Thursday, October 29, 2009
I am a huge fan of Christmas movies and books. If you have a book or movie that has a Christmas them and will release during this holiday season, please hit me up on Facebook at My Office(it's a toolbox on my page)
I want to put a list together for Amazon, Chitika, Shopping.com, BlogHer and MommyBloggerClub and here. So hit me up.
Also I am still taking short story or chapter excerpts for the Christmas Carnival at Christian Fiction Online Magazine. We have some great stories. Authors who submitted I will be contacting you today.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
For the past nine years my daughter, Selah and I have lived a peaceful life abiding by our Halloween treaty until now. This year we both find ourselves at an impasse, and neither party wants to concede or compromise. But I’m the Queen Bee of Kingdom Stewart, so by default what I say goes. Yet, as a parent I find myself mulling over the situation. I want Selah to understand why Halloween—rather the unHalloweening-- matter to the Kingdom and to her. I want us both to win, so I sit here today the crossroads of rewriting a new treaty and with good reason.
I was brought up not to celebrate anything related to Darkness except my tin Kiss lunch box I had in third grade. So Halloween was not spoken of in our house until a few days before and usually came down more as a Don’t even Think about Trick or Treating Edict from my mother, grandmothers, and the church motherboard.
In fact, one of the mothers often said, “Trick-or-treating ain’t nothing but the devil. People dressing their children like witches. If they really knew what a witch looked like, they’d be hard pressed to celebrate it.”
The Transformation(David C. Cook (2009))
Early Spring, Present Day
Oliver checked his watch. He squinted and positioned his wrist nearer to the glow of the truck’s speedometer.
5:45 a.m. Too early.
Oliver knew it was much too early to be wandering around in a strange neighborhood, but heavy Pittsburgh traffic—even the threat of heavy traffic—gave him the willies. Leaving his home later in the morning meant heavy traffic, probably normal for everyone, but not normal for Oliver. Navigating his pickup through dense packs of automobiles was far removed from Oliver’s comfort zone.
He might risk the drive into Pittsburgh from Jeannette for a funeral or a wedding, or maybe a Steelers’ football game (if someone gave him free tickets), but not much else. Why risk life, limb, and sanity?
So today, Oliver had attempted to beat the traffic and the stress. He had gotten up at 4:30, not that much earlier than his normal get-up time, had picked up a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee at the store a mile from his house, and had driven in the shimmery dark down Route 30. Traffic was light as he entered the flickering fluorescent-lit Squirrel Hill tunnel. Then, following his GPS, which he’d begun to rely on but did not always trust, he’d crept along a baffling series of residential streets until he arrived at his destination. The voice from the GPS unit seemed more chipper than he remembered in announcing his successful journey.
“Destination ahead. You have reached your destination.”
He pulled to the curb, scanning for street signs.
Cities have all sorts of laws about where you can and can’t park and when, he remembered. And I’m not about to get a ticket just giving someone a free estimate.
He looked about again, turning sideways in the seat.
I can’t just sit in the truck. That might look like I’m—what do they call it?—casing the place. I am, sort of—but not in that way.
He got out of the truck, jogged down the block, back to the front of his truck, then halfway up the block.
“No signs,” he said softly. “That’s odd. Should be some sort of parking sign.”
Oliver really disliked getting traffic tickets. He had received one speeding ticket in the last decade, but his parking violations occurred more frequently. Contractors sometimes had to double-park or park on sidewalks. He hated seeing a fluttering yellow slip, lying in wait with a bad day written all over it, snuggled under his windshield wiper.
“It must be okay to park here then,” he said out loud.
He walked slowly back towards his truck, tapped at the passenger side window, and nearly pressed his face to the glass.
“Come on, Robert. Let’s get started on the estimate.”
Robert lifted his head and shook himself awake, blinking. He had slept the entire trip. Not that the trip was that long, but he most often napped during any ride longer than ten minutes. He scrambled to his feet and stretched slowly and carefully.
Robert was Oliver’s dog. Most often Oliver and a fair number of his friends and coworkers would say “Robert the Dog” when speaking about Robert the Dog, as opposed to just “Robert,” because there were several other Roberts inhabiting Oliver’s circle of friends. No one wanted to confuse man and dog—least of all, Oliver. Oliver actually liked the sound of that three-word name and began to use “Robert the Dog” almost exclusively, except when they were alone, like this morning.
Robert the Dog clambered down from the seat to the floor of the truck and jumped out to the curb, sniffing the air, the grass, the truck, and finally, Oliver’s shoe. He might have been a pure-bred schnauzer but was the size of at least one and a half miniature schnauzers combined, though not as large as the giant variety, and his hair was mostly black. His head was almost the right schnauzer shape—not perfect to the breed, but close—so Oliver assumed a very small amount of some sort of nonschnauzer lineage had found its way into the good dog Robert.
