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February 3, 2012

How does it end: The Mystery of Edwin Drood

The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens (Completed by David Madden)
ARC, paperback 444 pages
Published October 2011 by Unthank Books
ISBN13: 9780956422330
Read September 2011 - January 2012 
Buy: Amazon  Powell's Books


Let me start off my saying two things: 1. DO NOT READ THE INTRODUCTION to the book unless you already know the story line as it gives away the ending, 2. Just because it took me forever to read it, it wasn't because it was dull or boring. Actually it was quite entertaining. 


I did have some trouble getting into the story at first, but that is typical for me when reading Dickens. Though I love A Tale of Two Cities I use to skip the first several chapters and sometimes all of book 1. I also had to get in the right frame of mind as words used during Dickens time just don't mean the same thing today.


As some of you might know, this was the project Dickens was working on when he died and he did not complete it. I would think it would be difficult to pick up someone's story and complete it, but added that this is a murder mystery and has the twist and turns inherent to the genre, I would think it would be extremely difficult to complete. I mean how does one know what a real clue and what is a red herring in the plot? The introduction does provide some explanation as to how Madden drew his conclusion and I recommend reading it (just after reading the story). I like research so I found it interesting.


While the Dickens portion took me quite a while to get through I relatively breezed through Madden's section. Whereas the first part was dark and heavy (I kind of pictured Cloisterham as Knockturn Alley), there seemed to be a lightness to the second part (even the image of Cloisterham changed in my head to a lighter more open place). The language seemed more modern. More like what I would read in a historical novel that wanted to give the feel of the time, but make it easier for today's generation. 


Dickens is very detailed in his writing. The characters come fully alive. I loved the characterization of Mr. Honeythunder (though I did not like him). I could so picture the dinner party. Madden emulates Dickens with the character of Billickens. 

While I enjoy Dickens, I haven't read many of his works, but the ending Madden puts together seemed a little too tidy. All the characters were accounted for and tied up in a neat little bow. Something about it just seemed off to me. Any other Dickens fans out there? I'm trying to remember how wrapped up the ending was for A Tale of Two Cities. All I remember is how sad I was that Carton found love just as he headed to the gallows. I ask you, Dickens readers, how do other Dickens' novels end?


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February 2, 2012

Tips on Thursday: Facebook

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase
I read an article recently and it had some interesting numbers on Facebook user engagement. Since Wordpress and Google Friends Connect parted ways many bloggers have created fan pages. Though GFC is still friends with Blogger, I've created a Fan Page on Facebook for Girl Who Reads. Authors have used Facebook as a means to connect with readers for a while (if you aren't you should look into adding it to your social media hangouts). Since it is so widely used and often in ways beyond just keeping in contact with far flung friends and family, I thought I would share the article from Book Marketing Expert with you.
  
The Myth About Being Liked (on Facebook)
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These days it seems everyone is after "social proof," that elusive number of Likes or Followers that will make you seem part of the "in crowd." Unfortunately getting someone to like you is only half the battle, you must now get them to stay "in like" with you.

Studies show that the expectation of content does vary by age, but the direction is still the same: it's more than just getting someone to "Like" your page, you now must learn how to keep them. With all the social media options out there it's critical to not just build numbers, but maintain them, too. In order to do this, it's important to know what users want and when they want to see you post new content.

As I pointed out earlier, content expectations vary by age. For example, Facebook users between the ages of 18-26 have the lowest expectations of receiving something in exchange for their "Like" endorsement. When you go up the next rung, ages 27 to 34, they are more likely to expect something solid delivered in a Facebook update. But the users with the highest expectations, and those you are likely serving, is the 35-51 age group. This is also the group most likely to unlike a brand if it fails to meet expectations.

But it's not only about having great content, it's also about creating great engagement. A study done by Roost.com evaluated 10,000 Facebook fans across 50 industries and found that certain posts leverage more engagement than others. Here are some of their findings:


  • Photo posts get 50% more impressions than any other type of post
  • Quotes get 22 percent more interactions
  • Questions generate almost twice as many comments
  • Ask questions to spark dialog (questions often see twice as many comments) and consider fill in the blank posts which tend to receive 9 times more comments than other posts
Now you have the content down, and you know about the types of posts that will get more play than others, is there more to posting than just content and post-type? You bet. There are also time-specific posts that often do better than others. Here are some quick tips on how to improve your Facebook Wall posts:
  • Posts delivered between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m. tend to receive 20% higher user engagement
  • Best day for Fan engagement? Wednesday - up by 8%
  • How many posts does it take to increase user engagement? If you're thinking more frequent posts you are wrong. Posting one to two times per day produces 71% higher user engagement.
  • When it comes to Facebook more is not better, sometimes it's just more. Posting with 80 characters or less receives 66% higher engagement. Very concise posts, between one and 40 characters, generate the highest engagement.
Finally, users do vary. How can you really know if your fans are engaged with your content?

