Monday, March 30, 2015

Facing the Blitz

I received a copy of FACING THE BLITZ: THREE STRATEGIES FOR TURNING TIRALS INTO TRIUMPHS by Jeff Kemp, with a foreword by Tony Dungy, from Bethany House.  I must admit first that I am not big into sports.  I am not athletic, but I do enjoy exercise.  I like to play sports for the fun of it, not competitively, and I don’t like to watch them because I’m not playing.  For anyone else out there like me – you will still enjoy this book.  If you are like me, you will probably really enjoy this book. 

The sentences are beautiful, with a certain poetry to them.  I didn’t find a single place that was dry or dragged.  The main focus of the book is more on life lessons than on sports.  Many of the life lessons were poignant and more relevant than in other self-help books I’ve read. 

Yes, there was some football lingo, and I ended up discussing that with one of my friends who, to put it lightly, is very into football.  She said she’s going to read this book, so I’m glad to have had spread the word on it.  I recommend this for people who enjoy a self-help book with strong religious values and a realistic basis.  

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Boy who Loved Rain

I received a copy of THE BOY WHO LOVED RAIN by Gerard Kelly from Lion Hudson via Kregel.  I knew right away from the back blurb that I would enjoy this and the book did not disappoint.  Not only is the cover intriguing, but the first sentence (in the prologue) will blow you away: When I was thirteen I lost myself.  Yes, why did you lose yourself?  What was so important about thirteen?  What are you doing now?  I couldn’t stop reading. 

This is not a sweet, fluffy book, so be prepared for emotion.  In a nutshell, this is a book about secrets and how those secrets affect a family.  I loved the part that the rain played in the novel. 

I really felt for Colom, one of the main characters in the book.  A story has to grab me with its realistic qualities, and Colom did it for me.  I wanted to dive into the book just to be at his side.

I highly recommend it to people who like poignant stories with a strong Christian feel.  I haven’t read many books like this one, and perhaps that’s why it stuck out to me so strongly and has embedded itself into my memory bank.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Pleasure of His Company

I received a copy of THE PLEASURE OF HIS COMPANY: A JOURNEY TO INTIMATE FRIENDSHIP WITH GOD by Dutch Sheets from Bethany House.  This is a pleasant, inspiring read that includes thirty chapters.  I found myself enjoying each chapter, and upon completion of the chapter, I would set the book aside to contemplate what I had read.  The chapters also sparked familial conversations. 

Dutch Sheets uses thoughtful prose and real life examples, which make the book more personal.  I prefer when the authors of inspirational texts draw in the reader through personal experiences.  Not only do I feel a greater connection to the author, but also to the text, and it helps me to revel in what I read. 

The humor helped to make the chapters fly by.  I can see this being used in a Church group or Sunday School for older teens.  The chapters all encourage the reader to be uplifted.  I can see this helping someone suffering from depression or anxiety.  The chapters are truly comforting, quite soothing.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves God or seeks a more fulfilling relationship with religion.  I will be passing this on to a friend in hopes that they will enjoy it just as much.  

Monday, March 9, 2015

Mercy's Rain

I received a copy of MERCY’S RAIN: AN APPALACHIAN NOVEL by Cindy K. Sproles from Kregel Publications.  I have heard many books called unforgettable, and MERCY’S RAIN definitely falls into the category. 

I was intrigued by the book because it takes place in nineteenth-century Appalachia, and I adore historical fiction.  This is so much more than that I would often grip the pages, breathless, as I sought to see what would happen next.  It is heart wrenching and utterly believable.  Mercy Rain suffers tremendously beneath her father’s wrath, and when no one will stand beside her, she decides that she must be her own advocate.  This is a powerful novel showing the good in life and a woman’s fight for herself.  The pages place right you there with the characters.  I felt not only for Mercy, but also for who mother, who is equally abused. 

