Saturday, December 28, 2013

Friday, December 27, 2013

Looking for a new book to read?

ebooksoda.com will send customized book choices to your email. Check it out!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Everyone loves frozen custard!




Too cute!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Do You Review?

So many people, myself included, buy and read a book then move on without another thought. Whether you enjoyed the book or not, leaving a review is so helpful, not only to other potential readers but to the author as well. Reviews don't have to be long or professionally edited ; >) Anything you liked or didn't like about the book will be beneficial to the next person who's considering reading it.

It could possibly even help the author improve his or her writing. If there are things that you really enjoyed or didn't enjoy about the book, leaving a quick review noting a couple of things, good and/or bad, might draw the author's attention to something they hadn't noticed before. Perhaps even leading to changes that make the book or future writings even better.

Not much can be done about personal taste. If you don't like the style of writing or if there is too much or too little of things you are or aren't looking for (sex, drugs, violence), it's okay to make mention of that in your review, too. It might help someone else decide if the book is something they want to read. I think it's only fair to mention in the review that the book was well written (if it was), just not something you enjoyed.

I think the main thing to remember is that every book is written by a human being. Please be kind in your reviews! You don't have to sugar coat anything but you don't have to tear the work to shreds either. ; >) A simple "The book had too many typos for my taste." as opposed to "The book must have been written by a five year because no adult could write that bad." would be good. The first statement can be improved upon. The second, well unless the book was written by a five year old, that's just degrading the author without adding any useful input that could help improve the work.

If you usually don't, start leaving a review for every book you buy. "Great plot." "Great characters." "Slow start." "Lots of typos." If you feel like leaving something longer and more detailed, all the better! If you already do leave reviews, that's great! I'm sure every author you've left a review for appreciated it! (Unless it's the five year old comment from above. ;>)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Are you ready for Christmas? Isaiah 9:6

Isaiah 9:6
King James Version (KJV)

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Monday, December 9, 2013

FREE Holiday Fonts

FREE Holiday Fonts

There are a lot of fun fonts for Christmas here. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Scinegue Series

Buy books 1 and 2 now to get ready for book 3, The Forest!

Book one, Scinegue, introduces us to Billy and Sarah Roth and the secretive company Billy works for, appropriately named Scinegue. Coded messages and an evil conspiracy take Billy and Sarah through a whirlwind of revelations and hard choices.

Book two, The Pledge, finds evil targeting the Roth's unborn child! Evil has an assignment and is determined to complete it. Billy, with help from The Protectors, is even more determined to stop it. Even if it means walking away from his destiny.

Book three, The Forest, opens with a wedding and ends with a funeral. In between, Scinegue is under attack by a eugenics company with evil intent. It wants Scinegue's medical records in order to target those people for elimination. The Protectors are once again busy trying to track down the evil and find a way to stop it. Even at great loss to themselves.

I hope you'll enjoy all three books. Leave a comment and let me know which is your favorite. And don't forget to leave a review on Amazon or wherever you purchase your books!

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Treasured Christmas Tradition

The Christmas season is a wonderful time for upholding annual traditions and starting new ones. One of my favorite 'traditions' started as a craft project when my girls were little bitty. I would make a batch of what we called salty dough (I'll add a recipe at the end) and instead of hand prints we made foot prints. I then made them into Christmas tree ornaments!

(Yes, the ornaments are heavy. They put a pretty big strain on the branches the last time we had a real tree. I have no trouble with them on our artificial tree, though.)

I love to pull out the prints every year and marvel at how tiny my girls were.

Not exactly a tradition you probably want to start if your 'little' one already wears a size 10, but if those feet are still little bitty, trust me, it makes for a fun memory.

Salty dough recipe:

1 cup white flour
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup water

Mix the ingredients (This is also a fun dough for the kids to play with if they don't have issues with gluten. If you're making it to play with, you can divide it and add some food coloring to make it even more fun.)

Add a bit more flour or water to get a good consistency for the dough. Shape the dough the way you want it. I used circles and rectangles but stars or hearts would be nice too.

Capture your little wiggly one (or was it only mine who were wiggly?!). Press their foot gently but firmly into the dough and make sure you're happy with the print. If not, just smush up the dough and start over. If so, add a small hole to the top for the ribbon and it's time to dry your print.

You can patiently wait for it to air dry or pop it in a 250 degrees F oven for about 2 hours (Time will vary depending on thickness so just keep an eye on it.)

When it's really dry (maybe even wait a day or two), paint it with acrylic paint in the color you choose (I used gold). When that dries you can add any information you want to the front or back with a paint pen: name, date, age, a bible verse?

