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Q is for Quantum Fiction #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I'm discussing different book genres/categories. Each day, I will give a few details about th...

July 20, 2013

My Experience with Audible - @Audible_com

As a multi-tasker, I enjoy audio books because I can keep up with my reading and get other stuff done. I typically get my audio books from the library, particularly the digital download library. However, there aren't many MP3 files so I couldn't listen in the car because my Android phone doesn't play WMA files. I've been going back and forth about whether to get an Audible membership. So when I was contacted about doing a review of Audible, I jumped at the chance.

My Experience:

First, I didn't know you could use Audible without a membership, but you can purchase a la carte from Audible. If you have an Amazon account, you can use the log-in to establish your Audible account (Yay! Not another log-in to remember!). Establishing my account was quick and easy. The next task was a bit harder - choosing a book to buy. 

Audible was kind enough to provide me 2 credits in order to play with their system for this review. All the audio books were showing a list price (most audio books looked to be around $20 - $30) and I wasn't exactly sure what a "credit" would get me. I went looking for an FAQ or help link and I couldn't find it. 

When I did finally find it (I hovered the cursor over "Hi, Donna"), I learned a credit is equal to 1 audio book (a few exceptions apply).

So now I was back to trying to decide what I wanted to listen to. There are a number of categories and ways of narrowing down the choices. I didn't find the "Trending" list to be helpful - there was a 1 star review being promoted in the scrolling list. Since this was the first time I was using Audible there was no buy or search history for suggestions based on my reading tastes available. I thought since Audible is an Amazon company it would have been able to pull at least my buying history to help make recommendations. 

Thanks to my friends on Facebook and Twitter, I had a few titles to research which led me to other titles. I quickly decided on The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Gailbrath (buy at Amazon) - I figured now that it had been leaked that it is actually J. K. Rowling, I won't be able to get a copy from the library for a while. The second book choice was harder. Like on Amazon, when you look at one title you get "people also bought" suggestions. This led me to The Never List by Koethi Zan. (Buy at Amazon)

The Never List was just released and had no reviews. Again, I wish Amazon and Audible were connected and reviews from Amazon were visible. I had to go over to the Amazon site to read a few reviews.

With my books chosen, I checked out and figured out how to listen to them. Downloading the AudibleManager for my PC was relatively easy. I did have to go to Help again to find out why I couldn't activate a device. Speaking of activating, I'm impressed with the number of devices you can connect to your account - 3 of any one kind of device. That means 3 computers, and 3 iDevices, and 3 Androids could all be connected. Additionally, you can burn your book to CD. 

Installing the Audible App on my phone was even easier. I love that I could see what chapter I was on and not just how much time was left.

I was excited to see syncing between devices was possible. My biggest dislike for audio books I get from the library is that I have to remember where I am when I change devices. I might, at work, be listening on my computer, but then I want to listen in the car on my smartphone. And of course when I get home I want to listen on my laptop.

I had listened to my book on my phone during the day, but when I got home I wanted to switch to my laptop because I needed to do some work around the house and didn't have pockets to keep my phone with me.I fired up AudibleManager and tried to figure out how to sync it. And this is when I become less pleased with Audible. There was no "help" about syncing computer and Android device. Actually there is little in the way of Android device help, though a lot for iDevices. The Android video tutorial was even marked as a private video.  (I have an Android phone and an Android tablet, so not having help with these devices is a big bummer). I never did figure out a way to sync my phone and computer.

Since the Audible app on my phone told me what chapter I was on, I thought I could find my place that way. No can do. There was no way to see chapters in the AudibleManager. When I use Overdrive for my digital downloads from the library I can get a list of parts so I can quickly choose where I am in the audio book when changing devices. This didn't appear possible with AudibleManager, either. I had to fast forward 5 hours to get to my place.

My Recommendation

While I'm not sure I will purchase audio books in the future, I know if I do I would more than likely use Audible. I really like how so many devices can be connected. My mom and I have similar reading tastes and it would be nice to be able to share audio books I purchase with her in the same way we share physical books. The failed attempt to sync my phone and computer and the limited options of AudibleManager is keeping me from whole-heartedly recommending Audible. 

The selection is huge and probably anything I wanted to listen to would be available. 

