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Book Review: The Self-Publishing Guru

Book Review: Self-Publishing Guru The Book Marketer

Genre:

Non-fiction, reference

Synopsis:

Great resource for any amazon author. This is helping me navigate so much for a first-time author. Saves a ton of time doing research.” Jim Rowe – Marketing Strategy & Branding Expert.

Do you want a career as a successful author?

You may have worked out how to get your book published for free and launch it on the world’s biggest retailer platforms — but you still need to make people buy it. Which is not always so easy! There are a million blog posts recommending the latest book marketing tips and tricks, but where do you start? How do you find the real book marketing secrets?

The Self-Publishing Guru is a list of must-have tools for new authors. As established authors, we offer you the benefit of our experience in sharing the most efficient and cost-effective resources to develop your author platform. Not everyone can afford a publicist and self-publishing on a budget is a reality for most new authors. We hope this free self-publishing guide will help you.

Start developing your self-publishing empire with this list of the most effective resources available to authors.

 

Heidi’s Hot Take

This was definitely not what I was expecting when I picked up the book. Each chapter is only 1-2 pages on average. There is not a whole lot of details on the “how” of publishing or marketing.

But it is an excellent reference guide with some great tips on free and reasonably priced tools, groups, and service providers to use for everything from editing to marketing. I’ve been in the industry since 2009, and published my first book in 2011. I would say that 90% of the references are ones that I have used and would recommend. Of the 10% I haven’t, they are definitely ones that I have heard recommended in reputable industry circles.

But I do worry for a complete noobie, there isn’t enough information to help them make the right approach or how to use the tools most effectively. Fortunately, they do offer courses on some of that and there are a lot of great resources out there that can help those who are middle of the game to make wise decisions as they traverse the resources. Worth every penny, but could have been a really fantastic resource if it had been fleshed out a bit more.

Want to check it out for yourself?

Take a peek on Amazon

 

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August 2022 Update and IWSGQOTM

do you try to be more original or do you try to give readers what they want?
Hello Lovelies,
I am so sorry I missed last month’s check-in. Things have been a bit chaotic and last month was super stressful with a lot of things on hold. Fortunately, I am able to report that a lot of those things on hold have finally shifted and we are no longer stuck in a holding pattern!
My husband finally got and started a new job so the financial stress is slowly mediating itself. My son started his new job too so now we’re all working towards our goals!
I got my surgery approved the end of last month. It is scheduled for August 30th so this month is going to be very heavily focused on getting ready for that. I have to say, I’ve been very pleased with the last several months of progress. I’ve already lost 34 lbs so my liver should be nicely shrunk down and not impede surgery.
As a lot of my saved surgery money had to go to helping pay bills while my husband was unemployed, the next couple of checks will be focused on rebuilding that fund. Then we have to rebuild our general nest egg. But once that is done, back to focusing on re-releasing my books and courses. Still prepping everything so that once the money comes in I will be set to rapid re-release.
I expect the next couple of months to be very busy and very gratifying! Now, on to the IWSG question of the month!

IWSG Question of the Month

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!
Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.   
The awesome co-hosts for the August 3 posting of the IWSG are Tara Tyler, Lisa Buie Collard, Loni Townsend, and Lee Lowery!

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Remember, the question is optional!

You ready?
Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

When you set out to write a story, do you try to be more original or do you try to give readers what they want?

Honestly, none of my 1st drafts are focused on the reader. They are always focused on the story that needs to be told. When I am plotting, I will get the main points of the story I am inspired to share down. Then from those bones I will determine genre. If it isn’t one I have been reading a lot of lately, then I will do a quick bit of research on what are the most loved and hated tropes. (GoodReads forums are a great resource for this!) then determine which of them make sense for this story and figure out how to weave those in. Once I get the plotting done, I let my characters drive and direct them to the plot map when they start to veer off course.
It isn’t until the editing stage where my main focus becomes the readers. But even then, I am still staying true to the story I felt inspired to share. I am pulling quotes that I think will resonate with readers for advertising, tweaking sentences to make them more appealing to readers, and developing my reader personas for marketing purposes.
I believe there is an audience for every story. I don’t write my stories to that audience, I find the audience for the story.
I know this means a lot more work for me, but I don’t mind the extra work.
Thanks for stopping in.
Until next time,
Keep Writing!
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June 2022 Update and #IWSG Question

