Monthly Archives: July 2018

Reasons Why You Should Always Wish Upon a Star

Author Daniel Harvell has recently released his first novel in a new series titled “Wishing Will.” This great read has characters that are easy to relate to, which is great for his target audience, middle grade readers especially boys. His story focuses on a chubby teen, named Will Cricket, who has found the secret to making a wish come true. By searching the internet Will discovers a legend that states on November 11th at 11:11 am and 11:11 pm a wish can be granted.

When Will puts this theory to the test he finds that it worked but it has also attracted some very strange and colorfully cool observers. Will learns this cast of unusual characters are literally stars from an inter-galactic group called Sky Castle Network Enterprises or better known as the SCENE. After careful observation and discussion with Will, they decide to grant his wish. The catch is he has to do something for them. He has to grant wishes to those in need. Unfortunately, it will be those very same kids who pick on him and make his life miserable. In addition to that, there are plenty of rules and regulations he will have to learn before his wish will be granted.

Will is given powers. And as he focuses on his new abilities, he still has to deal with family problems at home, school bullies and a villain, basically an evil genie, who wants to destroy humans and take over the world of SCENE. When Will discovers his grandmother has been kidnapped by the genie that dilemma just adds to pile of things to do. Can Will control his powers, grant the required wishes, save his granny and two worlds without breaking any rules?

“Wishing Will” has everything to engage boys and even girls. There’s humor, adventure, school shenanigans and even a nasty villain. Harvell prides himself on being deligent on following his dream of writing. According to Harvell, ” Like many writers, I have ideas for books, and I just have to get them out. There’s something extremely rewarding in having your story become “real” on the computer screen and then on printed paper.”

If you know a boy who won’t pick up a book, then it will be worth your while to introduce him to “Wishing Will” for a good fun read. This is also a book and a great opportunity for parents, teachers, and caregivers to open up dialogue about bullying, family issues and social issues that develop at school. Parents and teachers can also use this book as a read aloud.

Book Marketing Techniques: Those That Backfire

Authors need to promote their books, but there’s a right and a wrong way to market, and wanting to sell a book is no excuse for not retaining your manners. No one likes a pushy salesman. Here are some examples of ways I’ve seen authors try to sell their books that have been a total turn-off for me. Authors, make sure you aren’t using these techniques. I’ve listed them in order from what are, in my opinion, least to most annoying.

Lying about Your Book’s Greatness

I’ve seen authors lie about how wonderful their books are in several ways.

    1. Having non-credible book endorsements, both on their websites and books’ back covers. By non-credible, I mean having an endorsement signed by “A.K. in Hawaii” or “A Teacher in San Diego.” If these people don’t want to give their names, they probably don’t support your book enough to want to stand by their comments, and they aren’t going to convince me that your book is worth reading. At the very least, you want full names, and a blurb from Tom Smith isn’t going to mean much to me anyway, unless you’ve written a book about healthcare and he’s Dr. Tom Smith from the Cancer Treatment Center of Miami, or something along those lines. If you can’t get experts on your book’s topic or celebrities or other authors to endorse your book, you’re better off just not including any testimonials so it doesn’t look like false promotion.
  1. False testimonials. Yes, I’ve seen false testimonials and heard authors tell me about them. “A.K. in Hawaii” might be the author’s next door neighbor, a real person who really read the book, but he might just as well be someone the author made up. I know of one author who had a comment page on his website, and about once a week, he would post a comment under a false name raving about his book to try to convince his website visitors how popular and wonderful his book was. The sad thing is that this author’s book truly was terrible, full of grammar mistakes and typos and badly printed, so anyone who read the book knew those comments had to be lies or written by completely crazy people.

Showing Off Your Big Ego

Too many authors try to promote themselves in ridiculous ways by writing on their websites how their book is a “must read” and contains the answer to all the reader’s problems. If you have to tell readers that, they aren’t going to believe you. Go find some legitimate testimonials from reliable people who will say those things about your book. You are not qualified to judge your own book because you have a vested interest in it.

The worst example of authors showing their egos that I’ve seen is when they post book reviews for themselves on Amazon and other online bookstores, and of course, they give their books five stars and brag about how great their books are. When I see an author give himself a five-star review, I realize the author is clueless about what is legitimate as a review; he hasn’t done his homework about the publishing industry, and he is trying to use trickery to sell his book. Not only will I not buy the book, but if there’s an option to vote on the review, I will always vote that it was not helpful.