Ever since Oliver had rescued Robert from the pound as a puppy, the two had gone everywhere and done everything together, including evaluating a new project . . . a possible new project. In construction, Oliver found, nothing was certain until the contract was signed—and even then, things could happen.
Oliver did not have to worry about Robert the Dog taking off, running into traffic, or barking at the wrong time. Robert had never done any of those things and, more than likely, would not start demonstrating inappropriate behaviors this early on a still sunless Monday in Shadyside, just on the outskirts of Pittsburgh.
Oliver looked at the address again. He had listened to the phone message carefully three times to get the return phone number, the exact name of the potential client, and the address of the potential job correct. Now he stood on South Aiken Street and looked east.
“But this is a church,” he said to Robert the Dog.
Robert simply stared at the building, sniffing the cool morning air, as if he were not really interested
“I mean . . . it’s a real church. I knew it was going to be a church, but not this kind of church.”
When Samantha Cohen had left her message five days ago, she had said her new acquisition, her latest renovation project, was a church building. She planned on transforming it, doing “wonderful things” with it. Oliver had imagined a small frame building, a church-like building that might be easily changed into a gallery or antique shop—but not a heavy, old historic church-to-the-very-rafters sort of building.
This is a real church—and will always look like a real church.
“Can you meet me Monday morning?” Miss Cohen had said, her voice deep and raspy, in a memorable, alluring, black-and-white Lauren-Bacall-movie sort of way. “I really need to talk this project through. Alice and Frank Adams, my friends in Butler, just raved about your work. Said you were brilliant with their displays and cabinets and all types of furnishings. I need brilliant. I’m willing to pay for brilliant. So Monday. Early. If you can make it. Leave me a return message. I’ll get it, even if I don’t call you back. I’m a little OC when it comes to checking messages.”
Oliver had left a return message: “Early Monday. Sevenish? I might be there before seven just to look around the outside, if that’s okay with you. I get up early.”
What he was now staring at in the early light, and what Robert was sniffing, was an historically significant church. No one could lay eyes on this building, even in the dark on a foggy night, and see anything other than a rock-solid church. This was a church with a capital C. It had massive stone arches; huge stained-glass windows that traversed the sides of the church; a rotunda that certainly must hold the altar. There was a covered entranceway (the port cochere, Oliver knew it was called) done in huge stone blocks and a high tower with a cross and carillon.
Just standing there, thinking about remodeling the old structure into something other than a place of worship, gave Oliver a case of spiritual heebie-jeebies. “This is a church,” he repeated again.
He stood, wrapped in that early morning silence that occurs even in big cities, like the soft, fragile, and short-in-duration crease in the day between the dark and its dark noises and the early morning let’s-get-the-commute-going sort of noises. Oliver wondered if he should just get back in his truck, pretend that he had never made the mistake of answering the phone message from Samantha Cohen, and move on to the next job.
I’ll be tearing apart a church. God’s house, where people have worshipped for what must be over a century.
He wanted to sigh, but did not.
My mother will die if she finds out.
Oliver wondered, for just one split of a split second, if he could keep this job secret. Not that he liked keeping secrets from his mother, but sometimes parents could not be trusted to handle sensitive news.
Or I could walk away and wait for the next job. That actually might be easier . . . safer . . . less stressful.
Except he did not have a next job. He could wait, wait for the next big nonchurch job, but there was no guarantee another one would come quickly, and in these sorts of wobbly economic times, Oliver knew he could not be picky.
And he was here; he’d already endured the traffic. He would stay. He’d do the estimate.
There’s something about this place. . . .
Now his words were softer, perhaps because of the silence. “A church . . . but, well, she did say it used to be a church.”
The holes in the stone façade were still visible where a sign had once hung.
“It’s just a building now.” He looked down at Robert the Dog. “Right, Robert? It’s not a church anymore. Right?”
Robert looked up, as if considering Oliver’s options, sniffed again, and then sneezed in a very uncanine-like manner.
©2009 Cook Communications Ministries. The Transformation by Terri Kraus. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
One thing you can do to get your blog introduced to the book blog community is to join some book blog alliances. I belong to a few and Wildcard is one of them. Wildcard is a ministry. Our purpose is to support and promote Christian fiction authors by using our blogs as platforms to showcase these books during the first week of release. If you would like to join this blog alliance click the icon below and welcome.
This weekend we are promoting...
It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
B&H Books (October 1, 2009)
James David Jordan is a business attorney in Texas and was named by the Dallas Business Journal as one of the most influential leaders in that legal community. He holds a journalism degree from the University
of Missouri as well as a law degree and MBA from the University of Illinois and lives with his wife and two children in the Dallas suburbs.
