Posted in reviews

Salamis by Harry Turtledove Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Two men and the neutral country they call home are caught in the midst of a legendary battle between two warring Marshalls of Alexander the Great in author Harry Turtledove’s historical fiction novel, “Salamis”. 

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The Synopsis

In 306 BC, the small, free, and independent polis of Rhodes is trying to stay neutral between the local great powers, each ruled by one of Alexander the Great’s marshals: Asia Minor, controlled by one-eyed Antigonos, and the Egypt of Ptolemaios. Antigonos’ son, Demetrios, comes to Rhodes seeking an alliance against Ptolemaios. The Rhodians, who trade a lot with Egypt, refuse his offer.

Menedemos and Sostratos take the Aphrodite to Egypt for business…and to tell Ptolemaios what has been going on. Just before they leave, they learn Demetrios has invaded the island of Cyprus, which Ptolemaios dominates. He is advancing on the southeastern town of Salamis, where Ptolemaios’ brother, Menelaos, has concentrated his forces.

After they pass on their news, Menedemos does business in the brash new city of Alexandria while Sostratos travels up the Nile to old, old Memphis to trade there, and to see the Pyramids and the Sphinx. Ptolemaios, meanwhile, readies a fleet to rescue his brother and drive Demetrios back to Asia Minor.

Ptolemaios, needing shipping to carry weapons for the army he intends to land, coerces Menedemos into bringing the Aphrodite along as part of his expeditionary force. And so, very much against their will, Menedemos and Sostratos become small parts of one of the ancient world’s greatest naval battles. 

The Review

A wonderful deep-dive into ancient history, author Harry Turtledove has done it again with a stellar novel. The balance the author achieves with the historical background and events of the war between Ptolemaios and Demetrios and the personal relationships and struggles of the protagonists Menedemos and Sostratos is remarkable. War was an all too common event in this period of history, and getting to know the characters personally who were caught in the midst of this war was fascinating to see unfold.

The author’s use of imagery shone brightly in this narrative, with the cities of Salamis, Alexandria, and Memphis coming to life and exploring pivotal locations in Ancient Greece and Egypt. As a history fan, exploring the aftermath of Alexander the Great’s passing as his successors fought over who deserved to rule over the empire he had built was amazing, and giving the role of protagonist to a small historical figure and a fictitious character both was an inspired choice. 

The Verdict

Enthralling, action-packed, and historically driven, author Harry Turtledove’s “Salamis” is a must-read historical fiction novel. The fifth of the Hellenic Traders Universe that the author has crafted around Menedemos and Sostratos was a massive success, with an evenly-paced narrative and engaging characters that made the story come to life as one of history’s greatest battles became the stage for this plot to come to life. From the way, society ran during those days in places like Rhodes to the bond between a family being tested, especially for Menedemos, made this a truly entertaining read. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Dr Harry Norman Turtledove is an American novelist, who has produced a sizeable number of works in several genres including alternate history, historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction.

Harry Turtledove attended UCLA, where he received a Ph.D. in Byzantine history in 1977.

Turtledove has been dubbed “The Master of Alternate History”. Within this genre he is known both for creating original scenarios: such as survival of the Byzantine Empire; an alien invasion in the middle of the World War II; and for giving a fresh and original treatment to themes previously dealt with by other authors, such as the victory of the South in the American Civil War; and of Nazi Germany in the Second World War.

His novels have been credited with bringing alternate history into the mainstream. His style of alternate history has a strong military theme.

https://www.sfsite.com/~silverag/turtledove.html

Posted in reviews

Manufacturing Civility: People Treatment as a Continuous Improvement Strategy by Christian Masotti and Lewena Bayer Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Authors Christian Masotti and Lewena Bayer show readers how to utilize civility to create an overall better work environment and experience in the manufacturing industry in the book “Manufacturing Civility: People’s Treatment as a Continuous Improvement Strategy”.

The Synopsis

Incivility at work is real. And it is real in manufacturing.According to a Gallup State of the American Workplace report, 75 percent of manufacturing workers are disengaged at work. In fact, the manufacturing industry, according to the Gallup report, is the least engaged industry across sectors.A closer look at the research reveals that a primary cause for this disengagement is poor leadership. Specifically, supervisors and managers with low social acuity are co-creating uncivil workplace cultures.Manufacturing Civility provides a 6Cs formula for solving people problems. These strategies result in continuous improvements that shift workplace culture away from traditional toxic and uncivil organizations towards healthier, more positive workplace experiences for employees in manufacturing environments.The “people-treatment” aspects of the proprietary Manufacturing Civility methodologies have been co-created by 20-year, internationally recognized experts in the field of civility training-Lewena Bayer, CEO of Civility Experts Inc., and a veteran of the manufacturing industry, Christian Masotti. The tried-and-true methodologies shared in the book have been proven to impact individual morale, wellness, and outlook in organizations across sectors, including manufacturing.Civility-when specifically applied to how people are treated at work, is a continuous improvement strategy that has been proven to have measurable impacts on:• Retention and engagement• Performance• Workplace wellness and safety• Innovation, creativity, and problem-solving• Bottom-line business metrics, including profitability.

The Review

This is a truly eye-opening read for those readers involved in the manufacturing industry, as well as those who aren’t. The increase in knowledge surrounding mental health and the treatment of others is well known in our day and age, but its effect on workers in the workplace is not always widely discussed. The author’s perfectly highlight the growing conditions of workers, especially in the manufacturing industry, and how it impacts productivity for companies as well as work conduct.

The authors do a great job of implementing a great number of detailed strategies into the book, especially for a shorter book like this one. From “Interruption Strategies” that showcase techniques to stop disruptive behavior in the workplace to how fear-based leadership and behavior in the workplace can lead to short-term increases, but long-term illness and stress related to work environments, the authors showcase a wide range of data and experience to highlight how treating workers with respect and dignity can go a long way not only for morality but productivity in the workplace as well.