June 2022 Update and #IWSG Question
Hello Lovelies,
Whew, May was crazy busy, between promoting my challenges (which both kicked off today), wrapping up my PMP certification application, hitting the final stages of my surgery approval process, getting little man through to graduation, and helping both my men with their job hunt. Just reading all that made me tired! But as I am still the main provider in the household, no time to rest. June will be heavily focused on releasing my course Social Media 101, promoting my current offerings, re-releasing The Clear Angel Chronicles, and then finishing up with The Hunters Saga re-release. Plus I expect to get more information about sitting for the proctored PMP exam and prepping for surgery. I just started keto again for the surgery prep but there will be some additional steps a few weeks before surgery so…  a lot going on! Whew.

#IWSG June Question of the Month

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!
Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.   
The awesome co-hosts for the June 1 posting of the IWSG are SE White, Cathrina Constantine, Natalie Aguire, Joylene Nowell Butler, and Jacqui Murray!

Struggling with something to say?
Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience, or a story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Remember, the question is optional!

When the going gets tough writing the story, how do you keep yourself writing to the end? If have not started the writing yet, why do you think that is and what do you think could help you find your groove and start?

This is actually something I’ve been struggling with a lot the last two years. Other than Las Immortales, which I wrote for the Halloween Frights, I’ve not written any new fiction in several years. I have figured out that part of the struggle is because I have all these other things I’m trying to re-release, and part of the struggle is just so much going on in my life and never having time to get back into my writing schedule. So that is why I have been systematically working on getting all that other stuff back out there then will tackle the writing of new projects. You know how you eat an elephant, right? One bite at a time. Same way you eat a herd of elephants. And with 17 books and 5 courses, I am definitely working through a herd, lol. But I can feel myself getting closer every day. And once I get this all worked down, I saw the most success when I was part of the 5 am writer’s club. I would write for an hour every day starting at 5 am. then go for a walk before getting ready for work. I expect to get back into that routine but instead of writing, I will be focusing on re-creating. Then that routine will be all set so I can move on to writing once I get stuff caught up!
 How about you?
You ready?
Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!
Until Next Time,
Keep Writing! 
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May 2022 Update and #IWSG Question

May 2022 Update and #IWSG Question
Hello Lovelies,
Man, oh, man. Where do I even begin? The May theme for IWSG re highs and lows accurately reflects how my April is going. From the weather not being able to decide if it is winter or summer to crazy chaos at the day job, to my becoming the sole provider of the family- this month has been a roller coaster of emotions and contingency planning. Going into May, I am still reeling. My first gut instinct was that I needed to start applying for new jobs. My commission-based job even in the best months barely made half of what he makes. And to say that commission hasn’t been great for a bit now would be an understatement.
But I haven’t finished my PMP Certification which would go a long ways toward me getting paid what I am actually worth. Plus, I’m so so close to approval for the surgery (all I have left is the surgeon’s consult then final approval from insurance.) I cannot throw out all I’ve worked for in hopes of getting a better-paying job. Statistically, my husband is more likely to get a new job than I am.
So we did a quick evaluation of our financial situation and agreed to stay the course but up the speed with which I am working towards those things. I also decided to finish up some merchandise listing on my site and to run The 30 Day Marketing Challenge and the DreamMaker Challenge in June, while offering up to 50% on everything in my store.
We have a razor-thin budget that will only last us 3 months if I don’t bring in more $$ and I would be crushed if this crisis completely derailed everything we’ve been working so hard for. That was struck home even more when I found out my company laid off a ton of people last week. The manager thought she was making me feel better by telling me that “you are not affected”. Yeah, sure, not affected at all. I’ve worked at enough start-ups to know that sudden and unplanned layoffs going into your busy season is not “what’s best for the company”. There is so much more they aren’t telling us. So I have to push everything in place as fast as possible because if I get laid off too?
Needless to say- still spinning contingency planning. But I REALLY feel like this month has just been this:
But I’m not Legolas.

#IWSG May Question of the Month

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting! 
Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Remember, the question is optional!

May 4 question – It’s the best of times; it’s the worst of times. What are your writer highs (the good times)? And what are your writer lows (the crappy times)?

