"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Happy New Year!

Wishing you all a safe and Happy New Year. Thank you so much for visiting and supporting my blog. I look forward to visiting with you all again in 2013!

What projects are you working to complete?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I hope you have the chance to spend time with family and friends, and that you remember to celebrate the birth of our Lord. I pray you are able to enjoy all the traditions that make this time of year so wonderful.

Thank you all for visiting and supporting my blog. I wish you a truly blessed Holiday Season.

Friday, December 21, 2012

James Scott Bell - Free and $1.99

Are you using your holiday break to catch up on some writing or editing? Have you heard of James Scott Bell?

Whether you are a huge fan of Bell’s books, or are at the point where you are writing a novel, take some time out of your day to learn more about revising your novel from one of the bestselling authors today.

This FREE  Writer's Digest video will give you 72 minutes of Bell explaining the important components of a novel along with revision techniques and advice.

Also, for a limited time his book CONFLICT & SUSPENSE is only $1.99 as an ebook from Kindle.

Are you a fan of Bell's fiction or teaching techniques? Who has taught you the most valuable writing lessons?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Best Books of 2012

Every December companies release a list of their bestsellers for that year. Here are seven I missed, but am adding to my “to be read” list. At the bottom is a link to Barnes&Nobles 100 top sellers for 2012.

 Pulitzer Prize-winner Junot Díaz’s first book, Drown, established him as a major new writer with “the dispassionate eye of a journalist and the tongue of a poet” (Newsweek). Now Díaz turns his remarkable talent to the haunting, impossible power of love – obsessive love, illicit love, fading love, maternal love. On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover’s washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness—and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses: artistic Alma; the aging Miss Lora; Magdalena, who thinks all Dominican men are cheaters; and the love of his life, whose heartbreak ultimately becomes his own. This Is How You Lose Her lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable weakness of the human heart. They remind us that passion always triumphs over experience, and that “the half-life of love is forever.”

 “What are you reading?” That’s the question Will Schwalbe asks his mother, Mary Anne, as they sit in the waiting room of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. In 2007, Mary Anne is diagnosed with a form of advanced pancreatic cancer, which is almost always fatal, often in six months or less. This is the inspiring true story of a son and his mother, who start a “book club” that brings them together as her life comes to a close. Over the next two years, Will and Mary Anne carry on conversations that are both wide-ranging and deeply personal, prompted by an eclectic array of books and a shared passion for reading. Their list jumps from classic to popular, from poetry to mysteries, from fantastic to spiritual. The issues they discuss include questions of faith and courage as well as everyday topics such as expressing gratitude and learning to listen. Throughout, they are constantly reminded of the power of books to comfort us, astonish us, teach us, and tell us what we need to do with our lives and in the world. Reading isn’t the opposite of doing; it’s the opposite of dying. Will and Mary Anne share their hopes and concerns with each other—and rediscover their lives—through their favorite books. When they read, they aren’t a sick person and a well person, but a mother and a son taking a journey together. The result is a profoundly moving tale of loss that is also a joyful, and often humorous, celebration of life: Will’s love letter to his mother, and theirs to the printed page. 

In this magnificent biography, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of American Lion and Franklin and Winston brings vividly to life an extraordinary man and his remarkable times. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power gives us Jefferson the politician and president, a great and complex human being forever engaged in the wars of his era. Philosophers think; politicians maneuver. Jefferson’s genius was that he was both and could do both, often simultaneously. Such is the art of power. Thomas Jefferson hated confrontation, and yet his understanding of power and of human nature enabled him to move men and to marshal ideas, to learn from his mistakes, and to prevail. Passionate about many things—women, his family, books, science, architecture, gardens, friends, Monticello, and Paris—Jefferson loved America most, and he strove over and over again, despite fierce opposition, to realize his vision: the creation, survival, and success of popular government in America. Jon Meacham lets us see Jefferson’s world as Jefferson himself saw it, and to appreciate how Jefferson found the means to endure and win in the face of rife partisan division, economic uncertainty, and external threat. Drawing on archives in the United States, England, and France, as well as unpublished Jefferson presidential papers, Meacham presents Jefferson as the most successful political leader of the early republic, and perhaps in all of American history.

 The mystery of the body in motion. The surprise of seeing what seems impossible. And the pure, joyful optimism of it all. Dancers Among Us presents one thrilling photograph after another of dancers leaping, spinning, lifting, kicking—but in the midst of daily life: on the beach, at a construction site, in a library, a restaurant, a park. With each image the reader feels buoyed up, eager to see the next bit of magic. Photographer Jordan Matter started his Dancers Among Us Project by asking a member of the Paul Taylor Dance Company to dance for him in a place where dance is unexpected. So, dressed in a commuter’s suit and tie, the dancer flew across a Times Square subway platform. And in that image Matter found what he’d been searching for: a way to express the feeling of being fully alive in the moment, unself-conscious, present. Organized around themes of work, play, love, exploration, dreaming, and more, Dancers Among Us celebrates life in a way that’s fresh, surprising, original, universal. There’s no photoshopping here, no trampolines, no gimmicks, no tricks. Just a photographer, his vision, and the serendipity of what happens when the shutter clicks.

