Friday, October 16, 2009

Julie and Julia


Yesterday my wife and I went to see a matinee. The kids were in school and we had a few hours before we had to pick them up. The only two movies we could see during this time slot was The Informant and Julia and Julia. Guess which one my wife selected?

My mind immediately fast-forwarded three hours later when I would write on Facebook, "Just came home from watching Julie and Julie with wifey. Next time, I'M picking the movie."

But lo and behold, a funny thing happened on the way to the movies. Julie and Julie turned out to be a pretty darn good show. I really liked it. Two things captured my attention.

First, I can appreciate Julia Child's roller-coaster ride from being an obscure yet normal and talented-laden 37 year-old individual to publishing a best-selling book. She had a love and a passion for cooking food. She wanted to cook good food for her husband, Paul. Then, she decided to write a book about French cooking for American. Six years she endured the ups and downs, the rejection, the frustration, and the crazy unforeseen events that accompany writing and publishing a book. But the day arrived when a publisher said that word each one of us wants to hear, "YES."

Second, I can relate to Julie being an average person but having a dream and thinking big thoughts. Julie wanted to cook 524 of Julia Child's recipes in 364 days in one very tiny and crowded kitchen. She started a blog to recorded her journey and share it with the rest of the world.

In the movie, after some time, she finally had a comment. She was so excited to open and read it. But it was from her mom. Hilarious. Fast forward to the end of her journey and Julie was receiving countless hits, interviewed in the New York Times, and eventually wrote and published her own book.

This movie has inspired me, given me the motivation to move forward with big, big, big thoughts. Like you, I have had many successes and numerous challenges on this journey of writing and publishing a book. I thank my wife for dragging me to see this movie. I feel rejuvenated and ready to go.

Question Posed: What events have inspired you to move forward in the face of adversity? Please share with us as we can all benefit from examples from other writers and their words of encouragement.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials

The October VBT - Writers on the Move Viewpoint

This month the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) updated their Guide concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising, including bloggers. This update has a number of writers, specifically book reviewers, a little concerned.

When I first heard of it I thought it was a means of the government reaching out to create havoc with online reviewers and the books they receive in their work. Any product a reviewer receives must be disclosed along with the review. As compensation was mentioned, I figured it wouldn’t be long before the government decided reviewers needed to list the review books or products as income.

After reading the FTC’s 12 page document, I think I had it wrong. I have no problem with a reviewer having to disclose the source of his or her review product. Receiving a product to review does not ensure the reviewer will give a good review. And, I’m not sure the FTC is concerned with book reviews.

Here is the FTC’s Press Release pertaining to the changes. What do you think about it?

FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials
Changes Affect Testimonial Advertisements, Bloggers, Celebrity Endorsements

http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/endortest.shtm
October 5, 2009

The Federal Trade Commission today announced that it has approved final revisions to the guidance it gives to advertisers on how to keep their endorsement and testimonial ads in line with the FTC Act.

The notice incorporates several changes to the FTC’s Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, which address endorsements by consumers, experts, organizations, and celebrities, as well as the disclosure of important connections between advertisers and endorsers. The Guides were last updated in 1980.

Under the revised Guides, advertisements that feature a consumer and convey his or her experience with a product or service as typical when that is not the case will be required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can generally expect. In contrast to the 1980 version of the Guides – which allowed advertisers to describe unusual results in a testimonial as long as they included a disclaimer such as “results not typical” – the revised Guides no longer contain this safe harbor.

The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that “material connections” (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other “word-of-mouth” marketers. The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service. Likewise, if a company refers in an advertisement to the findings of a research organization that conducted research sponsored by the company, the advertisement must disclose the connection between the advertiser and the research organization. And a paid endorsement – like any other advertisement – is deceptive if it makes false or misleading claims.

Celebrity endorsers also are addressed in the revised Guides. While the 1980 Guides did not explicitly state that endorsers as well as advertisers could be liable under the FTC Act for statements they make in an endorsement, the revised Guides reflect Commission case law and clearly state that both advertisers and endorsers may be liable for false or unsubstantiated claims made in an endorsement – or for failure to disclose material connections between the advertiser and endorsers. The revised Guides also make it clear that celebrities have a duty to disclose their relationships with advertisers when making endorsements outside the context of traditional ads, such as on talk shows or in social media.