Being In Your Face and Violating Personal Space

No one likes to have his or her personal space violated. However, not everyone has yet learned that the Internet also contains personal space for people. It’s one thing to have your book for sale on your website, at online bookstores, to promote it at websites for book promotion, or to buy Internet ads. It’s another thing to invade other online users’ personal space.

Here are some book marketing efforts I’ve experienced online that have been a total turn-off for me.

    1. Repetitive and Unwanted Emails. I’ve had this happen more times than I can count. Somehow an author finds my email address and adds it to his email list and I start hearing from him every couple of days about all his book events and why I should buy his book. Even if I want to be on the person’s email list, sending me an email every couple of days is irritating. An email once a month or even once a week isn’t that bad, but I have other things to do than read about your book events on the East Coast when I live in Texas, and I am not going to hop on a plane to attend your book signing, especially if I’ve already read your book and had it signed. And if you’ve added me to your email list without my permission, well, technically, that’s illegal.
    1. Sending Friend Requests at Social Media Sites Solely to Promote Your Book. If people are interested in your book, they will request to be your friend at a social media site. Instead of spam friend requests, take out a Facebook ad that will be targeted toward the people most likely to read your book. It might cost you a little more money, but it will save you time online and provide you with far better results.
    1. Posting Book Covers on Other People’s WallsMy “Wall” is not the place to promote your book. My friends are not posting on my Wall so they can find out about your book. Get off my Wall!
    1. Messaging. No one likes junk mail, so don’t send me a message about how great your book is and how I can buy it. I only want messages from my real friends.
  1. Chatting. This one I especially find irritating. One day I was on Facebook, and an author, whom I didn’t know and who had already sent me three messages trying to tell me how great his book was and to let me know I could get it on Kindle for just $2.99, sent me a chat message about his book. If I don’t reply to your message, I sure don’t want to chat with you. I politely ignored him and logged off Facebook rather than tell him to quit harassing me. I wasn’t going to engage in an argument with him. But let’s be clear-I’m on Facebook to chat with my real friends. Not to read your book.

Sadly, space violations don’t only happen online. I was once at a book festival where an author made a point of going up to people walking by her booth with a set of headphones and quickly placing them over her victims’ ears before they could object so they could listen to her audio book. When I saw what was going on, I quickly turned down the nearest aisle and avoided that side of the room for the rest of the time I was there. I’ve also stopped to look at books at festivals where authors have said things such as “Why don’t you buy this book?” and “What can I do to get you to buy my book?” You can let me be is what you can do. Tell me about the book if you like, give me a chance to read the back cover, and then I’ll buy or move on. I don’t need a pushy sales pitch.

Have you ever met an author who behaves in these ways? I sure have-too many times. Perhaps you are even one of those authors. Hopefully, now you know better. Let’s face it-guerrilla book promotion doesn’t work when you act like you have a gorilla’s manners. Connect with your readers, but do it on their terms, without being pushy or rude. Be friendly, be straightforward, but also be willing to take “No” for an answer. When you are polite, you always make a better impression on your potential readers.

Find the Perfect Book – How to Do It

Don’t you just hate to spend time reading books that you can’t really get in to. Selecting the next read can be both time consuming and the results are often not as one would have hoped. Reading a book is time consuming and you have to give the novel a change before putting it down. But what if by some sort of magic the next read could be picked out for you with a very high probability that the pick would be a massive hit.

What should I read next?
Your next book is only seconds away. By adding up to five of your favorites, a list of perfect novel can be created at your will. And they can be genre specific as well. This can be used as your personal guide or to pick out great books for book clubs.

How does it work?
By taking millions of book reviews and the users who have written them it is possible to find people who has the same taste in books as yourself. Imagine having 100 people that all agreed that your top five favorite books were awesome. No imagine picking out the books that these 100 people agreed also were awesome books. This would give you a list of books that were handpicked for you.

Book recommendations
You can read books in your favorite genre handpicked by users with the same taste as you. That’s a book recommendation that can be trusted.
With This Book Next all this has become a reality that the book community has been waiting for.

