How can we encourage more readers to leave reviews for our books?

Oh, yes, please! It would be lovely to have more reviews for my novels, and this article by Sally Cronin is a great one for readers and writers alike. For readers, there is a great section with some questions you might care to answer in your review of a book. Very helpful if you’re unsure how to write a worthwhile review. For writers, the article gives some great suggestions as to what to put at the end of your story, on the very next page, in the hopes that those who enjoyed your novel will care to write a review.
Excellent suggestions all round. Thank you, Sally.

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

I am very keen to make reviews a prominent feature of the book promotions and encourage readers to review the books that they buy and enjoy, or not as the case may be.

Word of mouth is still the most powerful marketing tool that anyone who is selling a product benefits from. Authors are no different, and our books tend to be judged by the number and quality that they have received.

Part of the problem is that those who are not writers of books or blogs are uncomfortable in offering reviews and feel that what they have to say is not important. Many who do review a book, leave just one line after their star rating, simply saying that the reader enjoyed or disliked a book, but they do not elaborate.

That is obviously very welcome. But whilst a potential reader does not want to read three pages filled…

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The Thief of Time

Time.

Such a precious commodity. We all have exactly the same amount of it in a day.

Twenty-four hours. No more, no less.

So how can it be stolen? And who steals it?

Does someone break into the house, gather it up in his fists or stuff it in a rucksack and make off with it?

How come I keep hearing folks say time’s run out? How can it run out? Where does it run to?

The short answer is that time doesn’t run out. Of course it doesn’t run out. It’s fixed. Twenty-four hours every day. Sixty minutes every hour.

So, where does it go?

Something happens to it, that’s for sure, because I never have enough of it in any one day. It doesn’t seem to matter when I get up or when I go to bed, there are things I just didn’t get time to do. Know the feeling? I decided to play detective and follow the clues left lying around the house. You know the ones: the half done Sudoku, the iPad on charge …

And right there is the main culprit. The iPad. I love my iPad. I know a lot of folks have moved on to doing everything on their phone, but I find my phone screen is just not big enough to enjoy a good game of Spider Solitaire – oops! – think I’ve found another clue as to where my time’s going.

Right! That’s Spider Solitaire removed from my iPad – again! I keep taking it off and it keeps reappearing. Well, it doesn’t really just appear – I keep putting it back on. It gets me every time. I fancy a couple of games of Spider Solitaire, tell myself it honestly, honestly will only be a couple of games – or three. Three’s a nice number. But I’m an addict. I can’t have just one game, or even three. Hours can pass unnoticed while I’m moving four onto five, three onto four … you know the game. Hours that I wanted to use for something else. Like writing a proper blogpost.

The other clue I found was the number of retweets I had on Twitter. There can only be retweets if there’s been tweets. How long had I been tweeting? Too long. But there’s purpose to tweeting, isn’t there? Don’t I keep reading that an author needs an online presence? Well, yeah! But how many hours would I need to be chirping away, tweeting on Twitter, to build up any sort of meaningful presence? I don’t know the statistics, but there must be more tweets per second than there are milliseconds. Twitter is a monster of a moving machine. Try it! Write a tweet and watch it disappear under the avalanche of new tweets before your very eyes. It’s scary! Fortunately I’ve never become addicted to Twitter, so I can minimise time spent there quite easily with no loss of pleasure. Done!

FaceBook, Instagram, emails, WhatsApps and texts – well, I’m just gonna have to learn to control them, because they do serve a useful purpose. They keep me in touch with friends and family, especially those in far-flung corners of the globe …

Now there’s another thing! How can a globe have corners? Hmmm! Think I’ll Google who thought up that saying …

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If you’ve got the time, why not check out my novels on Amazon.

Reading a good book is always a good use of time.

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One Day Only

One Day Only

You’ve got one night day only, one night day only
That’s all you have to spare
One night day only
One night day only … as the song almost goes …

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For today, the 16th of March only, you can download the first book in The Reluctant Detective series, Searching for Summer, FREE on Amazon Kindle.