The Verdict

A thorough, quick, and educational read, authors Christian Masotti and Lewena Bayer hit it out of the park with their book “Manufacturing Civility: People Treatment as a Continuous Improvement Strategy”. The read is well-researched and offers readers a step-by-step guide on creating a better workplace environment in the manufacturing industry. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08711N71J/ref=x_gr_w_bb_glide_sin?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_glide_sin-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B08711N71J&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

Posted in reviews

Can’t Ride Around It (Deadwood Undertaker Series Book 3) by Ann Charles and Sam Lucky

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Santa Fe Sidewinders come back together again to face a powerful new threat to the town of Deadwood after a series of grave robberies and missing bodies lead to a startling discovery in authors Ann Charles and Samy Lucky’s “Can’t Ride Around It”, the third book in the Deadwood Undertaker Series.

The Synopsis

Some things you just can’t ride around …

Jack “Rabbit” Fields knew a good thing when he saw it, whether it was a sound horse, a sure bet, or a pretty sage hen. When it came to locking horns with any curly wolves he ran into along the trail, he tended to shoot first—a notion that had saved his hide more times than he could count. But that was before he came to Deadwood.

Now, someone is stealing freshly dead bodies right out of their graves, and Rabbit and his amigos are on the hunt to figure out who. And more important, why?

Unfortunately, finding the answers to those questions will take plenty of Rabbit’s bullets, and maybe his blood, too. When the shooting stops and the smoke clears, he reckons there will be a whole lot more cold corpses in the Black Hills. With any luck, he won’t be one of them.

Hold onto your hats and saddle up for another action-filled adventure with the Santa Fe Sidewinders, Clementine, Hank, and the rest of the goldurn Deadwood devils!

The Review

A truly fantastic blend of supernatural horror and old school Western/action & adventure storytelling! Authors Ann Charles and Sam Lucky have crafted a masterpiece western tale like no other, as longtime fans of the series get to see the characters grow and adapt to even greater threats, and even have some romance thrown into the mix for good measure.

Although I had not read the first two books in the series, I found it quite easy as a new reader to get sucked into the story and to find myself invested in these characters and their stories. Character development plays a huge role in this series, and I found myself drawn to the adventures shown with Clementine and Boone, who’s relationship is as interesting as the story itself. The deep cut into supernatural mythology was great as well, introducing a monstrous threat to the area that is not quite as well known as saying vampires or werewolves, but the authors still manage this paranormal aspect with ease as the novel still embodies that classic action/western feel and tone, crafting incredible imagery throughout the novel.

The Verdict

A heart-pounding, engaging, and evenly-paced read, authors Ann Charles and Sam Lucky’s “Can’t Ride Around It” is a fantastic entry into the western series the authors have crafted together. With non-stop action and amazing character development throughout the novel, then the humorous and adventurous novel is a must-read this holiday season. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Authors

Ann Charles is an award-winning author whowrites mysteries that are splashed with humor, romance, and whatever else shefeels like throwing into the mix. When she is not dabbling in fiction, arm-wrestlingwith her children, attempting to seduce her husband, or arguing with her sassycat, she is daydreaming of lounging poolside at a fancy resort with a blendedmargarita in one hand and a great book in the other.

http://anncharles.com/

https://www.facebook.com/AnnCharlesAuthorPage/

https://www.instagram.com/Ann_Charles/

https://twitter.com/AnnWCharles

Sam Lucky likes to build things—from Jeep engines to Old West buildings to fun stories. When he is not writing, feeding his kids, attempting to seduce his wife, or tending the goldurn cats, he is planning food-based booksigning/road trips with his wife and working on one of his many home-improvement projects.

He writes the Deadwood Undertaker Series with Ann Charles. The first book is called LIFE AT THE COFFIN JOINT, available now.

The second book, A LONG WAY FROM ORDINARY, will be available this summer.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08K5XJYCT?ref_=dbs_m_mng_rwt_calw_tkin_2&storeType=ebooks

Posted in reviews

From Daylight to Madness (The Hotel #1) by Jennifer Gordon Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A woman dealing with a tremendous loss finds herself in a haunting location, battling her own inner demons while desperately searching for answers to the mysteries surrounding her in the gothic thriller “From Daylight to Madness (The Hotel #1)” by author Jennifer Gordon.

The Synopsis

The latest book from the critically acclaimed author of Beautiful, Frightening, and Silent; Jennifer Anne Gordon.

On an almost uninhabitable rocky island off the coast of Maine, a Hotel looms over the shore, an ever-present gray lady that stands strong like a guard, keeping watch. For many who come here, this island is a sanctuary and a betrayal.

This is a place where memories linger like ghosts, and the ephemeral nature of time begins to peel away …like the sanity of all who have been unlucky enough to step foot on its shore.

In the late spring of 1873, Isabelle gave birth to her son Oscar, he cried for three startling minutes, and then went silent. During the months that follow, Isabelle is drugged and lulled into an almost hallucinatory world of grief and fear. Her life begins to feel as though it exists in a terrifying new reality separated from those around her …

When her grieving begins to make her husband, Henry, uncomfortable, he and his mother conspire to send Isabelle away to a Summer Hotel on Dagger Island, where she can rest and heal. While they are adamant that the hotel is not an asylum and that Isabelle will be able to return eventually to her home, Isabelle understands in her heart that it is all a lie. That perhaps, everything about being a woman in this time, may have always been a lie.

Her family has lied to her, and she has lied to herself.

The Hotel, of course, is not what it seems, and the foreboding Dagger Island begins to feel more like a prison than a retreat. Isabelle hears relentless sounds coming from the attic above her room, and the ever-present cries of small children scream in her head almost constantly. Are they hallucinations, or are they connected to the small cemetery she found, filled with the fresh dirt of little graves, the brokenhearted reminders of people that no one believes ever existed?

