My Review of Little Town on the Prairie

 

Laura is fast approaching womanhood and her family is settled in the town of De Smet in South Dakota. She’s back at school with her friends, but her sister Mary has gone to college to learn to cope with her blindness and Laura is lonely without her. Although she’s not keen on becoming a teacher, her goal is to get her teaching certificate so she can earn enough to help keep Mary at college. She is studying hard, but there are distractions: as well as socialising, there’s the reappearance of an old adversary, Nellie Oleson, and the new teacher has taken a dislike to her. Also, she’s attracted the attention of Almanzo Wilder, even though she’s only 15.

Overall I enjoyed this book. The reappearance of the repellent Nellie Oleson is reminiscent of Laura’s encounters with her in the TV series Little House on the Prairie, but I would have liked a bit more nastiness from Nellie! There are major flaws, however, not least the minstrel show performed at one of the ‘Literaries’ and the racist language around that, and Almanzo Wilder’s sister is the new teacher who dislikes Laura, but it doesn’t come up as a topic of conversation between her and Almanzo and Laura seemingly forgets the connection. Finally, the way in which Laura gains her teaching certificate comes across as unrealistic.

Review available on Amazon.co.uk and Goodreads.

 

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My Review of The Marlows and The Traitor

The Marlows and the Traitor is the second in the series of Marlow books and the first I’ve read about twins Nicola and Lawrie away from their boarding school. It’s the Easter holidays and the twins are staying in St-Anne’s-Byfleet with their mother, sister Ginty and brother Peter. The traitor in question is one of Peter’s teachers at Dartmouth Naval College, Lewis Foley. Foley snubs Peter when they unexpectedly meet. When the children come across a deserted house called Mariners (which turns out to belong to Foley’s family), this sets off a frightening chain of events involving a lighthouse, secret papers, spies and a German U-boat. Set following World War II, the U-boat is a bit of a surprise, but perhaps indicates that for the Germans at least the war isn’t over.

Overall it is an enjoyable read, although I found some of the scenes with the character Robert Anquetil somewhat confusing. He and Nicola appear to be friends, but the author doesn’t say how this has come about, and the fact that Mrs Marlow decides to go and see her husband, leaving the children to their own devices, is also a bit weird.

I read the Girls Gone By edition, beautifully produced, although quite pricey at around £12.00.

 

Read my review on Amazon.co.uk and Goodreads

Ten of the Best Free Press Release Sites

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a proud indie author about to publish a masterpiece must be in want of getting the word out there. Publicity is necessary, or where would you find your readers?

As you write, you can bore your potential audience rigid by talking about your book on social media or by blogging about it (as I do, but one word of warning: if you market through Twitter don’t do it when there’s a football match on or you’ll be tweeting to yourself!). Then, when your book is finished, edited, published and ready to sell, you can think about publishing your press release – or even better, getting the press release out before you publish. A press release is not only necessary, it’s mandatory! An online press release on a site gives you free publicity and you never know where it could lead.

Most authors, musicians and other artists want to find free press release sites. Why pay for it when you can get it for free? The problem is, I’ve noticed over the years that it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to find mainly free sites, especially in the UK; however, there are a few I’ve used that remain free for basic news items, but which do charge for premium ads that can be distributed in the media more widely, so these are also worth considering if you can afford it. Releases are often subject to approval before publication and some sites limit word count and the number of days they will keep a release. The down side for authors is that most of their releases can be lost in the Arts and Entertainment sections; not many have dedicated Book categories, but on the plus side many sites are now tweeting releases and sharing on Facebook, offer global media distribution and your release will almost always show up on the front page for a time.

So here are my ten of the best free press release sites:

Briefingwire – searchable with immediate publication

eNewsWire UK – starts with a note of advice about submitting a press release already submitted through other channels. Searchable via a monthly archive

Free Press Release Center – Covers a comprehensive list of topics

FreePRNow – simply laid out; account required, but completely free

NewsSides – US and Canada distribution only

OnlinePRNews – free and paid; releases are live for 90 days

Press Release Place – looks great on the face of it, but for authors and other artists there are no specific sections and there doesn’t appear to be a way to search for a release

Pressbox – simply laid out; this site doesn’t require an account to submit a release, but once submitted you can’t edit

PR Fire – a searchable free press release service covering a wide range of topics; prfire.com is the paid service

PRLog – nicely designed site with a search engine optimised web page

Read my press release for Big Brother published on Free Press Release Center.

