Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ebook Ebdeavors: Writing Books, Author Interviews

REVIEWED BY: Marguerite Zelle




BLOG DESCRIPTION: E-publishing basics, social media marketing, search engine optimization, and blogging to sell your books.

MY REVIEW: Lindsay Buroker is the author of Flash Gold, The Emperor's Edge, and Encrypted. So she knows whereof she speaks in this blog about writing, and helping other authors to publicize their work.

This blog is of interest not only to prospective authors but also to their prospective readers as well. Check it out!

Sample post:
Tips For Interviewing Authors
One of the perks of running a blog is that it gives you a place to post author interviews.

Whether you’re a book blogger or you’re a writer yourself, if you’ve spent time building up your site (i.e. getting folks to find it and follow it), you might have the perfect place for authors to “visit.” And an interview is a great excuse to interrogate question your favorite writers. You can ask them about their books, themselves, their plans to take over the world with words, and other fun stuff.

But how do you approach an author? How many blog readers do you need to entice someone to take the time to answer questions? What should you ask if you do get an author to agree to an interview?

I can’t speak for all authors, but I’ll attempt to answer some of these questions.

How do you approach an author for an interview?

In this day and age, most authors have websites, and many will have blogs where they post regularly. If you surf around the site, you’ll probably find an email address or a contact form.

It can be harder with authors who got their start in the pre-internet age. Some of those guys jumped right on board and learned about promoting on the web, but others may never have gotten that involved with the internet and social media. You can always try getting in touch with these folks through their publisher. You might check Facebook and Twitter, too, since authors who aren’t sure about the ins and outs of buying a domain name and building a website might settle for a Facebook page.

Will popular authors agree to interviews on blogs?

One of the truths of being an author is that emails asking questions or requesting help increase as an author becomes well known. I’m a small fry, and even I’ve experienced this more of late. I can only imagine how it is for a bestselling author.

These folks may not have the time to do interviews, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. You never know. You might catch them on a slow day, or something about the theme of your questions (more on that further down) might pique their interest.

An alternative way to snag the popular guys is to find out what their conference/convention schedule is for the year (many SF/F authors in particular are active with conventions) and see if they have a few minutes to answer questions at a local event (make sure to take a recording device — you can transcribe the answer for your blog later or you can simply post the audio file). I’ve seen podcasters in my genre have a lot of luck getting bestselling authors to sit down and answer questions.

Remember, the more popular your blog, the more enticing it’s going to be for an author to appear there, so keep working on building it up and increasing traffic.

How popular does your blog need to be, anyway?

This is going to depend on the person. Some new authors just want to be interviewed and will agree to appear anywhere, but you’ll probably want to wait until you’ve built up a readership and are getting regular blog comments before approaching people.

If you have a fairly popular blog, use that as a selling point when you ask for an interview. Don’t be afraid to say, “I have 5,000 mystery readers who stop by each month and a newsletter with 500 subscribers” or whatever the case may be. If you install something like Google Analytics, you can share exact numbers and even some demographic information about your visitors.

If you don’t have many readers yet, don’t mention that. Some authors don’t really know how to figure that stuff out, so you might get lucky!

What interview questions should you ask authors?

There aren’t any rules here, but you may want to avoid some of the common questions that writers get asked all the time. Authors get a lot of “tell us about yourself” and “what first made you decide to become a writer?” There’s nothing wrong with these questions, but they aren’t always that interesting for the author to answer, and readers who aren’t familiar with the author probably won’t care.

Think of questions that might reward current readers and entice new ones. For example, I recently had a lot of fun answering questions that weren’t about me at all. They were about one of my core characters. The interview was about my assassin, Sicarius, and is up at a reader’s blog. I think the questions are fun for readers of my series, but they might also intrigue someone who hasn’t read the books (authors are always hoping to find new readers!).

Interviews with a theme can be a nice draw as well. If you share the interview on Twitter and Facebook, you need it to grab folks with nothing more than the title. What sounds more interesting to you? Interview with Jane Doe? or Jane Doe Offers Tips on Writing Psychopaths, Serial Killers, and Assassins?