Should you purchase a la carte or sign up with a membership?

If you are an avid audio book listener the membership is a great savings. With the basic plan of $14.95, you get one credit per month. For most titles that would mean $5 - $15 savings. Audible prices are already lower than the CD price at Amazon (remember you can burn your own CD copy). 

Like your phone minutes, credits roll over each month as long as you continue with your membership, but they have an "expiration" date so to speak. With the basic $14.95 plan, you can have up to 6 credits on your account at a time. The good news: you can put your account on hiatus. If you haven't purchased an audio book in 6 months, you can put your account on hold for up to 3 months to give you time to use up your credits before more are issued. However, you can only do this once every 12 months. 

Final Thoughts and Special Offer:

Overall, I liked Audible and definitely recommend it to anyone looking to purchase digital audio books. If you would like to try out Audible without the membership commitment, Audible has a special offer for my readers.

Get a FREE download at Audible 
(must use this link)

If you need some audio book recommendations, check out my recent reviews.

Girl Who Reads received free credits in order to provide an honest review of No other compensation was received. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the links above. 

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July 19, 2013

Writing Prompt: I'm Late

Last week's entries were awesome. Bravo to the authors who took the challenge. If page views are any indication, readers seemed to enjoy it as well.  I know last week's prompt was a little dark, so I'm lightening it up a bit this week. I hope you will take the challenge and link up your Flash Fiction or Short Story to the list. Don't have a blog of your own? Email me for a possible feature on Girl Who Reads. There are only 3 rules:

  1. The following prompt must be included in the story (beginning, middle, or end); personal pronouns can be changed to fit your story.
  2. If your story contains mature content, kindly add (18+) with the linky.
  3. Link to this post to encourage your readers to read the other submissions
Are you ready? Here you go...

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Gryphon Series Prize Pack Giveaway

Who needs a little more Rowan?

Stacey Rourke presents a Gryphon series novella

The call of the sea.

The promise of adventure.

For Rowan Wade, the need to return to his swashbuckling ways is enough to betray the only woman he’s cared for in over three hundred years.

With vengeance in his heart, he’s determined to exact his revenge on those that mutinied against his father. 

The arrival of an unlikely ally challenges Rowan’s plans. Her goal isn’t to stop him, but to lead him on a journey of self-discovery to unravel the mysteries of the twisted path that led him to the Dark Army.

Will it be enough to make the pirate shift course? Or will he be lost forever in a rum-induced haze? Hoist ye colors and prepare to set sail with the Gryphon Series’ favorite pirate!

Buy A Pirate's Tale at Amazon 

Chat with Stacey Rourke
Friday, July 19 at 2 pm eastern
Twitter #PiratesTale

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A GWR Publicity event paid for by Anchor Group Publishing. Giveaway is sponsored by the author who is responsible for the delivery of prize.Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above.

July 18, 2013

Are you using Twitter effectively?

It's been a while since I've written about Twitter. When I started blogging it was the social media channel that I had the most interaction on. I wrote several posts on using Twitter to boost the traffic to your site and network with authors, publishers, readers, and other bloggers.

Twitter Connections
Tag It
Blogging and Twitter
User Engagement
Creating Sound Bites
Managing your social media presence

You may have noticed I used the past tense when referring to my interactions on Twitter. That wasn't a mistake and no, it's not because a social media channel has replaced it or I've stopped using Twitter. Actually I've almost doubled my number of followers since the beginning of the year. So what happened?, you ask. The short answer - I got lazy.

Twitter is about relationships and relationships take work and time. I was still putting out a lot of stuff on Twitter. Probably more than I ever had. I'm part of Triberr and so I share out blog posts of other members of my tribe. With 30 people in a tribe and if they only post once a day then that's 30 tweets with links. I also have tweets going out about the blog tours and giveaways I'm organizing (more links!).

I noticed a problem a few weeks ago (I was noticing symptoms earlier). Like I said I've almost doubled my following in the past 7 months, yet when I asked a question I got absolutely no response. When I had less than 2K followers, I could ask a question and get 5 - 10 responses depending on time of day. I knew I needed to take a hard look at what was going on with my Twitter feed.