As a special ‘Thank You’ for bearing with me while I have been ‘missing in action’ and not posting much here lately, I thought I’d give you this special opportunity to pick up one of my novels as a gift from me to you.

So here it is, but you’ll have to be quick. It’s only FREE today, 16th March.

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What genre is Searching for Summer?

Contemporary Women’s Fiction, a #CleanIndieRead, with no swearing, sex or violence.

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What’s it about?

Mirabelle’s daughter, Summer, disappears one Friday night, and Mirabelle would dearly love to rewind that day and live it differently. Instead, she is left not knowing if Summer is alive or dead, went of her own accord or was taken against her will. Casting all other concerns aside – food, sleep, work, relationships – in her desperate need to find the answers, she takes to the streets of Edinburgh in search of Summer. Searching along wynds snaking behind old buildings, through ancient doors and tiny spiral stairways, showing Summer’s photograph to everyone she meets in shops, museums and nightclubs, Mirabelle becomes a reluctant detective, gathering clues, trying to make sense of them in order to find her missing daughter.

~~~

What do other’s think about it?

“It is unfair, in a review, to spoil the story for the reader by telling the outcome. So, you won’t find the answer to whether Mirabelle finds Summer from here. What you will find is an enthusiastic encouragement to read “Seaching For Summer”. This is so much more than a mystery to be solved. It is an endorsement of life lived with determination and, most importantly, hope.” ~~~Barbara A. Martin

“Searching for Summer confounded all my pre-conceived ideas of what a book about a missing teenager would be like. Of course there is despair and self-blame, but Summer’s mother Mirabelle is such a large, intense personality that I was instantly involved with her search around the streets of Edinburgh…” ~~~ Lizanne Lloyd

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Don’t forget, Searching for Summer is FREE for

One Night Day Only!

Click here to download your copy now.

~~~

Music in Fiction – Part One – Guest Post by Christine Campbell…

it is always such a pleasure to be invited to write for the StoryReadingApe blog, and writing this series of articles about Music in Fiction has been fun and enlightening for me. I particularly love when my post incites comment and discussion, as this one has, because I always learn so much more about the subject through the insights of others. Love it!
Thank you, Chris, for the opportunity to provoke discussion on one of my favourite topics.

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

We are all readers.

I can say that with a pretty good degree of certainty because I know I am – and I know you are because you are reading this article right now. Perhaps you are a lover of non-fiction and that’s why you are reading it, or perhaps the title has drawn you in because it is something to do with fiction.

Some of you may also be writers, as I am.

There are many devices we can use to help us bring our writing to life. In this short series of articles, I take a fairly light-hearted look at just one of them. Music.

7256543 - musical notes on blue and white swirlsLicence to use obtained – Copyright: soleilc1 / 123RF Stock Photo

I don’t intend to become too scholarly about it, so, if you’re looking for in-depth analysis of the part music plays in fiction, I’m afraid you’ll have to look elsewhere. However, I…

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Writing Update

Hi there! It seems a while since last I posted about my own writing, so I thought I’d give you an update of how I’m progressing with my next novel.

For What it’s Worth is about a married couple whose marriage is under stress because of two main factors: Hugh is out of work and Yvonne is working too hard; and despite years of trying, they have been unsuccessful in their efforts to start a family. Two problems many people face, sometimes even together. So Yvonne and Hugh’s story is one many people can relate to. But we all deal with things in our own unique way, don’t we? So, although you might know someone who has been in their position – you might even have been in that position yourself – I haven’t written their story, or your story. I’ve written Yvonne and Hugh’s story. It’s about how they handle the stress, how they decide to move forward. You might not agree with their choices, but I hope you’ll be cheering them on.

This novel is not part of The Reluctant Detective Series, but it is a spin off from it. Yvonne is Mirabelle’s sister. If you read the series, you’ll probably remember that Mirabelle was the main character – and quite a character, quirky, eccentric and unpredictable – and she has a part to play in this new novel, but as a supporting character.