If you have a writing blog instead of a book blog, it may make more sense to pick a theme that will appeal to other authors (i.e. an interview about writing or publishing or book promotion) as opposed to something that talks about the author’s books. Any extra visibility is good visibility for an author, and you’ll probably find that folks are willing to answer questions on a variety of topics related to their work.

Is there any sort of interviewer etiquette you need to keep in mind?

My first tip would be to respect the author’s time. It can take an hour or two to answer questions, especially if they’re thoughtful ones.

When I’m doing interviews, I usually only send five or six questions myself. I’d recommend you send no more than ten and make sure some of those ten are on the type where the response can be on the shorter side. Authors like to write, yes, but they’re busy working on the next book too!

Next, make sure to customize your questions for that author. I’ve had folks send me thirty generic questions and ask me to pick ten that I wanted to answer. Granted, that was early on and for a book blog tour where the blogger hadn’t read my stuff, but I definitely had an “Uhmmm, okay….” response.

If an author agrees to an interview for your site, he or she is probably doing it for book promotion purposes. It’ll be very much appreciated if you include links to the author’s website as well as their most recent book. That way readers can easily click through for more information or to download ebook sample chapters without having to head over to Google.

Many bloggers will schedule the interviews to post on a certain day. It’s good if you can let the author know the day in advance, but do yourself a favor and remind him or her when the post goes online (you’ll need to wait until it’s actually up to send the link anyway). That way, the author can help you with promotion. Social-media-savvy writers will post links on Twitter and Facebook so their fans can check out the interview.

That’s it for my suggestions on interviewing authors. If you have any comments or tips to add, please let us know below!

--Tips for interviewing authors
-- Tips for Interviewing Authors
--Cut Scene from Deadly Games
-- How Editing Works for Independent (Self-Published) Authors
--10,000 Ebooks Sold and Encrypted Mentioned in RT Book Reviews
--Story Updates and Why My Ebooks Aren’t in the Amazon Prime Lending Library
Reviews published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Check out my kindle BOOKS!:
Whose Body, by Dorothy Sayers (the Annotated Edition)
The Coldest Equations (science fiction)
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
The Lady and the Tiger...Moth

Friday, December 30, 2011

Grief and Grieving - A mother's perspective on death of a child

REVIEWED BY: Marguerite Zelle

MY RECOMMENDATION: Yes, with reservations

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Grief and Grieving - A mother's perspective on death of a child


BLOG DESCRIPTION: I lost my 18 year old son on February 14, 2010, from synovial sarcoma 5 months after diagnosis. This blog is my accounting of life after death and the long road of healing.

MY REVIEW: This is an excellent blog for those who want to share fellow feelings by reading about other people who have lost loved ones. Unfortunately, the author only posts once every couple of months or so. But at only 99 cents a month, why not subscribe?

Sample post
Just a quick thing to ponder. A friend of mine mentioned this to me when telling me of another family whose child passed away from cancer recently. If a person loses their spouse, they are a widow/widower. If a child loses their parent, they are an orphan. There is no word to label when a parent loses a child. Maybe because it is an unnatural order to what we should expect. I would like to give us fellow survivors of this loss a name - warriors. We fight the battle daily to not just give up and give in to what sometimes feels like unsurmountable desire to check out of life. We fight the battle daily to keep our memories alive and current in our hearts. We fight the battle daily to not give up on God and turn our backs on the one who has our precious cargo in his keeping. We fight the battle daily not to feel guilty about every little thing that we did, are doing, and will do. We fight the battle daily not to feel ashamed that we did not die instead. We fight the battle daily to go on with what is left when the battle feels like it has destroyed everything. Yes, we are warriors. We may appear shabby and tattered... but we haven't left the war. My hats off to all the fellow fighters I know and don't know. I have to think that God has made a special sort of armor for our battle that we can still stand despite all the odds.

--Fear (posted Dec 11, 2011)
--Compassion (September 21, 2011)
--No title (June 12, 2011)
--No title (March 38, 2011)

Reviews published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Check out my kindle BOOKS!:
Whose Body, by Dorothy Sayers (the Annotated Edition)
The Coldest Equations (science fiction)
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure HuntersThe Lady and the Tiger...Moth

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Retro Review #29: How To Choose a Feng Shui Consultant


MY RECOMMENDATION: YES, with reservations

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION PAGE: How to Choose a Feng Shui Consultant


BLOG DESCRIPTION: How to choose a Feng Shui Consultant by Dr. Anna Maria Prezio
In selecting a Feng Shui Consultant, make sure that the person you choose is qualified. Here are some typical questions to ask of your prospective consultant.