Visit the author's website.
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: B&H Books (October 1, 2009)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
I hadn’t seen her for twenty years, and the idea that she might show up at my door was the farthest thing from my mind on a Thursday morning, a few weeks before Christmas, when the music alarm practically blasted me off my bed. With the Foo Fighters wailing in my ear, I burrowed into my pillow and tried to wrap it around my head. I rolled onto my side and slapped the snooze bar, but smacked the plastic so hard that it snapped in two, locking in another minute and a half of throbbing base before I could yank the cord from the wall socket. It wasn’t until my toes touched the hardwood floor and curled up against the cold that I remembered why I was waking up at five-forty-five in the first place. Kacey Mason and I were meeting Elise Hovden at eight o’clock in a suburb northwest of Dallas. We would give her one chance to explain why
nearly half a million dollars was missing from Simon Mason World Ministries. If she couldn’t, our next stop would be the Dallas police.
Since Simon Mason’s murder earlier that year, I’d been living in his house with Kacey, his twenty-year-old daughter. I had promised to watch out for her if anything happened to him. It wasn’t a sacrifice. By that time Kacey and I were already so close that we finished each other’s sentences. I needed her as much as she needed me.
I slid my feet into my slippers and padded down the hall toward Kacey’s door. Chill bumps spread down my thighs in a wave, and I wished I’d worn my flannel pajama bottoms to bed under my Texas Rangers baseball jersey. Rather than turning back to my room to grab my robe, I decided to gut it out. I bent over and gave my legs a rub, but I knew they wouldn’t be warm again until I was standing next to the space heater in the bathroom.
I pressed my ear to Kacey’s door. The shower was humming. Of course she was awake. Had there ever been a more responsible college kid? Sometimes I wished she would let things go,
do something wild. For her, that would probably mean not flossing before going to bed. If hyper-responsibility got her through the day, I supposed it was fine with me. After all, she was a markedly better person than I had been at her age.
By the time I met her father I was twenty-nine, and thanks to a decade of too much alcohol and too many useless men, I was dropping like a rock. But Simon Mason caught me and held me
in place for a while, just long enough to give me hope. Then he did what he had to do, and he died for it. Some things are more important than living. He and Dad both taught me that. So now I was changing. To be accurate, I would say I was a work in progress. I hadn’t had a drink since before Simon died, and I’d sworn off men completely, albeit temporarily. Frankly, the latter was not much of a sacrifice. It wasn’t as if a crowd of guys had been beating a path to my door. I simply figured there was no use getting back into men until I was confident the drinking was under control. One thing I had demonstrated repeatedly in my life was that drinking and men just didn’t go together—at least not for me.
As for Kacey, after everything she’d been through, it was amazing she hadn’t folded herself into a fetal ball and quit the world for a while. Instead, she just kept plugging along, putting one foot in front of the other. I was content to step gingerly behind her, my toes sinking into her footprints. She was a good person to follow. She had something I’d never been known for: Kacey had character.
I shook my head. I was not going to start the day by kicking myself. I’d done enough of that. Besides, I no longer thought I had to be perfect. If a good man like Simon Mason could mess
things up and find a way to go on, then so could I. Even in his world—a much more spiritual one than mine—perfection was not required. He made a point of teaching me that.
I closed my eyes and pictured Simon: his shiny bald head, his leanly muscled chest, his brilliant, warming smile. As I thought of that smile, I smiled, too, but it didn’t last long. Within seconds the muscles tightened in my neck. I massaged my temples and tried to clear my thoughts. Soon, though, I was pressing my fingers so hard into my scalp that pain radiated from behind my eyes.
If only he had listened. But he couldn’t. He wanted to die. No matter how much he denied it, we both knew it was true. After what he had done, he couldn’t live with himself. So he found the only available escape hatch. He went to preach in a place where his death was nearly certain.
I lowered my hands and clenched them, then caught myself and relaxed. This was no good. It was too late. Not this morning, Taylor. You’re not going to think about Simon today. I took a deep breath and ran my fingers back through my hair, straightening the auburn waves for an instant before they sprang stubbornly back into place. Today’s worries are enough for today. That was the mantra of the alcohol recovery program at Simon’s church. It was from the Bible, but I couldn’t say where. To be honest, I didn’t pay attention as closely as I should. Regardless of origin, it was a philosophy that had worked for my drinking—at least so far. Maybe it had broader application: Focus on the task at hand and let yesterday and tomorrow take care of themselves.
At the moment, the first priority was to get the coffee going. I started down the hall.
