reluctant to give up their clever taglines can see how, well . . . awful this is. In fact, I have to reassure people the quotation is real! Some of the writing that comes to the desks of agents and editors looks almost as bad. Here's how you can make sure yours doesn't:

1. Use taglines only when one is necessary for the reader to know who is speaking.

2. Almost always choose "he said" or "she said" over anything too cute, exuberant or wordy like "declared" and "exclaimed."

3. Cut the "ly" words ruthlessly, not only in dialogue tags but everywhere.

You will find specific techniques for strengthening your writing in the process of eliminating adverbs in The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. This book will also give you some computer tricks for making these edits easy. Until then, take Nike's advice and "Just do it!"

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, award-winning author of The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't ( and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success ( . The former is the winner of USA Book News "Best Professional Book" award and the Book Publicists of Southern California's coveted Irwin Award. The Frugal Editor is both a USA Book News winner and a Reader Views Literary Award winner and won the New Generation Marketing Award. Learn more at Learn more about editing at

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Friday, May 21, 2010

The Right Time to Launch A Business/New Writing Venture

by Dr. Maxine Thompson

“The principle mark of genius is not perfection but originality, the opening of new frontiers.” – Arthur Koestler

A couple of years ago, someone called me and asked if I thought we had launched my radio show too soon, because I stepped back and slowed up for a moment (the year I had three grandbabies born within eight months.) No, I told her all major companies roll their products out, (take action), then go back and do corrections.

How many glitches did Microsoft have in all its products when they rolled out Windows 98, XP, then even Vista? To get the lead on your competition, you have to leap and rest assured, that the net will appear.

You can’t wait for perfection. Don’t wait for the perfect time to start a business or take an action step towards an idea. Just like there is never a perfect time to have a baby, given our present economy, there is never a perfect time to make a change that could transform your life.

In the case of the Internet radio shows I’ve done, I think they have helped up the standards of the publishing industry for both self-published and African American writers.

Many things I’ve tried to do failed, but it didn’t mean it was over. For instance, I’ve tried to sell e-books back in 2000, when they were fairly new. But now I’m going to step out there and try again. This time we have Kindle, and other devices to assist with the sales.

As a literary agent, it took two years for me to get my first book deal, but once they started, I obtained eight book deals for four authors within a two-week period.

So now I know there’s a thing as try, and if it doesn’t succeed, try again, until you get it right. They say Edison had numerous tries before he developed the light bulb.

In the end, when you take a chance, you become stronger, whether you succeed or fail. It is in the process that you become a thought leader, one who encourages others to take chances.

Become a thought leader! Push your given industry to the next level. Affirm: “I am willing to take risks and do what I need to do NOW.”

What’s your next step?

Dr. Maxine Thompson

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Book with a View May 2010

Book Title: 27 Things to Feng Shui Your Home
Author: Tisha Morris
ISBN: 978-1-59652-567-2
Publisher: Turner Publishing Company 2010
Link to purchase:
Reviewer Byline: Vonnie Faroqui

In her book 27 Things to Feng Shui Your Home, author Tisha Morris seeks to share with the reader a modern and practical approach to using the ancient tradition of feng shui. From introduction to final page the author approaches her topic without the affectation or rhetoric commonly found in books on feng shui. She doesn’t oversell the concepts but instead walks you through 27 Things with the assumption that having picked the book up you inherently know the principles behind feng shui are sound.

The author brings her education as an interior designer and her experience as a certified life coach into play and is able to clearly relate the art of feng shui to the reader. She offers solid advice on clearing clutter and with each subsequent chapter clear, practical advice on how to implement the feng shui principles to make improvements, to change the flow of energy and ultimately manifest desires. Tisha echoes centuries of mothers by telling us to clean out the closet and keep doorways clear but, more importantly, she explains why these actions are necessary in relation to how energy flows in our homes, lives and in order for energy shifts and healing to occur. This is a strong practical guide book. The author has a pleasant writing style, presents the material in an easy manner and speaks to our core issues in a non threatening way. 27 Things to Feng Shui Your Home includes a chapter about creating a vision board, information on the Bagua map, easy to follow advice on using feng shui “cures,” and closes with a plan to implement the 27 Things.

For those readers unfamiliar with feng shui practices the author explains just enough about the concepts to allow a lay practitioner to receive solid reward for their time investment when applying the techniques, without planting confusion about the ins and outs of feng shui itself. For readers who have already been exposed to the art and mystery of feng shui, the author assists by leaving out confusing or contradictory information and the superstitions which often impede implementation of an action plan and the needed changes. She writes with confidence that following the feng shui principles and applying these techniques will have a powerful healing impact and her confidence is transferred to the reader.

