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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Care and Feeding of an Independent Bookstore

The Care and Feeding of an Independent Bookstore: Three Instructive EssaysThe Care and Feeding of an Independent Bookstore: Three Instructive Essays by Ann Patchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked this book up at Scout & Morgan Books in Cambridge, MN, as part of Independent Bookstore Day. It's a short book but a good one. In this age of Amazon and Barnes & Noble, independent bookstores still thrive. Why is that?

The author, Ann Pratchett, owns Parnassus Books in Nashville. It consists of three essays about her experience. When the last independent bookstore, as well as Borders, in Nashville closed, she was approached about starting a new one. She was originally cool to the idea, but eventually she decided to go for it. As one person described her, she was like a chef who wanted to open a new restaurant. Mount Parnassus in Greek mythology is the home for poetry, music, and learning. In some traditions, it was also the home of the Muses. An appropriate name for a bookstore.

The bookstore went well, and is still going today. It got a big boost when the author was on The Colbert Report talking about her book. She describes her experiences with the bookstore, like employees, and dogs. She doesn't have a café, because she allows dogs to come into the store. (So does Scout & Morgan. They have two dogs on their logo.) There is also a list at the end of books she recommends. She encourages anyone who wants to open a bookstore to do so, provided you can get the money.

I like both types of bookstores. I will admit to getting books from Amazon that I can't get anywhere else. I also get a lot of Amazon gift cards. I will also admit to spending lots of time in Barnes & Noble. My first experience with Barnes & Noble was at Country Club Plaza in Kansas City. Three floors of books, all available for me, provided I had the money. I was in heaven. And yet, I do like the independent bookstores like Scout & Morgan. It's easier to talk to people, especially the owners. It feels more relaxing. I can sit an enjoy a potential new purchase. There's a café next door, so it's easy to get a drink and relax. The other night, our local bookstore sponsored Fredrik Backman, author of A Man Called Ove, in Cambridge, MN. He came from Sweden to be with us. That took a lot of work, and was a good event. I will have a separate post on my blog later about that.

I also like the different attitudes on book signings. I've gone to Mall of America book signings. There, you stand in line with your book, which is usually a celebrity autobiography. You get your book signed, a picture with the celebrity, and then you go on. It's like an assembly line. At Scout & Morgan, and at the event last night, the author interacts with the audience, and gets to know them. As an author myself Operation Mermaid: The Project Kraken Incident(Operation Mermaid: The Project Kraken Incident, available on Amazon), I like the second type better, although I wouldn't mind being in the Rotunda of Mall of America with a huge line to sign books.

All in all, this is a good little book. It was just for independent booksellers, and just for the one day. It does make me appreciate them more. While I'm mentioning independent bookstores, I'd like to give a shoutout to some other independent bookstores I've been to over the years. Paperbacks & Pieces and Book Shelf in Winona, MN, and Book People in Sioux City, IA.

www.scoutandmorganbooks.com
www.bookpeoplesc.com
www.bookshelfwinona.com
www.paperbacksandpieces.com
www.parnassusbooks.net

View all my reviews

Under New Management

Under New Management: How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business as UsualUnder New Management: How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business as Usual by David Burkus
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've been on both sides of the management coin. I've been in management, and I've been managed. I have an idea of what works for me and what doesn't. In this book, David Burkus shows that many of the management practices that were developed in the early 20th century to manage line workers don't work today. Even some that have evolved over time need to change. He identifies 13 items that need to change. They are:
1. Outlaw Email
2. Put Customers Second
3. Lose the Standard Vacation Policy
4. Pay People to Quit
5. Make Salaries Transparent
6. Ban Noncompetes
7. Ditch Performance Appraisals
8. Hire as a Team
9. Write the Org Chart in Pencil
10. Close Open Offices
11. Take Sabbaticals
12. Fire the Managers
13. Celebrate Departures.

Some of these sound counterintuitive at first glance, but he makes the case, with examples of companies that have tried them, that they can actually work. Some of this is not new. For example, the idea of scrapping the standard vacation policy was explored in Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It: The Results-Only Revolution by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson. They argued, as does David Burkus, that as long as the work is done accurately and on time, it shouldn't matter if you're at your desk for a certain time each day. There is some freshness to this book, though, from the use of real world examples. Some of them are modified from what he thinks. For example, the chapter on outlaw e-mail could be retitled outlaw internal e-mail. If a client is emailing you something important, you'd better be ready to take it. Space alone prohibits me from going into detail about every chapter.