1. Do they practice classical or traditional Feng Shui?
2. What do they need to assess your home or office?
3. What tools will they use to assess your home or office?
4. What kind of remedies do you use?
5. What can I expect from an assessment?
6. What kind of remedies do you use?
7. What can I expect from an assessment?
8. How much does a Feng Shui assessment cost?
9. Where did they get their training? Who did they study with? How many places have they assessed?
10. How long does this process take?

MY REVIEW: Not knowing anything about Feng shui, I am going to assume that my house is out of order and my karma is out of whack. And, I just learned that I need to move to the Northwest sector of my house. (I wonder how my husband will feel about our bedroom being in the kitchen - after all that will bring harmony to our love life.) Seriously, I am out of my league here. But that is why we have blogs written by experts.
Dr. Prezio is an expert -with her book Confessions of a Feng Shui Ghost Buster and in her blog she recommends other books and catalogs on the subject and gives explanations to the in and outs of Feng Shui for those of us who have yet to sway our feng - but we working on it. And, thanks to her, the secrets are revealed.

I am concerned about the frequency of posts. After her post of December 1, it was February 1, before she post again, then several times in the next 2 weeks. perhaps 2010, the Chinese year of the White Metal Tiger will be more prolific.

  • Happy Valentines Day
  • Sex, Romance, and Feng Shui
  • Predictions and Placement for 2010
  • Change your Chi, Change your Life
  • Transformational Gifts

Ann Currie publishes My Life a Bit South of
and also, Silver Pieces: The Strange and

Monday, December 26, 2011

RetroReview #28: InfoCult





BLOG DESCRIPTION: Infocult is devoted to exploring the world from an information-centric perspective. This means looking at the shifting admixture of information in print, in digital formats, in minds. Information drives us to topics: cyber culture, intellectual property, computer games, the history of information, education, and anything else that rethinking the world information-centrically requires.

MY REVIEW: This is the blog you need to read every morning if you want some interesting story to bring up around the water cooler. In reading many of the posts, I really had to question if the whole thing was a hoax, but there are links to actual reputable news outlets that discuss the happenings. Although the links are in each article, not being able to access the links when reading this blog on the Kindle does not diminish the experience. (There are a few posts that rely solely on a video feed but they are infrequent.) And, there are pictures to bring further credence to the stories.
The posts are frequent. Because of the links, I encourage you to try the 14 Day Free Trial Amazon offers and see if you need the links to enjoy the blog.

THE GOOD: Frequent interesting unique querky posts.

THE BAD: I have some concern about the number of links contained in the posts and how much that will limit the Blog to Kindle readers.

--School laptop spycams
--Scary urls
--Debunking technofear - Bell in Slate
--Cold War Gothic- Soviet Secret Town Sold
--The fish that shouts apocalypse

Ann Currie publishes:
My Life a Bit South of Normal/
Strange and Peculiar Silver

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Regular blog postings begin on DECEMBER 26, Monday.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Retro Review #27: The Elmo Wallpaper





BLOG DESCRIPTION: An Ivy League-educated, thirtysomething mother of three young boys survives motherhood in suburbia. Just barely.

MY REVIEW: A blog of honest emotion by a mother struggling with daily domestic life with her three young sons. Her posts, unlike those of many mothers, are not cute or coy. She is right up front, not bitter, but truthful. She questions her life and what woman hasn't has some point? How did I get here - I did everything right - I went to the right school, did well, fell in love, married a bright guy. Here I am listening to the Wiggles, spending part of my valetine's evening in Border's, and treating goose eggs. There have been many times when I could have related to this lament. But it is not negative, it is well worth the read and well written. You want to offer her your support, cheer her on, and follow her vicariously. She comes through with strength and humor. She posts several times a week.

  • If you are needing catharsis today . . .
  • Other peoples pictures

  • Ask me anything
  • Why I am wound:
  • My graceful friend

Ann Currie publishes My Life a Bit South of Normal
and also, Silver Pieces: The Strange and

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Everything Dinosaurs

REVIEWED BY: Marguerite Zelle




BLOG DESCRIPTION: Everything about dinosaurs!