This is so interesting as my Facebook buddy Devani Angeli shared a pretty cool thing that all creatives can really connect with, I think. And it really reflects the theme for this month.
What they don’t show you is that you go through this every. Single. Time. And sometimes you fall in the swamp and have to swim out, which also super sucks. And sometimes after you get out you are so coated in the muck that you can slip right before the finish and slide back in. Then have to clamber back out and fight through back to that peak “This is one I’m Proud of”.
I go through this process with every project- books, courses, creating challenges, building marketing plans, everything.
Creatives are not being melodramatic when we say that we put our blood, sweat, and tears (and money) into our projects. Authors calling books their book baby are not being hyperbolic. I’m a mom. I know.
But as brutal as most of the journey is, when it’s complete it is such a relief and so much pride. I would argue that the worse things go in the middle, the more rewarding the completion feels. That is such a rush.
I keep going back. I can’t help myself.
And I think part of the reason that I am struggling to re-do all my work is that it is not as much about the creative journey as it was. It is now just repackaging what I’ve already done.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!
Don’t forget to check out the awesome co-hosts for the May 4 posting of the IWSG are Kim Elliott, Melissa Maygrove, Chemist Ken, Lee Lowery, and Nancy Gideon!
don’t miss the other participants in this Blog Hop!
Until next time,
Keep Growing!
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Book Nerd Meets YouTube by Toi Thomas

Book Nerd Meets YouTube by Toi Thomas

I love books. Really. I love to read books and enjoy the stories or information within them. Being the geek girl that I am, I have room in my heart for music, movies, and TV too, but books are my first love. In the year 2022, there is so much more to being a book nerd than carrying an armful of books everywhere you go. These days, we have options.

I read hardcover and paperback books, ebooks in many formats, comic books and graphic novels, and even listen to audiobooks when I’m in the mood. I never leave home without a library of books between my e-reader and cellphone. But no matter how I get my read on, reading doesn’t have to be a solitary activity anymore. You can join a book club, do a buddy read, or dive into social media with cool apps like Goodreads and The StoryGraph, as well as the book communities on Instagram and Tik Tok. But the ultimate book nerd kick for me lately is Youtube.

Aside from YouTube being the ultimate entertainment spot for niche content, communities form quickly and grow quickly, such as #booktube and #authortube. As a book nerd, I’m all for both of these communities.

Booktube is where readers read and share their experiences and invite others to be part of it. This is a great way to find out about new and or trending books, watch book reviews, and share comradery with other readers.

Authortube is where writers and authors share their experiences of being a writer, often giving details about their process and their works, while also providing tips and advice to others seeking to publish in some form or fashion.

 

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I knew I had to find a way to be part of these communities, so I launched my own channel and have never looked back. Every month, I look forward to updating viewers on how my reading challenges are going and then sharing my book reviews with them. Remember, I’m a geek girl, so I also throw TV and movie reviews in there from time to time and share Hauls of the geekish things I’ve acquired. I enjoy giving a monthly update on my writing. I also share an interview series where I have a conversation with authors from my local area as well as authors from around the world.

BothLogos

 

Like other authors out there, I also post book trailers and promotional content when it’s relevant. One of my favorite things to do, from time to time, is to share the blessings in my life. It helps keep me grounded. Maintaining my Toi Thomas YouTube channel is just another part of my bookish life. Perhaps, if you love books as much as I love books, you’ll stop by and check me out along with all the other amazing people in the #booktube and #authortube communities.

© Copyright 2013 CorbisCorporation
© Copyright 2013 CorbisCorporation

A self-proclaimed techie and foodie, Toi Thomas was born in Texas, U. S. A. but considers Virginia, U. S. A. to be home. She enjoys reading, cooking, painting, geek culture, collecting vinyl records, and spending time with her family. Currently working as a behavioral clinician, Toi and her husband, Eric, share their home with a tortoise named Betty and a Redbone Coonhound named Margie.

Toi writes clean, adult multi-genre fiction ranging from science fiction to romance (as Glorie Townson), nonfiction, as well as writes and illustrates children’s picture books. Toi Thomas is also the founder of Lit Carnivale and the creator of Carnie the Bookworm.