Hay-on-Wye is cool, but have you heard of Bookbarn?

Well, if you don’t live in the Bristol/South West area of the UK, you probably haven’t.

This book-loving Scouser has lived in Bristol for more years than she cares to admit to and has been to Hay-on-Wye on numerous occasions. Hay-on-Wye, a town on the England/Wales border, is home to the most number of bookshops in the UK and packs in the crowds every year. It’s that renowned it even has its own website. Every other shop in this small town is a bookshop crammed packed full of antiquarian, second-hand and new books, people spend a week there to browse and if you go for the day, you’re advised to get there at stupid o’clock so you can park. Take my word for it, this place is solid gold to book lovers, and a lot of the shops turn away donations because they don’t have the room for them!

Today, however, me and my hubby discovered Bookbarn, a place we kept passing frequently on our way back from visiting a friend who lives nearby, and one we kept telling ourselves: we must go there one day.

We were not disappointed.

In the Bookbarn, there is a massive collection full of second-hand books, all priced at £1; they even have brand new books for £1! There are more expensive, antiquarian books not on display and if you can’t find what you want on the shelves, you go on their computer system and a staff member will fetch it for you from the stores. There’s everything from general fiction, mass market paperback, young adult, children’s, the classics, science fiction, music scores, vinyl albums, plays, non-fiction: historical, cookery, sport, Haynes car manuals – you want it, they probably have it. There are over 1 million books! The website has a catalogue for you to search, but these are usually for more expensive, rare, out-of-print titles.

I bought two Jennings books (I’m collecting them!) and my man bought six books, four cookery and two walking books: total spends £8.

There is also a lovely little cafe selling snacks, cakes, tea and coffee.

So if you’re holidaying in the Bristol area or thereabouts, check out the Bookbarn. You’ll love it!

To all authors, writers, artists, photographers, crafters…

In 2017, may your books sell well, your stories are well received, your paintings are enjoyed, your photographs tell the stories you want to tell, and the things you make don’t fall apart. In short…

Happy New Year

 

Merry Christmas, Fellow Websiters and Bloggers!

This is my favourite ever Christmas song, which always makes me do this

😭😭😭😭😭

Image result for Merry Christmas

Publishing a paperback with KDP – is it worth doing?

Now and then, I check my sales on the Amazon KDP platform where I publish my Kindle titles. A couple of days ago, I noticed a new feature: you can now publish paperback versions of your books with KDP.

‘OO!’ I thought. ‘You don’t say!’

It’s a beta version, so they’re still developing it. On the face of it, it looks worth doing if you haven’t self-published before, but I personally have a few questions:

  1. Can I use my own ISBNs? Apparently you can, but only if they’re issued by Bowker and that’s a US company; I’m British and my ISBNs came from Neilsen, so for me the answer is no – for now, because I have five left to use. Bowker has operations in the UK, but I can’t tell from their site if British SP authors can buy Bowker IBSNs, otherwise it’s an Amazon issued ISBN. I used a Lulu ISBN for Goalden Girl and this effectively makes Lulu the publisher of that book.
  2. Will my paperbacks be available in other stores? This is a promised feature for the future, but I’m unsure whether this means popular bookshops in the UK like Waterstones, WH Smith or The Book Depository
  3. Any chance of free book promotion? Not mentioned at this time, but if they’re going to do that will it be the same as the eBook where you can’t have your book on other sites?
  4. What size are the paperbacks? The information doesn’t say, but probably 6 x 9 inches like Lulu’s (yuk!), the standard US trade size.
  5. Will this eventually take over from Amazons existing print publishing platform, Createspace? Watch this space.

There are bound to be benefits as well as drawbacks (setting your own price being one, but comments have been made about proof copies being unavailable for authors, which would be a problem; without the proof how can you check it prints all right or that the cover looks OK?). It will be interesting to find out how it develops and what the reported pros and cons are, but I’ll give it a few years before I think about giving it a go myself.

Publish Your Paperback on KDP (Beta)

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