The Guides are administrative interpretations of the law intended to help advertisers comply with the Federal Trade Commission Act; they are not binding law themselves. In any law enforcement action challenging the allegedly deceptive use of testimonials or endorsements, the Commission would have the burden of proving that the challenged conduct violates the FTC Act.

The Commission vote approving issuance of the Federal Register notice detailing the changes was 4-0. The notice will be published in the Federal Register shortly, and is available now on the FTC’s Web site as a link to this press release. Copies also are available from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,700 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Betsy Lordan
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-3707

STAFF CONTACT:
Richard Cleland
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-3088

You can read about the changes in the document itself at:
http://www.ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf

We'd love to hear what you have to say about this. Speak your peace!

Karen

Monday, September 7, 2009

How to Promote an Interview with Another Author

Hi everyone, and thanks for stopping by. Today’s blog reflects upon last week’s interviews between members of the Writers On The Move I’m associated with in Yahoo! Groups.

Last week we paired off, one member hosting another member of our group, posting a background on one day and interviewing each other in the second. I had a lot of fun interviewing my guest Margaret Fieland on my blog site while being interviewed by Harry Gilleland on his blog.

The purpose is to give exposure to other authors. I have an audience that is new and unique to Margaret while Harry has an audience that is new and unique to me. The end result: exposure of our books to a new group of people while providing a forum to express our successes and failures that will help other authors become successful.

For Margaret, it wasn’t enough that I merely hosted her for two days. I needed to take the initiative to promote her and her books. So this was my strategy:

* I leave her interviews up for three days
* I advertised to the other three Yahoo! Groups I belong to
* I promoted her interview via Facebook
* I promoted her interview via Twitter. What I do is take advantage of hashmarks. For example, * I advertise to my followers as well as other groups such as #write, #authors, #and poetry two or three times a day for the three days. This way, Margaret will receive exposure to literally hundreds of new people.

Harry did an absolutely awesome job interviewing and promoting me and my book Breakthrough. For those who need a model of hosting a guest blogger and doing it right, please take a few moments on click on Harry’s blogs dated September 1st and 3rd.
http://harrygillelandwrites.blogspot.com

Let’s take a moment to look at what Harry did right (in no particular order)

* He uploaded a picture of me
* He formatted the interview questions so they are easy for the visitor to read
* He included links to purchase my book Breakthrough
* He included links for my blog and Web site
* He posted reader reviews from Barnes and Noble and Amazon
* He posted the book synopsis
* He posted the book description
* He posted a picture of the book’s dust cover

This is a model that you could certainly save to your favorites, not because my book is being promoted, but because this is an excellent example of how to host a guest blogger Harry, thanks again for a most awesome interview and bringing new traffic to my site.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Book Review: Why Authors Shouldn't Believe Everything They Read

78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published
Subtitle: 14 Why It Just Might
Pat Walsh
Penguin, 2005
ISBN-10: 0143035657
ISBN-13: 978-0143035657
Nonfiction/Publishing/Writing
Contact Reviewer: hojoreviews@aol.com




Three Reasons Why You Would Be Better Served To Choose Something More Up-To-Date

Reviewed by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, award-winning author of This Is the Place and Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered, Tracings, a chapbook of poetry, and the author of the HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers

Generally I review books that have been recently published because the review journals and sites I write for expect that. Sometimes that policy makes me grumpy because I love reviewing old books with stick-to-it-iveness to see what authors can learn from them that will make their own books hang around for longer than the traditional 90 day bookstore shelf life.

But I was exposed to 78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published: 14 Why It Just Might at a recent critique group meeting and the saucy title intrigued me. I asked to borrow it. I’m glad I did because the contents remind me of why “recent” is a good policy to have, at least for most nonfiction books.

It was also a good thing because it helped me realize how far the publishing industry has come since 2005 when this book was published by Penguin. It’s not that I’m not aware that people (including agents and publishers) still judge a book by its cover and by the press it is printed on. They do and I don’t like it much because I am sensitive to intolerance. That includes labeling people by their color or religion, or weight or . . . well, you get the idea. Most of my creative writing addresses this particular theme in one way or another. So I’ve also been an advocate for selecting books by their content. You know, the stuff of which books are really made.

There are some gems out there that never get published. It’s hogwash when people say, “Write an excellent book and it will find its way to publishing sooner or later.” Sometimes that is true but many times it is not. And that is one reason subsidy and self publishing has become so popular. (There are others but that may be material for another day and another rant.)