When I turned the corner into the kitchen, I could see that Kacey had already been there. The coffee maker light was on, illuminating a wedge of countertop next to the refrigerator. In the red glow of the tiny bulb, the machine chugged and puffed like a miniature locomotive. Two stainless steel decanters with screw-on plastic lids waited next to the ceramic coffee jar, and
the smell of strong, black coffee drifted across the room. I closed my eyes, inhaled, and pictured the cheese Danish we would pick up at the corner bakery on our way out of our neighborhood. That was plenty of incentive to get moving. I headed back down the hall.
When I reached the bathroom I flipped on the light, closed the door, and hit the switch on the floor heater. I positioned it so it blew directly on my legs. Within a minute the chill bumps were retreating. I braced my hands on the edge of the sink, leaned forward, and squinted into the mirror. Glaring back at me was a message I had written in red lipstick the night before: Start the coffee!
I wiped the words off with a hand towel and peered into the mirror again. A tangled strand of hair dangled in front of one eye. I pushed it away, blinked hard, and studied my face. No lines, no bags, no creases—no runs, no hits, no errors, as Dad used to say. I was beginning to believe the whole clean living thing. Zero liquor and a good night’s sleep worked like a tonic for the skin.
It was tough to stay on the wagon after Simon’s death. I had never been an every-day drinker. My problem was binge drinking. With all that had happened during the past six months, the temptations had been frequent and strong, but I was gradually getting used to life on the dry side of a bourbon bottle. There was much to be said for routine. Maybe that’s why dogs are so happy when they’re on a schedule. When everything happens the same way and at the same time each day, there’s not much room for angst.
On second thought, the dog analogy didn’t thrill me. I pulled the Rangers jersey over my head, tossed it on the floor, and turned to look in the full-length mirror on the back of the bathroom door. Standing in nothing but my bikini panties, I rocked onto the toes of one foot, then the other. My long legs were still lean and athletic. Fitness was something Dad had always emphasized—fitness and self-defense. There were times when I had hated him for it, but now I was glad for the benefits. It would be years before I had to worry about really showing age. I might have lived harder than most twenty-nine year olds, but I could still turn heads in a crowded room. No, the dog analogy was not appropriate. I had plenty of issues, but I was no dog. At least not yet.
I turned on the water and cupped my hands beneath the faucet. It was time to wake up and plan what we would say to Elise. After splashing my face and patting it with a towel, I turned around, leaned back against the countertop, and crossed my arms. I caught a whiff of the lavender cologne I’d taken to spraying on my wrists before bed. The Internet said it would soothe me into peaceful slumber. For fifty dollars an ounce, it should have brought me warm milk and rocked me to sleep. I tried to recall how I’d slept the past few nights, then caught myself. I was just looking for ways to waste time. I needed to focus. The issue at hand was Elise.
Simon informed me about the missing money just before he left for Beirut. His former accountant, Brandon, had confronted him about it, thinking that Simon had been skimming. Simon wanted someone to know that he hadn’t done it, someone who could tell Kacey that her dad was not a thief. That’s why he told me. In case he didn’t come back. And as the whole world knew, he didn’t come back.
Elise was the obvious person for the board of directors to choose to wind up the business of Simon’s ministry. She had been his top assistant for years. When I told Kacey about the missing money, though, she bypassed Elise and went directly to the board to demand an audit—impressive gumption for a twenty year old. It didn’t take the auditors long to confirm that Simon had nothing to do with the missing money.
The accountants concluded that the board had assigned the cat to clean the birdcage. Elise had set up dummy vendor accounts at banks around the country in a classic embezzlement scam. Simon’s ministries had major construction projects going, and Elise issued bogus contractor invoices to Simon
Mason World Ministries from fake businesses with P.O. box addresses that she controlled. When the ministry mailed the payments, she picked up the checks from the post office boxes and deposited them in the bank accounts. Who knows where the money went from there?
The ministry had grown so quickly during the years before Simon’s death—and Simon was so trusting—that controls were lax. When the invoices came in, the payables department
paid them without question. By now the money was probably stuffed under a mattress in some tropical paradise. That was another thing I intended to pursue with Elise. She had developed a great tan.
Before I stepped into the shower, I wrapped myself in a towel and went back into the bedroom. I pulled my Sig Sauer .357 out of my purse and checked the magazine. It was full. I slipped the pistol into the inside pocket of my purse. Elise didn’t strike me as the type to get violent, but people did weird things when backed into a corner. If I’d learned anything during my time in the Secret Service, it was to hope for the best—and prepare for the worst.
My Review will be in the next post.
Friday, October 23, 2009
I so don't want to sound biased when it comes to David C. Cook Publishing, but their marketing team is off the chizzzle. Anyway this weekend's chatterbox question is simple, how are you tracking your book trailer responses and are they converting to book sales?
