Book Review 102: Galleys vs. ARCs

Launching a book with strong word of mouth sales right from day one takes a lot of groundwork done months (and years) in advance. Most people realize they need to post excerpts and teasers on their author website, in email newsletters, and on social media, assuming that reviews will trickle in from readers after publication. If you wait until after your book has been published to post a listing on Goodreads or similar sites in order to acquire reviews, you have waited too long.

Many consumers use reviews to make purchasing decisions.  This means authors need to develop a plan to obtain those reviews about a year prior to publication. When sending materials out for review send exactly what the reviewer requests. Some reviewers will accept galleys others require an advance reader copy (ARC). So what is an ARC and how is it different from a galley? Continue reading


Book Review: Gritty, Grisly and Greedy

Gritty, Grisly, Greedy: Stories Inspired By True Crooks And Crimes From My 28 Years As A Fed.
A collection of short stories by Stuart L. Scott

$14.95 available on Amazon.

It’s rare to get fiction and nonfiction all in the same book, but Stuart Scott artfully manages to do both.  His book includes 13 short stories, ranging from well researched accounts of actual events, like the “The Easter Massacre Mystery” that occurred in Pullman, Washington in 1949 to fictionalized accounts of events using characters loosely based on parolees he supervised over the years, like “Pinky and the Piper,” the story of a botched bank robbery in Priest River, Idaho. Continue reading


Beyond Terrestrial Podcast

After coming across my article, “Grizzly Ghosts: Tales of the Hoodoos,” I was invited to be a guest on Dan and Lee’s pod cast with ‘Beyond Terrestrial.’ The article covers ghost stories new and old that have been passed around campfires by decades of scouts attending Camp Grizzly as well as some mysterious happenings that occurred elsewhere in the Hoodoos.

Are these all fanciful tales told by rambunctious Scouts? Or is there something darker lurking in the Hoodoo Mountains? Find a stick for roasting marshmallows and sit down by the fire as we swap summer camp ghost stories! Continue reading


Submitting to the AR Catalog

You have written a book.  It’s great book, a stellar book, a magnificent book.  Yet, it sits on the shelf unsold.

If your intended audience is between the ages of 6 and 18, unless your book is listed in the Accelerated Reader (AR) catalog, it’s unlikely to be purchased by anyone.  Teachers cannot possibly be familiar with the plot, storyline, and characters of every book available to school-age children.  Because of this, many schools turn to Renaissance Learning’s Accelerated Reader (AR) program.  The AR software provides assessments that measure comprehension and reading level.  Consequently, school and library purchasing decisions are often dependent on AR catalog listing.

Authors hoping to bypass schools and libraries, marketing directly to kids (and their parents) are out of luck.  Summer used to be a time for kids to catch-up on ‘fun’ reading.  Now, even it has fallen victim to the AR Catalog.  Racking-up AR points is highly competitive.  Pizza parties and tickets to amusement parks on the line.  Many schools allow students to log points for books read during summer break, so most school-aged children simply will not read a book that does not appear in the AR catalog.

In order to be successful with the school-age demographic, authors need their books listed in the AR catalog.  But, how does one do that? Continue reading


Grizzly Ghosts

Looking for spine chilling ways to amuse your family during this time of social distancing?  My article, Grizzly Ghosts: Tales of the Hoodoos was published in the April 2020 edition of IDAHO Magazine.  The article covers ghost stories new and old that have been passed around campfires by decades of scouts attending Camp Grizzly as well as some mysterious happenings that occurred elsewhere in the Hoodoos. Continue reading


Covid-19: Surviving Isolation

I seldom panic and wasn’t going to prep.  Then both of my kids asked me about Covid-19.  And then the President declared a national emergency and the CDC said we should have a month’s supply of “stuff” on hand.  And now, we’re supposed to avoid places with more than 10 people.

Thanks to the wisdom of my ancestors, who instilled in me the need to preserve and store large quantities of food, I’m still not going to panic.  Some of you may remember the last government shut-down in which I went eight weeks without buying groceries and suffered no adverse effects thanks to my “Mormon Pantry.”  At the time, I joked that it was a dry run to see if I could survive the Zombie Apocalypse.  Turns out, it was a test run for surviving Covid-19.

