Readers' Favorite

August 9, 2013

Paul H. Landes: A Writer's Best Friend

As authors we often find ourselves buried in some cubbyhole at the far end of our house surrounded by empty coffee mugs, wadded up paper and shredded food wrappers. When we finally emerge from our musty cavern we feel like a Grisly bear awakening from an extended hibernation. Yes, penning the next great novel can be a life of solitude where we talk out loud to ourselves, act out the part of our characters and even meditate to search for new ideas.

Sound familiar? This was my daily routine as I cranked out my first novel, Wings to Redemption, but when I started my recent novel, Latitude 87.7, I was hit with an epiphany— I needed a writing friend, someone I could talk to, someone who would listen and someone who could take my rants and outbursts in perfect stride.

From the fist day I started Latitude 87.7 until the day I finished it, I called upon Moose to be that special companion. He’d never been through the process before, but his credentials for listening to my every word and to be available at my beckon call were impeccable. As a two year old, spry and rambunctious Rhodesian Ridgeback, my pet was the perfect choice.

Now he’s not so good when it comes to proof reading or dangling participles, but he’s proven his mettle in creating some interesting dialog. I wrote several scenes that centered on Grandfather Wilkinson, a stately, older gentleman who has lived his whole life in Australia. I was reviewing one of the scenes when Moose, as he always does, let me know it was chow time. His paw landed on my keyboard, I saw flashes on the screen and I howled in terror. When I finished putting back the pieces I stared in amazement. Moose had given me the one part I needed to make the dialog read in the native Aussie tongue. I looked at the sentence - “No worries. I need to know what’s goin on.” –  he had erased the “g” from going. Brilliant! I read and re-read the dialog again and everything sounded much more, well, Aussielike.

I gave him some extra food for dinner that night and he curled up on his bed in what had become his usual spot—right next to me. When I finished up that particular scene I ended up with just the folksy, native tone I wanted. Take a look: “Aye, have been for mosta ma life. He’s a fine man. The best thar is. Come now, though, he wasn’t expectin ya ‘till this arvo. He’ll be gobsmacked that yar here now.” Much better, don’t ya think?

Buy Wings of Redemption at Amazon

Over the past eight months the two of us developed our own routine. After breakfast we’d go for a walk on the beach where he’d dig in the sand, chase the waves and play with driftwood while I’d think about what I wanted to write about that day. In the afternoon we’d walk through the Redwoods and he’d run, sniff and play about while I pondered over new ideas. After dinner we usually headed back to the beach where we’d play and create some more and then we’d write together into the wee hours. Simpatico—that’s the two of us.

When we finally finished the story and I had re-read it and re-read it, it was time to send it off to be formatted. I sat on the floor next to Moose and gave him a few pets, a few hugs and a big kiss. I reached over, grabbed his rather enormous paw and placed it on the “Send” button. Poof—it was gone! I was truly gobsmacked at that moment and when I looked over at him it was obvious what he was thinking. We bolted out the front door and the two us ran, full speed, to the beach.

I belong to a writers’ group and we meet regularly to hash over things. Now that Moose is a seasoned writer in his own rite, I can’t wait to introduce him to the group. Who knows what ideas that may spawn?

About the author:
Father of two, husband to one and the proud half-owner of three loyal dogs.​
I have traveled and maneuvered through the corporate world as an executive, real estate developer and consultant. Along the way I encountered some successes and some failures, but all-in-all, I have gained life experiences that serve me well today. I guess I became a full-time author in August, 2011. I was searching for something meaningful to do when I re-opened the story that Kristen and I started together so many years ago. Since then, I have been writing, writing and writing.​
I have always been and will continue to be a true adventurer, seeking new ideas, new places to visit and new goals to conquer. I can be spotted swimming in lakes and rivers and I am usually accompanied by my faithful Ridgeback when hiking the mountains or fishing its streams.
Paul’s next novel, Latitude 87.7, will be available on September 1st and you will find it on his website.
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Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. The views, beliefs, and opinions expressed by contributing authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Girl Who Reads.
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August 8, 2013

Formatting Tips for Contributed Posts

I've mentioned before how hosting authors on your blog is a great way to get fresh content for your blog and help increase your readership. It is also "easy" content. However, that doesn't mean you can be lazy. I have on occasion seen poorly formatted guest posts.

I just cannot bring myself to believe that a blogger just doesn't care what the post looks like. So, I am left with the blogger doesn't know how to clean up a guest post they are sent. I have a few tips for you to use to make sure your guest posts look just as spiffy as the content you write for your blog.