She meets a fellow guest at the Hotel, a young, enigmatic, and deeply damaged priest, named Francis.

Together they teeter on the edges of reality and try desperately to become free from the fates that their pasts have bound them to.

From Daylight to Madness is a poetic, and haunting Gothic Fiction novel that is both profoundly unsettling and darkly romantic. 

The Review

What a beautiful yet tragic and engaging read! The author has become one of the best voices for the gothic horror genre in recent years, crafting a narrative that incorporates haunting scenes that send chills down the reader’s spine and overwhelming emotional beats in the character’s stories that keep the reader hanging onto every word of every chapter.

The way the author highlights the overbearing role women were placed into in society at this time and how it can be applied to how some people still view women’s roles in society only adds to the depth and tone of this wonderful read. The protagonist Isabelle and Francis and their bond with one another really grab the reader’s attention. Isabelle is an especially amazing character, as she is not only dealing with the loss of a child, but an uncaring husband and his mother, and her own struggles with never having felt the true love of any kind. The haunting reality of whether or not someone feeling that way could ever recognize love if they saw it is something many readers could identify with and adds to the emotional and haunting atmosphere of the novel.

The Verdict

A memorable, beautifully haunting yet heart-breaking and evenly-paced read, author Jennifer Gordon’s “From Daylight to Madness (The Hotel #1)” is a must-read gothic horror tale of 2020. One of the best gothic reads of the year, this novel creates chilling imagery and truly remarkable poetic storytelling that is not to be missed, and with a shocking final chapter that leads into a second novel, this is a story not to be missed. Be sure to grab your own copy of this book today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Jennifer Anne Gordon is a Gothic horror novelist. Her work includes Beautiful, Frightening and Silent (2020) which won the Kindle Award for Best Horror/Suspense for 2020, and From Daylight to Madness (The Hotel book 1), and When the Sleeping Dead Still Talk (The Hotel book 2).

She had a collection of her mixed media artwork published during spring of 2020, entitled Victoriana: mixed media art of Jennifer Gordon

Jennifer is one of the hosts as well as the creator of Vox Vomitus, a video podcast on the Global Authors on the Air Network, as well as the Co-Host of the You Tube Channel “Talk Horror to Me”. She had been a contributor to Ladies of Horror Fiction, as well as Horror Tree.

Jennifer is a pale curly haired ginger, obsessed with horror, ghosts, abandoned buildings, and her dog “Lord Tubby”.

She graduated from the New Hampshire Institute of Art, where she studied Acting. She also studied at the University of New Hampshire with a concentration in Art History and English.

She has made her living as an actress, a magician’s assistant, a “gallerina”, a comic book dealer, a painter, and burlesque performer and for the past 10 years as an award-winning professional ballroom dancer, performer, instructor, and choreographer.

When not scribbling away (ok, typing frantically) she enjoys traveling with her fiancé and dance partner, teaching her dog ridiculous tricks (like ‘give me a kiss’ and ‘what hand is the treat in?’ ok these are not great tricks.) as well as taking photos of abandoned buildings and haunted locations.

She is a leo, so at the end of the day she just thinks about her hair.

https://www.jenniferannegordon.com/

https://www.facebook.com/JenniferAnneGordonAuthor/

https://www.instagram.com/jennifergenevievegordon/

https://www.patreon.com/JenniferAnneGordon

https://twitter.com/JenniferAnneGo5

https://www.amazon.com/Daylight-Madness-Hotel-1-ebook/dp/B08DKLN2WC/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=9781735402116&linkCode=qs&qid=1605953781&s=books&sr=1-1&tag=x_gr_w_bb_glide_sin-20#customerReviews

Posted in reviews

Dead of Winter Break (Cassandra Sato #3) by Kelly Brakenhoff Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A woman working on a college campus in Nebraska finds her first Christmas in the area facing uncertain danger as a killer begins targeting her in author Kelly Brakenhoff’s “Dead of Winter Break”, the third book in the Cassandra Sato series.

The Synopsis

It’s beginning to look a lot like murder . . .

And Cassandra is knee deep in . . .

Suspects.

Her boss is dead, and the police are calling it burglary gone wrong. But when the killer comes after her, it’s going to take more than a pair of furry boots to keep the smart, witty Morton College administrator, Cassandra Sato, out of the deep. . .

Snow.

Her first Christmas in Nebraska could be her last unless her friends help unravel the mystery and housebreak her dog.

Buy now for a fast-paced, holiday themed whodunit.

The Review

A perfect whodunnit story just in time for the holiday season. The author does an amazing job of setting the pace early on in this story, crafting equal time for humor and a look inside of college campus life while also adding a deep air of mystery and dread with the murder of the protagonist’s former boss. While I had not read the first two books in the series thus far, I found Cassandra Sato to be a strong protagonist who had shown through looks into previous adventures and in this novel alone some serious growth as a character.

In any good mystery, atmosphere and mystery are two of the most crucial components. The author does a wonderful job of including both in this novel, as the story expertly crafts the shocking mystery of who killed Cassandra’s formally retired boss and infuses the setting of this small Nebraskan town naturally into the story itself. Cassandra’s wit and humor pair well with the narrative as well, creating a protagonist who readers can easily identify with and root for all at once.

The Verdict

A fun, exciting, and engaging mystery read, this is the perfect book to cozy up with next to open fire and a nice cup of tea. Author Kelly Brakenhoff’s “Dead of Winter Break” is the perfect next chapter in the Cassandra Sato series, and does an excellent job of showcasing why the mystery genre is one that will never truly tire out, as the author manages to keep the pace and tone of the novel fresh and exciting all the way throughout the novel. Be sure to grab your copy of this amazing winter read today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

KELLY BRAKENHOFF is an American Sign Language Interpreter whose motivation for learning ASL began in high school when she wanted to converse with her deaf friends.