One thing I wish the book had done more of is to show instances where the item in the chapter title was tried, and it didn't work. There is some of this, but there could be more. In the chapter on salaries, he discusses a company called SumAll, which has fixed, but transparent, salaries. You're assigned to a salary level, and there is apparently no negotiation. When I saw that, I thought of Ellen Pao, former CEO at Reddit. Ms Pao came to Reddit after losing a discrimination suit against her former employer, an investment firm. The jury returned the verdict in favor of the firm. Ms Pao then instituted a no negotiation policy for salaries at Reddit. This was your salary, take it or leave it. It was supposed to take the pressure off people who didn't feel comfortable negotiating, which some studies have shown many women are. Ms Pao may still have been reeling from her loss in court. At any rate, the policy was universally panned, not just at Reddit, but on other social media and the regular media. It probably led to her exit from Reddit. I believe the policy has since been rescinded. I'm not sure if salaries at Reddit were disclosed within the company or not. This would have been a good example for the book.

The author does emphasize flexibility. There is no one size fits all solution. For example, I'm a CPA who does taxes. The policy on vacations would have to be modified. January 1-April 15, no extended vacations other than medical or death in the family. The rest of the year, the schedule is much more flexible. That's what I like about this book. It doesn't attempt to impose a solution. it suggests a solution, and leaves it to the individual companies to implement it, realizing that it may not work for everyone. All in all, a good book.

View all my reviews

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Saving Michael

Saving Michael- Banner

TITLE: Saving Michael
AUTHOR: J.R. Wirth
GENRE: YA Suspense
Imprint/Publisher: Edge, Bison Publishing
RELEASES: May 3rd, 2016

PRE ORDER LINKS
Amazon US: http://bit.ly/1VuSTys
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1T9ykUg
Amazon AU: http://bit.ly/1VuT7FQ
Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/1p4CGkV

Saving Michael - JR Writh - BISON PUBLISHING

SYNOPSIS
Gabriel Rucker knows there is a storm brewing, and it’s more than just the dark, ominous clouds that hang over Sacremento, California. His step-brother, Michael Rucker, lives for trouble, and he has dragged their little brother, Aaron, down with him. Fearing that their children will end up in a prison far worse than in-school suspension, Shannon and Jenson Rucker turn to The Serenity Institute to tame their wild behavior. “Are you my angel, here to take me away?”Melissa Jenkins quickly became The Serenity Institute’s obvious successor after her father’s untimely death, but her heart was plagued by turmoil regarding what really happened there, and whether or not it was truly for the greater good of mankind.“One day you will have to fix all of this.”Twins, Daniel and Donnie Conan, are regular fixtures in the Rucker home due to their father’s unpredictable work schedule. Together, with Gabriel Rucker’s help, they uncover the many secrets their father holds, and it’s then that they know they have no choice.They must band together to save Michael.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JR Wirth was born and raised in Southern California. Now hailing from San Bernardino, he was intimately affected by the recent terror attacks, but luckily his family escaped physical harm. With several pieces published—including a poem and the bestselling series: “Twisted Family Holidays,” along with the epic paranormal, “In Passing,” J R. Wirth is an emerging author. The latest, young adult novel, “Saving Michael,” promises to be his best to date. Utilizing his extensive background in psychotherapy, J.R. exhibits a strong understanding of the emotions of a moment in time, as well as the inner workings of his characters. In all of his works, J.R. Wirth combines ordinary people with extraordinary circumstances to create characters will jump off the page and straight into the readers’ hearts and minds. Look for J.R. in Goodreads, Barns and Noble, and Amazon.

Facebook: http://bit.ly/1N96GHS
Twitter: http://bit.ly/1TRYop2
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1VWflyM

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER
header
Facebook: http://bit.ly/bisonpubfb
Twitter: http://bit.ly/bisonpubtw
Website: http://bit.ly/bisonpubweb
Newsletter: http://bit.ly/bisonpubnews
Saving Michael- Banner

TITLE: Saving Michael
AUTHOR: J.R. Wirth
GENRE: YA Suspense
Imprint/Publisher: Edge, Bison Publishing
RELEASES: May 3rd, 2016

PRE ORDER LINKS
Amazon US: http://bit.ly/1VuSTys
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1T9ykUg
Amazon AU: http://bit.ly/1VuT7FQ
Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/1p4CGkV