Find Toi online here: https://linktr.ee/toithomas Visit her channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/1ooking4ha99iness Visit her blog: The ToiBox of Words – https://etoithomas.com/blog Find her on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/toithomas

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An Angell’s Life of Health and Wellness Check in 5-1-22

Heidi Angell Health Log 5.1.22

Hello Lovelies,

For those who missed my last wellness check-in, you can check out my 4/10 check-in here.  I am kinda sad I didn’t share last week’s weigh-in. I got excited to get down to 359 as it’s been a hot minute. Alas, this weigh-in I am back up to 365. This is my cycle. In the past, I would dig into the data and try to figure out why I gained weight and usually would not be able to find a clear reason (increased calories, lowered activities, etc) so then I would write it off as muscle gain. If you look at my pics for this week compared to the 10th, I do look more tone. Or it could just be the different lighting. IDK.

But I think it actually has to do with stress. Not stress-eating. Just stress. Between my husband losing his job, my webstore being broken, trying to get everything in place for the bariatric surgery, and then some chaos at my day job that is making me feel a ton of pressure about my current goals and strategies the last two weeks has been pretty high stress, with the highest stress hitting me Friday and Saturday.

Looking Back

Unfortunately, I still haven’t figured out the best way to share my tracking information, but bouncing between myfitnesspal tracking, my Samsung health app, and my notes, I *should* have lost 3-5 lbs. I have been consistently getting 5 days a week hitting over 40 min of physical activity.

In addition, I have consistently been using my 1-hour timer to get up and move on average 8 times a day/ tracking it 4 days a week. During my 4 ten-hour days it is really easy to track that. But I am also pretty good about staying moving on my 3 days off as I am doing chores in between working on my side hustles. I expect that is reflected in my over 40 min of activities.

Two weeks ago I had the psych evaluation needed before surgery. This week I had a nutritional consult. Based on both of those I feel like I am on track for getting the surgery approved by insurance. Based on the information from the nutritional consult, I feel in a better position to tweak and adapt my current menu planning to prepare for surgery. We went through all of our Tupperware and I have enough to plan 3-5 oz meals for 3 days. We plan to get enough to do 7 days of meal prep.

 

Moving Forward

I need to add stress management to my self-care routine. I also need to be more agile in my planning. I will continue to work on food prep (look forward to some new recipes on the site!) and meal planning. I will also continue to grow my activity levels. I am currently aiming for 2,500 steps a day (I know, so low) and I consistently hit it 4 days a week, but I’m not hitting it most days I am working my 10-hour shifts. I think that is in large part because the lunges, squats, weights, bands, and stretching I am doing every hour are not enough to trigger “steps” in my small office. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can add in more walking during those 4/10s with my time being really tight trying to bring in money to offset the loss of my husband’s income and ramping up my efforts for completing my PMP quickly. I don’t think I will change my step goals at this time. I think I will strive to find a better tracking system that will allow me to compare all my data side by side. If you have a suggestion for a tool that works with Samsung health, please let me know.

If you’d like to look back on my journey, you can see other posts for my Health and Wellness journey here.

 

Until next time,

Keep Growing!

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An Angell’s Life of Health and Wellness Check in 4-10-22

My health check in 4-10-22

Hello Lovelies,

For those who missed my April update, I shared some progress on my health and wellness front. I announced then some exciting news about a surgery to help me with my wellness goals and that I was going to get back to my weekly accountability tracking here on the site. Talk about perfect timing. The very next day, I got notification of my pre-approval with insurance for the surgery. The same day my husband was terminated from his job.

So yeah, been a lot of feels this weekend.

Fortunately, the approval was through my insurance with my job so we decided to keep moving forward with the plan and hope that he is able to get another job before then to help cover the costs.

Then I ran into another frustration. Previously when I was sharing my tracking info, I was using Fitbit and Myfitnesspal. Since then my Fitbit died (again) so I decided to replace it with a Samsung Galaxy watch. My husband’s had lasted him well over a year so we figured it made more sense than replacing my Fitbit every 8 months or so. Lol. The downside is that Samsung doesn’t play nice with Myfitnesspal. It will only pull food tracking from myfitnesspal, but it won’t transfer activity to myfitnesspal. It also has kinda sad tracking data and none of the great charts I enjoyed with Fitbit.

So still trying to figure out how I am going to manage comparing the data just for me, let alone in a way that’s easy to share. I have a nutrition appointment on the 28th and hopefully they can give me some ideas. But in the meantime, I am focusing on tracking my food and using the exercise journal on Myfitness pal to track measurements, activities, and how I’m feeling.