While reading, I wondered if this would be a good book for someone from an abusive relationship.  There would be a lot of triggers, but it shows Mercy’s venture out of evil and that is truly amazing.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is looking for a novel that will make them feel, cry, and cheer.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Cover Reveal - Tips & Tricks

A cover reveal is a great way to spark interest in your upcoming book.  Before the release of ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW, I had hosted a few on my blog (and I still host them).  It seems that everyone does them differently and I have yet to hear of one not being successful.  These are my tips and tricks; feel free to let me know about your experiences, and what has worked or not worked for you.

For newbie authors or bloggers, a cover reveal is where the author shares the cover of the upcoming book on social media.  It sparks interest in the book, and if the text has the option for preorder, people can buy it early.

If you have any tips or tricks of your own, let me know!
1. Choose a day for the cover reveal.  Don’t post the image before that date, but build up to it.  “Can’t wait for the second book in the TREASURE CHRONICLES?  View the awesome cover on August 22!”  I have planned my cover reveals for six weeks prior to the release to start the excitement, but I know some authors wait until the week before.  If your book is available for preorder two weeks prior to the release, that would be a great date to use for the cover reveal.

2. Have your book on GoodReads.  Even if people can’t preorder your book yet, they can mark it as “to read.” 

3. Contact bloggers.  Many bloggers will host cover reveals.  A great way to find a willing blogger is to browse different book blogs and contact the owners if you see they have hosted something similar.  You could also reach out to authors for a list of recommended bloggers.

4. Create a cover reveal blog post.  Share this blog post with the willing bloggers – AFTER they have agreed.  Never email them the material without asking first.  The blog post should:
    a. Be one document.  Many authors make this document in HTML (you can do this through various websites) or stick with Word.  The blogger should copy and paste exactly what you have.  Sometimes, depending on the blog’s format, the blogger may take some liberties while still staying true to your words.
    b. Explain the synopsis.  Tell the readers what the book is about.
    c. Include the cover image.  Duh.  That’s the point of the cover reveal!
    d. Give a catchy tidbit.  You want the blog post to stand out.  In the past, I’ve included one of the following:
              i. Author Interview
              ii. Book exceprt
              iii. Character quiz
              iv. Interview with a character
              v. Personal story relating to the novel.
     e. Give a short bio about you.  Include a picture.  List any other publications you have.  If you’ve written other books, include hyperlinks to a purchase site.
     f. Offer a contest.  I use Rafflecopter to manage all of my contests.  You can offer a copy of your book for when it comes out (this might backfire, as then readers will wait to see if they win and they won’t preorder/purchase), jewelry, book swag, or one of your previous books.  That option works great if you’re doing a cover reveal for a series.  I let my contests run for 30 days, allowing people plenty of time to enter.  

Monday, March 2, 2015

Facebook Release Party - Tips and Tricks

I admit it wholeheartedly. When I always dreamed of being an author, I imagined writing the book, having a publisher accept it, and then people clamoring to buy it. Okay, so my dream is partly true. There are just a few added factors, one of them being the marketing aspect. There are so many books out there. You have to slap your book in front of consumers before they know they want to clamor to read it.

A great tool for that is a Facebook Release Party. I hadn’t known about these until I received invites from other authors at my publishing house. A Facebook Release Party involves the author creating an invite on Facebook for a certain day. People join in the event online where they get to learn about the book. The host of this Release Party wants to make it as exciting as possible. Now, I’ve been to a lot and I’ve hosted two (as well as co-hosted a third), but I am by no means an expert. If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave them here in the Comments section. These are just the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.

1. You can pay someone to host it for you! I received an offer from one “host” and a fellow author recommended another “host.” Ultimately, I did it myself because both “hosts” cost money I didn’t have. They weren’t too pricey (around $50) and I’m sure they both do great work (I’ve been to a few awesome Release Parties hosted by one of them), but with all the other book expenses, I couldn’t manage it.

2. Set the date for at least a week out. My first Release Party happened on Release Day. It was fun, but people couldn’t buy my book. It hadn’t shown up in the systems yet, think Amazon and Barnes & Noble. My second Release Party occurred a week after when the ebook and paperback were available. People bought them during the party while it was fresh in their mind. Woohoo!