 The exuberant, exhilarating photographs of dogs underwater that have become a sensation. From the water's surface, it's a simple exercise: a dog's leap, a splash, and then a wet head surfacing with a ball, triumphant. But beneath the water is a chaotic ballet of bared teeth and bubbles, paddling paws, fur and ears billowing in the currents. From leaping lab to diving dachshund, the water is where a dog's distinct personality shines through; some lounge in the current, paddling slowly, but others arch their bodies to cut through the water with the focus and determination of a shark. In more than eighty portraits by award-winning pet photographer and animal rights activist Seth Casteel capture new sides of our old friends with vibrant underwater photography that makes it impossible to look away. Each image bubbles with exuberance and life, a striking reminder that even in the most loveable and domesticated dog, there are more primal forces at work. In Underwater Dogs, Seth Casteel gives playful and energetic testament to the rough-and-tumble joy that our dogs bring into our lives.

The book that inspired the Academy Award–winning short film, from New York Times bestselling author and beloved visionary William Joyce. Morris Lessmore loved words. He loved stories. He loved books. But every story has its upsets. Everything in Morris Lessmore’s life, including his own story, is scattered to the winds. But the power of story will save the day. Stunningly brought to life by William Joyce, one of the preeminent creators in children’s literature, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a modern masterpiece, showing that in today’s world of traditional books, eBooks, and apps, it’s story that we truly celebrate—and this story, no matter how you tell it, begs to be read again and again.

It was just another after-work happy hour at a bar downtown—until the madness descended. And after twelve minutes of chaos and violence, more than eighty people lay dead. Lieutenant Eve Dallas is trying to sort out the inexplicable events. Surviving witnesses talk about seeing things—monsters and swarms of bees. They describe sudden, overwhelming feelings of fear and rage and paranoia. When forensics makes its report, the mass delusions make more sense: it appears the bar patrons were exposed to a cocktail of chemicals and illegal drugs that could drive anyone into temporary insanity—if not kill them outright. But that doesn’t explain who would unleash such horror—or why. Eve’s husband, Roarke, happens to own the bar, but he’s convinced the attack wasn’t directed at him. It’s bigger than that. And if Eve can’t figure it out fast, it could happen again, anytime, anywhere. Because it’s airborne…

For a list of the top 100 Bestsellers of 2012 click here.  
What were your favorite reads this year?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Free Books for Christmas!

Some families make paper chains to count down the days to Christmas. This year I decided to buy 24 books for my girls to open. My oldest is in kindergarten and reading every day. She's even teaching her three year-old sister to read. Each day (starting December 1) they alternate who gets to open a book that we can all read together. It's been so much fun and I know they will remember the experience.

Since I can't buy books for all of you, I thought I would share this link to 25 free ebooks for Christmas: http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/25-free-ebooks-for-christmas_b62275  and here are some more freebies and a charity event with cool games and prizes to win: Go here for details.

I hope you enjoy this variety of fun reads. Merry Christmas everyone!

What holiday traditions or books mean the most to you?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

2012 Social Media Expert Costs

A few months ago a web design company contacted me. They noticed more and more of their clients were wanting someone to manage their social media (blogs, twitter, facebook, pinterest, etc.) as well as their web pages. This company wanted to hire me to manage the various social media and wanted quotes from me on what I would charge.

I had no idea what to charge. I had never charged someone for social media aid. So, I began researching, and I found out that many companies as well as individuals are hiring "Social Media Experts". I also noticed fees varied based on the amount of detail the company or individual wanted. (Number of times a day you posted, length of post, graphics provided, design or research involved, etc.)

I did not take the job, but I thought you might be interested in what others were charging. If you have ever thought about hiring someone else to manage your social media or if you think you might want to provide those services for others, I have provided a list of estimates below.

I would strongly recommend clients sign a three month contract if they are new to social media. It usually takes this long to notice if the social advertising is making an impact.