Measurements

Measurement notes

 

While I wasn’t tracking here, over the last year, I have been tracking periodically in Myfitnesspal. As you can see my numbers have really fluctuated over the last 6 months.

I was very excited when I got on the scale Sunday as I have lost weight and inches, even though it is still higher than it was at my peak.

Tracking my food has been trickier. I did a calculation back in December for my estimated cal count and was at 267 so have been aiming for 2100-2400 calories but I really struggle to get that many calories in. I still rarely if ever get hungry, but that was also what motivated me to explore this surgery.

Plan Moving Forward

Knowing that after the surgery I will be expected to maintain a diet of 70% protein 30% vegetables, I am transitioning to that diet model and am trying to be better about tracking.

I am also aiming to move every hour and add walking my dog and other physical activity lasting more than 20 minutes. I had a blast going swimming on Saturday and am trying to figure out how I can justify the cost of an annual membership again, but hesitant to do that until we get my husband’s job situation sorted out.  But I will aim for 40 minutes of physical activity 3 days a week without injury.

 

Wish me luck!

Until next time,

Keep Growing!

If you would like to see my weight-loss Journey, you can check that out here:

Keto day 0 

Keto day 7

Keto Day 14

Keto Day 21

Keto Day 28

Keto Day 35

Day 42

Day 49

Day 56

Day 63

Day 70

Day 77

Day 84

Day 105

Otherwise, you can use my recipes to build your own meal planning!

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April 2022 Update and #IWSG Question

#IWSG Angell's 4 Authors April 22 update

Hello Lovelies,

It’s amazing what a difference a month can make! March was busy, busy and I’ve made some great gains on my goals. The consult on the 15th went well and we’re just waiting for insurance to approve the bariatric surgery to determine next steps. In the meantime, that hope got me trying other solutions and I found this awesome THC balm that helps reduce the pain significantly by treating the sore muscles and tendons and decreasing inflammation on the nerves. That has allowed me to increase my physical activity. While walking causes greater irritation and inflammation, I’ve found that my under-desk elliptical isn’t as hard on my body and that combined with strength training has allowed me to systematically work up to 50 min of low-impact physical activity 4-5 days a week. This is the sweet spot required for the surgery to be successful. I’ve also started the diet amounts to get my mind and schedule adjusted. Several of the people I know who had surgery all say their lack of preparation there was what led to most of their complications.

This weekend I am going swimming and will see how that does for a low-impact workout.

My kiddo has finished all of his sports last weekend and is excited to start swimming with me so we look forward to working together on that. He has also enlisted my help with his gap your business plans so that will be fun quality time together.

As for the PMP certification, I am trucking along. I have all my required CEU courses selected and just have to systematically work through them. I still have about 24 hours to go and have set up a schedule to make that happen a bit faster. I spend a half-hour every weekday (while also doing my under-desk elliptical.) and am trying to get in 2 hours each weekend. Hopefully, that will be easier now that the kid’s sports are done. Though I can’t really call him a kid anymore as he turned 18 on Monday and is now legally an adult!  At this rate, it will take me about 5 more weeks to finish the CEUs and be able to apply for the PMP test.

A small and unexpected progress towards my rebuilding goals came when the person I’d reached out to The Hunters Saga covers last summer reached back out. Their life has settled and they are trucking along on the covers for the series. We have a great concept idea for the paperbacks and I am so excited!

Here is the final front cover for The Hunters.

The Hunters 3rd edition

Each cover will follow the same theme, with an element from the book being the prominent feature.

I’m so excited to get this moving along as time allows but my health and the PMP cert are my top two priorities for April. I will be doing more on the blog with my Sunday holistic journeys and hope you will join me with that. Now on to the main show:

#IWSG April Question of the Month

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!
Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.   
You ready?
Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!April 6 question – Have any of your books been made into audiobooks? If so, what is the main challenge in producing an audiobook?