MY REVIEW: I love this blog, and any fan of dinosaurs - from the toys to the movies to the real thing, will love it too. The main emphasis is on models of dinosaurs.

Sample post
Dolichorhynchops – Monster from the Western Interior Seaway
With the mysterious decline in Ichthyosaur numbers towards the end of the Cretaceous, a new type of marine reptile evolved to take their place as a predator of fish, squid and octopi in the shallow sea that covered much of North America. This sea is known as the Western Interior Seaway and at its greatest extent is effectively split the United States into two. Fossils of Dolichorhynchops have been found at a number of locations, but the most famous fossils and the holotype material come from Kansas.

This short-necked Plesiosaur is represented by a new model (CollectA) which will be available next year. A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commmented that although there had been one or two delays at the factory, the “Dollies” as they are affectionately called are going to be shipped into the Everything Dinosaur warehouse probably in February.

It is an interesting pose, scientists remain unsure as to whether this stiff-limbed, Plesiosaur could haul itself onto land like modern turtles. Or did this animal, which could grow to over five metres long spend its entire life in the water?

The jaws seemed to be lined with a lot of sharp, pointed teeth, just what is needed when you live on a diet of slippery marine creatures. We are not sure wherther Dolichorhynchops genera had this many teeth (perhaps as many as forty in the jaws) – we will have to “bone up” on this Late Cretaceous vertebrate.

--Mapusaurus Enters the Fray
--Neanderthal Figures from CollectA
--Kosmoceratops – Amazing Horned Dinosaur
--A Reminder about Christmas Posting Dates [posting as in mailing]
--Dolichorhynchops – Monster from the Western Interior Seaway
--Knocking T. rex of[f] its Perch

Reviews published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Check out my kindle BOOKS!:
Whose Body, by Dorothy Sayers (the Annotated Edition)
The Coldest Equations (science fiction)
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
The Lady and the Tiger...Moth

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Retro Review #26: Full Figure Plus





BLOG DESCRIPTION: Full Figure Plus is dedicated to posting news, links, and relevant information for plus size women and big and tall men.

MY REVIEW: This a full-size blog for the millions of full size women out there. The posts are full of shopping information as well tips on dressing and styles. The posts are updated regularly.

There are some links that cannot be accessed on the Kindle but the entries are not dependent on those links and the valuable content is in the posts. One of the more valuable assets of this blog is its references to and reviews of retailers that offer fashions for this audience. It is refreshing to see a positive fashion blog for the full size woman.

  • Full Figured Weekly Question
  • Trendy Plus Size Fashion from Elvi
  • Charming Shoppes introduces one stop shopping for plus sizes
  • 10 steps to reducing your frustration level when shopping
  • Plus Size Maxi Dresses Just In Time For Spring

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Time Keeps On Slipping Into the Future

Sorry for the dearth of posts recently...I've been working on a project, wanted to devote all my time to it, and kept telling'll be done today so I can get back to blogging here tomorrow.

The next day it was... okay, it's definitely going to get done today....

Well, today it is done... so back to posting here on a daily basis tomorrow. (With the first post appearing tomorrow afternoon while I'm watching football!)

Thanks for your patience.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011 (Tintin)

REVIEWED BY: Marguerite Zelle




BLOG DESCRIPTION: The Tintin Blog is a fan site dedicated to Tintin and his friends. It is my goal to write original posts, and to present edited versions of news and gossip that exists about HergĂ©’s most famous creation. I hope to offer the most relevant, though-provoking, and interesting information about the characters and stories that make up The Adventures of Tintin.

MY REVIEW: I have been a fan of Tintin for twenty years. Tintin, if you don't know him, is a boy reporter who travels the world having adventures. It's all good clean fun.

Tintin was first created in the 1930s, by the Belgian Herge (Georges Remi), and continued through until Herge's death in the 1980s.

I think he's always been more popular in Europe than in the US, although that may change once the Spielberg movie debuts here. (For my part I'm not too happy about how they changed Tintin's facial appearance, but..I'm willing to suspend judgement until I see the film.)