Thread a ribbon through the hole and you're ready to add a new ornament to the tree and a new tradition to your holidays. Repeat every year until those little feet just aren't quite as cute ; >) and you'll make some memories you'll treasure forever.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Looking for a 'cozy suspense'?

The Scinegue series might be just what you're looking for.

Books 1 and 2, Scinegue (The Scinegue Series (Book 1))
and The Pledge, are available on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Nobles and iBooks.

Book 3, The Forest, is in the editing stages and should be released early next year. Give the series a shot and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Can clean (or cozy) books be successful?

I'm counting on it! ; >)

I love to read and will read almost anything (almost) but over the years I've realized I don't like reading a book that leaves my stomach in knots from stress or fear. Life can be stressful enough without adding fictitious drama to it.

With the Scinegue series I've tried to write books about things that could really happen (probably wouldn't happen, but could) but without capitalizing on the violence and/or sex or just plain horror that sometimes really does happen in real life.

Okay, so I just lost a bunch of readers right there who are looking for just those things that I'm trying to minimize in my books. And that's okay. We all have different tastes. What I'm hoping is that there are others out there with tastes similar to mine. People who want to read stories that aren't squeaky clean with unicorns and rainbows (huh? guess that's how I picture something REALLY happy ; >) but clean enough that they aren't stress inducing.

***I've found myself getting a little emotional with the ending I've written for The Forest, the 3rd book in The Scinegue Series. But...I don't think I'm stressed and I really don't think the writing will cause stress for anyone else, even though it is kind of involved. At least it is for me...

I can't wait to release The Forest so I can get some feedback on how others are affected by it. Will anyone be stressed by it? Touched? Bored?! (Yikes! I hope not.)

I'm writing stories that I like to read and that's what makes writing fun. I'm so happy to share them with others who enjoy them too!

Do you choose to read or write clean fiction? What are your reasons?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Facebook

I've finally joined Facebook. Now I'm not really sure what to do with it. ; >) I'm guessing I'll figure it out as I go but if you have any helpful tips I'm all ears. Come visit my page S.R. Booth.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/SR-Booth/224197621092163?ref=hl

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Have you ever read this book?

The Mood Cure: The 4-Step Program to Take Charge of Your Emotions--Today was such an interesting book!

I'm not saying it will hold the answers to everyones problems but...it might ; >)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Are there GMO's hiding in your pantry?

Sounds a little creepy, right? Do you really know what's in the food you're eating? Anytime you eat a processed food, odds are pretty good there will be something genetically modified in it. Too bad GMOs aren't labeled so WE can make an educated decision to eat them or not.

Excerpt from Scinegue (The Scinegue Series (Book 1))

“Okay, I think we need to slow down. We're jumping to some far-fetched conclusions from the little bit of actual information we have. We can’t really be thinking that plans for worldwide eugenics are being made by the company I just happen to work for, can we?”
“Why not?” Sarah asked quietly with a shrug.
Billy didn’t answer for a few minutes, then said, “Even if that’s the case, what could we do about it?”
“I don’t know. I was thinking about that before you got home. There are a lot of people online making claims that this kind of stuff is really happening, and they're written off as crazy or conspiracy theorists. As far as I can tell, no one is paying much attention to anything they're saying.” 
She considered some of the claims she’d read by these people. If they were right, then Scinegue—or people who believed as they did—had been plotting and scheming for many years, and had already put many of their ideas to reduce the population into motion. She thought of some of the plans she read about utilizing simple things—like tampered medicines or foods—to kill off people considered undesirable.
The few over the counter medicines she and Billy took recently when they’d had the flu popped into her mind, and she wondered if any of them could have been altered by one of those schemes. She thought about the processed foods even now in their pantry.
“We have to throw out all of the processed food!” she cried as she jumped up and rushed to the kitchen pantry. 
Boxes were flung to the floor as she went from shelf to shelf. “We can’t eat anything that's genetically modified. Some of the sites I read said that's one of the tools that could potentially be used to kill people off. All kinds of stuff can be done with genetic engineering. You only hear the good sides of it. Better yields, healthier crops.” Her muted voice came out of the pantry as she pulled items from the very back. “They don’t advertise the bad things that can be done with it.” 
Billy stepped over the packages on the floor and put his hands on her shoulders. “Hey, calm down,” he murmured. “We’ll work this out, okay? We don’t know if any of this is real, and there is no sense making ourselves crazy thinking it is until we have more proof.” Billy spoke soothingly and wrapped his arms around her as Sarah leaned back against him, closed her eyes, and tried to release the stress that had been building from the moment she’d deciphered that paper.
“You’re right. You’re right,” she repeated. “It might be nothing.” She pulled away slightly to loosen his grip and twisted around to look up at him. “But we are not going to eat any genetically modified foods until we have proof that they're healthy. Got it?” she asked with a firm poke to his chest.
“Got it!” He smiled and leaned down to kiss the tip of her nose. “You have such a cute nose,” he said playfully, trying to ease their tension.
Pushing him away with a snort of laughter, Sarah ran both hands through her hair. “This is not the time to be playing around. I think I just had a mini breakdown!” She tilted her head considering. “That’s probably another mark against me. ‘Breaks down easily,’” she said in a deep, announcer style voice.
“Not a breakdown," Billy consoled, "just a reaction to the world possibly being much more sinister than we thought.”