Kelly writes the Cassandra Sato Mystery series including DEATH BY DISSERTATION, a 2020 RONE Award Mystery Finalist, DEAD WEEK, “a diverting whodunit,” (Publishers Weekly), and DEAD OF WINTER BREAK, a holiday themed cozy new for 2020!

NEVER MIND, and FARTS MAKE NOISE are her children’s picture books featuring Duke the Deaf Dog and illustrated by her sister, Theresa Murray. The Duke books have quickly become popular with children, parents, and educators for promoting inclusive conversations about children with differences.

The mother of four young adults and a hunting dog, Kelly and her husband call Nebraska home.

https://kellybrakenhoff.com/

https://www.instagram.com/kellybrak/

https://www.facebook.com/kellybrakenhoffauthor

https://twitter.com/inBrakenVille

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/173374245X/ref=x_gr_w_bb_glide_sin?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_glide_sin-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=173374245X&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

Posted in reviews

The Children of Red Peak by Craig DiLouie Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Three survivors of a cult reunite after losing a fellow survivor, and old memories of what they endured lead to another fight for survival in author Craig DiLouie’s “The Children of Red Peak”.

The Synopsis

Bram Stoker Award-nominated author Craig DiLouie brings a new twist to the cult horror story in a heart-pounding novel of psychological suspense.

David Young, Deacon Price, and Beth Harris live with a dark secret. As children, they survived a religious group’s horrific last days at the isolated mountain Red Peak. Years later, the trauma of what they experienced never feels far behind.

When a fellow survivor commits suicide, they finally reunite and share their stories. Long-repressed memories surface, defying understanding and belief. Why did their families go down such a dark road? What really happened on that final night?

The answers lie buried at Red Peak. But truth has a price, and escaping a second time may demand the ultimate sacrifice.

The Review

A remarkably haunting novel, author Craig DiLouie does an amazing job of capturing the raw horror of surviving a doomsday cult. The novel explores the horrors of the cult and the power that changed the path the cult was originally on, but the true heart of this story comes in the characters themselves.

The characters are the gateways into the heart of this story, exploring how the actions of the cult impacted them each in their own ways. While the powerful and supernatural elements of the story that kicks in towards the climax of the story are fascinating, the true horror that comes into this narrative is the cult itself.

As someone who is fascinated and interested in cults and how they come to form, it was engaging to see the character’s own experiences, as they seem so similar to horror stories that have happened in real life. From the change in the cult’s practice from peaceful worship to blind faith to the insistence of obedience to the cult overall and the chilling actions that resulted in murder, mutilation and cultists disappearing, the true scares and spine-chilling atmosphere explored in this novel comes from the cult, something many readers will be drawn to in this novel.

The Verdict

A powerful, emotional, and horrific modern-day horror novel, author Craig DiLouie’s “The Children of Red Peak” is a marvelous read. The shocking events of the past collide with the horrific truth of the future in this novel, and protagonist David, his sister Angela and the other survivors immediately draw the reader in with their own coping skills in the wake of the cult and their bonds with one another. It’s a perfect read as the holiday season approaches, and the book’s final confrontation will have readers thinking critically about the nature of the universe itself. Be sure to grab your copy of this amazing read today.

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Craig DiLouie is an author of popular thriller, apocalyptic/horror, and sci-fi/fantasy fiction.

In hundreds of reviews, Craig’s novels have been praised for their strong characters, action, and gritty realism. Each book promises an exciting experience with people you’ll care about in a world that feels real.

These works have been nominated for major literary awards such as the Bram Stoker Award and Audie Award, translated into multiple languages, and optioned for film. He is a member of the HWA, International Thriller Writers, and IFWA.

http://craigdilouie.com/

https://twitter.com/CraigDiLouie

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0316428132/ref=x_gr_w_bb_glide_sin?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_glide_sin-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0316428132&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, Book Giveaways, Guest Post

The Book eNewsletter Industry: Connecting Readers and Authors | Women on Writing Blog Tour

I ran a small press for seven years and published 13 books, including three New York Times Bestsellers, three Hoffer Award Winners, and a book that was optioned for a film. We averaged 6,000 copies sold of each title—including two titles that sold more than 20,000 copies each. 

To put that in perspective: the average U.S. nonfiction book sells fewer than 250 copies per year and fewer than 2,000 copies in its lifetime. The average author-published book sells 250-300 copies in its lifetime. Sales of 5,000 copies of a book is considered respectable by a Big Five publisher, and a “home run” by a small publisher.

We achieved success without traditional distribution and on a shoestring budget. And one of the keys to our success was using e-newsletters and websites that promote books. 

There are dozens of book promotion newsletters (more than 100 by some counts), and I used many of them as a publisher. Earlier this year, after having used these newsletters for many years in my marketing efforts and after having done extensive market research on the industry, Kathleen Meyer and I launched LitNuts, an e-newsletter to bring the “Best of the Indies” to booklovers. 

Today, I want to give you a quick overview of the industry, and tell you why readers should take a closer look at book promotion newsletters and why authors and publishers should include them in their marketing plans. I’ll also tell you why we decided to launch LitNuts despite the crowded playing field. 

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The Book e-Newsletter Industry

You are probably familiar with some book promotion e-newsletters. Some of the more prominent ones are BookBub, Bargain Booksy and eReader News Today. And for every large one, there are many other smaller ones like Book Basset, the Choosy BookWorm and the Frugal eReader. Beyond industry giant BookBub, there is a group that would best be described as mid-sized family-run businesses, and then there are a bunch that are produced by individuals. 