After reviewing this book I am confident that I will be able to bring about some significant changes in my own life by following the 27 things that Tisha Morris recommends. I am also convinced that I could do so without spending a dime, simply using my current possessions in new ways or by letting go of things I no longer need. I recommend 27 Things to Feng Shui Your Home to anyone who wants to employ feng shui without becoming mired in research to do so. Tisha has done the home work for us and lays out the most important pieces in an easy to understand and follow format. This is one feng shui book you will pull off the shelf time and again.

Rewriting Life Scripts: Transformational Recovery for Families of Addicts
Liliane Desjardins, Nancy Oelklaus, Irene Watson
Life Scripts Press (2010)
ISBN 9781932690972
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer, PhD, for Reader Views (03/10)

I can honestly say that in all the time I have been a Psychologist working in the substance abuse field, I have never found a book that covered all the topics families need to know about recovery in one place. The authors have written this book in a format that is easy to understand and read. They cover so many topics about addiction, recovery, misconceptions and family roles that one would end up highlighting the whole book.

There are seventeen chapters in this book which cover topics such as the family process, psychological tendencies of the addicted to how families’ unrealistic expectations put everyone in the down spiral again. I am a firm believer, like the authors, that families do not understand the addiction process or the underlying problems that might start it. Nor do many families receive treatment for themselves. As the authors state, even if the addict gets help it is important for family members and friends to learn new ways of living their life. This book dispels the myth that I hear so many times from my college students that if the addict had willpower, they could stop.

There are several parts of the book that I really appreciated. One is Higher Power. Many of those going into treatment get upset with thinking they have to rely on God to help them in the process of becoming clean. In short, Higher Power is really what motivates a person to make changes. The information on co-dependency was very informative, as were the roles we take on in our families of origin which often follow us through our adult lives. Each role is broken down into what the addicted person is thinking and what they present to others in their outside appearance.

Chapter 7 discusses The Authentic Self. If we can’t be honest with ourselves, how are we going to be honest with the addict? This chapter also will have readers questioning: What need is met for me by keeping the dysfunction going? The authors also discuss boundaries, which many of us have a hard time putting into place.

Throughout the book, the authors provide simple exercises one can do in the privacy of their own home, and then discuss the impact these answers make on the family or individual. It is important to note that one important part of this chapter is the Grief Inventory, for when we lose a family member to addiction, regardless of what it is, we do go through a grief process.

The remainder of chapters discusses surrender- we cannot change others, we can only change ourselves. I think this is one of the hardest things for individuals to realize. I can say from my own personal experience of living with a family of alcoholics my family expected me to get my brothers to change and when I said “I can’t,” they would be angry with me. We have to learn that we can only change the things we have control over, we have to learn to let go and let the addicted person figure out situations on their own. It may cause many tears, anger and resentment; however, that individual needs to learn to be responsible for their choices.

There are so many things in this book that will help families become better informed and lead them to resources that will help them learn to live a peaceful life. We will always worry about family members or even friends who are addicted to something. But, this book gives us step-by-step tips on how to take care of ourselves as well as the addict.

I wish, as a Psychologist, I had this book years ago; not only would it have helped my clients, but my family as well. This is a book that I will recommend to my college students to have in their resource library, as well as make a recommendation for this to be a required book for my Substance Abuse classes. Readers will appreciate the honesty and information provided in an all-in-one book, “Rewriting Life Scripts: Transformational Recovery for Families of Addicts.”

Live Ringer
Lynda Fitzgerald
Crystal Dreams Publishing
ISBN 9781591463276
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (03/10)

Lynda Fitzgerald’s Live Ringer is one of those books that cannot be put down once you’ve started on it. I picked the book up in late afternoon after a long day at work, planning to read for an hour to relax. At midnight I was still up, turning the last pages of the book and holding my breath. I wanted to find out who was the villain. I also did not want it to end quite yet. But end it did, with one last, very final twist. Sleep did not come for many more hours that night. Part of my mind was churning around all of the twists and turns of this delightful read; part of it was revisiting Florida, so fascinatingly described by Ms. Fitzgerald. Even today, several days after turning that last page, I would be hard pressed to decide what I liked best – the plot, the characters, the vivid descriptions of Florida, the twisted and intertwined relationships between the characters or something else…

Allie, newly divorced and still very much unsure of herself, returns to Florida, where she used to spend some of the best times of her early life with her now deceased aunt. Having inherited her aunt’s home (and – as she will soon discover– quite a few other “things”), she decides to settle down there. On the first morning after her return she stumbles upon a body of a woman on a beach not far from her home. Soon she is entangled into a very complex web of deceit, old friendships, fear, new love and much more. Fearing for her own life, she decides to fight back and discover the truth. Will that truth set her free? Or will it destroy more lives?

