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T is for Translated 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 the ...

April 11, 2014

Character Interview with Nathan from Nate Rocks the City by @KarenToz

Welcome Nathan! So I see you finally had a chance to visit New York City! How was it?

It totally rocked, of course! First of all, I got to go with my two best friends, Tommy and Sam, which was awesome – yeah that know-it-all Lisa Crane came along, not to mention my annoying older sister Abby, and my own mom volunteered as class chaperone. UGH.  But you know what? In the end, none of that even mattered, because I had such a GREAT time!

I’m so glad. There’s a lot to see in New York. What were some of the places you went to?

Nate Rocks the City
Oh my gosh – there was so much to see! We were only there four days, but Mrs. Cogin – she’s our teacher – she managed to squeeze in a lot of stuff. Let’s see. We went to the zoo in Central Park where we saw the ninja birds, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island where I learned that Lisa Crane is NOT related to Ichabod Crane like she always likes to tell everyone, the Metropolitan Museum of Art which was WAY cool, Times Square – where everything is super-sized, and my personal favorite – Yankee Stadium.

Wow! You did see a lot of stuff. So I have to ask – did you ride the subway?

Yeah. It was crowded and stinky. Not a highlight of the trip.

So other than the things mentions – were there any other highlights of the trip?

 Oh yeah – the FOOD was amazing! I’m not even joking! I seriously could have skipped the sightseeing and just eaten 24/7. Of course, you have to live in my house back home and eat my mom’s cooking everyday to understand why. It’s not good (and by not good, I mean it’s downright awful) - - you’re not going to print that part are you?

Hey this was fun! Thanks for having me on your blog today!

About the Author:

Karen Pokras Toz writes middle grade and adult contemporary fiction. Her books have won several awards including two Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, the Grand Prize in the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards, as well as placing first for two Global E-Book Awards for Pre-Teen Literature. Karen is a member of the Society of the Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI). For children, her books include the Nate Rocks series, Millicent Marie is Not My Name, & Pie and Other Brilliant Ideas. For adult readers, Karen’s books include Chasing Invisible, and her soon to be released, Whispered Wishes series. A native of Connecticut, Karen now lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband and three children. For more information, please visit
Twitter  *  Facebook  * website

Buy Nate Rocks the City 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. The views, opinions, and beliefs expressed by guest writers are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Girl Who Reads.

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April 10, 2014

Syndication - Good, Duplicate Content - Bad. What to Do?

by Donna Huber

Ever since Google started cracking down on blogs that had duplicate content, I have wondered how syndication played into it. In legacy media, being a syndicated columnist was a huge feat. The columnist reached greater audiences with the same content.

Then there are the news stories that play over and over on every television station and every newspaper. Even as the legacy media moved online, the practice continued. Online news sites like Huffington Post even repost content from other sites.

I've asked around in various groups what makes syndication okay for sites like a newspaper, but not a general blog like mine? Early answers were that they were somehow exempt from Google's algorithm. Not fully understanding, I searched the web and Google's own information and all I got was some technical mumbo jumbo that all I took away from was syndication was okay but not duplicate content.

I got into another discussion yesterday with an author who read an article about the benefits of syndication but wasn't sure how it differed from duplicate content. It got me thinking and again I went searching for answers. I ran across the most helpful article to date on the subject at Search Engine Journal.

To bottom line the article - it's all about the quality. You really should read the article for yourself, but I'll highlight a few things I took away from it and some thoughts on syndication as it applies in the book blogging world.

Quality Matters

A lot of bloggers and authors are doing book blasts or sponsored giveaway posts. These posts usually only contain "canned" information. The whole point of the post is to be an advertisement. Ads = low quality. It is likely that Google will view these types of post more as duplicate content than syndication.

More: Book Blasts, Blog Blitz, Sponsored Giveaway

What is a high-quality post? One that contains meaningful information is usually of high quality. Meaningful content may be timeless, usually answers a question the reader has on the subject, and/or provides insight possibly not found elsewhere. Interviews and guest articles usually are good examples of high-quality content.

But content alone does not make the post high quality. It must be well written: free of grammar and spelling errors, contain clear and concise language, structured to be highly readable.

