Thursday, April 24, 2014

Author Spotlight: Gregory S. Slomba

It's Author Spotlight day, and today I've got the awesome Middle Grade fantasy author, Gregory S. Slomba. If you've got a middle grade reader who loves getting transported into mysterious worlds, you're definitely going to want to pick up Gregory S. Slomba's The Deliverers Series! His newest book in the series: The Golden Dragon of Ang, recently came out, and I was lucky enough to get a copy for review (see below)... but first, a little about Greg and his series:


ABOUT THE GOLDEN DRAGON OF ANG


“From the mouth thou shalt hear
The wisdom of far off lands.
The way to truth is clear
Head, then heart, then hands.
Lastly, tail will point the way
To the world’s end.
Then gold shall have its say
And foretell the doom of men.”

With his dying breath, so spoke the last Dragon’s Voice. Now, with no successor to impart the wisdom of the mythical Golden Dragon of Ang and children between the ages of 12 and 15 mysteriously disappearing, the Dragon Islands have been turned upside down.

It is up to the Deliverers—Eric Scott, Stig the owl, Kate Endria and Hallo Tosis the dwarf—to unravel the clues they hope will lead to the missing children and the new Dragon’s Voice. Meanwhile, the Fang, leader of the renegade Denchi Assassins, has harnessed the unearthly powers of the sparkling mist and is attempting to tip the balance of power in the Islands, and perhaps shred the very fabric of the universe itself. Will the new Dragon’s Voice be revealed, or has the Golden Dragon of Ang abandoned the Islands to the Fang and the sparkling mist?


MY REVIEW


Eric, Stig, and the rest of the gang are back for Book Three of the Deliverers Series. In this book, governors who lead a group of islands wonder why the Golden Dragon of Ang did not name a child to be their new leader as is always customary. Instead, The Dragon only left them with a rhyme full of clues and chaos. As a result, children are being kidnapped by a group of assassins who are certain the new leader is among them. Eric and company are brought in to try to sort out several different mysteries that are happening at once - involving both the dragon's voice, the missing children, and a mysterious mist.

Gregory Slomba once again takes us on a wild adventure. While his books are meant for middle grade readers, I think adults will enjoy these books as well (I know I do!) I can honestly say that Book Three is my favorite so far. It is action packed and full if emotion. The books are written in such a way that you feel you are right there with the characters, trying to help them solve their mysteries. I can't wait to see where the group gets sent next.




ABOUT GREGORY S. SLOMBA



 Gregory S. Slomba grew up in Connecticut reading The Phantom Tollbooth, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings and dreaming of being a children's author. He studied English at the University of Dayton, and then worked as a banker for 20 years, taking care of other people's money. Somewhere in there he also took four years out and worked as an editor for a flooring trade magazine. He got to go to some neat places (Las Vegas, Arizona, Spain) to write about carpet, hardwood and ceramic tiles. Now he designs and writes training courses for bankers. He likes to read fantasy, historical fiction, history, middle grade and young adult literature, biographies, sports history, and anything else that seems interesting. The Lord of the Rings is my favorite book, followed closely by The Hobbit, The Chronicles of Narnia, Redwall, and Harry Potter. Greg lives in Connecticut with his wife, Stephanie and his children, Christian and Abigail.  



CONNECT WITH GREGORY ONLINE:



Website: www.thedeliverersseries.com

Facebook : www.facebook.com/thedeliverers 


Twitter @GregDeliverers

PURCHASE THE DELIVERERS SERIES ON AMAZON:

http://www.amazon.com/Gregory-S.-Slomba/e/B005PFPA64/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1




OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES:







 THANK YOU GREG!



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Coming Soon

www.karenpokras.com


Friday, April 11, 2014

Syndication – Good, Duplicate Content – Bad. What to Do? by Donna Huber

The following is an article written by my friend Donna Huber after I asked her about syndication ... it was originally posted on her blog. It is my first (and hopefully not last ) syndicated post and is about ... syndication ... Thank you, Donna for answering all my questions!

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 reposts 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.


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 all together.

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".


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.




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.