Saving Michael - JR Writh - BISON PUBLISHING

SYNOPSIS
Gabriel Rucker knows there is a storm brewing, and it’s more than just the dark, ominous clouds that hang over Sacremento, California. His step-brother, Michael Rucker, lives for trouble, and he has dragged their little brother, Aaron, down with him. Fearing that their children will end up in a prison far worse than in-school suspension, Shannon and Jenson Rucker turn to The Serenity Institute to tame their wild behavior. “Are you my angel, here to take me away?”Melissa Jenkins quickly became The Serenity Institute’s obvious successor after her father’s untimely death, but her heart was plagued by turmoil regarding what really happened there, and whether or not it was truly for the greater good of mankind.“One day you will have to fix all of this.”Twins, Daniel and Donnie Conan, are regular fixtures in the Rucker home due to their father’s unpredictable work schedule. Together, with Gabriel Rucker’s help, they uncover the many secrets their father holds, and it’s then that they know they have no choice.They must band together to save Michael.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JR Wirth was born and raised in Southern California. Now hailing from San Bernardino, he was intimately affected by the recent terror attacks, but luckily his family escaped physical harm. With several pieces published—including a poem and the bestselling series: “Twisted Family Holidays,” along with the epic paranormal, “In Passing,” J R. Wirth is an emerging author. The latest, young adult novel, “Saving Michael,” promises to be his best to date. Utilizing his extensive background in psychotherapy, J.R. exhibits a strong understanding of the emotions of a moment in time, as well as the inner workings of his characters. In all of his works, J.R. Wirth combines ordinary people with extraordinary circumstances to create characters will jump off the page and straight into the readers’ hearts and minds. Look for J.R. in Goodreads, Barns and Noble, and Amazon.

Facebook: http://bit.ly/1N96GHS
Twitter: http://bit.ly/1TRYop2
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1VWflyM

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER
header
Facebook: http://bit.ly/bisonpubfb
Twitter: http://bit.ly/bisonpubtw
Website: http://bit.ly/bisonpubweb
Newsletter: http://bit.ly/bisonpubnews

The Kiss That Saved Me Cover Reveal

COVER REVEAL!
THE KISS THAT SAVED ME- BOOK 2 IN THE TIDAL KISS TRILOGY
COMING JUNE 25TH 2016

SYNOPSIS

Four months have passed since the night Callie Pierce fulfilled her destiny as the Vessel and her world is shifting faster than ever before. The Occulta Mirum is in disarray, still reeling from the demise of its longest reigning monarch and its people have a decision to make, on which more lies balanced than they know. As Callie and Orion rise together to new responsibility, dealing with the consequences of what has passed, Callie finds herself changed and looking into the shadow of the deep for answers. The life she’s been thrown into isn’t what she expected, and as the responsibility of her new found position among the mer mounts, the cracks in the fantasy world she so loves are starting to show. Can then, the dark mystique of the Psiren’s world be what Callie was destined for all along?

Get ready to ride into the world of the Occulta Mirum at greater depth than ever before. As Callie learns the truth of the ancient agenda of three brothers, and comes face to face with the temptation and allure of what will seemingly save everyone she loves.
Power. 

THE TIDAL KISS TRILOGY FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/TheTidalKissTrilogy/?fref=ts
BUY BOOK 1 IN THE TIDAL KISS TRILOGY:
 Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1UA798P 
  Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1pIex4p
website: www.kristynicolle.com

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Have 2 ideas? Put them together.



Have 2 Ideas? Put them together.

When I was writing my book, Operation Mermaid: The Project Kraken Incident, I had some trouble with an idea for the plot. This happens a lot to writers. I had the main idea of some big thing transforming women around the world into mermaids. I was trying to get away from the whole plotline of being a mermaid is a secret, which is what most mermaid books are. I wanted to make it a big enough event so that it wouldn't be a secret anymore. I even brought in agents from Homeland Security. But now what? I tried to figure out a way to make a story out of this, but everything I tried turned out boring. I didn't want my readers falling asleep halfway through the novel. I just couldn't think of anything. I also couldn't explain why Homeland Security was there. I put it aside for a bit.



About that time, I remembered another idea I had for another possible book. This was about a mechanical Kraken. The mythical Kraken was a giant octopus that would come up and crush ships, taking them and their crews to the bottom of the ocean, where they would die. The new version would be a mechanical version, based on a submarine. The new Kraken would use mechanical arms for destruction. If you want more details, read my book. I didn't have a story for this, though. I had this thing, but it was just sitting there with no story.