They all follow a similar business model in that the e-newsletters are free to subscribers, and authors and publishers pay to have their books featured in the e-newsletter. The cost to be featured ranges from as low as $10 (even less in some cases) to several hundreds or even thousands of dollars (in the case of BookBub). 

The newsletters are great for readers. In addition to being free, the newsletters mostly focus on bargains, and everybody loves a bargain. 

The only problems from the reader’s perspective are 1) the focus on bargains means a limited universe—not every great book is $2.99 or less, and 2) uneven quality because the only requirement for most newsletters is payment—they are not looking at quality, which means there’s a more-than-middling possibility that the 99 cent “bargain” you just downloaded isn’t worth the time you spent to download it, let alone read it. 

There are additional problems from the perspective of the author or publisher, including convoluted promotion “packages,” tiered pricing structures, and a maze of sometimes complicated order forms.  

Despite the problems, newsletters are a great way for readers to “discover” books, and a great way for authors and publishers to get their books out there for “discovery.” But obviously, there’s room for improvement. That’s why Kathleen and I started LitNuts: we felt we could do some things a little different—and ideally, better.

What Makes LitNuts Different?

One thing that makes LitNuts different is our focus on indie books. No other newsletter has this focus. While the Big Five publishers (Penguin Random House, Hachette Livre, HarperCollins, Macmillan Publishers, and Simon & Schuster) and their ~250 imprints focus on million-dollar deals and the next big bestseller, indie publishers are nurturing new authors and emphasizing quality and innovation over profits. In addition, books from independent, university, small and micro presses have been professionally edited and designed, ensuring a level of quality. (Note: We will also feature author-published works that rise to that same level of quality and meet our standards.) 

Another thing that makes LitNuts different is that while other newsletters focus on bargains, LitNuts features books at all price points, including lots of new releases and award winners. In addition, we feature collections of short stories, essays and poetry—forms of writing that most newsletters exclude simply because collections don’t usually sell as well as book-length works. 

Finally, we’ve made things easier for authors and publishers: no convoluted “packages” to analyze…no tiered pricing…no waiting to see if the date an author wants for a book promotion is available. It’s a very affordable $25 to be featured in LitNuts, and our simple order form allows you to select the date of your book promotion.

Submitting Books to Promotional Newsletters/Websites

Another thing that can be complicated from the author/publisher perspective is coordinating promotions. A lot of times, an author or publisher is planning a sale and will want to schedule multiple promotions in conjunction with the sale. You can do it yourself, but if you want to run multiple promotions at the same time, be prepared to spend lots of hours at the computer filling out order forms. 

There are some economical services that will handle submission to multiple book promotion newsletters and websites if you are giving away free, promotional copies of an e-book:

  • Taranko1 on Fiverr: Will submit free e-books to multiple promotion services for as little as $5.
  • Book Marketing Tools: Will submit free e-books to multiple services for $29. 
  • Author Marketing Club: No charge, but they don’t submit for you. Instead, they have consolidated on one page links that take you directly to the order forms of multiple promotion services. You still have to submit the books yourself, but having all of the order forms in one place will save you time. 

That said, when it comes to submitting books that are on sale for $0.99 or more, you’re pretty much on your own. Which is fine…you can do it! It just takes time. But I will tell you about a service that I recently came across called Book Rank, which has two options: 1) “We Build It” Promotion Services, in which they select the book promotion newsletters/websites for you, and 2) “Build Your Own” Promotional Services, in which you tell them which venues you want to use. 

I’ve not used Book Rank, and the “We Build It” prices are not cheap. But the “Build Your Own” service looks pretty reasonable. It’s $50 plus 6.9% of the total cost of the sites you want to submit to. You can choose from 33 book promotion newsletters/sites (soon to be 34 when they add LitNuts), and your cost will be $50 + the total cost of doing a promotion with each newsletter/website + 6.9%. That’s not a bad deal. But you need to know which ones to use. 

Which Book Promotion Newsletters to Use? 

There’s a good list of book newsletter/promotion services on Reedsy and an even better one on Kindlepreneur—but be careful. Many newsletters don’t generate enough sales to cover the cost of doing a promotion with them. Here are a few that I recommend trying: Bargain Booksy, Free Kindle Books & Tips, Hot Zippy, Book Basset, eReader News Today, The Frugal Reader, Choosy Bookworm and, of course, LitNuts. Kindle Nation Daily can also generate sales, but they also have some of the most convoluted (and expensive!) promotion options. If you use KND, go for one of the lower-priced promotions. 

And then, of course, there’s BookBub. BookBub is expensive, but it gets results. The catch is that you have to apply to be featured in their newsletter—and they are very selective. They only accept 10-15% of the books that are submitted to them. Some of that has to do with price; BookBub requires that “your book must be discounted to at least 50% off the predominant recent price” and “your book cannot have been offered for a better price in the recent past.” In other words, you essentially need to price your book at the lowest price in its history to have it included in BookBub. 

BookBub looks at everything else, too: book cover, professional reviews, online reader reviews, awards, etc. BookBub doesn’t give a number, but I tell people you’d better have at least 25 reader reviews averaging 4 stars or better on Amazon or Goodreads before submitting to BookBub (some say 50 reader reviews averaging 4.5 stars). 

If you think your book will qualify, submit it to BookBub. Prices range from as little as $113 (to promote a free e-book to a very small audience) to as much as $4,000 (to promote an e-book that costs more than $3 to a large audience). The average price to promote a 99 cent e-book is currently $600. That’s a lot—but you will sell hundreds, if not thousands, of e-books as a result of doing a promotion with Bookbub.

Conclusion

Book promotion newsletters are a dynamic component of the overall book industry. They are a boon to readers, bringing you a wide selection of books to consider for your next read. And they are a boon to authors and publishers, and should be part of any marketing plan. But as with all things, proceed with caution. Readers need to be wary of the disproportionate focus on “bargains” that may not be bargains at all, and authors and publishers need to do their homework on which newsletters actually get results and which ones are just taking your money. 