Tip #1 Don't go straight from document to blog

Most authors will send you their article as a Word document. Word adds coding to the text you see. While it is so tempting to just copy and paste that Word document, BEWARE - it will lead to formatting issues. Don't panic, you aren't going to re-type the post word for word. You just need to take an intermediate step. Open up Notepad an past the text there first. This will remove ALL formatting. I do mean all. Any italics, bold, underline, etc. will be stripped.

The biggest problem going from document to blog is line breaks. You will easily see where a line breaks when you paste the text into Notepad. Going to the end of each line and deleting the extra spaces and using a hard return for paragraph breaks will clear up the problem. Once the text is cleaned up, copy and paste to your blog. You will need to look back at the source document to add back in the formatting - italics, bold, underlining. Also any hyperlinking has been wiped out.

PREVIEW your post to make sure all paragraph lines wrap correctly.

Tip #2  Hyperlink text with provide links

Often authors provide links to background information. They will give the full url. However, this can look messy within a post, especially it is a long url. You need to take that url and hyperlink text within th epost with it. For Blogger you will use the "Link" button on the toolbar. Highlight the text you want to hyperlink - usually a word or phrase. Next click on "link" and paste the url in the dialog box that pops up.

Tip #3 Embed the Rafflecopter properly

Embedding a rafflecopter for a giveaway does require a small amount of html understand. Don't freak out. It is really easy, once you know what to do. Most authors will send you a link to where you can get the html code you will need. This is not the link for you to post on your blog. This link will not allow your readers to enter the giveaway. You need to follow the link to the Rafflecopter site and copy the html code on that page. Now come back to your blog and click on the html button on the toolbar (if you are using Blogger), paste the code. You can switch back to Compose. You will only see a link. Click on Preview and you will see the Rafflecopter properly.

If you are using a free blog, the Rafflecopter will remain a link on the published post.

Tip #4 Make sure images fit your post

Post size is not one size fits all. Some layouts have a narrow post area while others a very wide. If you given HTML coding for an image (used often for tours so it links back to something), the image may be too large. Look at the code for WIDTH. If this is in the code then you need to reduce the number. It may take some trial and error if you don't know the width of your post area. Again PREVIEW is your friend. Experiment until the image looks right on the post.

Tip #5 Solving spacing issues

Occasionally a post is all ran together. This happens with lists and bullet points. You may be able to fix it by doing hard returns at the end of lines in Compose/Text. However, sometimes that doesn't work. Also, I have seen extra line spaces be added though it does not to appear to be a space when I'm in the Compose field. If you encounter a spacing problem with your post, click over to the HTML and look at the problem line. You will need this piece of html code <br /> This adds spaces. If you just want the next line then 1 <br /> will give you that. If you are wanting a blank line between text then you will need 2. If you have too much spacing then delete the <br /> until you get the right space. Again PREVIEW will let you know what the final product will look like.


If you haven't picked up on what may be the most important tip when making a guest post look as good as possible, I'll spell it out here - PREVIEW. Before you publish your post to be live on your blog always PREVIEW it. While it is a good idea to preview every post you write, it especially important on guest posts. The way a post is formatted reflects not only on the blog, but the author whose name is attached to it.

A word on pre-formatted HTML posts

Authors sending pre-formatted HTML posts are popular for cover reveals and book blasts. I'm going to leave them to another day. But if you are having problems with it showing up correctly (again PREVIEW is your friend), paste the code in to Notepad and manually strip out the html coding. Be careful not to remove the "img" codes as that is for your images. Blogger and Wordpress read html code slightly differently so that could be the problem, by eliminating the formatting codes you are left with plain text that you can manipulate yourself.

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August 7, 2013

J.L. Spohr: What Keeps Me Up at Night

I have a confession to make. Most writers, or so I assume, have a very intricate system for devising story and character. Sometimes they might be given an assignment by their editor: “Give me a Moby Dick meets Twilight and set in prehistoric times where people only communicate in gestures, because that’s what’s hot right now.” Or perhaps they’ve always wanted to write a Southern Gothic and start to study the genre, traveling to places like Savannah and New Orleans. And that is where their story begins. 

Others (cough, Stephanie Meyer, cough) dream about their heroes and heroines.

Me? Nothing so glamorous. In fact, I thought of Heirs & Spares so I could dream in the first place. Normally a sleep addict, I was in the middle of a bout of insomnia. I didn’t want to write a book, I set out to get some blasted sleep. 

My daughter, who was one at that time and finally sleeping through the night – and by this, I don’t mean that ridiculous definition of sleep-training books that claim six hours is sleeping through the night. Is my child a firefighter or something? Is she a doctor on call? I digress. She was finally getting good ten-twelve hour junks. This should be bliss for me as a mother, right? Enter insomnia. What the what? Unfair! Damnable hormones! 