She was too much fun to write about to let her go 🙂

If you’re a writer, have you ever found it hard not to go on writing about a certain character even after their story has been written? It’s like keeping in touch with an old friend.

For What it’s Worth has been drafted, redrafted, edited, beta read, edited, redrafted, edited and is now with some more beta readers. Depending on their feedback, it will hopefully not be too long until the final proofread and polish before publication.

Tell me, when you read a book, do you like to think of the writing process that book had to go through before it landed on your bedside table? I must confess I love reading author interviews and profiles, learning as much as I can about the author and their work. I find it helps me understand where the story might have originated, and so enhances my understanding of it.

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To learn more about me as an author and about The Reluctant Detective Series or any of my published novels, please check the sidebar or click on my Amazon Author page.

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Featured Book: The Writer’s Book Launch Guide

As an author with another novel almost ready to be released, I thought I’d like to feature a book that I read recently on the subject. Unfortunately, I am not starting to prepare for my launch twelve months ahead, which is where the book starts giving helpful suggestions, but there is still a lot in this book that I find very useful.

Let me pass you over to the author, Keely Brooke Keith, to tell you all about her book.

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Book marketing and promoting can be intimidating for authors. Since the day I (Keely Brooke Keith) signed my first publishing contract, I’ve kept a list of book promoting ideas. With each book launch, I try them and add to them for my next launch. I have both traditionally published friends and indie friends who’ve asked for my list (and a couple of publishers too). So, I created The Writer’s Book Launch Journal and spread the to-do lists over 12-months to turn it into an easy to follow plan for any author. Many of my author friends love this journal, as even some big publishers rarely give a book’s publicity more than a couple hours of an intern’s time these days.

Whether you’re an indie author or signed to a publisher, let The Writer’s Book Launch Journal guide you through the marketing and promotional tasks every author should do to ensure a successful book launch. Filled with checklists of essential tasks, an abundance of publicity suggestions, and questions to personalize your promotions, The Writer’s Book Launch Journal will lead you on the journey to a fun and fulfilling book launch.

And since some authors want the information in The Writer’s Book Launch Journal but prefer to scroll through the checklists on their computer, I’ve also written the ebook The Writer’s Book Launch Guide: A Step-By-Step Plan to Give Your Book the Best Launch Possible. This ebook is a good companion to The Writer’s Book Launch Journal because the tasks are explained in more depth. I recommend getting both the journal and the ebook together.

Discover how and when to:
* Ready your author website
* Craft a compelling book description
* Rally your writing allies
* Recruit a launch team
* Build media connections
* Get book endorsements
* Create a media kit
* Find book reviewers
* Use social media
* Create promotional videos
* Run giveaways
* Contact book bloggers
* Let book websites spread the word for you
* Throw a book launch party
* Send email announcements
* And much more!

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I thought this was a very well presented and well researched publication, with loads of useful information and suggestions. It might have been nice to have a little more ‘how to’ help for some of the suggestions, but it would probably not be difficult to find that elsewhere online. I haven’t as yet purchased the Writer’s Book Launch Journal, but I certainly plan to, having read the book.

Altogether, I found this a very useful addition to my writer’s resources library, and I shall try to implement as many of the suggestions as I can in the time left before the launch of my next novel.

You can learn more about Keely and her resources for writers here on her website.

~~~

You can find the three books of The Reluctant Detective Series and four more stand-alone novels  written by Christine Campbell here on Amazon

And look out for her next novel, Foe What it’s Worth, coming shortly.

~~~

 

 

#FridayReads ~Reviewing my favourite books from 2016

What a wonderful surprise to find one of my books on a reviewer’s list of her favourite books from 2016! And in such great company! Thank you Lizanne Lloyd. I feel honoured, and I’m delighted.