3. Create the event at least a month in advance. You want to give people time to see the invite and accept it. You also want to be considerate of schedules. Everyone is busy, so the sooner he or she can make plans to attend, the smoother it is.

4. Include an Invite Contest. As soon as you create the event, “pin” a post stating that you want people to leave the name of whoever invited them. The winner will receive a prize (I gave away a paperback copy of my book). Over 2,000 people joined my latest release party thanks to this feature. Participants were inviting their friends like crazy so they could win. I made great connections from getting to know so many strangers.

5. Create a catchy event picture. My publisher made the image for mine, as Photoshop is not my forte, but you could play around with different layouts or just use the cover of your book.

6. Include book contests. People love the chance to win a prize, and as this is a book Release Party, give away books. They can be copies of your own book, but that could backfire – people might wait to win it and not buy it – so ask your author friends if they would like to donate a copy. For my Release Parties, my author friends donated ebooks. This is a great way to spark interest in your event and award the gifter with a fresh reader. For the contest wording, I will say something along the lines of, “Win a copy of XYZ by Awesome Author. Just leave a comment about…” Then I will pick a topic based on the genre of my book. For my steampunk novel, I did: “Leave a comment with a picture of your favorite steampunk-inspired corset.” Sometimes the author will want to pick the winner from the list of commenters and other times I have used a “random pick” online tool to choose.

7. Include contests. While it is great to give away books, you could also give away bookmarks, jewelry, magnets, keychains… Try to keep the items related to your book. For example, I gave away a keychains shaped like my book for my first release party.

8. Choose winners the following day. During my first Release Party, I chose winners at the end. For the second one, I waited until the following day. I noticed that people kept commenting and continuing discussions up until the winner was announced, so by drawing it out, it gave more people time to enter and kept them active.

9. Include games. Keep your games geared toward the genre of your book. Games can include:
a. Picture. Post random pictures related to your genre to get the readers excited about fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, etc.
b. Caption. Post a picture and ask participants to leave their idea of an appropriate caption.
c. Recipe. Ask participants to post their favorite recipes. If, for example, your book is about Halloween, they could post Halloween-related recipes.
d. Crafts. Ask participants to post crafts related to your genre.

10. Invite guest authors to talk. Participants will get to learn more about their books – and authors love talking about their books – while being active on your Release Party. You can assign the guest authors a slot, such as 8-8:30pm, and they can advertise that on social media. “Come chat with me during the XYZ Release Party.” Their fans will join your event and discover your book, something they might not have found out about otherwise.

11. Share links to your accounts. A website, Twitter, author page, GoodReads…whatever it is, share the link to it to garner more followers.

12. Share cute writing experiences. Perhaps you wrote your book entirely on the train. Maybe you gained inspiration from your grandfather’s childhood. Share the cute stories so that participants will feel closer to you and the book.

I have heard that some people host Release Parties with fellow authors if release dates are similar. This helps to boost the amount of participants and makes it easier on the host – you aren’t posting something continuously, so you have more time to chat. I have also heard that authors host “1 Year Anniversary” parties or “New Cover” parties in similar formats to what I’ve described above. These seem like great ways to spread the word about your book while making connections with readers. If people have already read the book, they might jump in to support you or to ask you specific questions.

Good luck – and make sure to invite me to yours!


Sunday, March 1, 2015


I received a copy of EASTER STORIES: CLASSIC TALES FOR THE HOLY SEASON from Plough in exchange for an honest review.  This is a collection of short stories, with authors such as C. S. Lewis and Leo Tolstoy, dedicated to the Easter season.  I was thrilled to receive it in the mail, for I love anthologies and some of these authors are my favorites.  This also introduced me to a few authors I hadn’t been familiar with.

This is an anthology appropriate for the entire family, so it makes excellent read-aloud material.  The stories are also great for self-reflection or relaxation, so they can be read alone.  I’m passing this on to my mother now that I’m done.

These are definitely quick reads.  I got through it in a weekend.  The stories aren’t focused on the Easter bunny.  They get down to the true meaning of Easter.  It is perfect for this time of the year.  I highly recommend it!