This book trailer is from James Jordan's Double Cross. I will talk more about him tomorrow and Monday, so leave your comments here or tweet them or FB me.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Every year I write one and so today I am completing Act One of a new children's Christmas play. When I'm done I will announce the play, the synopsis and how to get the play. Before I do that I want to talk about playwriting for a minute as we dip in Day 22 of Building a Better Book Blog.
One of the Greatest Things about creating your own blog is you have to opportunity to share your writing with the world.
Since I began this blog I've written a Christmas play for children ministries. As a parent and a product of church theater, I've always wanted more options for African American children church grous to have. It didn't dawn on me until a friend of mine-a pastor's wife- asked me to write a short play for her church. I gave that play away for free and it is still downloadable here. And it tickles me that churches are still using that play. I've written more plays since then, but they were commissioned.
When you decide upon the type of content you will put on your blog don't forget to add content that is unique to you and benefits those who aren't just online, but your community at large. If you want to make your blog bigger, then you need to give more.
If you want to stay informed about the Christmas play, then subscribe to the blog in my sidebar or here. Don't worry. I will be finishing this play in plenty of time for you to use this year at your church if you're still searching for something.
Also it's still not too late to join 30 Days to Build a Better Book Blog.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
PC World sets the Nook against the Kindle listing with such pros like:
- the fact that you can visit Barnes and actually test the nook before you purchase unlike Amazon
- Moreover when you enter the store the Nook alerts you to coupons and special promotions personalized to your book cravings.
- For bookclubs. Did you know you can share your books using the Nook?
I'll be writing more about the Nook at RAWSistaz Literary this month and why it is a possible solution for Bookclub presidents. To stay updated about this upcoming blog post and more like it, subscribe to Christian Fiction here or in the sidebar. We deliver straight to your email or your can subscribe to my notes at Facebook.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
This week's Trailer Park Tuesday is Richard Paul Evan's The Christmas List. The book released this month and debuts on the New York Time Bestseller's List at #12. ALREADY! Let's take a look at this trailer to see what's the fuss about. Personally, I'm a huge Christmas story gal. I loved the Christmas Box and so...let me know your thoughts about this trailer and the book.
Oh, if you're in Atlanta next weekend Richard will be reading at The Margaret Mitchell House, another favorite for me.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Launched this month is TP's new play "Laugh to Keep From Crying."
Synopsis: The story line is based on life's struggles in the inner city. How does one understand and protect young people; how do you manage to keep a roof over your head when you lose your job; how do you separate true love from a deceiver? A family that receives redemption and a neighborhood that comes together with hope, love and respect are demonstrated.
Cast: Palmer Williams, Jr.("Floyd" of Tyler Perry's House of Payne and The Marriage Counselor) as the landlord; Cheryl "Pepsii" Riley, from previous stageplays and movies, as she portrays a single mother with 2 teenagers; D'atra Hicks (Madea's Family Reunion and What's Done in the Dark,) Chandra Currelley[my friend], from Diary of a Mad Black Woman the movie, What's Done in the Dark and many other plays ; and Tamar Davis, Stephanie Ferrett, and Donnie Sykes from "The Marriage Counselor".
Oct 20th, 2009
Univ. of South Carolina Aiken
Oct 21st, 2009
Albany Civic Center
Oct 22nd, 2009
Columbus Civic Center
Oct 24th - 25th, 2009
Oct 27th - Nov 1st, 2009
Murphy Fine Arts Ctr - Morgan State
Nov 3rd, 2009
Nov 5th - 6th, 2009
Nov 7th, 2009
Petersen Events Center
Nov 8th, 2009
Nov 10th, 2009
South Bend, IN
Nov 11th, 2009
Peoria Civic Center
Nov 12th, 2009
Nov 13th - 14th, 2009
Milwaukee Theatre WI Ctr District
Nov 15th, 2009
Nov 17th, 2009
Grand Rapids, MI
Nov 18th, 2009
Wharton Center MSU
Nov 19th - 22nd, 2009
Arie Crown Theatre
Nov 24th - 29th, 2009
After my post regarding the new FTC rules for bloggers I received emails and blog links concerning how book bloggers should post book reviews. From what I received I believe that some book bloggers still do not understand the ethical complications behind the issue and how to post a book review.
Let's talk about the ethical issue here...
1. The Opportunity to Gain a Profit
I've been a book blogger for five years, who have received at least ten books a month. I still have most of those books save the ones I give away on the blog or to my church library, my hospital, and my other book charities. For the past two years I've housed those books at Public Storage.That's how many books I have.
If I wanted to open a used bookstore I could. But I'm not a bookstore owner, I'm a reviewer. Irregardless I have the resources to start a bookstore and here's the rub. If I were to open up a store, that housed all the books I reviewed my reviews would become advertisements for the books, not a review.