First, I noticed I had almost all links. According to Twitter rules, a feed that contains excessive promotional tweets compared to the number of personal updates is considered a spammer. What is a promotional tweet? Any tweet containing a link. The link does not have to link to your stuff to be considered promotional. Twitter sees all links as equal. I've become so focused in my own little world that I almost couldn't come up with any content tweets. I have a couple of stand by advice tweets I sporadically send out (a couple of times a month), but I really needed to up my game.

Second, I noticed I rarely retweeted anyone any more. I hoped to kill two birds with one stone and retweet other people's content tweets. Do you know that Twitter has become saturated with link tweets? It had me asking if anyone ever tweeted newsworthy content only any more. I even created a new list (lists are a must to manage large number of followers) in hopes of finding some interesting content. Again, most of it was tweets with links. But I still found a few content tweets and started retweeting others.

Retweeting immediately increased my user engagement.

Third, I noticed that almost all my mentions were coming from my tribe members (when a post is tweeted through Triberr my Twitter handle is added to the tweet). I started paying closer attention to what people were saying and commenting on their tweets and answering questions.

I've been concentrating on changing my tweeting habits for the past week and really upped my game the last few days since I joined a social media support group who purpose is to retweet each other (and, of course, all those tweets contain links). Results: last night when I asked for audio book recommendations I got responses. I had new people responding that I haven't spoken to before and a few retweets. And you know what else? Tweeting was fun again and not just a chore to tick off my to-do list. It will be interesting to see what my click report will show on Monday. I'm hoping there will be an increase in click-thrus given that my interactions are increasing.

Have you checked your Twitter health recently? Are you seeing less return on your efforts? Here are my tips on effective Twitter use in a nutshell,

  • Make lists - group your followers into groups so you can keep abreast of important info they are sharing.
  • Retweet others - try to make it content tweets that you are retweeting, but promo tweets are okay, too. If someone asks a question answer it and retweet the question to our followers.
  • Check your mentions - Respond when people mention you in a tweet. Also thanking people for retweeting you can increase interactions with your followers. I usually thank 3 or 4 people at a time instead of individually.
  • Don't over tweet - to many tweets in a short period of time can have your followers unfollowing you, or worse reporting you as a spammer. When I schedule tweets I try to limit it to 2 - 3 tweets an hour (most of my scheduled tweets are links), particularly during times that I might be around to live tweet.

(Oh, if you are wondering how I doubled my following in 7 months, quick answer: sponsored giveaways)

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July 17, 2013

Watch Now: Summer Confections

Looking for a summer read? How about 3? Check out Summer Confections, volume 2 of the Candy Collection from Renaissance Romance Publishing.

Buy Summer Confections at Amazon

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. Book trailer was provide by the publishing house. No compensation was received for this post.

July 16, 2013

Review: Lifeboat by A.B. Shepherd

Lifeboat by A. B. Shepherd is not really like anything I've ever read. It was different - and I know that most people automatically think bad when they hear that, but that's far from the truth. It truly is a different kind of story.

Cass is just going through the motions of life after her husband and child are killed in a car accident. Then one night she experiences something that brings her back to life a bit. During a sleepless night she sees strange lights in the sky. Given her lifeless state, this strong interest in discovering what it is would make any believe she has finally lost it. And perhaps she has, or maybe she is finding life again with a team of UFO researchers.

For me Lifeboat was a different read. First, I don't think I've ever read a book that involved UFOs and alien life (oh, there was an online story that I read once that featured alien life). A second thing that made the story different is it is set in Australia and it does not use American English - I thought I should point this out so readers that expect all English books to be written in American English will be prepared. I've read a few British English novels and had wished an Irish based book had not been Americanized. So while I did struggle with a couple of slang references, it helped develop the setting of the story.

I'm not sure what it was about the story that hooked me, but at about 25% I just had to know what was going on. Actually, that might be what was the strong draw - trying to figure out what was going on. Not that the story isn't clear, but you know that there is something going on under the surface. And the ending... Oh My.... jaw dropping. While it felt kind of like it came out of nowhere when you first get to it, looking back it explains the feeling I kept getting that something wasn't quite right.

Looking for something a little different? Try A. B.Shepherd's debut novel Lifeboat. Not convinced? Check out the excerpt Girl Who Reads featured.