Understanding Facebook Content Interaction


Fan Pages now have a fabulous feature called Facebook Insights. Head on over there for some really interesting information and insightful (hence the name) data.

First, you can find Insights on the left side of your page. Once you're there you can see all sorts of data on the information you post.
  1. Reach: This is the number of unique people who have seen the post for 28 days after publishing the post.
  2. Engaged Users: These are people who have engaged with your post in some way: i.e. clicked the link.
  3. Talking about this: This is an interesting number and you've no doubt seen this pop up right under your "Likes." These actions are: liking the post, commenting, sharing the post, responding to a question, or RSVPing to an event.
  4. Virality: This is the number of people who have created a story from your page post.
Watch these numbers for some great insight into what fires up your fans and what leaves them cold.

It's not just about getting "Liked," it's about staying "Liked." Creating insightful, helpful, and engaging content is one piece to the puzzle, the other is timing and receptiveness of your fans. Though I've outlined 'general' user guidelines in this piece, be sure to check the Facebook Insights for key data that will help your fan base thrive!

Quick Ways to Promote your Facebook Fan Page

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* Put your Fan Page URL in your signature line
* Email your newsletter list
* Add a Facebook Fan widget to your blog and website
* Add your Fan Page URL to your biz cards
* Tweet the link to your followers
* Notify your "Friends" on your personal profile that you now have a Fan Page

Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com
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January 30, 2012

Video Blog #3: In my Mailbox & What I'm Reading


In my Mailbox (a weekly meme from The Story Siren)


The Called Ones: And the Keys of Sight by S. B. Scrillum
Have you ever felt called by a Voice in the night? If a voice called to you now, would you follow it?

The children in the town of Henley hear the call when they attend Summer's End Camp for the first time. There are legends about the land the town bulit the camp on; it is said to built atop a cursed, ancient Indian burial ground, some even swear to have seen peopel walk into the lake there, never to return.

Is the Voice that is calling to the children of Henley a sinster force bent on leading them to a cursed, watery death, or is it a trustworthy force meaing only good? Eigther way, thirteen children a in for a surprise when they attend camp and follow the strange Voice that calls to them in the night. The call is only the beginning. From the back cover.


Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Amy is a cryogenically frozen passenger aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed. She expects to awaken on a new planet, 300 years in the future. But fifty years before Godspeed's scheduled landing, Amy's cryo chamber is unplugged, and she is nearly killed.

Now, Amy is caught inside an enclosed world where nothing makes sense. Godspeed's passengers have forfeited all control to Eldest, a tyrannical and frightening leader, and Elder, his rebellious and brilliant teenage heir.

Amy desperately wants to trust Elder. But should she? All she knows is that she must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets before whoever woke her tries to kill again. From Goodreads.com

 Kama Sutra by Vatsyayana; Translated by A. N. D. Haksar

A gorgeous deluxe edition of the world's most celebrated guide to life, love, relationships and pleasure. 

Little is known about Vatsyayana, who is reputed to have composed the Kama Sutra "while observing a celibate's life in full meditation." In Sanskrit the word "kama" means desire, especially for sensual pleasure, and its proper pursuit was considered an essential part of a young, urbane gentleman's well-rounded education.
Untold numbers of readers are curious about the Kama Sutra but put off by its clichéd image as an erotic Oriental curiosity. This elegant edition offers a compelling modern translation of a classic Indian masterpiece-and a wry and entertaining account of human desire and foibles.From Goodreads.com
 It's Monday! What are you reading? (Weekly meme from Book Journey)


Finished:
 Hoping to finish this week:

 New on my reading list:

 Temptation by Douglas Kennedy
A wonderfully sardonic and nightmarish tale of a Hollywood success story gone wrong, from the bestselling author of State of the Union.

Like all would-be Hollywood screenwriters, David Armitage wants to be rich and famous. But for the past eleven years, he’s tasted nothing but failure. Then, out of nowhere, luck comes his way when one of his scripts is bought for television. Suddenly, he’s the new toast of Hollywood as the creator of a hit series.

A new player in Tinsel Town, David reinvents himself at great speed — notably and especially by walking out on his wife and daughter for a young producer who worships only at the altar of ambition. But David’s upward mobility takes a decidedly strange turn when a billionaire film buff named Philip Fleck barges into his life, proposing a very curious collaboration. David takes the bait, and finds he has inadvertently entered a Faustian Pact, one that results in an express ride to the lower depths of the Hollywood jungle. From the Goodreads.com
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