Hot August Nights Book Giveaway

Do you need more books to get you through the rest of summer? Would you like to get them free? Would you like to win a $150 Amazon gift certificate? Then the Hot August Nights Reads Giveaway Event (August 2 – 4, 2013) is for you! More than 40 authors have donated books for this event. If you want to see how to enter to win any of these books and join in the fun and games, visit the Facebook Event Page. And while you’re there, don’t forget to look for the pinned post where you can “vote” for me as the one who invited you, so I might win a prize too.

You’ll notice in the image below that both my books are part of this event, so if you want to enter to win An Illusion of Trust specifically, go to Dana Mason‘s blog or to enter to win The Brevity of Roses specifically go to Dana Delamar‘s blog and leave a comment telling them which book you’d like to win. This is a Rafflecopter giveaway, which means you have multiple ways to increase your chances of winning, so read the entry instructions carefully. Good luck!

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The Necessity of Free Books

The day I got my first library card was a 5-star day for me. Even when I moved to Germany, while my husband was in the Army, one of the first things I did was get a card for the base library. As a child, I couldn’t afford to buy books at all, nor did I buy more than a few books during the years I raised my sons. But as our family income increased, I bought just about any book I wanted. Now, as a retiree, that’s over.

library_signI’ve always used the public library to check out the books I didn’t necessarily want to own and to try new authors. And now I’m back to using it almost exclusively. But in this digital age, I have another option—free eBooks. Like most of you, when I got my first eReader, I loaded it up with free books, most of which I’ve never looked at since.

I’m more selective now. I read the descriptions and download only books I think may appeal to me. Not all of them end up drawing me in, of course, and I delete them. But I’ve read many good books I wouldn’t have been able to read if they hadn’t been offered freely.

Part of the drawback of self-publishing is that most of those books will never make it to a library—not even on the digital “shelves.” That’s why I make limited free offers of my books. I know there are others out there like me who are pitifully sad without books to read.

So, to those authors who’ve made it possible for me to read their work freely either by contest, free download, library availability, or by allowing me to beta read, I say THANK YOU.
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An Illusion of Trust cover reveal!

I wish I could report that I’ve not blogged lately because I’ve been lazing by the ocean and dreaming up lovely stories, but the truth is I’ve been in hell. Well, a hell of sorts. I ran into some trouble formatting the ebook versions of An Illusion of Trust. When I finally escaped, I found the world had moved on without me.

lazy_beachMy problems developed because I tried a different approach this time—taking Word-generated html directly to Calibre for conversion. That process works easily for others, not so for me. I shouldn’t have been surprised. I’m persnickety.

I want more control over how my books look than ereaders let me have, which is why I so much prefer formatting books for print. But I’ve learned to compromise on some things and, after progressive steps of simplifying the html, I finally got Calibre to produce the .epub and .mobi files I wanted. I’d done the print formatting weeks ago, so the only thing left to do was create the cover.

I’ve been fiddling with the cover for ages, trying versions with other stock photos before I found the perfect image for this book. But again, for me, it wasn’t suitable out of the box. Fiddle, fiddle, fiddle. Eventually the changes become minute adjustments and then it’s done.

I revealed the cover to my newsletter subscribers on Sunday. Now, I’m revealing it to you. Just click An Illusion of Trust at the top of this page to see the cover and read a few teasy bits from the book. The countdown to publication begins.

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How to Be a Better Goodreads User

Actually, the title of this post is a little ambitious because I’m still learning how to use Goodreads. For a couple of years, I’ve used Goodreads to catalogue the books I read. Of course, my shelves don’t include all the books I’ve read in my lifetime. Wouldn’t that be fantastic if I had such a list? My shelves show many of the books on my home shelves, plus books I don’t own, but remember reading in the last few years.

I haven’t caught up on rating all my books, and I don’t list books I couldn’t give at least three stars or didn’t finish. I haven’t reviewed most of the books on my shelves. It’s something I never gave much thought to until I became a published author. I thought reviewing should be left to professionals. Now, I realize I value more the opinions of readers like me.

Sometimes I’m incredibly slow to catch on. Personalized shelving is one thing I just caught on to at Goodreads. By default, your account has three bookshelves: Read, Currently-Reading, and To-Read. Until recently, I shelved my books only under these choices, but I noticed that readers had placed my book on other shelves. Finally, it dawned on me I could do the same thing with all the books I’d read.

When you look at your list of all books (My Books) you’ll see a list of your default bookshelves and below that the words add shelf. Duh! So now I have twenty-six specialized shelves and I’ll add more if needed. I’m in the process of sorting my books on these more descriptive shelves. You can place a book on several shelves. For instance, I shelved Anne Tyler’s latest, The Beginner’s Goodbye, as Read, Contemporary, and Literary.

If you haven’t done this, and would like to, just add appropriate shelves, then click on the book title. In the section labeled My Review, you’ll see where you’ve shelved the book already (probably read or to read) and you’ll also see the option to edit shelves. Click that and a drop down menu will show you all the shelves you’ve created. Select as many as appropriate.

There are other fun things to do on Goodreads. Befriend or become a “fan” of your favorite authors, attend author Q&A’s, enter book giveaways, join groups, vote for your favorite books on Listopia lists, compare your book lists with others, etc. Someday, maybe I’ll discover it all and be an excellent Goodreads user.

Do you judge a book by its cover?

We’re told not to judge a book by its cover. Then again, we’re told how important first impressions are. Hmmm. Well, when I scroll through a list of books online, it’s their covers that make a first impression, and I do judge them. If a cover is not well designed, or doesn’t fit the tone or genre of the book, it’s not the best cover for that book.

We’re told not to judge a book by its cover. Then again, we’re told how important first impressions are. Hmmm. Well, when I scroll through a list of books online, it’s their covers that make a first impression, and I do judge them. If a cover is not well designed, or doesn’t fit the tone or genre of the book, it’s not the best cover for that book.

Do you see that book cover there on the right? It’s about to change, which I guess makes that cover a collector’s item. I designed that cover with my own artwork. It’s not horrid, but it really only makes sense after you read the book. In that sense, it’s a fail. It also doesn’t make the genre clear. Fail. I did the best I could, but I didn’t really understand the job a book cover plays in selling the book.

This is not just my opinion. Four graphic designers told me the same thing. One of those designers is also a friend, and she offered to help. She doesn’t design full time—she’s also an author—but I’d seen covers she designed for herself and others and thought they were all beautiful, so I said, “Heck yeah!”

I’d never worked with a designer before, so I didn’t know what to expect. I confess I’m not always easy to work with. I’m a perfectionist. I worried about how much I might bug her with my nitpicking, but so far we’re still friends. 🙂 Now we’re down to the fine-tuning, and I’m so excited I can hardly stand it.

The new cover is GORGEOUS!!! She took the two stock photos I selected, added another, and created a cover beyond my dreams. I can’t wait to share it with you.

So tell me:  When you’re faced with a screen filled with small cover images of books you know nothing about, do you judge those books by their covers, or do you read the description of each one?