Blog  - Custom design and template creation.            $1,000 - to match web and other media accounts including graphics, photos, etc.
- Writing/Editing content for the blog, managing comments and posting 1-2 articles a week written by client, plus ongoing help.                         $1,000 a month
- Ghostwriting blog posts                                  .25 cents a word

Twitter – Account Setup                          $500 - designed to match other accounts
- Ongoing account management + 30 Tweets a month      $250 (add $250 for every 30 tweets added)

Facebook – Initial Page Setup                 $500 - designed to match other accounts
- Monthly content management + 30 posts   $250 (add $250 for every 30 posts added)

Pinterest – Account Setup                                         $500  
- Monthly management +30 pins        $250 (add $250 for every 30 pins added)

 -          The design and setup would include the company logos, colors etc. and match the overall feel of the web page you design for them.
 -          Account/content management includes the time it takes to add/delete followers, reply to comments/photos posted to the account etc.
-          If a client wants to buy a bundle plan, offer a discount.
Account setup of 3 social media (like twitter, facebook)                     $1,250
90 posts, tweets, pins to be divided between the three accounts per month.        $600
Account setup of 5 social media (adding LinkedIn and Google+)               $2,200
180 posts, tweets, pins to be divided between the five accounts per month.        $1,200

Social Media Training/Consulting – This is for clients who want to take over the responsibility of their own social media or who already have the media in place and want help to overhaul/revamp their approach.                           $100 (an hour and excludes travel costs).

Social Media Workshop – Strictly teaching them how to do EVERY step of setup, maintenance etc. This would be an on-site workshop and fee excludes travel costs.
HALF-DAY (Up to 4 Hours)                                     $2,000
FULL-DAY (6 to 8 Hours)                                        $4,000

NOTE: These rates include the time the teacher takes to prepare/tailor the workshop for the client’s individual needs as well as materials needed to provide them (which may be 20 to 30 hours of work leading up to the workshop day). This is why the cost is higher than the hourly rate listed in SOCIAL MEDIA TRAINING/CONSULTING.      

What are your thoughts about these charges and "Social Media Experts"?

Friday, December 7, 2012

What to Buy the Writer in Your Life

Several readers and friends have asked my advice on what to buy a writer. Here are some possibilities any writer would be happy to find on Christmas morning (or any other day of the year).
1) Books about other writers - Get the writers you know a book that's actually about what a writer's life is like.
2) Magazine subscriptions - Most writers love to read but don't actually get a lot of time to sit down and do non-research reading. Magazines are great because they let the writer read things that aren't for work but they offer the reading in bite-sized chunks. Figure out which topics interest the writers you know and order a subscription.
3) Subscription to stock image sites - If you know someone that does online writing or self publishing, he/she probably spends away too much time searching for images that aren't copyrighted to use on posts. Give her a subscription to a stock image site like Jupiter Images or Photos.com and make work life easier than ever.
4) Coffee or Chocolate - Okay, okay, so it's a stereotype to say that all writers drink coffee or eat chocolate. But it's a stereotype for a reason. If you're fairly certain that your writer friend has a minor addiction to one of these vices, be nice and help her indulge it. If a coffee maker is too much of an investment, get her a few bags of coffee beans or a gift card to her local coffee shop. Chocolate bars can be an fairly inexpensive gift.
5) Laptop accessories - Most writers work from a laptop at least now and then. There are all kinds of things that you can get to make the laptop a little nicer. Laptop skins decorate the outside of the laptop. Laptop stands help make writing on a laptop more ergonomic and comfortable. A new laptop bag can protect the item while also giving the writer a better option than the backpack for carrying work around.
6) Massage - Writers sit at desks all day long and type their little hearts out. It's satisfying work but it can be killer on the back, neck and shoulders. Make a writer happy and relaxed with a gift certificate for an hour long massage.
7) Basket of office goodies - Hit the local office store and pick up a bunch of little things. Paper clips and binder clips, pens, folder and files, post-it notes and any other little things that catch your eye can all be compiled together into a basket of goodies that any writer can appreciate. Add in some printer ink if you know what type of printer your writer uses.
8) Fun software - There are different types of software for all different kinds of writing. There is database software for organizing book proposal submissions, design software for decorating writing with images and creativity software with writing prompts. Find something that suits the writer you know and wrap it with a bow.
9)  Fun items - One of my favorites is the Writer's Clock (pictured above), available from Linda Rohrbough. For more examples, check out my post from last year.
The best gift that you can give the writers in your life is the gift of reading their work, spreading the word and taking their writing seriously. Merry Christmas everyone!
What gift would you most like to receive? What have been some of your favorite gifts in the past?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Throwing a Book Launch Party (Part I)

Self promotion, platform, social media… these are all terms we hear frequently, but what about the good old book launch? The truth is a book launch can still be a highly effective way to promote yourself and your book – if planned properly.
However, if you are self-published you are at a disadvantage as most chains (Books-A-Million, Barnes&Nobles etc.) won’t carry you. The chains can get their money back on any unsold merchandise from a publishing house, but not from print-on-demand or even some small presses. Subsequently, they won’t order those books and you have to rely solely on the “mom and pop” shops to carry your merchandise.
So, why should you plan a book launch party?
This post is Part I of a series. Please feel free to share your own experiences, comments and questions about book launches.