2. The Opportunity to Lose Credibility with Your Subscribers
That reality isn't the purpose for my blog. Christian Fiction Blog's purpose is to connect Good books to good readers, not sell the books I have in Public Storage to my readers. If I want the respect of my subscribers(mainly bookclubs and book buyers,) who have been selecting books because of my blog, then I want them to rest assured that my reviews hold no monetary gain for me. There is no bias in my review. The reviews are pure.
3. The Opportunity to Legitmize your Blog with Full Disclosure
This week I will step through this topic in more details. My goal is to show you how to separate your review blog from your endorsements and how to monetize your blog ethically.
If you look at my blog (Christian Fiction Blog) you will notice I have different types of posts:
- writing life
Then the books that I review with a full review are books I've received for the purpose of a review. There is a deadline for the book review and it is understood that I will post any rated book. One thing that can bring your book blog credibility is to post all book reviews good or bad. It is your prerogative, but your review blog carries more weight when your readers can also see what you do not favor, buttressed with a balanced reason. Moreover, it shows the publishing industry that your blog isn't just an endorsement, but a review.
These reviews have no links to purchase outside of a link to the author or publishing house website if provided.
I have used this policy since I began the blog. Yet, my blog is syndicated and monetized. This week we will talk about monetizing your blog without throwing up red flags to the FTC.
Please leave your thoughts in comments or tweet about them and tweet this post, so that I can respond to you on Twitter or Facebook.
Want to make your blog better? Get Problogger. Click here to view more details
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Hi, it's Dee. For the December issue of Christian Fiction Online Magazine I would like to do a Celebration of Christian Writing, a Holiday Short Fiction Carnival to be more exact. The way it works 5 to 10 short stories will be featured at my CFOM column. The stories will be housed either on the author's blog or my online literary review spot for CFOM. I will also set up a poll for readers to vote on their favorite story. The winner will receive a Christmas gift from me, a badge that they can put on their site and an opportunity to be featured in my columns for 2010(I write for a few other spots as well.)
So how do you participate?
Submit your short story to me as inline text or in Google Docs to deegospelpr at gmail dot com. The submission deadline is October 25, 2009, so that I have time to select the best stories, and make editorial changes if necessary.
What is a short story?
A story that can be read in one setting. It can be as short as 250 words but no longer than 8-10 pages double spaced written in 12pt font (Times.)
If selected I will contact you the last week of this month and ask for your bio and a jpeg photo of yourself.
The goal for this project is to showcase the diversity of Christian writing among cultures. The Holiday theme is universal and I'm excited to see what we come up with.
If you have more questions, leave your comments here or on Twitter or Facebook.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Okay. I'm sure you've heard by now that Thomas Nelson Publishers is transitioning WestBow Press(one of my faves back in the day) into a Self-Publisher entity with the same name, WestBow Press.
If you look at the numbers, last year about 300 books released were indies(500000 books published last year total.) This upside down reality makes you pause. Thus, it would be unwise for Thomas Nelson not to get a piece of that pie. Moreover, WestBow will have some type of distribution relationship with some of Thomas Nelson companies.
Now the challenge of course would be will bookstores recognize the new WestBow? Will authors be forced into the buy-back program for their books?
There is a lot to discuss. Michael Hyatt is chopping it up at his spot, all my writer's forums are talking about it, along with a few agents. Let's take a seat and see what develops as WestBow is put into play. In the meantime, I would love to know. If you could selfpub your book under a CBA publisher, would you do it?
During this time of year I began compiling a list of fiction books written with a Christian worldview. One of my purposes for Christian Fiction Blog has always been to champion books written by Christian authors, who for whatever reason weren't published under the Christian Booksellers Association(CBA.) So every year I pull these books together for my readers and people like me who values a compelling and well-written story over any other read.
In the fall I compartmentalize these lists by genre, topic, subscriber feedback, candid book store manager chats and bookclub presidents polling. Some examples of my lists were:
- Lists are user friendly for your blog subscribers. Simply they are easy to read.
- Lists can be downloaded and printed for bookclub presidents and blog readers who need a good booklist before they began purchasing books as Christmas gifts.
- List's visual simplicity make it easy to read on a smartphone (Blackberry, Palm, iPhone.)
- Lists build blog credibility because it takes snapshots of your great blog content.
- Lists are media friendly. Media outlets can easily pull your lists for filler items for the publications.
- Lists can be used to bring unique visitor's to your site. I often take my lists and duplicate them on Amazon Lists. Here's an example: The Last Good Reads of the Summer. There a gazillion of other places online to post your lists.
- Lists can help decrease your bounce rate. If you embed links in your list that direct readers to other areas and posts on your blog readers will stick around longer and may become curious about what else you have on your blog.