Friday, April 4, 2014

Cover Reveal: The Whispered Wishes Series - Ava's Wishes



Hey all - it's been a while since I've posted. This last month has been full of changes for me both personally and professionally. Professionally, I said good-bye to my very first character - Nate Rocks, as I closed out his series. Personally, I went through some health and other struggles. In the end, writing is what kept me sane. In the midst of it all, I decided it was time for me to shift into the world of contemporary fiction/romance after a story about three sisters came to me that I just had to tell ... and so ... The Whispered Wishes Series was born. 

As of right now, I don't have a firm release date of book one: Ava's Wishes, as it's still in production, but I hope to have it available late spring/early summer. The other three books I expect to be available by the end of 2014. The characters are all itching to have their stories told! In the meantime, the fabulous Najla Qamber of NajlaQamberDesigns.com created these beautiful covers for me, and I can't wait any longer to show them off.

Oh! Two more IMPORTANT things I want to tell you -

  • I am publishing these and all of my contemporary fiction books going forward under the name Karen Pokras   and...
  • I have a shiny new website now:  www.karenpokras.com

So now that we got all that out of the way ... here are the fabulous covers, as well as the info about Book One: Ava's Wishes


The Whispered Wishes Series photo 4f08fb50-f6f7-4246-8894-326c8d7dab77.jpg


Coming Soon: Book One: Ava’s Wishes

 photo 90fc00b3-9b70-48f5-98f4-22972c94d6b3.jpg

About Ava's Wishes:
Ava Haines had big plans for her life. Her short-term goals included passing statistics (on the third try), graduating college on time, and securing a job in the art gallery on Main Street. Her long-term goal was to one day own an art gallery of her very own. Oh sure, she would someday like to fall in love and get married, but all of that was secondary to making sure her other goals were in line. Fellow student Max Wallis and esteemed photographer Thomas Malloy were just minor distractions she was more than capable of handling. She was entitled to a little fun once in a while, right? But as reality took a tumble, Ava began to wonder if she really was able to manage it all. Could all her wishes come true?


Follow Me Online:
Blog


Book covers designed by Najla Qamber Designs. 
Books 1-3 - Models: Models: Courtney Boyett and Willis Totten
Book 4: Models: Courtney Boyett, Sara Beck, and Brittany Weidman
Model Photographer: Casey Boyett

Friday, February 21, 2014

Author Spotlight: Kitsy Clare

Welcome to a special Friday Author Spotlight! Today I'm excited to have my friend, author Kitsy Clare here to help celebrate the release of her New Adult romance novella, Model Position. It's a fun day for Kitsy because she's also having a PARTY (and I know my readers love a good party!) For al the details on her party ... see below. But first ... let's learn a little about Model Position and Kitsy:

ABOUT MODEL POSITION:

In Manhattan’s glitzy gallery scene love and art are perilous games. Will Sienna dare to play?

Sienna is a beautiful, talented artist poised on the precipice of soaring into the glamorous, yet cutthroat Manhattan art scene.
Dave Hightower is a hooked-up, handsome heir to the hippest gallery in NYC, Gallery Hightower.
Erik is the live drawing model with his sizzling green eyes fixed only on Sienna.
Three’s a crowd, so Sienna must make a choice: date Dave and ride the fast track to landing a show at Gallery Hightower and hobnobbing with the art glitterati, or follow her heart and take a chance with Erik, the stunning male model who’s stealing her heart. But Erik has some worrisome secrets, and who in their right mind would make live modeling their career?



How about a little EXCERPT:

I don’t have high hopes for today’s model. The live models have been a motley crew: a guy in a clown suit and Medieval court jester’s hat, a dowdy lady in a diaphanous gown, and a skeletal girl in a bikini who bit her nails and paced during breaks. Where are all the sexy male muses?

When the screaming dies down and I’m sure my neighbors aren’t calling the police, thinking someone just got murdered or drank too much and fell down the trash chute, I elaborate. But first, I take a gulp of vino. “Since you ladies are my most trusted critics, after we eat dinner, I’d love your help in picking out three of my best artworks to show her tomorrow.”

“What? You’re not crushing on him?” A look of pure astonishment appears on her face. I shrug. “Hot damn!” Harper’s grin slides into a frown. “Wait, why would you just give him to me? Is something wrong with him?”