There is nothing boring and predictable about this book. It has enough twists and turns to keep you holding your breath for hours. The characters are believable, complex and immensely human. The situations they face, the decisions they have to make, the people they love and hate will probably make it quite easy for you to identify with at least a couple of them. Then there are the paragraphs – and pages – devoted to Florida. Ms. Fitzgerald writes about the pre-condo, non-touristy Florida, the Florida that is fast disappearing and is already missed by many. Her Florida has everyday people who actually walk their dogs, garden and talk to their neighbors; people who live in houses and not in the concrete behemoths devouring so much of Florida nowadays. Slightly nostalgic and so charming, those were some of my favorite pages in the book.

I found Lynda Fitzgerald’s “Live Ringer” an altogether great read, which I would wholeheartedly recommend to anybody who enjoys a good book. A delightful mix of romance, thriller and mystery will keep most readers riveted for hours. So get a cold drink that will make you think of Florida and enjoy your journey.

The Adventures of Silly Kitty, Princess Jasmine, and First Puppy

Irene Brodsky
ISBN: 978-1-4327-5552-2
$23.95 USD
Full-color, children's picture book
Outskirts Press, March 2010
Reviewed by Yvonne Perry

I received this book as I was packing for a trip to South Carolina to visit my grandkids. I knew the older two, Keilie and Mac, would enjoy having a story read to them. They are both such good readers, I ended up listening to them read this book to me. There’s such a joy in sharing written words with children and Irene Brodsky seems to understand that as she provides a story on a topic that I’ve not previously seen in a children’s book—the first puppy of the White House, belonging to the Obama family.

The Adventures of Silly Kitty, Princess Jasmine and First Puppy is a two-part story in one book. In the first part, Princess Jasmine, who lived in an English castle, was strolling in her garden when she heard and found Silly Kitty. After some negotiation, they became friends.

In part two, the two friends were sitting in the garden, when Princess Jasmine got a call on her cell phone from First Puppy. He invited them to come to the White House for dinner and dancing under the stars. I loved the menu, which included such items as Milk Bones, Friskies tidbits, strawberry shortcake, sardine tidbits, and pasta alfredo and garlic bread. Of course, they accepted, and soon were packing their best clothes and jewels for the airplane trip to Washington.

This book carries a subtle message of world peace. Dog and cat, humans and animals, Black and White, American and English, we can all get along and enjoy one another’s company.

The hand-drawn pictures were a delight to my grandchildren. In fact, eight-year-old Keilie said this was her favorite part of the book! Rather than feeling intimidated by perfect and professional artwork, she was inspired to take out her pen and paper and draw her own picture of Princess Jasmine
and Silly Kitty.

We never know what will inspire the young ones in our lives. In reading this story and learning that I was going to write a book review for it, Keilie wanted to help. In doing so, she gained a better understanding of how to summarize a story without giving away the details.

The Sid Series ~ A Collection of Holistic Stories for Children
Author: Yvonne Perry
ISBN: 978-0982572207
Price: $15.95
Publisher: Write On!, 2009
Pages: 54
Reviewer: Dr. Caron Goode, author of the award-winning Raising Intuitive Children (2009) and Kids Who See Ghosts, Guide Them Through Their Fear (June 1, 2010), which won Best Parenting Book in US News Awards.

Author, Yvonne Perry, uses her experiences with her sensitive grandson Sid to write simple, easy-to-read stories with profound meaning for a child and parent who read together. Perry made a parent’s job easy by addressing some hot issues that all parents face with their children at some point: seeing a ghost in the closet, why a best friend has a different skin color, how to choose healthy foods, how to welcome a new brother, why Mother Nature thunders, why we recycle, and how to find and play with fairies.

I love the pages of different colors, and the bright illustrations are delightful eye candy. Perry’s authentic storytelling emphasizes the use of imagination, reasoning, problem-solving, acceptance, hugs, and connection. One volume of Sid’s stories allows any child to return to the book to discover Sid’s next adventure or to read a couple of pages before going to sleep. I highly recommend these wonderful stories!

Lost Angel Walkabout: One Traveler’ Tales
Reviewed by Barbara Milbourn for WITS

In roughly twenty short stories, travel writer Linda Ballou takes us with her up active volcanoes in Costa Rica, down hundred-mile rivers in the Yukon Territory, over combination jumps and oxers in Ireland, beneath the Sea of Cortez, and along unforgettable jaunts through deserts, woods, peaks, and valleys in both hemispheres. Her tales span years of traveling—sometimes alone, occasionally with her mother or life partner, and often with others in search of soft adventure. Brimming with action, intelligence, regional history, funny mishaps or tight squeezes, each story is set against a backdrop of nature’s jaw-dropping beauty. Ballou aims to share her world view, and through her Eco-alerts make the reader care more deeply about our vanishing resources and places of wild beauty.