I actually am excited to complete the audiobooks for The Hunters finally. I spent years trying to figure out how to do this in a cost-effective manner. I have a small confession to make, I actually am not a fan of audiobooks. I often lose my place and get distracted when listening to them. But I loved the old radio show samplings with multiple characters and sound effects so I wanted mine to be something like that. But finding narrators proved difficult and expensive. So I decided to put my theatrical training to use and read the different characters myself, then learned to edit in the sound effects myself.
It has been a long journey that I hope to complete this year as I focus on re-releasing The Hunters Saga.
The few people who’ve listened to samples have found it delightful, but they’re not big audiobook people either so who knows?
My hope is to use the funds from The Hunters to be able to hire a male reader for the Clear Angel Chronicles and then I will read the female parts and he will do the male parts.
The awesome co-hosts for the April 6 posting of the IWSG are Joylene Nowell Butler, Jemima Pett, Patricia Josephine, Louise – Fundy Blue, and Kim Lajevardi!
Be sure to check out the other stops on this fun blog hop!
Until next time,
Keep Reading! 
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Book Review: 1st to Die by James Patterson

Book Review: 1st to Die by James Patterson

Hello Lovelies,

Been a minute since I got to post a book review. But I am getting back into a reading schedule and am excited to post a review for 1st to Die, a Women’s Murder Club novel by James Patterson. This has been on my bookshelf for FOREVER as a friend got it at  garage sale and knew I loved cop thrillers so gifted it to me when they couldn’t get into it. I know Patterson has a reputation for being… problematic so there was always something else I’d rather read. But I was in a mood towards the end of February so decided to give it a go.

Genre:

Serial Killer Thriller

Synopsis

Four crime-solving friends face off against a killer in San Francisco in the Women’s Murder Club novel that started James Patterson’s thrilling series.

Each one holds a piece of the puzzle: Lindsay Boxer is a homicide inspector in the San Francisco Police Department, Claire Washburn is a medical examiner, Jill Bernhardt is an assistant D.A., and Cindy Thomas just started working the crime desk of the San Francisco Chronicle.

But the usual procedures aren’t bringing them any closer to stopping the killings. So these women form a Women’s Murder Club to collaborate outside the box and pursue the case by sidestepping their bosses and giving each other a hand. The four women develop intense bonds as they pursue a killer whose crimes have stunned an entire city. Working together, they track down the most terrifying and unexpected killer they have ever encountered–before a shocking conclusion in which everything they knew turns out to be devastatingly wrong.
Full of the breathtaking drama and unforgettable emotions for which James Patterson is famous, 1st to Die is the start of the #1 New York Times bestselling series of crime thrillers.

My Take

Man…. I don’t know where to start. I actually finished this book 3 weeks ago. It took me a couple of weeks to choose which of those three to read and then another week to finally open the sucker up. But only a week to devour this 462-page book. There were some plot points that even when I was deep in the thick of it had me rolling my eyes, but despite that the story kept me moving in part because of the nonstop action and in part because of the team-up of women in male-dominated professions supporting one another.

This book was published in 2001. I was in the thick of college and experiencing sexism on a previously inexperienced scale in my life. This book is problematic, but it was addressing a real issue that happened to women back in the day. While there is still gender bias today, obviously; it was much more blatant and far less policed in the 1990s and early 2000s. (Despite there being tons of laws already in place to address it.) I remember dealing with the “casual sexism” the same way Lindsey did. A caustic teasing remark or brush-off and aggravation to rage depending on the number of times it happened that day.

I remember having to fight twice as hard to be acknowledged as my male counterparts.

I remember having a long conversation with my female manager who was going to promote a male colleague to trainer over me and having to spend far too long to convince her I was the better choice and why.

So yeah, that felt real. The camaraderie between women struggling in male-dominated professions also felt real. It wasn’t just about that, there was some real development of why they liked and connected beyond that they were all slighted by men.

But the eye roll moments are spoilers so here is your spoiler alert warning.

Why did she fall for Raleigh? It is obnoxious how they get caught up in a whirlwind relationship in the middle of the biggest case of her career. And then her response to how it ends? I mean…. so problematic. IDK, maybe it would ring true with other women, but for me it was such an eye roll. I get that romance in the workplace happens. My marriage is a product of it. But I was 21 not 34. It was a temp job, not my career job, and I hadn’t been diagnosed with my degenerative disease yet.

In my 30s when I was diagnosed I had no bandwidth for romance with my partner. Admittedly, mine didn’t have a high chance of death at a young age and I was in a very established relationship so perhaps that accounts for the differences, but IDK. it jut really rubbed me the wrong way because in so many ways I really connected with Lindsay so to have this be so different from how I think I would respond is just… it was weird for me. And the prologue also seemed so incongruent.