For the benefit of my children (and possibly their friends and random strangers) I have created menus and a shopping list detailing the items one person needs to shelter in place for a month.  Since most recipes serve four or six, you’ll be eating left-overs several nights in a row, but it beats starvation. Continue reading


Ostara: Eggs and Bunnies

The time of the vernal equinox was auspicious in ancient cultures.  In the Anglo-Saxon calendar, Eostremonath was named after Eostre (Ostara in Old High German), the maiden goddess of dawn and the spring.  At the time of the equinox a feast is celebrated in her honor, replete with offerings of rabbit shaped cakes and colored eggs.  This is because Eostre adopted both the hare and egg as her symbols.

According to legend, a magical white hare wanted to please Eostre by bringing her a gift.  After careful contemplation of which gifts to bring, he settled on eggs, however, not the usual white or brown ones.   Using his magical powers, he charmed the eggs, so the shells were a variety of pretty colors.  In lieu of a basket, he presented his gift in the very same nest from which he stole the eggs.  The goddess was very pleased with the gift and bestowed upon the hare the nickname ‘Egg Bringer.’  For this reason rabbits and hares, especially white ones, are sacred to her. Continue reading


Book Review 101

According to Jane Friedman the most essential first step for authors is book reviews, not sales.  A good review generates symbolic capital, which helps sell books.  New and self-published authors have no symbolic capital, meaning they are an unknown in the book market.  The key to a successful book launch is acquiring reviews before investing in public promotions.

Many self-published authors and authors published by small presses don’t think about reviews until it’s too late.  The time to start thinking about reviews is about one year prior to publication.  This is because a list of potential reviews must be created before proofs are ordered.  The proofs are sent to selected reviewers as advance reader copies and it can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months before the publisher has a review in hand and is ready to proceed with publication.

But where do these reviews come from?  Many first-time authors turn to paid review sites like YourNewBooks.com, Reading Deals, and Enas Review.  While some paid review sites, like Kirkus, are accepted and trusted sources by many in the industry, most are not worth the trouble (or the money).  The draw for many of these sites is that if the review is negative the author can chose not to have it published.  However, American Heart initially received a glowing review and was awarded a Kirkus star, only to have the star removed–Kirkus forced the reviewer to change their review post-publication.  So, if you are going to end up with a publicly available negative review anyway, there are plenty of places to acquire those for free.  Below are the five areas to tap pre-publication to get reviews. Continue reading


Book Review: The Winter King

The Winter King, a novel by Christine Cohen
Available from Amazon for $16.99 (Hardcover)

A Delightful Winter Read

I picked up an autographed copy of this book at an author signing event at BookPeople of Moscow.  It can be a little frightening to try a new author, but Christine Cohen did not disappoint.  Being a person who also dislikes having other people’s winter holidays thrust upon me, I found the main character’s resistance to winter festivities not only relatable, but a delightfully refreshing character trait.

Being an impoverished fifteen-year-old kitchen maid is tough.  Survival is even more difficult when the entire village believes your family has been cursed.  Yet, this is Cora Nikolson’s lot in life.  And she knows exactly where the blame lays, with the Winter King.  The God cursed her family, took her father’s life, and brought them to the brink of starvation.  Cora has no love for God, King, or country.  She despises religion and the Aldormany who carry out the Winter King’s cruel edicts.

After her mother loses her position as head cook, Cora takes on additional work as a housemaid, hoping the extra wages will keep her family from starving.  While dusting shelves in the library, she overhears a conversation between the Master House Steward and the High Aldorman.  They are discussing a book containing secrets regarding the Winter King.  Despite repeated attempts, they have been unable to destroy the book and it is imperative that no one in the village learns about its existence. Continue reading


Camp Grizzly History

My article, “History of the Camp Grizzly Area, 1900 to 1942” appears in the December 2019 edition of the Latah Legacy.

Did you know that before Camp Grizzly was a Boy Scout camp it was used by the Camp Fire Girls? 

And before that it was the site of a mining camp? 

And, despite the rumors you may have heard, it was not a logging camp?  Even though the property was owned by Potlatch Lumber Company for many years, managers William Deary and Allison Laird refused to log the property owing to its natural beauty.

Hard copies of this issue can be purchased for $5 from the Latah County Historical Society, in Moscow, Idaho.  Online versions of both of Camp Grizzly articles are accessible below: Continue reading