Buy Lifeboat at Amazon

Book info: ebook & paperback, published April 2013
ISBN13: 9781301239771
Source: author
Read: June 2013

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising afflilate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the links above. A free ebook was provide by the source indicated in exchange for an honest review.

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July 15, 2013

Meet Vera Jane Cook

Welcome to Meet the Author Monday where it is all about the author!

Where did you grow up/live now? 

I grew up in New York City and still live here. I often fantasize that I live somewhere else, in a small town where life is less hectic but so far I'm still here.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

I wanted to be an actress as a young girl and I was an actress for many years. I am much more fitted for writing than I am for acting. I like the hours better and I don't have to travel. Also less room for stage fright.

What is your education/career background?

I have a masters degree in educational theatre which makes no sense at all, it should have been in creative writing. I don't think I really made good choices until I was much older.

Do you have kids and/or pets? 

Oh yes, I have lots of pets, three little dogs and two sweet cats. One is a Chihuahua named Peanut, the other is a Basenji mix named Roxie and a Dachshund named Carly. The cats are Sweetie Pie and Sassy, half Siamese, all were adopted.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? 

I have been writing all my life but not novels, that came to me late, nearly fifty.

Who are some of your favorite authors? 

Oh, let's see, there is Anita Shreve, Wally Lamb, Jodi Picoult, Nelson DeMille, Anne Rice, Colette, Emily Bronte, Oscar Wilde, William Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, Sam Shepherd, Dean Koonz, the guy who wrote Racing in The Rain, and oh, so many others......

Have you won any awards or honors (not just for writing)? 

I have just won awards for writing, they've been a finalist award for fiction for ForeWord Book of the Year 2012 for my novel The Story of Sassy Sweetwater. Also the book won Honerable Mention this year for the Eric Hoffer Award for ebook fiction. My novel Dancing Backward in Paradise also won the Eric Hoffer Award as well as an Indie Excellence Award for notable new fiction in 2007.

Buy The Story of Sassy Sweetwater at Amazon

About the Author

Jane, as she is known to family and friends, was born in New York City and grew up amid the eccentricity of her southern and glamorous mother on the Upper West and Upper East Side of Manhattan. An only child, Jane turned to reading novels at an early age and was deeply influenced by an eclectic group of authors. Some of her favorite authors today are Nelson DeMille, Wally Lamb, Anne Rice, Sue Monk Kidd, Anita Shreve, Jodi Picoult, Alice Walker and Anne Rivers Siddons. Her favorite novels are too long to list but include The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, Cheri and The Last of Cheri, The Picture of Dorian Grey, A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Kite Runner, Dogs of Babel, The Bluest Eye, The Color Purple, Body Surfing, Lolita, The Brothers Karamazov, She's Come Undone, Tale of Two Cities, etc., etc., etc.,
Jane worked in the professional theatre for over a decade, falling further in love with the plays of Tennessee Williams, Eugene O’Neil, Lillian Hellmann, and Sam Shepherd. She has appeared in television, regional theatre, film and off Broadway. Some of her credits have included both classic and original plays at Playwrights Horizons, WPA Theatre, Kennedy Center, Theatre for The New City, Bucks County Playhouse and many others.
After ten years in the theatre, Jane developed a passion for art history, film theory and philosophy. To nurture her many interests, she enrolled at Hunter College through the CUNY BA/BS program from the City University of New York.

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the links above. The views, opinions, and beliefs expressed by contributing authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Girl Who Reads.
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July 14, 2013

Sunday Sale Page 7/14

We've gotten a bunch of rain here in Georgia, which means plenty of time to read. If you need to stock up on ebooks, check out these deals & steals that got my eye. You can also find author submitted deals on my Facebook Fan Page.

Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour by Donna Huber
99 cents at Amazon

Chasing Justice by Danielle Stewart
FREE at Amazon and B&N

When I Found You by Catherine Ryan Hyde
99 cents at Amazon

Shine Not Burn by Elle Casey
99 cents at Amazon and B&N

FREE at Amazon and B&N

Girl Who Read is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the links above. Prices were accurate at time of posting, please verify price before purchasing.
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