- You can monetize your blog using lists. You can become an affiliate member of a bookstore or a book like 31 Days to Build a Better Blog.
- You can turn your blog into an industry source using links. My blog is a source not just for Christian book publishers, but literary publicists, authors, and agents. You may even see my content repackaged on other blogs...(we'll talk about that later.)
- You can use lists in your sidebar to showcase your favorite blogs or books. Check out the CFB sidebar.
For those of you who aren't members, if you have a great book list on your blog, please drop the link in our comments so that we can take a look at them.
My Placemement of Tia McCollors The Truth About Love in WalMart
This is Day 20 of 30 Days to Build a Better Book Blog. We are still on Book Blog Content. And we're still learning how to build a better book blog. If you want to join our Facebook Group to continue the discussion, receive homework assignments, ask me questions about how to optimize your book blog and to meet other book bloggers like you, then visit the page and request an invite. As you can see I am not blogging everyday and we are well past September when the book blog event began. Since this is National Book Month we are continuing the series. Let me further add that you can do the 30 Days at your own pace.Once you have completed the entire series you will receive a I survived Book Blog BootCamp Banner and a Booblook Blog Certified badge for your site, as well as other goodies like contacts to obtain free books and invitations to join bookstore affiliate programs. So if you're a book blogger why not get in, while this thing is available open source.
Also I recommend that for bloggers--all kinds-- to take part in Problogger: 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. I completed the series and it changed my blogs life years ago. I redo the series every year to stay current and update. Click here to get more information about Darren's great series.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
For one I hope this rant is is just parody or sarcasm. I hope what I witnesssed--what is close in spots to what the article describes-- was just a bad case of the unskilled publicist. I need to believe that my future as a writer isn't filled with meaningless, time consuming internet confusion/spam/pan handling practices disguised as marketing efforts. As much as I love marketing and literary promotion I'm a writer first and last, so I need that the New Yorker article to be a wakeup call to the industry for us to return to the heart of publishing-creating and championing great storytelling to our world, not to my 1,2oo plus Facebook followers.
Secondly I hope these poor social media marketing practices fade very fast. Publishing Houses must understand how to create an authentic, efficient, yet intrusive social media design else their authors will crash and burn their brand like Miley Cyrus almost did on Twitter.
Last week she closed her account. As I watched her Youtube explanation for dropping Twitter I realized her problem had an easy solution, her publicist failed her. Because she used her account in pure form(as she should have,) she showed her vulnerability and consequently opened her brand up for scrutiny. For whatever reason(perhaps bad judgment or lack of social media best practices for celebrities) she chose to make her tweetstream public instead of private. Had she made her tweets private they would only be accessible to those she chose to follow. Therefore mass media wouldn't have turned her tweets into celebrity gossip. Instead she could have chosen a media blogger or media contact she respected and allowed in her tweetstream only.
Everything that I type and everything that I do/ All those lame gossip sites take it and they make it news." While I'd like to think that Newsroom is something more than a "lame gossip site," I can't help but wonder if I became part of the problem. -Miley Cyrus
In Day 19 of 30 Days to Build a Better Book Blog I want to share a tidbit with you about your blog content. You need to add your voice to every post, but to add value to your readers from time to time you need to share your writing life with your subscribers. People need to know that you are real and have feelings and concerns. You can use your blog to advocate for your brand and yourself. Miley Cyrus vlogs through Youtube; Writers can use a book blog in the same way.
I won't lie the New Media Age in publishing concerns me, as a publicist and author. I am concerned about the future of publishing as more houses close or lose their past solid distribution relationships. I am also bothered by the countless invitations I receive to book events via Constant Contact, Facebook, LinkedIn and so on. I find myself automatically deleting...
Nonetheless I wonder if authors will be able to craft a great novel during their off marketing hours. which seems to grow and grow. I wonder with all this online chatter will readers become desensitized by it like I am becoming.
One thing I really want to do is create a simple, common sense system for authors to manage and retain their ideal readers and connect them with more ideal readers who are praying for the books they write. I don't want my clients or my own book brand to be tainted because of these efforts and I definitely don't want DeeGospel PR to be the butt of a The New Yorker Article...
Friday, October 09, 2009
This morning, Michelle and I awoke to some surprising and humbling news. At 6 a.m., we received word that I'd been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009.
To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize -- men and women who've inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.
But I also know that throughout history the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it's also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes.
That is why I've said that I will accept this award as a call to action, a call for all nations and all peoples to confront the common challenges of the 21st century. These challenges won't all be met during my presidency, or even my lifetime. But I know these challenges can be met so long as it's recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone.