SOUNDS GREAT, RIGHT?  Here's where you can get your copy:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble 
Kobo
Inkspell Publishing


ABOUT KITSY CLARE

When I'm not crafting novels, I teach writing workshops. I also love to draw, travel, read spicy romance, sci-fi and thrillers. My time is spent between NYC and my Catskills studio, where I enjoy the sounds of birds, bullfrogs and coyotes.

I also write YA as Catherine Stine. My YA futuristic thriller, Fireseed One won finalist spots in both YA and Science Fiction in the 2013 USA Book News International Book Awards, and was an Indie Reader Approved notable book. My YA Refugees, earned a New York Public Library Best Book. Ruby's Fire, the new companion novel to Fireseed One, is receiving high praise from reviewers. I'm a member of RWA, SCBWI and SFWA.


CONNECT WITH KITSY ONLINE

Goodreads 
Kitsy Clare on FB
Website
Twitter


ABOUT THE PARTY!!

Pop in to the online party today (Friday, Feb 21) to celebrate the launch of Model Position. Giveaways every hour and meet great romance authors! Link to join:

HTTPS://www.Facebook.com/events/1423555031218336/?notif_t=plan_edited

The lineup:

9 am CST : Kitsy Clare

10 am CST: Piper Malone

11 am CST: Kennedy Layne

12 PM CST: Elizabeth Arroyo

1 PM CST: Lee Strauss

2 PM CST: Lisa Casia

3 PM CST: Stephanie Keyes

4 PM CST Lisa Voisin

5 PM CST: Final post from Kitsy Clare


THANKS KITSY!!

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

You're Invited! Nate Rocks Release Party!




Do you like GAMES?

Do you like PRIZES?

Do you like SWAG?

Do you like NATE ROCKS?





Then you don't want to miss this party! We're getting together on Facebook on Friday February 28th to celebrate the release of the final Nate Rocks book - NATE ROCKS THE CITY  and everyone is invited! 

Where: Facebook 

When: Friday Feb 28th 1:30pm and 7pm EST

What: The Nate Rocks the City Release Party!

Oh yeah - did I mention prizes?

Here's a sampling:

-Nate Rocks swag

-Nate Rocks books

& other fabulous middle grade & children's books including:

-The Deliverers Series by Greg Slomba

-Dragon Wars by Emily Fogle

-Whispering Wings and Messy Jessy by Jayne Peters

HOW DO I JOIN??

Easy!!  Just click >>>> HERE <<<< to reserve your spot

- you may even win a prize if you join early.

See you there!!


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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Author Spotlight: Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

Today we're doing a special Valentine's Day edition of the Author Spotlight with author Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar.




Today, Mohanalakshmi joins us to talk about her book, Love Comes Later, and her feelings on love:

Does Love Still Exist?
By Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar author of Love Comes Later

St. Valentine may be horrified by the cherubs touting candy, flowers or jewelry. The overemphasis of eros, or romantic love, may have merged out of rampant marketeering. Between Christmas and Easter, after all, is a lot of retail silence. In modern society, with women marrying later, and partners divorcing earlier – not waiting for children to grow up – does love still exist?

I had a great idea in 2009; I would write a book about how a modern person with traditional values would find love. I didn’t think this would be so difficult. After all, I’d managed to resist the pressures of my own South Asian culture until the spinsterly age of 26, when, as my father put it, “to find a good man who would make a commitment to me” even if he wasn’t Indian.

Fresh from an unlikely, whirlwind romance in the desert, I sat down to explore in fiction the difficult choices facing young Qatari men and women amongst the myriad dilemmas of love, choice, honor, and duty.

The Qatari characters were based on a meld of dozens of stories I knew of real people; but the insertion of a South Asian girl into the love triangle was all my own.

I put Abdulla, the male protagonist, and Sangita, the unexpected loved interest, in a small London apartment. And waited for sparks to fly. In a Disneyesque-romantic genre, move, they were on a countdown; three days.

But nothing was happening. There they were; young, attractive, in close proximity, and I couldn’t believe that they were falling in love. All the elements were there but the emotions were missing.

I started asking everyone: “How do people fall in love?”

My older Indian friends were surprised.

“Didn’t you have a love marriage?” They asked me, products of the arranged marriage system. “Don’t you know?”

“Seems so long ago,” I muttered, well out of earshot of my husband.

“I loved your book,” another friend said. “I’ve never known what love is…” she said, with a dreamy look in her, having been arranged to her husband.