Lizanne

According to Goodreads, of the 65 books I have read this year, 21 are contemporary stories, 18 historical fiction, 7 crime novels and 5 mysteries. In addition, I chose to read 5 non-fiction history books, 3 steampunk novels, 2 travel books, one young child’s book, one dystopian novel and one of literary fiction. Only one is specifically a romantic novel, but of course romance often turns up in historical novels or mysteries too and definitely in most contemporary stories. There is a lot of blurring at the edges.
The number of books in each category does not surprise me, but perhaps next year I should try self-help, vampire books or maybe return to fantasy or science fiction. I’m not promising!
These are my highlights of the year.

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Midnight Sky Cover LARGE EBOOK

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Rusty

AB Bamboo Island

Lake House

I could list more, but I will stop with these chosen few from my favourite genres; historical, contemporary and mystery.  If you click…

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Introducing a Revamp

We all know that hard work generally brings the best result. You can only get out of something what you put into it, can’t you?

And, of course, that’s no different for writers.

If we want to get better at it, it isn’t just about writing more and more words, it’s about studying how to write, reading about writing, reading the work of other well-acclaimed authors, putting in the hours, weeks and months of hard work editing and polishing. Writing the first draft of a story is often the easiest part. In my experience, it is always the easiest part.

For some time now, I’ve been thinking about how my writing has developed and, I like to think, improved over the years I’ve been working at it. I’ve certainly put in a lot of hard work. So I went back to the first book I published and cast a critical eye over it. I was pleasantly surprised with how happy I was with the development of the story. But still, I published Family Matters as a paperback in 2008, followed that up with the eBook in 2013 – so – time for a revamp.

I decided Family Matters needed a new cover, then a bit of fine-tuning. I asked my artist daughter-in-law, Michelle Campbell, to come up with some art for the cover. Once again, she didn’t disappoint. I love the new cover she designed. It’s more modern and relevant to the subject matter – subject matter that I scrutinised and checked until I felt happy.

Next step? I thought I’d share the result with you in the following video. If you haven’t read Family Matters, perhaps you’ll enjoy the excerpt I’ve included.

Thanks for watching, folks. Hope you enjoyed the video. Hope you enjoy the book.

Here’s the link if you wish to purchase it or to READ IT FOR FREE with Kindle Unlimited.

And the link to my Amazon Author Page if you’d care to check out my other books.

Thank you.

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Why not share in the comments what you think of the cover? Or the book?

And do share your stories of the hard work you put into the things you do.

Do you think hard work does pay off?

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Food in Fiction – Part 4 – Guest Post…

It has been a joy writing as guest on The Story Reading Ape’s blog. Thank you, Chris, for the opportunity.

If you didn’t catch the earlier posts in the series, you can read Part One, Part Two, and Part Three by clicking on the links.
To round up the mini series of Food in Fiction, I’ve given you a peek into one of my WIP, For What it’s Worth, with an excerpt that I hope helps you get to know the two main characters in a scene where food is the star of the show.

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

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In this, the fourth and last article on the topic of Food in Fiction, I thought I’d let you into a badly kept secret.

Having been married since forever and having brought up a family of five, I can cook – but I wouldn’t say I was good at it. Perhaps that’s why none of the main characters in my novels have been great cooks. I’ve had my share of disasters too, though not ever on the scale of Hugh’s in my WIP, For What it’s Worth.

By the time she turned into the communal stair of the flats, Sandra had built up a fair head of steam in her boiler, fuelled by the indignity she suffered at work set against the memory of Hugh lying warm and sleepy in their bed when she left him this morning and sitting with his feet on the coffee table all day…

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The Shopping Habit

 

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FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One definition of ‘addiction’ is ‘the condition of being habitually or compulsively occupied with or involved in something’ and this definition brings one of life’s pleasures to mind: shopping.

I don’t think I’m actually addicted to shopping, but I do believe I could easily become addicted, given the chance. Living in the country, miles from any shops, is a help or a hindrance depending on your point of view. I think it’s a help, but if someone wants to throw some spare cash my way, I’m willing to test the theory.