Living in greater Los Angeles among millions of other lost angels keeping pace in a hurried world, Linda Ballou makes no bones about her need to seek equilibrium, solitude, and salvation in the sublimity of nature. Forget thousand-thread count sheets at luxury hotels or shopping for the latest bling. Like the great figures liberally noted in her pieces—Robert Frost, Jack London, John Steinbeck, John Muir—Ballou prefers the great outdoors and is intimately acquainted with it. She is a naturalist, a thoughtful traveler, one caring toward the environment and sensitive to local populations both near and far. And, she is a meticulous researcher.

Lost Angel Walkabout is richly detailed and poetic. It gifts the reader with the depth of observation in the clear and careful naming of the world around us—places, peoples, plants, birds, mountain ranges, animals, and sea creatures. More satisfying than naming is storytelling the authentic connection made with the inhabitants of land, sea, and sky; ravens and great spirits, fin whales the size of city buses, or Native Americans forced to flee their land. Because the author has connected deeply, so does the reader. Something is gathered from every place visited, and it seems impossible not to connect with our own highest and best self through Ballou’s experiences—not to mention wanting to get up and go there. Linda Ballou keeps good company too and includes interviews with renowned travel writer Tim Cahill and endurance rider Lari Shea. Like her travel writing hero Tim Cahill, Ballou sees humor in many of the predicaments she stumbles into, or out of, or overboard after. Don’t be surprised to find her on the back of a galloping horse yelling “Yee Haw!” and let out a yell yourself.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

For Book Marketing Research, Authors Can Use a Nifty New Tool called TitleZ

By Scott Lorenz

Effective book marketing begins long before the book is actually written and the more diligence paid to pre-publishing efforts the better the author’s chance of success. Before hiring a book publicist to garner book publicity for you, get a cup of coffee and get ready for a little online research on book marketing.
A key strategy in any marketing program is to know your competition and successful authors will research competitors before investing time in writing, editing, re-writing, and publishing. How many others have written on the same topic? How have those topics sold? What similar books have done the best? And what made these books successful?

This may sound like a daunting task but it is now as easy as sipping iced tea on a hot, humid day, thanks to a new website called TitleZ – TitleZ allows users to instantly retrieve historic and current Amazon rankings on competitors’ books and create reports with 7-, 30-,90- day and lifetime averages. More importantly, you can use this tool to research your next book or create a marketing plan using the information furnished.

By visiting TitleZ you can compile a list of related books, comparing and contrasting sales figures and rankings. You will want to hurry and check it out now while it’s free in its beta testing stage. After the beta testing period expires the service will be available by paying a monthly subscription fee.

As a book marketing specialist, I have found TitleZ to be very useful in offering book marketing advice to my clients. Authors will find this tool helpful in coming up with book publicity and book publishing strategies.

Visit to learn how a specific book or a group of books has performed over time relative to other books on the market. All you have to do is enter a book title, a subject, author or publisher and TitleZ within seconds comes up with a comprehensive list of books from plus historical sales ranking data. This information allows authors to see how topics and specific books perform over time and to appreciate what’s hot and what’s not.

Among the advantages TitleZ cites when using its tool are:

  • Identify trends with book-buying consumers beyond the top ten lists to see within a given topic which books are gaining in interest and which are declining.

  • Quickly and easily uncover best-selling and up-and-coming authors on a specific topic.

  • Review renderings of book covers, along with sales ranking data, to see what design features are working in the current marketplace.

  • By examining prices of competitors’ books you can make a better informed decision on what to charge for your book. 

  • Find out how effective promotional appearances, tours, book signings, and marketing activities are in driving sales.
If you aren’t totally convinced yet that TitleZ is worth a cup of coffee’s time to try out, than just visit the site, point and click two or three times, enter just one subject, and examine the data returned. You’ll then become convinced. For more information about book marketing visit:

Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with individuals and entrepreneurs to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz has handled public relations and marketing for numerous authors, doctors, lawyers, inventors and entrepreneurs. As a book marketing expert Lorenz is called upon by top execs and bestselling authors to promote their books. Learn more about Westwind Communications’ book marketing approach at or contact Lorenz at or by phone at 734-667-2090.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Trashing & Defacing Advance Copies of Books

by Yvonne Perry

What do you do with advance copies or books when you are finished reviewing them?