Sarah bent down and started picking up the boxes and bags of food she'd thrown to the floor. Her favorite brownie mix, instant meals, Styrofoam cups of soup. She’d grown up eating these things. Had they really changed so much over the years? Had they changed at all?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Is Perma-free a good idea?

Let me start by saying I'm still undecided. I've read over and over about authors who offer the first book in their series perma-free and have gained many readers who might not have ever taken a risk on their books at regular price. The free book offers the reader a very good sample of the writer's style and if the reader enjoys the book then they can go on to purchase additional books in the series or at least by the same author.

The down side. I just finished reading a free book, The Emperor's Edge, and really enjoyed it. It was a book that I never would have purchased because it just doesn't sound like something I would normally like to read. When it became a 2013 Goodreads Choice Awards Nominee it grabbed my attention and since it was free I gave it a try. I'm glad I had the opportunity to read it because like I said, it was good! What's bad is I don't know if I'll buy the next book in the series because I can't help but wonder which other free books are out there that I would enjoy reading.

I guess with my one example the perma-free was a good idea. I personally would not have purchased this book but since I was able to read the first in the series free and found out I liked it, I am at least considering purchasing future books in the series. If it hadn't been available for free I would have passed the series by completely.

Do you usually buy other books in a series after reading the first one free?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Self publishing with KDP Select?

I've been very happy with Kindle Direct Publishing. It is so very user friendly. Really great for someone just starting out in the self-publishing world. I wasn't quite as happy with the Select program. Not that there's anything wrong with it. I think it's a great idea. Maybe just not the best idea for new, unknown authors.

As a requirement for select you publish your work exclusively through KDP. In return you are part of their lending program and receive a share of the profits based on how many times your book is borrowed. You also have the opportunity to offer special prices on your book such as 'free' for a certain number of days or you can offer a 'Countdown deal'.

The downside is that not every reader uses Amazon. (surprising I know!) By publishing exclusively through KDP you might be missing out on readers at other sites like Apple and  Barnes and Noble who might love your work if they just had a chance to see it.

I personally, with my very limited bit of experience, believe a new author should publish to as many platforms as possible. (Maybe not the first day, in case there are a couple of last minute correction to be made. It's much easier to do that from just one site.) Once you've given each platform a fair amount of time then you can make the decision of whether or not to enter into an exclusivity contract with KDP Select.

If you are getting a lot of sales on other platforms, it's probably not a good idea to pull your books. However, if you're only getting sales from Amazon, what a great opportunity to take part in some of the special KDP Select benefits.

I'm continually learning about self-publishing and I might come across reasons why my opinion is completely wrong. (If I do I'll be sure to update this article.) But for now this is where I stand.

8/1/14 Update! I'm getting close to releasing the final book in The Scinegue Series and am hoping to attract some new readers to the series so I've taken Scinegue, the first book in the series, out of KDP select and added it to some other sites like Barnes & Nobles and Apple. I'm planning to do another promotion on it in a month or so, and after that I can judge how sales are doing at each site. I can always re-enroll in select later if I'm not getting many sales elsewhere.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Re-uploading a book file to KDP

I think I might have figured out what kept causing KDP to hang up when I would re-upload my book file after making minor changes/corrections.

A couple of times I've uploaded my book only to preview it with the KDP's online previewer and find an error. After fixing the problem I would upload the revised file and the upload wheel would just spin and spin and spin.... eventually giving me an error message that the file couldn't be uploaded and to try again.

I tried something different the last time I ran into this. Before re-uploading a corrected file, I saved my page to 'draft' status. Then I uploaded the new file and had no problems at all.

I'm not sure that's the absolute solution since I've only had the opportunity to try it once. But it's definitely the way I'll do it next time. (Because unfortunately there will be a next time...I'm far from perfect!)

How firm are your beliefs?