Also, it had the perfect Gotcha with the villain and then it proceeded to screw it up. What had the potential to be a very women empowerment story ended up falling flat for me.

Which is a shame because it really gripped me. I could not put it down. I caught myself reading during breaks and pretty much any chance I got.

If you like a good thriller that makes you think, and you can overlook these problems, then this might be worth checking out.

 

I still haven’t decided if I am going to get the next books in the series. Gonna give it time to settle while I read some other books and if I still long to know what happens to the women’s murder club then I will give the next book a try.

 

Have you read 1st to Die? What were your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.

Until next time,

Keep Reading!

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March 2022 Update and #IWSG Question

March 2022 Update and #IWSG Question

Hello Lovelies,

Can you believe it is already March? Well, February did not go as planned. There were a bunch of shifts for me at the day job and that cut down on my hours of availability. Mounting stress around the world, still struggling to recover from Covid, and my bathroom remodel finally finishing up really ate into my availability and I just cannot work 60 hour weeks anymore.

I took a week off the grind to mentally recover and re-evaluate. I realized in my current physical state I am very limited in what I can do and trying to force myself to push through that is doing more damage than good. Trying to focus on too many things means that I am not getting enough done in any one area and I can’t keep circling like this. So I have decided to scale back and focus on the top three things that are impacting my life, make major progress on those to set me up to bring the other elements in as I get stabilized.

So for the next bit my primary focus is going to be on my health, my family, and getting my PMP certification. I’ve accepted that I need to explore more aggressive means of dealing with my DDD and SS and am exploring a surgery that my doctor hopes will help. I have a consult on the 15th of this month but I suspect that it will take time to address this element of my life. Should know more at my next update.

The PMP certification is the thing I expect will be resolved most quickly, but even that is quite time-consuming. I have about 30 more hours of education needed and have to put together proof of my project hours. So I expect it will take me more than a month, even with it being my primary focus.

As for focusing on the family, my youngest is a senior and that is quite time-consuming, especially with his sports and performances. Add onto that, the demands my condition place on them and the stress quotient is really high. As hard as it has been for me to adjust to my new limited level or normal, it’s been really tough on them. They’re the ones left to cover what I can’t do. We are striving to find a balance, but that’s tough too because from day to day what I can handle varies greatly. So we’re constantly trying to adjust and adapt, which is mentally and physically exhausting. It has eaten into their self-care time and increased their stress levels, which really sucks.

So we’re working on ways to parallel work so they can help with parts of a task that are difficult for me, but they aren’t stuck doing it all. It’s a work in progress, but one that needs my attention before we all hit burnout. I’m really hoping the first two goals achieved will help alleviate a lot of the struggles around the third goal. Time will tell.

I will continue doing the IWSG posts each month- to keep myself accountable and to keep in touch, and will continue working on re-releasing my books (Just got contacted by the cover artist for The Hunters Saga and will be moving forward with that as time allows) but will likely be less active on social media and re-releasing old posts. As every good project manager knows, a project’s timeline is impacted by time, money, and resources. I don’t have enough of any of those right now.

 

#IWSG March Question of the Month

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!
Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.   
You ready?
Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

March 2 question – Have you ever been conflicted about writing a story or adding a scene to a story? How did you decide to write it or not?

Every single series. Actually, I debated for years whether to even write Hell School as it is very triggering for me, as it is based on my own experience with a stalker. When I run into these issues the first thing I ask myself is whether it is integral to the story. If yes, it gets written. If no, I ask is it integral to character development? Yes, write it. No, then I ask myself what is the purpose of this scene?
If it is just for shock or solely to elicit a response from the readers, I don’t write it. That’s not my voice.
The few scenes I was very nervous about writing, I got feedback from my betas on it. Most of them hated those scenes but also agreed that they added an important element to the story that would be lost without it. Ironically, those scenes are the ones that most often get mentioned in reviews too and most of them don’t say it should be taken out.
So my system seems to be working for me.  Want to see how others handle this?
The awesome co-hosts for the March 2 posting of the IWSG are Janet Alcorn, Pat Garcia, Natalie Aguirre, and Shannon Lawrence!

You can see the rest of the hop at IWSG Bloghop

Until next time,

Keep Writing!