Irene Watson, owner of Reader Views, posted an article, “Defacing Books: Why Don't Authors Have Respect for their End Result?” on Blogging Authors. I’ve excerpted portions of her post and gave my own reply. Irene and I would love to hear from you.

Did you just hear someone scream? Yes, that was me! Why? Because I'm looking at a stack of books that just came into this office for potential review and some of them have been defaced. By defaced I mean:

  • "Review Copy" stamped or written on the cover, inside the book, and/or on the ends
  • "Not for Sale" written across the front cover or inside the book
Why would a proud author, who just published his or her book, deface their pride-and-joy? Is it because:
  • They have a fear someone (reviewer) will sell their book?
  • They feel if they deface it, then the person may actually buy a copy?
  • An expert in the industry told them to put "review copy" on the book?
Why would anyone, who spent hundreds of hours and finally getting to the stage of opening up that first case of books, smelling the newly printed ink, running their hand over the smooth and shiny cover, immediately take a book out and deface it? This is the birth of a baby, and what do we do with a new born baby? We nurture it. We are proud of it. We handle it with care. Would these same people, when the new (human) baby arrives, take a thick sharpie and make a big "x" on the forehead so that no one will steal the baby? Doubtful. So, why do these same people, after birthing their book, deface it?

We, as reviewers, feel if the author has no respect for their own book, then why should we give it any consideration either. They want a free review, no, some actually some demand a free review, yet, they send us a product that has been defaced.

Yes, it is known in the industry that some reviewers do sell the books. In our case, most of the reviewers keep the books in their personal library.