Scinegue, Book 1 of The Scinegue Series -

Billy Roth is an honorable man who always thought he was content just to be able to comfortably provide for his wife, Sarah. Tempted with riches and prestige beyond his imaginings he finds himself struggling to maintain his convictions, as it appears the strange disappearances of his coworkers are being orchestrated by Scinegue, the company that's offering him everything.

Scinegue claims it wants the best for every person but Sarah uncovers evidence that points to a covert agenda set to destroy all who don't meet its standards. Billy must discover the truth behind what Sarah has found if he wants to keep her safe, but when the answer he's seeking has a supernatural edge will he be able to accept it?


Does this make you wonder how firm your beliefs really are? It's easy to think we would never let ourselves give in to temptation—if we're not being tempted. But what about when you are being tempted? When that carrot is dangling within your grasp. Do you stand firm in your convictions or tweak your convictions just enough to allow you to do what you want?

Scinegue is a suspense novel but it's also about convictions. 

Billy Roth isn't a bad man, he's actually a very good one who's filled with a noble sense of right and wrong. Watching him struggle with the temptations he faces is a good reminder that being firm in your convictions isn't always as easy and straightforward as it seems.

You can read the first few chapters of Scinegue for free on Amazon.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Just keep writing

My typical writing goal is 3000 words a day. It seems to be pretty attainable and usually I reach it, but sometimes I don't. There are times when the words flow onto the page and 3000 is easy. But other times the words don't come easy.

I didn't invent the phrase, but I use it. Just keep writing is the best thing I've found I can do, especially if I'm having trouble with a particular part of the story. If I keep tinkering with what I have, trying to make it work I lose valuable time and sometimes it's just not ready to work.

Writing to the best of my ability, but not stressing about the rough edges, allows me to go further into the story. Then when I come back to the trouble spot, I often see a way of making it better. Or maybe I decide the reason it was so much trouble was because it just doesn't belong and I make the decision to delete it.

I'm thankful for the words which give me the freedom to not expect perfection on a first draft and allow me to just keep writing.

Do you have any motivational words that help you write?

The Pledge Book 2 in The Scinegue Series

The Pledge
Billy and Sarah Roth are happy--really happy. The last six months at Scinegue have been peaceful and productive and their lives are back to normal. Billy enjoys learning about the company's secretive high-tech projects and Sarah is expecting their first child.

Happiness turns to tragedy as an accident kills a close friend and comes close to claiming Sarah's life. A possessed nurse tries to finish the job and the Protectors realize evil is in their midst once again, and no one is safe from It's influence.

The Roth's unborn child seems to be the target and Billy thinks the source might be someone he works with. It's possible he's right while still being wrong. Will he end up trusting the wrong people? All that really matters now is that someone finds a way to stop the Evil before It can accomplish It's mission.


The Pledge can be read as a standalone but reading Scinegue (sin a gue) first provides an introduction to the characters and setting that will add to your reading experience.

Medical disclaimer in novels?

I would think  a novel, which by definition is a work of fiction, would make a medical disclaimer unnecessary. But I might just add one to the second and third books in The Scinegue Series. I talk about things as diverse as using wheat grass juice powder on a burn to using OoO to fight a demonic infection. I would think it would be pretty clear that no medical advice was being offered but now days I don't think it's worth taking a chance. I'm going to add a disclaimer to The Pledge for now and then spend some time really researching the subject. One of the great benefits of an ebook is the ability to make changes!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thoughts on writing a blurb

I'm writing this because it's something I've really struggled with. I've gone from giving almost no information about my books in a blurb in an attempt to let everything be a 'big surprise' as the reader discovers it as they read the story, to giving away too much. I've had advice from some excellent writers and great people and I've tried to learn from every suggestion I've been given. One thing I've learned, which should really come as no surprise is that everyone has a different opinion on what works best.

One thing everyone agrees on is that it's vital to hook your reader with the first sentence. With so many wonderful book selections available with the click of a finger, readers aren't going to waste time on something that doesn't grab their interest within the first few seconds. I understand completely and feel the same way. The challenge of course is to express all the greatness that's contained in the hundreds of pages of your book in a sentence. If that first sentence is strong enough then you might just have the chance to hook your reader with the remainder of your blurb.

Some of the best advice I've heard is to read blurbs from the best selling books in your category. Yes, authors who are already well known might not need the strongest blurbs because people already know they enjoy their writing and are willing to give their new books a chance. I'm not saying they don't have great blurbs because they quite usually do, but I think it's even better to look at the unknown authors with best sellers. What are they doing right that's not only attracting attention but convincing people to buy their books?