What is decidedly not helpful to a shopping addict is the advent of internet shopping. A while back, when I was driving north with He Who Prefers Not To Be Named, I noticed an enormous, huge, ginormous Amazon warehouse had been built within ten miles of our home, ‘Just for us,’ we agreed. We are both seriously addicted to buying books on Amazon. It is just too easy. However, I have curbed my need for the services of the said warehouse: most of my Amazon purchases now are eBooks.

Research shows that many people buy things they don’t need, some buy things they don’t even want and most of these folks are a bit concerned about their shopping habits, some admitting they are ‘addicted’ to shopping.

In the developed world, merchandisers play to this addiction. Millions of Pounds, Dollars, Euros and Yen are spent every year on advertising. They wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work.

Advertisers play on our emotions, telling us we deserve more and better than we have, assuring us that our life will be enhanced if we buy their products. It rarely turns out to be that way. In the words of an exceptionally wise man: Even when a person has an abundance his life does not result from the things he possesses. (Luke 12:15) and another wise man: A mere lover of silver will not be satisfied with silver. (Ecclesiastes 5:10)

No wonder many shopping addicts are concerned about their shopping habit. They may well have come to the same conclusion – that it is just not bringing them satisfaction. But how to cure the addiction? Often professional help is needed. Identifying the underlying problem is necessary. Having a supportive friend or relative is helpful.

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Several things inspired me to write my novel, ‘Making It Home’.

Being just a teeny bit addicted to shopping was one. The thing is, I can live fine without it until I’m there, in the shopping mall or on the High Street, then I feel as though I’ve failed some test or other if I go home empty-handed. And I know I sometimes fall into the category of buying things I like but I don’t actually need. I mean, do I really need yet another ‘wee top’?

What is it about shopping that gets me?

My addiction is under control now, though it was never a serious problem. In my case, it wasn’t need or loneliness, but it was dissatisfaction with my looks and my figure. I had lost my sense of identity while raising our children and hadn’t found it again yet. I was constantly looking for that perfect dress, the one that would make me look tall and slim, those perfect jeans that would not only be comfortable but would make me look young and vital, that special wee top that would make me feel young and pretty again.

In analysing that, I got caught up in the idea of writing a story about someone who – unlike me, I hasten to add – just couldn’t stop buying things even when the money had well and truly run out. I thought it would be interesting to explore what her underlying problems could be and help her find some help to deal with them.

The discovery of a deceased relative’s secret addiction to shopping was another inspiration, albeit a sad one. Who knew Auntie J was filling her home with purchases she had no use for, filling cupboards and rooms with unopened carrier bags, receipts dating years back still inside them with the items she’d bought: the overwhelming sadness of her loneliness clearly unabated by hundreds of shopping trips? Who knew? Childless and widowed years before, she lived far from extended family and had few friends, mostly by choice, being a very private person. Reluctant to visit or be visited, her secret was only discovered when her home had to be cleared for sale after her funeral.

I used my overwhelming sadness to tell a little of Auntie J’s story in my novel, Making it Home, allowing a fictional character to carry her secret and share her loneliness. I like to think she might have enjoyed the alternative ending.

Making It Home

41C9fKLVtzL._UY250_ Kate had a home, but her heart wasn’t in it – or in her marriage. So she left them both.
Phyllis had a home – and her heart was in it – but she wanted something more. So she shopped.
Naomi had no home and her heart was in cold storage, frozen by grief and fear. So she shopped.
They found one another in a department store in Edinburgh.
The trouble with ‘retail therapy’ is, you can overdose.
As friendship grows between these three women, they help one another face up to their problems, realising along the way, every heart needs a home and it takes more than a house to make one.

Christine Campbell Amazon Author Page

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What about you? How do you feel about shopping: love it or hate it? Do you know what compels you to shop, or is it something you have to force yourself to do when you need a particular item? Please share your shopping thoughts and stories, good or bad, in the comments. I’d love to read them.

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