Then, as I was working on my mermaid story, I decided what it needed was something to tie everything together. That's when I decided that the mechanical Kraken would be perfect for this. It was a submarine, so it would make sense for mermaids to be involved. It was a potential weapon, so Homeland Security would have a reason to be there. It would take some time to process, so it could drive the plot forward. To me, that was it. I put the two together. (It almost sounds like the Brady Bunch.) That got me over my block, and helped me produce the novel. I just filled in the details.



Sometimes it works that way in life, too. You have an idea for something. Someone else has an idea for something else. Neither one of you are getting anywhere. It might be time to talk about combining your ideas into one. There might be cost efficiencies in eliminating duplication. You also could get more income from your combined idea than you could from one alone. It's worth discussing.



This doesn't always work. There are all kinds of products that try to do two things that wind up in the late-night TV graveyard. There are also mergers that don't work, and legal restrictions on other mergers. But you will never know unless you try it. There are a lot of legal and other details I won't go into here. At least be open to the idea.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rediscover Jesus: An Invitation

Rediscover Jesus: An InvitationRediscover Jesus: An Invitation by Matthew Kelly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from my parish.

This book is an invitation. It invites us to rediscover Jesus. The premise of the book is that people are looking for ways to nurture their soul rather than destroy it, and that Jesus is the way to do that. It challenges the reader to truly get an understanding of Jesus, and to follow him. Many people know about Jesus, and are familiar with the story (it's been told often enough on TV and movies), but don't really know Jesus. The book invites us to reread the gospels and understand Jesus.

The book is divided into 40 short chapters. It could be used as a Lenten meditation, reading a chapter a day. Each chapter contains a point to ponder, a verse to live, a question to consider, and a short prayer. This is a lot to think about. He also invites us not to just read the gospels, but meditate on their meaning. He describes a prayer process to get the most out of prayer. Briefly, the process is this:
1. Gratitude
2. Awareness
3. Significant moments
4. Peace
5. Freedom
6. Others
7. The Our Father

The book is easy to read. The challenge is living it. I know I have problems trying to live up to what the book says. I know I'm not perfect, but I can try to get better. This book would be a great guide for that.

View all my reviews

Saturday, March 26, 2016

In The Blood Book Tour

In The Blood Banner 540 x 200
  In the Blood: The Witchbreed, Book One by R.L. Martínez Genre: Fantasy Publisher: Lakewater Press
Date of Publication: March 21, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-9944511-0-1
ISBN: 978-0-9944511-1-8
ASIN: B019X8WCWI
Number of pages: 370
Word Count: app. 122,000
  ebookinthebloodgirl

Blurb

The Warrior The war between Dosalyn and Roanaan has ended, but a new battle begins for prisoner-of-war, Ottilde Dominax. Dreams of her witchbreed twin sister are visions of death and betrayal. Driven by their grim warning, she escapes her captors and races across nations to save her sister. But she may arrive too late… The Witch Oriabel Dominax has kept her healing magic secret while she cares for her family's struggling estate. But the arrival of a new lord with secrets of his own, the discovery of a dark and addictive magic, and threats from a cruel blackmailer push Oriabel closer to disaster. Through it all, the Witch’s Tree calls…"
Cover Artist E.L. Wicker available_on_amazon_badgeAdd-to-Goodreads-Button      