They take pride in the book they reviewed, especially if the book is autographed. As well, we donate books to local libraries, charities, and Books For Soldiers. Defaced books cannot be used and are thrown away. What a shame. A soldier in Afghanistan would have appreciated some reading material after a long day in the desert, or, an abused wife in the local women's shelter could have used the book as an escape from her battered reality. Instead, the defaced book gets recycled and either hits the landfill or, hopefully, is used to make another book.

~~~~~~~~~~ My reply ~~~~~~~~~~

There are advance copies of my book circulating that I really didn't want resold because they are unedited. These advance copies are not defaced, but they do have a clear message on the copyright page that the unedited book is not for resale. These 100 copies were printed for the reviewers so I could get books into their hands with plenty of lead time (it takes months to get some reviews back) while I was improving the work.

Many of the advance copies of my book on stem cell research were sent to experts in the field to get their feedback, make sure I had quoted them correctly, and that my information was factual. Not only did the publisher leave out 25 pages of my bibliography in the advance copy, the tone of the final book was softened quite a bit. One passionate expert committed to the cause and volunteered to edit the entire book, so I’d say probably 15 percent of the text in the final version is different from the advance copy.

That’s why it’s hard for me to refer to my advance copies as babies—especially since I produce (either through editing or ghosting for clients, or writing my own material) about eight or more books per year.

I hope reviewers will honor my request that these copies not be resold, but I have no control over what happens to them once they leave my hands. If donated to a local library, there's a good chance the books would never see any shelf time because of the scrutiny and evaluation process donated books go through. An advance copy would probably be trashed or re-donated.

I don't have a problem with other titles of my books being donated to charity. It's better for a person having suicidal tendencies to read an unedited copy of MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE, True Stories About Death, Dying, and Afterlife than to not be helped by the information it contains. My first book, EMAIL EPISODES, A Hilariously Honest Look at Life was written before I had experience as an editor, but the book is so freaking funny it still cracks me up to this day even though it is full of typos. Regardless, I would prefer the advance copies of RIGHT TO RECOVER, Winning the Political and Religious Wars over Stem Cell Research in America be trashed.

Books are not babies; they are stacks of paper bound together with glue for ease of reading and transportation. To me, they are the output of doing business. Even so, they are an emblem of the hard work, time, energy, and love that created them.

Am I being too hard-nosed about this? What are your thoughts? Chime in at

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Editor's Corner May 2010

by Yvonne Perry

In April, my husband and I took a trip to South Carolina where we enjoyed spending time with our kids and grandkids while school was out for spring break. The last day we were there, the children had to go back to school, so we made a visit to the grandkids' classrooms to share The Sid Series. It was Heart Story day in Keilie's class and I was privileged to be interviewed by about twenty second graders, who then drew a picture and wrote a short story about what they thought of my visit. What a blessing it was to receive the book they made for me, and know that I had touched the hearts of such appreciative children!

I used this time in the classroom to draw upon my teaching skills (I taught preschool and music for many years) to help them define a word that many adults do not fully understand. What does "holistic" mean? I explained the body-mind-spirit concept of healthy living before I read "Old Things New," one of the twelve stories in the book. When I asked the kids to tell me what ways the story showed Sidney using his physical body, thinking brain, and heart of compassion, I was surprised at how well they responded. "Sid used his body to pick up the trash in the neighborhood," one boy said. "He used his brain to sort stuff for the yard sale," another boy said. "He used his spirit to show love to Mrs. Jones and Von-Von," a little girl said. That one nearly brought tears to my eyes!

Oscar Smith and I met at the Donelson Post Office in the fall of 2009. We immediately knew that there was a universal reason to work together. Once we shared our vision, we created a community resource and radio Web site. We hope you enjoy listening to the shows at and will let us help you get your own radio show or podcast started. If you already have a podcast you may list your current show on our site. My new radio show called We Are One in Spirit.

WITS client Tisha Morris starts her book tour May 11, thanks to our new author's assistant, Vonnie Faroqui, who has arranged more than 30 stops in as many days. Tisha has already had a profound impact upon my life. Before I finished reading her book, 27 Things to Feng Shui Your Home, or visited her blog, I embarked upon a cleaning and reorganizing frenzy. My laundry room has beeny freshly painted and reorganized, and my office workspace has been totally rebuilt. I guess I should warn you that her book has this kind of effect so you can prepare to get on your work clothes and bring some new energy into your home or workplace!

We had more article submitted this month than I could use in the template. If you contributed an article to this month's issue and do not see it here, please keep a watch on WITS E-zine blog: Barbara, Sarah, and I have been swamped with client editing work lately, so this issue of our e-zine was proofread by my own dear mother. Thanks, Mom!

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Calling for Submissions for June 2010 Ezine

It's time for me to start putting together the next fantastic and information-filled e-zine for June 2010. That means I need you to send me your articles, contest announcements, and brags to be included in the next issue. We have more than enough book reviews, but if I have room for them, I'll include them.

Read our guidelines for submission here. Remember, the better your piece is written, the better attention and credibility it receives--and the less editing I have to do.

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Segments for Blog Joggers

Welcome to Writers in the Sky E-zine blog. Today is blog jog day, an event created by Carol Denbow to unite bloggers and bring more visitors to the participants.

If you are looking for a free publication to help you learn more about writing, editing, publishing, and book marketing, you will enjoy reading Writers in the Sky E-zine. This publication provides a rich resource of articles and information about the craft and business of writing, publishing, and book marketing. Subscribers are permitted to send announcements about writing, books, publishing, and book marketing to share with other readers.