How to Syndicate

After reading this post, authors may be thinking "Great! I have that awesome post I wrote on my tour last month. I can syndicate that." Not so fast. You may be running into a rights issue. Who "owns" that content? When I developed my Submission Guidelines, I consulted literary magazines and other publications (both ones that have print issues and ones that are online only) to determine how they handled content submissions. Most had language detailing the rights and permissions. Even if money did not change hands over a post, it is still possible that a guest article you wrote belongs to the blogger. Just to avoid hard feelings if nothing else, I would advise authors to check with bloggers.

Bloggers, should you give permission to have a guest article syndicated by the author? While the decision is up to you, I would tend to say yes, you should. Again if you look at my Submission Guidelines, I state I have exclusive use rights for a certain period of time, after that time the author may reuse the article, but a link back to the original post on my blog is required. Why? Getting other sites to link to your blog is good for SEO purposes also it means that more readers will see your blog's name and since the post is of high enough quality to be reposted then it speaks well of the other content on your site.

Another option for syndication is to write an original article and then send it out to bloggers to post. You may first publish it to your own blog or you might not. Either way, make sure there is a bio and a link back to your website/blog. This option is open to more than just authors in the book writing sense. Bloggers can also have their own content syndicated. For example, most of my tips posts would make excellent content for syndication. I recommend including at the end of the article or somewhere unobtrusive, but visible, a statement to indicate it is a syndicated article. By indicating it is a syndicated article may encourage others who love the post to consider posting it on their own site.

Problems with Syndication
(or when does syndication cross the line to duplicate content)

According to Google, duplicate content is not grounds for action against a blog. So why have I been told not to post duplicate content? Mostly because there is a fine line between white hat SEO techniques and black hat SEO tricks. Did I lose you? White Hat = Good. Black Hat = Bad. Anything that attempts to manipulate search engine algorithms is bad. Duplicate content can become black hat if it looks like a linking scheme (meaning you are more interested in having a site post a link to your site than the content you are providing in the article). That's why the most important thing to remember is QUALITY.

Bloggers may be thinking "hey, I never have to write another post. I can just post syndicated articles all the time." I'm not sure if that would be a wise move. I think that the algorithm looks at the ratio between original content and duplicate content when determining if a site is trying to artificially influence search engine ranking (how high on the list a site is when someone searches for a subject).  Adding in a few original posts will also keep your readers interested. It is no secret that many book blogs share the same readers so if you only have content they can also find on another site they may stop visiting your site altogether.

A third problem with using syndicated articles is related to the problem above. If 10 blogs post the same article then Google's search algorithm decides which blog gets the top billing when returning search results. A couple of things play into it. One, the site that posted the article first may get pushed higher. Two, sites with better page rank get higher billing. I'm sure there are other factors, but you get the idea. The other sites may rank higher than yours in search and therefore your blog isn't "found" by new readers.

Speaking of page rank. That is another problem you can run into with syndicated posts. If you have 10 blogs that have a lower page rank than you pointing to yours through a link then that might not be so good for you. And possibly worse you are linking to sites with lower page rank. What is page rank? It is a scoring system that Google uses to rank your site's content. The better the content the higher the rank. You linking to a site is seen as an endorsement of sorts. I don't fully understand page rank, so I'll leave it at that. An option you have is to make the links "nofollow".

More: Choosing doFollow or noFollow

Bottom line: syndicated content can be great for both bloggers and authors if you used appropriately. Use it for good not evil by devoting the extra time to making sure that one post is worth being syndicated.

If you would like to repost this article on your site, you may. Please remember to link back to Girl Who Reads with this url:

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the blogger behind Girl Who Reads and author of the how-to manual Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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April 9, 2014

Review: Digitus 233 by K. D. Emerson

by Claire Rees

Digitus 233
We start off with a group of teenagers on a plane off to ‘leadership camp’. All of the kids are the sons and daughters of millionaires and are supposed to be ‘leadership’ material. What they do not know is that there is a stowaway on board; Zeph the brother of Zander. Jealous of his brother but also curious to what this special camp is like.

Before getting to camp the teenagers are thrown from the plane, terrified and not knowing what else to do Zeph stays in his hiding place until the plane lands.

Meanwhile back on the ground the gang find themselves on a frozen wasteland with nothing else around but ice. They quickly realise that this is real and nobody is coming to save them. Zander takes charge and they quickly realise that they will have to work together to survive this harsh and unforgiving place.