Ideally, book promotion newsletters bring readers and authors together…providing readers with more choices, and authors and publishers with an economical way to share new titles. And ideally, the book promotions will generate enough sales to at least pay for themselves. But even if an author or publisher just breaks even on a promotion, I think you can regard that as a “win.” You got your book into the hands of more readers, which should lead to more online reader reviews (worth their weight in gold) and more word-of-mouth marketing (the Holy Grail of book publishing).

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About LitNuts

For Readers

So, LitNuts brings you books of short stories, essays, or poetry that many other newsletters refuse to include (because collections don’t sell as well as novels). LitNuts also features new releases and award-winning books that other newsletters exclude because of price. (Many newsletters feature ONLY ebooks priced at $2.99 or less, which is fine – but not all great books are $2.99 or less!).

For authors, you’ll be happy to hear that LitNuts founders Mike O’Mary and Kathleen Meyer handled publishing and marketing for an indie press for more than 10 years. This is important because that means they understand the challenge of getting your books in front of readers. 

For Authors

LitNuts is an affordable vehicle that focuses on indie books and has engaged subscribers. Their goal is to help authors increase their book’s sales rank with online retailers, generate more reader reviews, and create positive word-of-mouth. 

Toward that end, they are building a subscriber base of booklovers who want to hear from indie presses. And we are focused on keeping things simple and flexible for authors. They offer a flat price of $25, so it’s simple. No tiered pricing or convoluted advertising offers to analyze.

At the same time, they give authors the flexibility to advertise short story, essay and poetry collections, to link to your website so book lovers can purchase directly from you, and to set the price of your e-book according to your needs.

About LitNut and owners Kathleen Meyer and her father, Mike O’Mary:

LitNuts is a woman-owned, family-run business founded by Kathleen Meyer and her father, Mike O’Mary, who share a love of literature and reading. Kathleen is an avid reader with 10 years of marketing experience, including with Dream of Things, a small press founded by Mike in 2009. During its 10 year history, Dream of Things published three New York Times Bestsellers, three winners of the Hoffer Award, and one book that has been optioned for a film. Kathleen and Mike drew upon their experience of publishing and marketing books on a shoestring budget to create LitNuts, in the hope of helping other indie presses achieve success. 

Authors and readers, visit LitNuts.com to sign up for their newsletter, where you can hear about incredible books from indie publishers that you wouldn’t hear about anywhere else. 

You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

— Blog Tour Dates

November 2nd @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Join us WOW’s blog The Muffin as we celebrate the launch of LitNuts.com. Follow along the tour for excellent guest posts written by the owners, reader their interview with us, and enter a giveaway.

https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

November 4th @ Caroline Clemmons

Join Caroline as she features LitNuts and their guest post about what kinds of books readers will find at LitNuts.

https://carolineclemmons.blogspot.com/

November 4th @ Reading in the Wildwood

Visit Megan’s blog where she spotlights LitNuts and tells you all about their book newsletter.

https://readinginthewildwood.com/

November 5th @ Karen Brown Tyson

Join Karen Brown Tyson as she features LitNut’s guest post about how to market yourself as a writer.

https://karenbrowntyson.com/blog/

November 7th @ Michelle Cornish
Visit Michelle Cornish’s blog today and you can read a guest post about a closer look inside the world of publishing. 
https://www.michellecornish.com/blog

November 10th @ Books, Beans and Botany
Blogger Ashley Hubbard shares LitNut’s experiences with some of their favorite authors. A fun guest post you don’t want to miss!
https://booksbeansandbotany.com/

November 11th @ Literary Quicksand

Jolissa will be interviewing the LitNuts founders, and discussing everything you’ll want to know about this amazing new bookish newsletter.

http://www.literaryquicksand.com/

November 14th @ Boots, Shoes, and Fashion

Come by Linda’s blog today where she interviews the owners of LitNuts.com

http://bootsshoesandfashion.com/

November 15th @ Choices

Visit Madeline’s blog today and you can get a deeper dive on LitNuts and what makes it so different from other book newsletters.

http://madelinesharples.com/

November 18th @ Create Write Now

Visit Mari’s blog today where you can read an informative post about how to sell 5,000 books in 6 months.

https://www.createwritenow.com/

November 19th @ Knotty Needle

Join Judy Hudgins as she features LitNuts and everything they have to offer readers and authors.

http://knottyneedle.blogspot.com

November 20th @ Author Anthony Avina

Join Anthony as he features LitNuts and their guest post about the book eNewsletter industry and why you want another newsletter about books.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

November 21st @ LM Harley’s Blog

Join Laura as she features a few excellent book recommendations from LitNuts.com.

https://lmharleywriter.com/blog.html

November 23rd @ The Frugalista Mom
Join Rozelyn as she shares LitNuts’ guest post with some excellent book recommendations you’ll add to your reading list.
https://thefrugalistamom.com

November 24th @ Editor 911

Join Margo as she features the LitNuts guest post about how to launch your book on a shoestring budget.

https://www.editor-911.com

November 25th @ World of My Imagination

Nicole will be featuring LitNuts on her blog and discussing what readers can expect from this amazing newsletter.

https://worldofmyimagination.com

November 27th @ Deborah Adam’s Blog

Join Deborah today where LitNuts features a collection of writing books that you will want to add to your reading list.

http://www.deborah-adams.com/blog/

November 30th @ Memoir Writer’s Journey

Join Kathleen as she features the LitNuts guest post discussing advice for booklovers on finding good books.

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Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Laurie Lisa

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

I was born in Shelbyville, Illinois, and raised in Assumption and Percy, Illinois. So, you can say I grew up in rural towns in Southern Illinois, where coal mining and farming predominate.  