This blog delivers each issue of the e-zine in segments. If you wish to receive the full e-zine via email on the first Tuesday of each month, click to register and start receiving the free writing newsletter.

We invite those who wish to receive the e-zine in segments to follow this blog via RSS feed:

The next stop on the blog jog is

Follow me on Twitter: @writersinthesky

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Saturday, May 8, 2010

WITS E-zine Readers Invited to Take a Blog Jog

Our e-zine/newsletter consistently gives tips for fun and inexpensive ways to help authors get exposure for their books. Blog Jog Day is a great promotion event and it starts tomorrow: Sunday, May 9.
There are 150 participants in this first Blog Jog Day.Why not jog along with us? I know you will enjoy reading some interesting posts and collecting a few freebies along the way, and that you will want to participate in the next Blog Jog Day if you missed this one. Just come back here in the morning and click on the link in tomorrow's post to get started. Each blog will have a link to the next blog on the route.

Subscribe to this blog so you don't forget the event or miss any opportunities to participate in future events. Just put your email address in the box in the left sidebar and you will get a reminder email. Thanks!

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Seven Things Writers Need to Know Today

by Joel Friedlander

What writers need to know about the current state of publishing is that it is undergoing
epochal change. Every part of the publishing industry is being affected by digitization, the rise of social media, and an unrelenting pressure on profits throughout the business.

Book publishing has been a tradition-bound business. The books themselves have barely changed since the 15th century, they've only gotten easier to produce and consequently, cheaper. Technology has, until very recently, been in service to the way authors, publishers and booksellers have arranged the business of publishing.

In the meantime we continue to operate with the standard agent-publisher-author relationships, with the same consignment mentality in the bookselling world, in which all books are returnable for full credit. But the difference is that everyone knows this world is coming to an end, that most of the old structures will not survive the next change in publishing, and that the structures that do survive will be fundamentally different.

Today's writer, even if they are lucky enough to quickly get a book contract from one of our major publishers, needs to know:

1. How to find resources online The abundance of resources online is simply staggering. From writing forums to free-writing websites, from agent blogs to writing webinars, you need to know how to find trustworthy sources of information.

2. How to build a "platform," online and off Publishers are making more decisions based on the marketability of the author, rather than the book itself. Authors with huge online followings simply represent less risk for publishers today. Can you deliver a fan base along with a manuscript?

3. What their options are for publication Many of the changes going on right now in publishing are due to the growing popularity of digital printing and print on demand distribution. This technology has put the ability to produce books into the hands of the ordinary person. Anyone sitting at a computer can now take a manuscript they've written and get very good looking softcover books a few days--or in some cases a few minutes---after putting in an order. And they can do this without spending any more than the wholesale cost of the books they buy. The explosion of self-publishing spurred by this technology is creating new types of publishers, new organizations, and new vitality and credibility for independent publishers. Each of the different paths you might choose to get published has its own risks and rewards, and you will have to know them before you can decide which path is right for you.

4. What kind of personality they want to project Many writers have taken to blogging and other forms of social media with joy and enthusiasm, and they have multiplied their options for marketing their books and connecting with their own "tribe" of readers. Less gregarious writers may need to find a way to represent themselves where they can attract potential readers. I don't mean to say that all writers are seeking readers. I'm saying that we write to be read, and whether you have three dedicated readers or 3,000, every writer has an investment in completing the loop, in being heard.

5. How to interact in social media Every few months it seems like there are new ways to connect to people who share our interests. But the online environment has its own social norms, and spending time on social media pays dividends if you can make yourself heard in a way that interests, instructs, or entertains people. Many writers have their own websites, they blog regularly, and may have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media sites. Writers need to know how to establish themselves and foster long-term relationships within the context of a tsunami of tweets and status updates, to build connections that are lasting.

6. That e-books will bring an even bigger change to publishing E-books, readable on computers, have been around for a long time. Amazon's Kindle has gotten people used to reading on a dedicated screen that tries to mimic a book. Now the Apple iPad looks ready to launch us into the next phase of the e-book revolution. E-books give writers even more options. Some authors are scared of the potential piracy of their works. Others are giving away books as fast as they can, or looking the other way at thousands of pirated books because it helps them build their brand. But as digitization in all its forms spreads, e-books will eventually become the norm, and printed book will become special editions. I don't see printed books disappearing soon, but the eventual dominance of e-books in their place looks inevitable.

7. How to take the long view The one thing that's certain is that we don't know what will happen next. Magazines want to quit cutting down trees entirely and find a home on something like the beautiful multi-media screen of the iPad. Although it's harder than ever to get an agent, more agents are approachable online than ever before. Sanity lies in the long view, in nurturing your own creativity above all. If you seek an audience, or publication, start putting yourself out for others to discover, and enjoy, now. You can't start too soon.

The biggest obligation writers have is to the truth of their writing. The next most important thing for anyone who thinks about publication is getting educated. Start off with a good book, be open to new influences, and learn as much as you possibly can. Get involved in the hundreds of discussions going on. The process itself is its own reward.

Joel Friedlander is the proprietor of Marin Bookworks, a publishing services company in San Rafael, California that has launched many self-publishers. Joel is a book designer, a self-published author, and blogs about publishing, book design, and the indie publishing life at

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Friday, May 7, 2010

8 Ways to Use Blogging as an Interactive Marketing Tool

by Dana Lynn Smith

Here are some ideas for using blogging in social and interactive ways:

1. Encourage your readers to share your content with others.

Make it easy for readers to share your content by adding "share" buttons from Share This or Add This. Then ask readers to share by including text at the end of your best posts such as: "Do you know someone who might benefit from these tips? Just click the Share This button below to send a link by email or recommend this post on your favorite social site."

2. Actively solicit comments.

Get readers engaged by including a sentence at the end of some posts inviting comments. You can even write a post designed to elicit comments. Thank each commenter and make a further comment based on what they said.

3. Make comments on other blogs.

Making insightful comments on related blogs is a terrific way to boost your visibility and create links and traffic to your site. Subscribe to the top blogs related to your book's topic or audience and watch for posts that you can comment on. Comments should be helpful and relevant, not self-promotional.

4. Write guest posts for other blogs.

Contact other bloggers that cater to your audience and offer to write a guest article. Include a brief bio and a low-resolution photo. Google Blog Search is a good place to search for relevant blogs.

5. Create a feed for your blog.

RSS feeds allow your blog posts to be automatically delivered to your subscribers by email or through a feed reader. Receiving your blog posts regularly engages readers more. To create a feed for your blog, go to Feedburner.

6. Do a virtual book tour

Make guest appearances on blogs, ezines, podcasts or other forums to promote your book. Provide unique content to each host on your tour. Content can include interviews, how-to articles, book excerpts, videos, book reviews, or an article about how you developed the plot or characters for a novel.

7. Join a blog carnival.

Blog carnivals are a collection of links pointing to blog posts on a particular topic, or topics of interest to a particular group of people. Learn more and search for relevant carnivals Blog Carnival.

8. Hold a contest or drawing on your blog.

Use the blog comment feature to hold contests. For example, post a question and award a prize to the first person who leaves a comment with the correct answer. Or, write a blog post stating that everyone who leaves a comment on the post by a specific date (allow five to seven days) will be entered in a drawing to win a free copy of your book. Promote the contest on your social networks.

Excerpted from The Savvy Book Marketer's Guide to Successful Social Marketing, by book marketing coach Dana Lynn Smith. For free book marketing tips, follow @BookMarketer on Twitter and get your free Top Book Marketing Tips ebook on Dana's blog.

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Network with Us May 2010

Get a FREE 30-day trial of Allison Maslan’s life coaching software for personal development and goal setting at

Want to learn how to get your book on the shelves at libraries? See The Savvy Book Marketer's Guide to Selling Your Book to Libraries.

What does the afterlife hold?

Find out on Lynn Serafinn’s Garden of the Soul Radio Show May 5 when author, transformation coach and book promotion coach Lynn Serafinn hosts the author of the book, More Than Meets the Eye: True Stories About Death, Dying, and Afterlife, Yvonne Perry.

After having two near-death experiences, Yvonne Perry, found that her ability to see, hear, and sense the spirit world became more sensitive. Battling unseen forces and trying to understand why the deceased were coming to her, she took up a personal mission to research and explore this psychic gift that she and her grandmother (who also had a near-death experience) share.

On May 5, 2010, Lynn and Yvonne will discuss why some people are reluctant to talk about death, dying, afterlife, spirit communication, near-death experience, and other end-of-life issues, as well as the common phenomenon of being visited by the spirit of a deceased loved one, and how we are still connected even after we leave the body behind.

Listeners can tune in LIVE or "on demand" any time after broadcast at Listener questions: call 646-727-3449 during broadcast (US number). An online chat room is available during the show for people to ask questions/make comments.

How Soccer Relates to Business

Virtual Book Tour May 2010
Join Us! Linda will be traveling the hemisphere: India * England * United Kingdom * Canada * New Zealand * USA Find out more . . .

Free Feedback!

Enter the Writing Show Slush Pile Workshop

The Writing Show announces a new podcast series designed to help you practice capturing readers’ attention: “The Writing Show Slush Pile Workshop.” Inspired by literary agent Kristin Nelson’s two-page pitch sessions, Writing Show host Paula B. and freelance editor Ann Paden will play agent and comment on your anonymous submissions on the show.

We’re sure you know by now how important it is to hook a prospective agent or publisher in your first couple of pages. But if you send your work out before it’s ready, you could squander an important opportunity. Don’t risk it. Try your material out on us first—for free!

Full details at

The Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest is open to anyone who loves expressing innermost thoughts and feelings into the beautiful art of poetry or to write a short story that is worth telling everyone! And to all who have the ability to dream. Write a poem or short story for a chance to win cash prizes. All works must be original.

Frankie, the disabled dachshund known as the walk 'n roll dog, is featured in a new book which was released March 2010 by Penguin/Tarcher Publishing. Every Dog Has a Gift, by Rachel McPherson are true stories of dogs who bring hope and healing into our lives. A portion of the proceeds benefits to The Good Dog Foundation which educates others on the many benefits of animal-assisted therapy.

Design your magnetic life and business vision as a writer in one hour or less! Email Joyce Shafer, You Are More! Empowerment Coach, at to receive the free PDF.

Many thanks!
Joyce Shafer

Helping business owners feel the Cappuccino Breeze
Book a Phone Consultation:

Smash Cake Magazine Call for Submissions:

Smash Cake Magazine, a print literary magazine based out of Nashville, is now soliciting submissions for our Fall 2010 issue.

We are open to all genres and forms, and seek writing and art which emotionally and unexpectedly moves the reader. While we are picky and accept only a select few of the overall submissions we receive, we are equally happy to hear from published writers and new authors alike. Your writing stands on its own merits when we evaluate your piece, regardless of your previous publication credits. We don’t care who you know; just make us feel something amazing.

Smash Cake offers a token payment and features poetry, fiction (from flash length to novellas), creative non-fiction, photographs, and artwork. See our submission guidelines at for complete details. Pre-ordering information for the forthcoming issue is also available at our website under the “purchase” tab.

Need help with using Twitter? Check out Dana Lynn Smith's Twitter Guide for Authors.

WITS now offers virtual blog tours for authors needing online exposure for their books.

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