Buy Digitus 233 at Amazon

Zeph meanwhile finds himself on an island. There seems to be some sort of excavation here complete with a small village type area where Zeph goes to find something to eat. Whilst digging around Zeph finds out that ‘Leadership camp’ is not exactly what it seems and he starts to fear for his brother's safety. Finding an unlikely ally Zeph and his partner set out to save Zander and his friends.

A wonderful adventure, written beautifully we meet some lovely characters, including a cheeky monkey, and some diabolical characters who will go to great lengths to gain power.  The end of the story is a huge cliff hanger and I cannot wait to read book two.

Book Info:
Published December 2012 by Master Koda Select Publishing

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the above link.

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April 8, 2014

Review: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

by Donna Huber

The Here and Now
I think I might have found my favorite young adult novel of 2014. I loved The Here and Now by Ann Brashares. Perhaps a twist on the dystopian genre as it is more than just a sci-fi time traveling novel. While The Here and Now may be a departure from Brashares's Traveling Pants series, the themes of friendship and loyalty that fans love are still there.

Prenna is not quite from here - geographically she is, but spatially not so much. Her mother, herself, and members of her community are from the future. That future is pretty grim. But did they travel through time to change the future or just to enjoy a little more life?

Prenna is your typical teenage girl. She wants to belong, have friends. Yet she is bound by the rules of her community. Rules that keep you isolated, not just from the natives (people who belong in the current time), but also from the members of her community, even her own mothers. The secrets, the lies, all are getting to be too much from Prenna. What if the secrets and lies are not just for the natives?

Buy The Here and Now at Amazon

Then there is Ethan, a native that knows more than he is letting on. He is such a sweet boy, not bad looking, and smart. Like astrophysics smart. I love how these teens are intelligent, but are not portrayed as the geeky nerd stereotype. Ethan and Prenna are definitely two great role models for today's teenagers.

My only struggle with the book is whether I want The Here and Now to be a stand alone novel or a series. I love the characters and concept Brashares has created. The ending of the novel could go either way. If there are not more books to come with Ethan and Prenna, I could see them being the new stars of the fanfiction writing community. There is so much more that can be explored about them as individuals, as a pair, and the society they inhabit. At the same time, there is something special about the moment that is captured within the pages of this novel alone. It is difficult to explain. It is kind of like how you are okay with a fairy tale ending with "they lived happily ever after" or in a western the hero rides off into the sunset.

If you are a fan of young adult literature you will definitely want to get a your own copy of The Here and Now by Ann Brashares. And if you aren't really a fan of young adult books, you still might want to pick up a copy as it is a great read for any age.

Book info:
ebook and hardcover (288 pages)
Published April 2014 by Delacorte Press
ISBN13: 978-0385736800
Source: Netgalley
Read: March 2014

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above.
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April 7, 2014

Interview with David P. Forsyth

Claire: Welcome, David. Please can you tell us a little about yourself?

David: Hi, Claire and thanks for asking me to do this interview. My name is David P. Forsyth and I am an indie author of science fiction. I live in Malibu, California, and have written four novel length books and three novellas so far. I hold a master’s degree in international relations have worked in a variety of industries, from general aviation and travel marketing to construction management, before trying my hand at writing. I hope I have found my true calling as an author.

Claire: When and why did you start writing?

David: I started writing fiction in 2011 after reading a Kindle ebook and realizing that it was possible to reach an audience without going through the gatekeepers of agents and publishers. My mother had been a published author and I had always wanted to follow in her footsteps, but had seen the angst she went through to get there. The indie ebook revolution has opened up a whole new market where aspiring authors can release independently and let the readers decide for themselves which books are worthy.

My first novel was entitled Voyage of the Dead. It’s an apocalyptic adventure that follows survivors aboard a ship sailing through a zombie apocalypse. It was released in January, 2012, and I followed up with two sequels, Flotilla of the Dead and Deluge of the Dead. Together they form the Sovereign Spirit Saga: Volume One which is a 300,000 word (788 page) trilogy that is currently on the Kindle Best Seller charts for Sea Adventures and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction.

Claire: We know that you are excited to have just released a new book called Sedulity, could you tell us a little about it?