Excerpt

  “296.” Angry hisses and mutters rippled through the assembly at the announcement of Ottilde’s number. The guard at the front of their formation watched with a bored expression as the other inmates spat at her feet. “King Killer,” the woman next to her hissed. Ottilde swallowed and her grip on the heartstone tightened. Chroy had not been a king when she threw her knife into his throat, not yet. But he had been their future, their hope. Ottilde raised one hand into the air. “Here.” The commotion died down after he called a few more numbers and Ottilde let out her long-held breath. She loosened her fingers from around the heartstone. They came away aching with the force of her hold. When all the prisoners were accounted for, several inmates broke formation to walk to the dining house for breakfast. The guards, however, growled at them to remain in line, shoving some of the slower ones back into place. Ottilde frowned at the change in routine, and peered around. Prison Chief Wilder Coomb strode towards them on the other side of the wire fence that formed the front of the yard, his adjutant close at his side. One of the guards unlocked the yard gate and stood back as the Chief entered. Wilder Coomb was a formidable man. He might once have been handsome, but life had bullied him viciously. His shaved head sported a deep, curling scar on one side of his scalp, while his face and neck carried similar gruesome marks. One earlobe was missing, which gave his head a cock-eyed appearance when viewed straight on. A jagged horizontal line along his neck indicated someone had tried to cut his throat at one time. But Ottilde believed the most impressive scar lay behind the patch over his left eye. The silvery tail of the wound snaked down his cheek and neck to disappear in the stiff collar of his forest green officer’s coat. Upon reaching the front of the prisoner formations, he folded his hands behind his back and swept a contemptuous eye over them. Ottilde could only imagine what he saw as he stared at them, the ragged unlucky soldiers taken prisoner during the recent Pleinour War. For a moment, Chief Coomb’s hard, dark eye settled on her and she lifted her chin, refusing to show him how much he intimidated her. But his gaze moved on, and she sensed the subtle shift of discomfort in the prisoners around her when one of them felt the whip of his gaze He held up a sheaf of folded papers; a letter, judging by the regular creases. “Queen Kuonrada has fled and Deauxerr has vanquished her armies.” The prisoners shuffled and muttered. The cold air warmed with the force of their anger and humiliation. Ottilde kept her eyes on Chief Coomb’s face, though she felt a good portion of their collective rage focused on her. She knew she held blame for breaking the back of Roanaan’s fighting spirit. “Over the last several weeks,” Coomb continued, “those with authority in such matters have considered what to do with you all. I have a list of officers and knights to be traded for Deauxerr soldiers now held by the remnant of Roanaan’s military as an act of diplomatic faith. Step forward when I read your number. You will be readied immediately for transport to the exchange point.” He snapped his fingers and his adjutant took the letter from his hand, replacing it with a single sheet of dark paper. Coomb scanned it and shouted out prisoner numbers. Ottilde’s breathing grew irregular with hope as each man or woman came forward in answer to the prison chief’s summons. But he reached the last number on the list without calling hers. Her stomach soured as she watched a contingent of guards escort the fifty or so fortunate prisoners from the yard. Once the yard gate had shut again. Chief Coomb’s adjutant handed him another paper. “Now, King Talin of Deauxerr has decided to offer those of you with reports of good conduct and no criminal past the opportunity to swear fealty to the Deauxerr crown. Talin has granted you permission to return to Roanaan or settle in Deauxerr; also, you will be given a small subsidy to start your new life. If you wish to accept this offer, step forward when I read your number.” He sounded off another list of prisoners. Again, Ottilde listened tensely for her number, though she knew how unlikely it was she would hear it this time. Coomb must have called a hundred numbers or more, but Ottilde estimated only forty prisoners stepped forward. They averted their eyes from those who remained in the formations. Another handful of guards led this group from the yard. “As for the rest of you,” Coomb said, “you are to be moved to a civilian prison facility where you will no longer be my concern.” He folded his arms behind his back. “Remember, as long as you remain in this camp, or in the custody of my staff, you will obey Lachlas regulations. Everyone will appear for morning roll every day. You all know what will happen should even one of your numbers go missing.” He gave them a last menacing glare then stalked to the yard gate.    

About the Author:

SONY DSC
R.L. Martinez writes fantasy and science fiction with dark edges and corners. She began writing when she was in the seventh grade when her teacher assigned a creative writing project. She lives in Norman, OK with her husband, two young sons, a mouse-killing cat, and two naughty pooches.
 
Website - http://robinlmartinez.com/
 
Twitter - https://twitter.com/RobinLMartinez
 
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/robin.l.martinez400
 
Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8121315.R_L_Martinez
 
Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.com/robinlm488/
 
Tour giveaway, enter HERE!
 
1 swag pack (book, bookmark, postcard, heartstone necklace) and
 
3 ebook copies  

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Operation Mermaid: The Project Kraken Incident reviews on Goodreads

Operation Mermaid: The Project Kraken Incident review on Goodreads

Operation Mermaid: The Project Kraken IncidentOperation Mermaid: The Project Kraken Incident by Joseph McGarry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hi everyone. This is my book. I normally don't like this, but I thought this might help promote the book. I won't say too much about the book here. I don't want to reveal any spoilers.

I am looking for reviewers to get legit reviews. Email me at jmcgarry2011@yahoo.com if you're interested. It's in PDF format only. When you get done, please post the review at http://www.lulu.com/shop/joseph-mcgar.... My only rules are to acknowledge that you received a free copy in exchange for the review, and not to share your copy with anyone else. The book won't be on Amazon or B&N until mid to late February.

FYI, I rated the book 5 stars so I could recommend it to others on Goodreads. They require 4 or 5 stars to recommend it to others. I will let others decide how good it is. I could say it's the greatest novel since War and Peace, but most people would discount that. I know I would. Read it and decide for yourself.

View all my reviews