Here are the facts

  • Takes a few seconds to get a list
  • Easy to use
  • Free to use
  • Browse by year, genre, author or explore

Get started
By adding up to five books to your list of favorite books, your job is already done. That is all it takes to get a personalized list of books. You can add and remove books from your favorites as you wish to get new lists. Each choice you make will create a whole new list of recommended books. After your list is ready you can choose to only see books from a specific genre. The possibilities are endless. But you don’t have to spent much time on the website. You can be in a out in minutes with your next read picked out for you. After you are finished with the book you can return and pick out your next read.

Top 5 Short Stories and Fairy Tales for Kids

The short stories and fairy tales are beloved around the world. We all enjoyed listening to fairy tales narrated by our parents, grandparents and caretakers. These stories are very interesting and amusing that not only keep the kids entertained but also helps them to enhance their reading skills and speaking skills and build a strong vocabulary. Let’s peep into a magical world of short stories!

“Cinderella”, also popularly known as The Little Glass Slipper, is one of the most popular folk tales and bedtime stories around the world. It is a tale embodying an element of magical transformations. The story revolves around a young girl, whose misfortunes are suddenly changed to remarkable fortune. It is a short story about magical transformations, rude behavior of stepmother and stepsisters, helpful fairy godmother, royal ball and prince’s hunt for a lost glass slipper.

Little Red Riding Hood
“Little Red Riding Hood”, also known as “Little Red Ridinghood”, “Red Riding Hood”, and “Little Red Cap” is a best-known European fairy tale about a young girl and a Big Bad Wolf. The tale features a little girl and a wicked wolf. In a story, Red Riding Hood walk through the woods to reach her grandmother’s house and deliver her food as she is sick. But she tricked by a wicked wolf, who tries to eat her.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears
“Goldilocks and the Three Bears” is an old fairy tale, popular in English speaking world. The story tells of a Goldilocks, a young girl who enters the house of three bears whilst they are away. She walks all around, eat their porridge, sit on their chairs and falls asleep on the bed. When the bears are returns home and discover Goldilocks, she jumps from the window and runs as fast as she could.

The Ugly Duckling
“The Ugly Duckling” is a fairy tale, written by Hans Christian Andersen, a Danish poet and author. It is a story about a little bird born in a barnyard, who is ill-treated by the other birds around him. A bird is very upset and suffers abuse until he matures into a pretty swan.

The Little Mermaid
“The Little Mermaid” is a fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen. It was first published in the year 1837. The story tells about a young mermaid who is ready to give up her life and identity as a mermaid to gain a human soul.

New Book Puts Parents Back in Control With Confidence and Common Sense

Any parent, or even adults who spend time around children, will do well to read Barbara C. Murray’s new book Taking Back Parenting. In concise and thoughtful discussions, Barbara covers a wide range of topics that parents need to be concerned about with their children from how to teach and communicate with your children to creating a safe environment for them, how to maintain your relationship with your spouse, and even how to discuss difficult topics with your children such as sexuality and pornography.

From the first page of this book, I realized Barbara was a real parent. Yes, she has a degree and is a clinical social worker, but she is obviously a parent first, and almost every example in the book that she provides is based upon her own parenting experience. Other examples are based on her experiences with helping clients better parent their own children and what worked or didn’t work for them.

What I loved most about this book is that Barbara makes parents aware of certain issues they need to focus on with their children. She asks parents what they have actually taught their children and explains where there has been a communication breakdown. For example, she tells the story of two parents who came to her for help because they were having issues with their son mooning other children; she explained to them that telling their son not to do it would not solve the problem without explaining why not to do it; the parents needed to have a conversation with him about what mooning means, which parts of the body are private, and why such behavior is inappropriate. Much of Barbara’s research for this book was based in asking parents what they had taught their children, and when she asked them questions such as whether they’d had conversations with their children about values or religion, she mostly got blank stares. I think the strongest point she makes in this regard is about sexuality. She points out that it is not enough just to have “the talk” with your children; it’s necessary to introduce the topic of sexuality at a young age, even as early as infancy or toddler age by identifying parts of the body while bathing a child, and then expanding as children get older into discussions about the body, what to expect in puberty, and what to do when difficult situations arise such as being confronted with pornography.