David: Absolutely! Sedulity #1 Impact is a different type of apocalyptic thriller. This series is also set aboard a ship, but that is where the similarities end. Instead zombies, the threat in this book is posed by forces of nature unleashed by an asteroid strike. The story follows the passengers and crew a cruise ship, named the Sedulity, en route to Australia when asteroid strikes the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It’s a fast paced adventure combining the threat of apocalyptic catastrophes with the heroic efforts of survivors to improvise and overcome against long odds.

Sedulity has been very well received, climbing quickly up the Amazon Kindle Best Sellers’ ranks to #1 in Sea Adventures and #5 in Post-Apocalyptic Fiction, with an overall sales rank close to #500 among the millions of titles for sale on Kinde. Needless to say, I am indeed excited, especially by the excellent reviews it is receiving. However, while Sedulity is selling extremely well in USA, it has not yet taken off on I’m hoping that this interview will introduce Sedulity to more readers in the UK.

Claire: Do you have any other projects going on?

David: Yes, I am working on a fourth book in the Sovereign Spirit Saga, but my priority is to complete Sedulity #2 Aftershock for release this Summer or Fall. I think it is important to follow up with the sequel as soon as possible, while the first book is still fresh in readers’ minds.

Claire: What books do you like reading?

David: My own reading tastes are reflected in my writing. One of my all-time favourite books is Lucifer’s Hammer (1977 by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven). In fact, it is the stated inspiration for Sedulity although the plots are quite different. I’m a fan of apocalyptic fiction, which is one reason I founded ApcaCon in 2012 to promote indie authors in the genre. I also love classic science fiction and fantasy, as well as zombie horror, and I enjoy techno thrillers and some historical fiction.

Claire: Do you have any favourite authors?

David: Many of them! My indie idol is Hugh Howey, not only because his books are excellent, but also a trailblazer for securing the rights and interests of indie authors. There are also a whole group of indie authors in the apocalyptic genre that it has been a great pleasure to get to know too many to list. It’s a tight-knit group of talented writers and I am very grateful to have been accepted into the fold. In terms of lifelong influences, Asimov, Tolkien, Heinlein, Pournelle, Bradbury, Frank Herbert and H.G. Wells stand out in my mind.

Claire: Do you have any advice that could help wannabe writers?

David: I think the best training for any aspiring writer is to read and read and read until you feel the need to write. Then write something you would want to read. Also, while you can bypass the gatekeepers (publishers) and reach readers as an indie author, you should still get a professional editor (or at least a competent group of Beta readers). There are plenty of good stories being told that bomb due to lack of editing and proofreading.

Claire: What do you like doing when you are not reading or writing?

David: I’m a licensed pilot and certified scuba diver, as well as an avid reader. I enjoy skiing and fishing and going to the beach, and I love to travel. I actually did extensive travel as part of my research for Sedulity, including a two week cruise to Europe during which I spoke to the Captain, Chief Engineer and other members of the crew about the ship, her systems and the functions of her officers and crew. It was quite valuable to be able to picture the layout of that ship and recall my experience abaord her when it came time to describe the fictional Sedulity in the book.

Claire: When did you start feeling like an author?

David: I’d have to say that feeling came in mid-2012 after my first two books were doing well and I was working on my third in the series. However, the feeling didn’t come from me. It came from my Mother who started referring to me as, “My son, the author.” She was really proud of me. That meant so much to me and I am glad I had the chance to dedicate one of my books to her. She passed away in January, 2013, which squashed my creative output for much of last year, but I am deeply grateful that she got to see the early success of my first books.

Claire: Do you have a blog/website/Facebook page that you can share with us?

David: Absolutely! Let’s start with the links to my books, because I am sure people will be more interested in reading my work than visiting me online.

Sedulity is available at Amazon US and UK.

Sovereign Spirit Saga: Volume One is for sale at Amazon US and UK.

My first book, Voyage of the Dead is FREE to download on Amazon (as well as on Nook, Kobo, iTunes, etc.) as an invitation to the series.

Interludes in Hell is a collection of three prequel novellas to the Sovereign Spirit Saga available at Amazon.

My website will be updated to include pages for Sedulity soon and my Goodreads author page

Be my friend on Facebook and/or join ApocaCon to help promote apocalyptic fiction.  Thanks for inviting me to do this interview, Claire, and for posting a picture of my new release on the banner for your page! Bon voyage!

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

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