Strong verbs are important. Would you rather read a story described as 'nice' or one described as 'fascinating', 'suspenseful', or 'intriguing'? Pretty straightforward but sometimes forgotten in the blurb writing process. The blurb itself should be fascinating and suspenseful and intriguing but not more so than the book! It's never fun when the book you read doesn't live up to it's blurb.

I'm off to rework the blurb for Scinegue once again. The feedback I've had from readers has been very positive towards the book, the blurb seems to need more work.

Do you have any great tips you would like to share? Please leave a comment.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Formatting styles for Pages

I use Pages for Mac to write and I love it. What I've read elsewhere and what's been proven true, is you can't use the buttons for styles on the format bar like bold or italic. You have to create a Style and then apply that style to the text. I don't know why, but it is so. Do not use the buttons to format your text. You will regret it when you have to go back through your entire document finding each usage of bold or italic or underline and redefine it from the styles you finally broke down and made. (ask me how I know ; >)

 Making a style is very easy in Pages. You can start by defining the body of your work which is what you want the majority of your text to look like. Get the correct font and size (12 point Times New Roman is usually recommended) just like you normally would.

Under View, select 'show style drawer'. Highlight a bit of the text that you just formatted, Click on the down arrow to the right of 'Body' in the Style drawer then click 'Redefine style from selection'. If you've already done some typing you'll want to select it all and then double click on Body to apply that style to it.

It's easy to add attributes at this point. Highlight a word you want to show as bold or italic, click the button in the format bar to make it how you want it (yes, you may click the button now). Then highlight the word you formatted and in the style drawer in the middle section under 'Character Styles' click the down arrow beside 'None' and then click 'Create new Character style' from selection. Name it something you will remember (italics, Use for notes, First letter of a paragraph). From that point on any time you want another letter or word in that style simply highlight it and then double click the style you want to apply.

The main thing is don't let yourself forget about using the styles you've made as you're typing away. It's easy to get caught up and click on the style button in the format bar out of habit. Your document will look fine on Pages but any formatting that you do without going through a style will not show up properly when you send your work to be published (for ebooks).

Blurb

Scinegue Description:

Billy Roth thought he was content just to be able to comfortably provide for his wife, Sarah, until he’s tempted with riches and prestige beyond his imaginings. Now he struggles to maintain his convictions as it appears the disappearances of his coworkers are being orchestrated by Scinegue, the company that’s offering him everything.

Scinegue claims it wants the best for every person but Sarah uncovers evidence that points to a covert agenda to destroy all who don’t meet its standards. Billy must discover the truth if he wants to keep Sarah safe but when the answer he's seeking has a supernatural edge will he be able to accept what he finds?

Short Version:


There’s something strange about Scinegue, the secretive company that’s offering Billy Roth the chance of a lifetime. A prestigious job, a house, a car…but he can’t take it, can he? He can ignore some of the suspicious activity that surrounds the company, but he won’t divorce his wife, Sarah, as part of the job stipulations, not even for show. That stipulation is lifted—maybe it was a mistake?—and he feels as if he’s just won the lottery. Now the only question is; will accepting the position cost him his life—or his soul?

Okay! I must get back to writing.

Okay! I must get back to writing. It's so easy to get distracted and side tracked. (Especially when you're having fun setting up a new blog!) It's important to focus on what your distractions are and if they're becoming a problem, find a way to eliminate them.

So, some things can't be eliminated like a baby crying or in my case a dog that needs to go outside...again. But I'm trying to confine my internet usage to first thing in the morning before I start writing, during my lunch break and after dinner in the evenings. If I know I can use it during those times I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything important and I'm not as tempted to take a peek into what's happening on my favorite sites when I should be writing. (or anything else that I need to get done.)

Do you have any tricks for reducing your distractions?
Well, I think I did it all wrong. I wrote my first series the way I wanted to. Now it doesn't fit perfectly into a single genre! Oh, well. I'm having fun with it so that's something but it really makes it hard to advertise ; >)

It is Christian, suspense, mystery, supernatural, fantasy, a little sci-fi, health and nutrition, conspiracy, a bit of romance. And I picture it a cozy mystery although only because it is clean and pretty 'stress free' reading. It doesn't have the typical interesting/comedic heroines I usually associate with cozies, just Billy and Sarah.

 Hmm...I'm working on book three now and will have to see if I add any more categories.

I'm not convinced this is a bad thing though. Life is filled with variety and sometimes romance blooms in the middle of suspense and nutrition tips can be gleaned in the midst of a conspiracy. Right?

Any thoughts on how to categorize something like this? I think I'll probably focus my next series a little bit more - maybe.