This award -- and the call to action that comes with it -- does not belong simply to me or my administration; it belongs to all people around the world who have fought for justice and for peace. And most of all, it belongs to you, the men and women of America, who have dared to hope and have worked so hard to make our world a little better.
So today we humbly recommit to the important work that we've begun together. I'm grateful that you've stood with me thus far, and I'm honored to continue our vital work in the years to come.
President Barack Obama
When I read this email this morning I was shocked. I didn't know he was nominated. So of course this weekend's chatterbox question is three fold:
- Do you agree with the decision? if not, who should have won?
- Do you feel like me that this award is ironic for our nation, since we are still bickering over the President's national healthcare initiative and trivializing his presidency?
- based on his letter what could we do in our own home and community to be a peacemaker?
Now your thoughts? (let me add a housekeeping rule. submit thoughtful comments
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
This is Day 18 of 30 Days to Build a Better Book Blog.
I will step out of order(we were talking about book blog content,) in order to address a new and important issue for bloggers, especially book bloggers like us. Yesterday I posted on Twitter the new FTC Rules for Bloggers.
Today I want to simplify the rules in terms that we understand, as well as address a common dilemma between veteran book reviewers.
What the new FTC Rules mean?
Book Bloggers who receive payment or in-kind payment for a book review must disclose their relationship with the payor.
What is in-kind payment?
A book of retail value is considered in-kind. An ARC is not, because it cannot be sold and holds no value. The ARC or loose bound manuscript cannot be sold.
What if I do receive the actual book to review?
It's cool. However, in your review you need to add your relationship to the payor. You can write something simple as, "Disclosure: I was provided with this free product by
What if I was paid for the review?
You must disclose that you were paid a fee to write the endorsement.
Will this affect my credibility?
Read my next post to find out my answer. It's twofold.
If I don't disclose what will happen to me?
Fines for violating the new rule will run up to $11,000 per post.
paid blogger pic courtesy of media bistro.com
Tonight at 10 Pm the Man Booker Prize announcement will take place at London's Guildhall and will be broadcast by the BBC just after 10pm across television, radio and online.
The Six Finalists are below. J.M. Coetzee may win for the third time, but the favorite for this year's prize is Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. Wolf Hall is Thomas Cromwell's fictional account of the mess that went down when King Henry VIII had to have Anne Boleyn as his wife. A hot mess. IF you're a fan of the Tudors, the Showtime series or The Other Boleyn Girl the movie or a British History buff then you will like it. Thomas Cromwell, the first Earl of Essex was an interesting political figure. I am always amazed at how these people continue to shape society.
Summer arrives with no intermission for spring, promptly on a Monday morning, like a new servant with a shining face: 13th April. He, Cromwell, is at Lambeth, with Audley and Archbishop Cranmer; as the sun shines strongly through the windows, he stands looking down at the palace gardens. This is how the book Utopia begins: friends, talking in a garden. On the paths below, Hugh Latimer and some of the King's chaplains are play-fighting, pulling each other around like schoolboys, Hugh hanging around the necks of two of his clerical fellows so his feet swing off the ground. All they need is a football to make a proper holiday of it. "Master More," Cromwell says, "why don't you go out and enjoy the sunshine? And we'll call for you again in half an hour, and put the oath to you again: and you'll give us a different answer, yes?"
The Six Man Booker Finalists are:
- A S Byatt The Children's Book Random House, Chatto and Windus
- J M Coetzee Summertime Random House, Harvill Secker
- Adam Foulds The Quickening Maze Random House, Jonathan Cape
- Hilary Mantel Wolf Hall HarperCollins, Fourth Estate
- Simon Mawer The Glass Room Little, Brown
- Sarah Waters The Little Stranger Little, Brown, Virago
Monday, October 05, 2009
Green (The Circle, Book 0: The Beginning and the End)
Ted Dekker (Hardcover - Sep 1, 2009)
The Ideal Wife
Jacquelin Thomas (Paperback - Oct 6, 2009)
The Sound of Sleigh Bells
Cindy Woodsmall (Hardcover - Oct 6, 2009)
Not Guilty of Love
Pat Simmons (Paperback - Sep 1, 2009)
The Manual (Urban Christian)
Sherryle Kiser Jackson (Paperback - Oct 1, 2009)
A Slow Burn (Defiance Texas Trilogy, Book 2)
Mary E. DeMuth (Paperback - Oct 1, 2009)
Permission Slips: Every Woman's Guide to Giving Herself a Break
Sherri Shepherd (Hardcover - Oct 5, 2009)
Shades of Blue
Karen Kingsbury (Paperback - Oct 1, 2009)
A Deep Dark Secret
Kimberla Lawson Roby (Hardcover - Oct 1, 2009)
Intervention: A Novel
Terri Blackstock (Paperback - Oct 1, 2009)