Barbara is herself a member of the LDS church, which influences her beliefs and her suggestions for parents, but it never interferes with common sense or the main topics of discussion, so nonbelievers will benefit from this book’s practical advice and can skip over information they don’t find useful or may disagree with. Most of the information that has a spiritual tone is about the value of the family and the importance of maintaining strong family relationships. Along those lines, Barbara is an advocate for spouses spending quality time alone together to maintain their relationship, and also spending individual time with children. In the end, she provides a portrait of a healthy and happy spiritually aware family.

Besides the general discussions in the book, Barbara offers exercises at the end of each chapter to help parents put into effect what is learned. She gives lists of topics to discuss with children on family meeting nights where parents spend time teaching children on a wide range of topics, including how to write a letter, the importance of being punctual, eating healthy foods, fire safety, and banking. She challenges parents to think about what their own beliefs are on many topics so they can teach them to their children. She also provides a Parent’s Creed at the end of the book and a list of other books and websites as additional resources.

The bottom line is that this book offers very practical examples of how you can communicate better with your children. Yes, it will take a little time to implement them, but they will save you a great deal of trouble in later years. All parenting issues basically boil down to a failure in communication between parent and child. Barbara teaches how to open the lines of communication at an early age when children are receptive so when they are older, they will not stray into trouble. The reward of reading and implementing the advice in Taking Back Parenting will be a happy family. You just have to invest the time to reap the reward.

Book Clubs – What They Are and How to Start and Maintain a Book Club

A book club – or more precisely, a book discussion club – is a group of people meeting, in reality or on-line, to discuss a book they all have read. It can also be called a book or literature circle or reading group.

Just do it

It is easy to start one of your own, if you are not happy with the book choices of the book clubs in your area. It’s practically as easy as just deciding you will have one. You do not need to recruit members, buy books for everyone nor register your book club or anything alike. You will just ask your friends or put an announce on a free bulletin board in your area (don’t forget the library bulletin board), or create an online forum/group for your book club, and you are ready to go. Making the book club a good one, that is a totally different issue.

Decisions, decisions

Decide how the books are going to be chosen. Do you choose all the books, are you going to follow an existing list of books or an existing book club, is every member going to choose a book in turns, or are you going to have a common vote on books? Decide if you are going to let the group decide.

Decide the limits of books to be chosen.

It cannot be a rare copy or expensive, so that everyone has the chance to participate. If you decide to let the books go round, and someone wants everyone to read a rare or expensive book he/she owns, and is willing to borrow it to all, then a book like this can be chosen. Otherwise it is best to stay at recent (not very new) books with a pocket print available.Also, you need to set limits to the size of books. A good medium is 350 pages.

If you are going to let everyone choose a book on turn, you need to have a list and keep it well updated, so that everyone gets to choose a book. This is also the only time when the person who selects the book is going to present it too, otherwise you have to do it, unless you manage to enroll someone to volunteer for the job.

You present the book by explaining a little what it is about and why you chose it. It is always fun to know more about the author, what else she/he has written, what books are like this one (in your opinion) and some background information about the places and events taking place in the book. Collect this in a handout. Add pictures and suggested soundtrack or movies, list of main characters, maps and so on. Find the reading guide – or write one yourself – and distribute copies to the whole group.

Choose the first book, and make a list of 12 books all ready to the first meeting, so if you decide you choose all the books, the reading list is already ready. Otherwise, you need to start this list already in the first meeting, so that everyone will get the list to the second meeting. Naturally, it can be hard to choose books without time to think, so ask the choosers call you with their choice, so that you can prepare the list, and also prepare the presentation in advance, if the one choosing for some reason has not done that.

You can also ask people to recommend books out their turn, and write this on a book suggestion list, so that if someone cannot make up their mind of the book, he/she can choose a book from the list. Also, people might be interested in reading books outside the official, agreed book list.

Decide if you are all going to read the same book and then discuss it, or if you are going to have a book list and everyone may read the books on the list on their own time and preferences, or decide if you are going to let the group decide this too.

Decide when you will have the first meeting. Have a preliminary meeting timetable prepared. It is possible that this timetable will change at the first meeting, but you need to have one ready, just in case.