“It’s all the same after a while,” I said to her dryly, watching our husbands on their mobile phones while we mothers ran after our children.

“But how can they fall in love,” I asked my Qatari friends, growing desperate for realism as the book entered a seemingly endless cycle of revisions.

“She has to be hot,” one of my male beta readers said, in all honesty.

Chemistry. Right. I forgot that part, somehow, settling into comfortable domesticity.

Abdulla and Sangita did eventually find their way in the story. The sequel to the book is in progress and explores an equally murky area: what happens after the spark? Are the chances for survival of ‘falling into’ love greater?

I grew up with the idea that no, falling in love did not guarantee romantic success; making allegiances between well researched partners was stacking the cards in your favor. My parents’ anti-falling in love argument was the 50% divorce rate in America.

We’ll see what happens for Abdulla and Sangita as they try to grow their spark into a fire to heat their home.

What do you think? Do you fall in and out of love? Or do you choose to love?


About Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar



Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a South Asian American who has lived in Qatar since 2005. Moving to the Arabian Desert was fortuitous in many ways since this is where she met her husband, had a baby, and made the transition from writing as a hobby to a full time passion. She has since published seven e-books including a mom-ior for first time mothers, Mommy But Still Me, a guide for aspiring writers, So You Want to Sell a Million Copies, a short story collection, Coloured and Other Stories, and a novel about women’s friendships, Saving Peace.

Her recent books have focused on various aspects of life in Qatar. From Dunes to Dior, named as a Best Indie book in 2013, is a collection of essays related to her experiences as a female South Asian American living in the Arabian Gulf. Love Comes Later was the winner of the Best Indie Book Award for Romance in 2013 and is a literary romance set in Qatar and London. The Dohmestics is an inside look into compound life, the day to day dynamics between housemaids and their employers.

After she joined the e-book revolution, Mohana dreams in plotlines. Learn more about her work on her website at www.mohanalakshmi.com or follow her latest on Twitter: @moha_doha.

Find Mohana Online:

Author Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/Mohanalakshmi-Rajakumar/e/B002PMRI1U
Author website: http://www.mohanalakshmi.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/@moha_doha
Facebook: www.facebook.com/themohadoha
Youtube:www.youtube.com/themohadoha
Pinterest:www.pinterest.com/mohadoha





Thank you Mohana!

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www.karentoz.com
www.facebook.com/karenptoz

Nate Rocks the City ebook now available for KINDLE & NOOK

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Day the Heat Died

Polar Vortex 2014 - you've heard of it right? I mean even if you're not living through it (lucky!) it's been all over the news. Coldest winter in I don't know how long. Ridiculous amounts of snow every few days (Ugh!)

So let me set the scene - Your alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m. (double ugh), you drag yourself out of bed and think man, it's cold! But hey - you've got an old house with old windows during a  polar vortex. It's sort of like the trifecta of doom as far as trying to keep warm during winter. Even so, it seems colder than usual, so you make your way over to the thermostat. It wouldn't hurt to kick it up a notch or two just this once, right? Sure - except - it's not even at the 67 degrees it's supposed to be set at. It's only at 64 degrees. That can't be good. You check to make sure it's set for 67. Yup. You check to make sure it's set to "on." Yup. You turn the oven on for a second to make sure the gas is actually working (I did pay that bill didn't I?) Yup. You check to make sure the furnace is working - nope! WHAT??

Welcome to my Friday. Now three days later, I'm waiting for the installation guys to show up with my new furnace - in the snowing - hoping and praying they make it. Yes, I said new. It seems the furnace was deader than dead. I can't really complain (well I can of course) - it was close to thirty years old, but timing wise, we would have preferred it waited until it was a little warmer out. (Really, is there ever a good time to have to drop several thousand dollars on a piece of metal that sits in your basement?)

Luckily, we have a gas fireplace in our family room that got quite a workout over the weekend. We buckled down, moved in pillows, blankets, and sleeping bags, and had a Toz family sleepover. Admittedly, some of us got more sleep than others, but at least we were warm. Fireplace, cozysocks, wifi, games, books, fun, and WARMTH!



Here's hoping all of you are staying warm, too!





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www.karentoz.com
www.facebook.com/karenptoz


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