If you're a fan of Tintin, or looking for a new character to become a fan of, check out this blog.

--Tintin on Sale – Save 20-35% All Day
--Autographed by the Dalai Lami, Tintin in Tibet up for Auction
--New Tintin Merchandise!
--Toronto Draws Tintin
--Tintin Movie on Cover of TIME

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sea Turtle Restoration Project (Marine biology)

REVIEWED BY: Marguerite Zelle




BLOG DESCRIPTION: The Sea Turtle Restoration Project’s Mission: To protect and restore endangered sea turtles and marine biodiversity worldwide in ways that incorporate the ecological needs of marine species and the economic needs of local communities, both of which share our common marine environment. We accomplish our mission through grassroots and policy-maker education, consumer empowerment, strategic litigation and by promoting sustainable local, national and international marine policies.

MY REVIEW: Animals "have no voices", so it is up to human beings to speak for them. While I have little sympathy with activists putting a whole town out of work to save an insignificant thing like a snail darter, or a type of flower that's about to go extinct, I do have a great deal of sympathy for the bigger, more sentient creatures whom we share this planet with - lions, tigers, bears, wolves, and in the ocean sea turtles (as well as dolphins, whales and yes, even sharks.)

Sea Turtle Restoration Project speaks out for the sea turtle.

Check out their blog.

Sample post:
Taking Action to End Sea Turtle Drownings by Shrimp Trawls in the Gulf of Mexico
Posted by Eileen Nalley, STRP Intern on November 15th, 2011

As the newest intern for the Sea Turtle Restoration project, I am excited to be a part of the campaign to demand that NMFS enforces the proper use of Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) in the Gulf of Mexico shrimp fisheries. A New Orleans native recently transplanted to the Bay Area, this issue hits particularly close to home for me.

Although the Gulf of Mexico region has been devastated repeatedly by man made disasters ranging from broken levees to oil inundation, we cannot use those tragedies as blinders to ignore the ongoing and flagrant violation of a 25 year old federal law mandating the use of TEDs by shrimp trawlers in the region. Having eaten as much fried shrimp growing up in bayou country as any other self-respecting y’at, I am growing increasingly aware of the unconscionable cost of this delicacy.

With no scientific data supporting the argument that TEDs significantly reduce the amount of shrimp caught by fishermen, there is no base to the argument against them. Though TEDs are a requirement on trawl nets, they are not yet required on the skimmer nets so often used in the Gulf of Mexico, creating yet another loophole for turtle bycatch to slip through.

Deeply rooted in a unique culture, desperately attempting to survive against the odds in a habitat where water represents more than recreation, but rather a way of life, Louisiana fishermen and law makers, along with the National Marine Fisheries Service overseeing regulation enforcement, need to realize that the only means of persistence is to adapt. If I achieve one goal with this internship, I hope that I manage to successfully convey the message to my beloved home state that progress necessitates change, and in this instance, everyone involved, including the commercial fishing industry, stands to benefit from proper use of TEDs.

If we allow this travesty to continue, it may reach a point of no return, a point where mutually cooperative policy no longer remains an option. We cannot allow ourselves to reach a point where the policies needed to protect the five species of endangered and threatened sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico necessitate drastic reductions in the fishing industry that sustains so much of the life and culture of my dearly beloved Cajun Country.

STRP has compiled a list of concerned scientists, fisheries managers, and industry representatives who support the call for action by NMFS. So come on Louisiana, work with me and the Sea Turtle Restoration Project to demand that our government agencies enforce the long standing federal law requiring the protection of our ancient, ailing sea turtles with no negative consequences for the shrimp fisheries of the Gulf Coast.

--Chevron runs roughshod over Australian Aboriginals at Wheatstone project
--Sea turtle guru tells all in Outside
--Taking Action to End Sea Turtle Drownings by Shrimp Trawls in the Gulf of Mexico
--News, Videos, and Fundraising Expeditions Bolster Leatherback Watch Program
--Farallones Expedition Trip Report for Leatherback Watch Program

Reviews published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Check out my kindle BOOKS!:Whose Body, by Dorothy Sayers (the Annotated Edition)The Coldest Equations (science fiction)Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure HuntersThe Lady and the Tiger...Moth