And, of course, being a new mom, I didn’t want to even take a Tylenol, let alone a chewable Trader Joes melatonin less make my milk become so toxic it would be eligible for Superfund cleanup. 

After way too many nights going over to-do lists and swearing at myself for still being awake at 2am, I decided I needed to find something that my mind could focus on enough to distract me from the clock, but also allow me to fall asleep. My husband’s a light sleeper, so turning on a lamp to read was a no-no. Basically I needed to read in the dark (this is preKindle era. I know. I’m soooo old).

So one night, attempting this hoped for sleep-inducing trick, out of nowhere, I saw her. The woman who would finally be called Annelore.  All I saw that night was a woman in a thickly-veiled wedding dress of the Tudor era (which I’d studied in graduate school), in the aisle of a huge stone church, trembling. It was almost like a crane shot from a movie, I started at her head and sort of zoomed up to the ceiling, catching flashes of color from the nobles vying to get a good look at her. 

Who was she? What was she doing there? And why on earth was she trembling? She didn’t want to be there, that was for certain. Before I could really think about it, the camera swept up the aisle to the waiting groom. He was handsome, in that rugged way of Clive Owen or Gerard Butler. He was smiling. But I knew in an instant, he didn’t want to be there either. 

Buy Heirs & Spares at Amazon

And that is where the entire Realm series began, Heirs & Spares, the first, is available now.

Of course, for a while Queen Annelore and King William only made my insomnia worse. Just like those favorite books you can’t wait to get to, or the ones where you feign a headache so you can secretly go read a few more scenes, this story in my head kept me awake even later every night. But I didn’t care. Yes, I’d curse myself in the morning, but every night, I got to return to a court full of plots and secrets.

After about two years of this, the story was getting to unwieldy to keep in my head so I started to write. And write. And write. What was my nightly obsession became my daily one. Dishes and laundry piled up, those small tasks that used to keep me up at night never saw the light of day. I got brave enough to show my husband, who read a few chapters and said, “This sounds like an actual book, not just something you wrote.” Which, even though it doesn’t sound like it, was a wonderful thing to say. It meant that these characters who had so enraptured me, might also speak to others. 

I’m absolutely positive some people won’t like my book – as my Nana used to say, “there’s no accounting for taste,” – but for those who do like it, for those who, like me, self-induce insomnia just to find out what happens next, I will soldier on into the wee hours of the night, dismissing dirty floors, ordering take-out again, and staring at the dust collecting on my out-of-season mantel decorations (pine cones in July – it’s winter somewhere), all to let these characters out of my head to play. 

About the Author:
J. L. Spohr is the author of Heirs & Spares and several short stories. An incurable Anglophile, she turned her attention to historical fiction and fictional monarchies after studying the Reformation in graduate school. She is an ordained minister and lives with her brood in Seattle. 
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Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the links above. The opinions, views, and beliefs expressed by contributing authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Girl Who Reads 
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August 6, 2013

Review: The Cypher by Julian Rosado-Machain

The Cypher by Julain Rosado-Machain is the first book in the middle grades fantasy series Guradians, Inc. It is about a young boy who lives with his grandfather because his parents disappeared and are presumed dead. But strange things are occurring.

I was impressed with the writing, given that English is not Julian's native language. I work with a number of non-native speakers so I recognize the feat he has accomplished.

The middle grades fantasy genre is a tough one to stand out in. While not totally original, there are some unique elements. I think it would be enjoyable for fourth grade and up.

Did your kid like Night at the Museum? Then they will like The Cypher. For in Thomas's world, there is more than meets the eye. Stories and histories we have heard over and over again are only the cover story. What is safe for the general human population to know.

As an adult, I thought the story was a little slow - a lot of detail leading up to the main action. Now that I think about it, it is kind of how I felt with the Percy Jackson series. But I'm sure my nephew would be all into this book. And it is meant for kids. It's a fun look into a magical world that could be happening right under our noses.

So if your young reader likes to be a trendsetter among his or her friends, get them a copy of The Cypher - the ebook is FREE. And if they are like my niece who hates to wait,  the second book (affiliate link) in the series is also available.

Buy The Cypher by Julian Rosado-Machain at Amazon

Book info: ebook & paperback, published February 2011
ISBN13: 9781450748582
Source: purchased at B&N
Read: May 2013

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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August 4, 2013

Sunday Sale Page 8/4

Book 2 of Sultry Springs series
99 cents at Amazon and B&N

Margie Peterson Mysteries #1
99 cents at Amazon and B&N

4 Full Length Novels
99 cents at Amazon and B&N

Kids 10 -13
FREE at Amazon and B&N

Kids short stories
FREE at Amazon and B&N

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the links above. Prices apply to ebooks only and were accurate at time of posting. Please confirm price before purchases as prices may change at any time.