My twin sister, Lisa, and I went to the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.  At the beginning of my sophomore year, my sister introduced me to Steve Lisa at a fraternity after-hours party, and three years later, he and I got married when we graduated in 1981.  So, I had grown up being mistakenly called “Lisa” because of my identical twin, and to this day, people still can’t figure out that “Lisa” is my last name.  People still call me Lisa! 

I obtained my B.S. in English Education from Illinois.  Steve and I headed off to Arizona State University, where he entered law school and I started my master’s program.  I earned both an M.A. and a Ph.D. in English (20th-century American literature) from ASU.  We then moved back to Chicago where Steve started his law career and our children were born.  I taught literature and composition at ASU and the University of Illinois (Circle).  

Steve and I live in Paradise Valley and Flagstaff, Arizona.  We usually spend our summers in Flagstaff and the rest of the year in Phoenix.  We also love traveling, especially to Italy (we have dual citizenship).

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2) How did you get into writing?

It’s always been the one thing I really wanted to do. I remember when I was 12-13 years old and cleared some room for a small desk in the laundry room of our house in Percy, Illinois.  My wonderfully supportive Dad, Joe, let me use his old Royal typewriter in my little make-shift office.  I remember this because one key–I think it was the “j”–would stick.  I decided that summer that I would write some short stories.  One of the stories was about going to camp, and I recall part of it included a girl who got poison ivy.  I had this whole story typed up and I was so proud of it.  My Mom (Patricia) and Dad showed all their friends because they thought it was pretty good writing.  At that point, I knew what I wanted to be. By the way, my fondness for the old typewriter is reflected on my website and social sites.

I continued after that to write short stories and poetry. In high school, my twin sister Lisa and I were co-editors of our senior yearbook.  I came up with the idea that Lisa and I would write a poem for each month of the school year.  Lisa wrote a few, but I wrote most of them.  When we graduated from high school, Mom and Dad gave us a brand new Corona typewriter as a present, and I have always been fond of that. During my high school and college days, I focused mostly on short stories and poetry. 

I have always wanted to obtain a Ph.D. in literature. I studied all forms of writing, but focused in grad school on 20th Century Literature. I knew that I wanted to write novels, but with three small children, it was hard to devote the time to a single work.  I published some academic books, short stories, and poems, and also edited others’ works.  Finally, after much time spent in Academia and raising our children, I returned to my passion for writing fiction. I write in the genre of contemporary upmarket women’s fiction and typically complete one novel each year. 

3) What inspired you to write The Wine Club and Across the Street?

I try to do something different with each book. All of my novels are very different in terms of plot, writing technique, and characters. I really do not care for “recipe” or “formula” writing. That said, I strive for each book to be literary in writing technique, but entertaining — with vivid scene and character description.    

For The Wine Club, I got it into my head that I wanted to write a story about some kind of con.  Steve and I had recently rewatched The Sting, the classic movie with Robert Redford and Paul Newman, and that might have planted a seed.  I also decided that the con should be carried out by women protagonists.  It seemed to me that women, unless they were professional grifters, would only pull a con if they were very desperate for money. Then I came across an episode of American Greed about a wine store somewhere in California that sold wine that it didn’t actually have. All these pieces, women + wine + desperation + con, resulted in The Wine Club.

For Across the Street, as I said above, I am an identical twin. My sister Lisa and I were extremely close for as long as I can remember.  We did everything together, and there was nothing one would not for the other.  Across the Street was my earliest novel, and at the time, I lived in Arizona and Lisa lived in Illinois. I decided to create a fictional story that tested the boundaries of love and devotion between twins. The idea came to me that one twin would move across the street from the other and ask her to be a surrogate for her baby.  That was the basis for Across the Street. Thankfully, Lisa and I never had to test those boundaries, but it was fun to write a fictional story that did.

4) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

The Wine Club and Across the Street are not remotely similar.  The women in The Wine Club are desperate suburban housewives that break bad with a wine club con, filling expensive bottles with cheap wine. As the con works and the money flows, their greed takes over.  Each of them makes increasingly bad–indeed horrible–choices. They are definitely not likable characters.  

In contrast, Across the Street is an emotionally gripping story. I wanted my readers to like the characters as they battle through the personal and family conflicts that result from one twin agreeing to serve as a surrogate for the other.  For the husbands and teenage children, each with their own problems, the complications are significant. I have been told that even men who read the book have shed a tear or two.  I won’t spoil either novel with anything more.

5) What drew you into this particular genre?

That is not an easy question. First, you can read a lot of articles and not everyone agrees on the definitions of the genres. Second, throughout my time in Academia, I studied all forms of writing and most of the “masters” and established writers. I found myself somewhat aligned with literary fiction and similar commercial fiction. Third, I really don’t believe I fit into any one particular genre, and I am not sure I want to be pigeon-holed into one. 

Each of my books is character-driven, complex, and very different in plot.  I don’t write series, and I don’t write in one category (e.g., romance, beach, crime, friendship, etc.). My goal is to write literary fiction that is entertaining, has characters that the reader will relate to, is realistic with great dialogue, and includes some suspense and humor (often dark). My books tend to be on the long side; so if a reader is looking for a short, quick read that is plot-driven, they won’t necessarily like my books. While my books were written to appeal primarily to women, a lot of men have read them and left me great compliments, which means a lot to me. 

In the end, if I had to pick a genre, it would be somewhere between literary fiction and women’s upmarket fiction. My target audience is the upmarket women’s book club.  

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them, and why?

Well, to begin with, all three of the main characters in The Wine Club–Reggie, Audrey, and Cynthia–need a good talking to!  By the end of the novel, all three are like desperate housewives on steroids.  However, they all fascinated me, with their conflicting motivations and choices.  I would like to sit down with them all at the same time.  We could gather on the barstools around Cynthia’s kitchen island and have a glass of wine (of dubious quality).  And then I would ask:  Did you really think you could get away with it? 