Have meetings as often as you like, but at least once a month. Most people without large problems will be able to read a book in a month, and if you are having a book club, you also need to set deadlines, so that the book club will not fall with your members not keeping up with one another.

Decide where you will have the first meeting and see that the space is available. You can have the meetings in restaurants or in your homes, or try to see if you can find a meeting room. Libraries usually have meeting rooms you can use. The group may want to change this too, to better fit their needs, but you have to make the decision for all the first time. It is a good idea to meet at home, so that a good night doesn’t need to end at closing time.

There must be an access to a toilet and a possibility for smokers to smoke. You can ask your guests to go out to smoke, but you have to know where smoking is allowed around your home.

If you meet in homes, see that everyone is informed about possible smoking, pets and house rules.

You need to decide how many members you want. The group should be about 5-10 people, and have something in common outside the book club. You can decide if you want a same sex group, only read science fiction and fantasy, and so on.

You need to discuss the possibility of the members bringing their friends too.

Have a contact list, where people write their names and telephone numbers, just in case. Give everyone your telephone number, so that they can reach you if need be.

You also need to have a way of finding out if everyone has got the book and that the majority has read the book. If people cannot get a hold of a book, or if most people have not read the book, it’s useless to have the meeting.

Prepare a small introduction of yourself. It should be short and precise: your name and why you want to be part of a book club. Include what kind of books you like to read, who’s your favorite author or book, what you are reading at the moment, what do you plan to read in the future and what do you expect of the book club – good books you would not read without the club, good food, if you plan to have the meetings in restaurants, company of nice people who love books and reading like you do, interesting and active discussions about the books and thoughts the books awakened… Whatever it is you expect. Also, tell the others what you expect of them. The minimum requirement is that they are interested, plan on reading at least most of the books and come prepared to participate in discussions. Also, say what you think about using cell phones during the meeting.

Ask your members these things too, and make notes, especially about the books on their reading list and their expectations. Adjust the book club to this.

Provide name tags for the first meeting, and to be used at every meeting until everyone knows one another.

The first meeting will be for learning to know one another, so it is not for book discussion, but discussing the last book everyone read might be a good way of learning to know everyone.

Decide how you want the meetings to go.

Let people socialize at the first for a while, but start the meeting by giving a short presentation of the book, and then let everyone give a short opinion on what they thought about the book, then let the speech be free. This way everyone gets to say something, but no-one needs to discuss, if they do not feel like it. Have the meeting in a circle where everyone sees everyone else, and cannot hide or be forgotten.

If people stop talking about the book, let them, but just for a while. Lead the discussion back to the book. You might need to be ruthless with this rule, but be nice about it. It’s okay to interrupt someone with “excuse me, but I have difficulties in keeping up with this… how is this connected to the book?” or “I’ sorry to interrupt you, but could you concise your story a little?”

Have a list of questions about the book prepared – there are several online book clubs with question lists prepared for different books, if you cannot find one for your book, create one. You do not need to use the questions, but they are good if the discussion dries out.

You can also use “book club icebreakers” and “book club games”. There are some available on-line.

After a while you can insert the presentation of the next book and general book club talk, then let the people just talk about whatever they want to.

Food and drink are an important part of every social meeting. You can meet in a restaurant and have the discussion as part of the dinner. It is even better to have a potluck dinner at home, so that the expenses of the food are shared, the poor aren’t left without food, and the cheap cannot get the atmosphere down. Pick food that fits the themes in the book.

Also, for the atmosphere and to get discussion going, try to play with the themes in other ways too. Use pictures and music, dress yourself appropriately and so on.

As with all social gatherings, there will be problems with personal issues and clashing personalities. In most book clubs there is bound to be at least one person who will not be nice about how others feel or think or express their opinions. There will be people who are not pleased with the book choices, even if you allow every member to choose a book, or if the books are chosen by common vote. This is nothing to be worried about, because people are different and react and act on their own manner. You cannot please everyone all the time, so do not even try. When something like this happens, tell the people that they may contact you privately about any complaint they have, that you will listen to them and take them seriously, and then move on in the discussion. Whatever you do, do not discipline the members in public.

Have a block of paper and some extra pens with you to the first meeting, so that people can write down the times, places and books, if they come unprepared.

Do not forget to enjoy the book club meetings and have fun yourself.