In Across the Street, Alex comes across as the “nicer” twin, and she’s certainly the more selfless as she reluctantly agrees to carry her sister’s baby.  However, I think I would prefer to sit down and have a chat with Sam.  She is so focused on and driven by the idea of having a baby that she can’t see how her plan affects everyone else once the wheels are set in motion.  However, by the end of the novel, Sam seems to have gotten what she wants.  So, my first question to Sam would be:  Did you finally find the serenity you were desperately looking for?  (And I’m pretty sure Sam’s answer would be no.)

However, with both of these books, I really missed all my characters after I finished writing.  I truly let my characters drive the plot, and I’m often surprised where they end up leading me.  While I like finishing each novel, I always miss their voices and discovering what they’ll do next.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I really can’t say. I have never been a social media person, other than to see the occasional posts from our children.  I was “told,” in no uncertain terms, that I need to use social media to help sell my books, so I do.  I frankly think that Facebook is the most helpful in developing readership.  I find that LinkedIn is primarily people “connecting” with one another, but I’m not sure if many of the authors who “connect” on LinkedIn are eagerly buying each others’ books. I also don’t see a lot of “activity” that helps grow readers on Twitter, in part because I think it’s hard to interest readers in a book in 150 characters or less. My posts on Instagram seem to get more attention than do my Facebook posts, but again, I’m sure how many of those “likes” result in a purchase.  Frankly, I think that Amazon Advertising and Bookbub provide the most direct assistance in developing readership, but they are both expensive.  

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Keep reading authors you like, keep writing, and don’t give up.  

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I now have eight completed novels.  My most recent book, Queen of Hearts, is actually a composite novel made up of 13 connected short stories.  We’re considering releasing the short stories one at a time, almost like the old dime novels.  My other five completed novels are being released a few months apart over the next year or so.  I will shortly be starting my next novel, with the goal to complete one novel a year until I just can’t do it anymore.  I can’t imagine not writing, though, so as long as the ideas keep coming, I’ll be sitting in front of my computer!  

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About the Author

Laurie was born and raised in small towns in Southern Illinois. She obtained her B.S. in English Education from the University of Illinois, where she also met and then married her husband Steve. Laurie earned both a M.A. and a Ph.D. in English, 20th-century American Literature, from Arizona State University, where she also taught literature and composition. In addition to her eight novels, Laurie has published two academic books, several short stories and poems, and edited other’s works. After much time spent in Academia and raising her three children (Anthony, Michelle, and Caitlin), Laurie returned to her passion for writing fiction. She is a prolific writer and typically completes one novel each year. Laurie resides with her husband, Steve, in Paradise Valley and Flagstaff, Arizona.

https://laurielisa.com/

https://www.facebook.com/authorlaurielisa/

https://www.instagram.com/laurieolisa/

Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Jerry Harwood

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I live in Tennessee and currently teach Middle School students. I have six kids and one grandkid. My wife and I like to travel but equally enjoy a nice meal out and a movie. We can’t wait for theaters to reopen! I first started writing in high school but took a 30 year hiatus where I continually said, “One day I will write a book…” Two years ago I met a gentleman at a local con (Chattacon) who invited me to a writer’s group. It was the impetus I needed to start!

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

As a teacher I get the chance to teach several different creation stories as part of our social studies curriculum. The Aztec story is one of my favorites. One night watching a trailer for the show Prison Break the idea came to me. What if the Aztec gods were inmates in gen pop at a prison?

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

My first book, Jam Sessions, was a Middle Grade fiction focusing around a boy with high anxiety. I hope it helps students struggling with anxiety, bullying, or just managing life in Middle School. This current book, Twelve Hours on the Block, is pure pulp fiction. I suppose readers might walk away with a desire to know more about Aztec lore, but that wasn’t a purpose in writing. I just wanted to write a fun, fast paced yarn.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I have always loved Urban Fiction, horror, and am a total history geek who loves mythology, Jospeh Campbell, and all things ancient.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

Definitely BT. I think he would be a great guy to grab a beer with. Hispanic Harley Quinn would be fun to meet to… just not sure I would survive the evening. 

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I have a blog, website, twitter (though I am still learning how to use it), and facebook page. However, my best social media presence has been Goodreads and Amazon Author’s page.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Start writing. Good, bad, or even gibberish. Just start. And join a writer’s group. Build friendships and find fellowship as a writer. 

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

So I have three books in various stages. 

-1. A new adult western dystopian. It is a fun time travel piece. I wrote it to be book 1 of 2 but it also could be a stand alone work. I am currently shopping it around for an agent.

-2. Another Middle Grade book is undergoing my fourth round of edits. After this round I will send it out to a content reader I work with. It has a fantasy component. Think Wizards of Waverley Place or Sabrina, The Teenage Witch.

-3. A young adult book that blends several ancient legends that I love with a King Arthur twist. I finished the first draft three months ago and am letting it sit till spring before I pick it up again.

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About the Author

Jerry Harwood was born in Ooltewah, TN. His mother was an elementary school teacher and he spent his afternoons reading books in her classroom or the nearby library. He currently is a writer, which makes sense based on the fact you are reading this here. He has experimented with other occupations: camp director, program director at a counseling center, college professor and middle school teacher. Jerry has backpacked Europe, taught in a Ukrainian University, worked in Rwanda after the genocide, is a first responder, sort-of remodeled a VW Thing, and has a love for Cherry Coke Zero that is only surpassed by his love for his wife, six children, and grandson.

Feel free to share your thoughts on the book with Jerry at JerryHarwoodBooks@gmail.com or visit his website at http://www.jerryharwood.com.

http://www.jerryharwood.com/