Back to this 2005 book on publishing. It’s not that there isn’t some good stuff in it. It’s not that author Pat Walsh might not have moderated his opinions over the years. But his disdain for authors shines through in too many place to have much hope for that. He doesn’t much like the ones who want a hand in publicizing their own books, for instance. Nope. He admits he doesn’t do a whole lot of promotion for his own authors but he also doesn’t want their input or the elbow grease they might provide in do-it-yourself projects or in partnership with his company. Authors (at least in 2005) were to be good little writers, know their places, and damn well shut up.

Walsh’s narrow take is that there is only one way to do things is not really all bad. It is important for writers to know about some of the biases in the industry that existed back then (a long time ago in the electronic age) and now. In The Frugal Editor, I advocated using zero-tolerance editing because I know it still exists and as authors we need to deal with it if we want our books published traditionally or agented.

Here’s the thing: Though Walsh’s humor comes through in much of the book, I fear any emerging author who gets hold of it might take it verbatim. We already have too much discrimination floating around in this world. It’s time we got a grip and started judging people and books on their individual merit. Oh, yes. And give authors as a group some credit for having more than peas in their brains. At least until they prove otherwise.

Mr. Walsh, if you’ve changed some of your opinions, please update your book. I’d like to recommend it as an example of what an open-minded and caring publisher might do for a an author’s work. I’d like to encourage many authors--particularly those who write creatively--to try the traditional route first. Until then, I fear your book might discourage writers with talent from wanting anything to do with our industry.

------
Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s first novel, This is the Place, has won eight awards.
Her book of creative nonfiction Harkening, won three. A UCLA Writers' Program instructor, she also is the author of another book essential for writers, USA Book News' Best Professional Book of 2004, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't (www.budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo). The second in the HowToDoItFrugally series, The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success (www.budurl.com/TheFrugalEditor) covers writing successful query letters and includes helpful hints from twenty of the nation's top agents. It, too, won USA Book News top award in its category and Reader Views Literary award. Learn more at her site http://HowToDoItFrugally.com.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mother Osprey: Nursery Rhymes for Buoys & Gulls


Title: Mother Osprey: Nursery Rhymes for Buoys & Gulls
Author: Lucy Nolan
Illustrator: Connie McLennan
Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing
Age Level: 3-7
ISBN: 978-1-934359-96-9 (hardcover)
ISBN: 978-1-607180-41-8 (pbk.)

As the title of this book implies, with ingenuity and an obvious love of the sea, Ms. Nolan took some wonderful old standard nursery rhymes and wove them into sea and coastline themed poems. Within these rhymes, Ms. Nolan introduces bits of nautical history and information. Instead of Jack and Jill, it’s Jack and June who go up a dune. Sing a Song of Sixpense includes a trawler crew, first mate, captain, and deckhand.

Ms. Nolan takes these old standards and makes them her own. Some of the rhymes go over very well, such as Sleep Baby Sleep, and Buoys and Gulls; others may leave a young child a little puzzled, such as Tweedle-Dum & Tweedle-Dee, and Two Skippers from Texas.

I love the concept of Mother Osprey, introducing sea lingo, history and information in a wonderfully illustrated rhyming book - much of it works. I do think that a couple of the rhymes include words and themes that are geared for an older reader. One rhyme in particular is One Flamingo. It is an amazingly intricate and informative rhyme, but verses such as: “First a goose, and then some geese—a gaggle in the lane. But if the geese are flying, the gaggle is a skein,” I believe would lose many young readers of 3-7. Another is The Witch of November, 1913 with verses such as: “The lakes heaved and tossed—so many lives lost. Howling wind, high seas and snow. More than two hundred souls filled those sorrowful rolls—the crewmen of long ago.” Again, this may be a wonderful piece, but not for the intended age group.

With colorful and realistic illustrations, Mother Osprey is, overall, an entertaining, fun and educational book that celebrates the sea and coastline. Phrases and words such as okra pods, Puget Sound, shark, pirate, and shoal of bass will peak children’s interest. Although, I do feel the book would be better intended for ages seven through ten.

Mother Osprey also includes a “For Creative Minds” section that sheds insight and gives information on each rhyme. Also included is a two-page map of the United States and its surrounding waters highlighting the geographical areas the rhymes reference, along with a “Map Activity Questions” section.

About the author: Lucy Nolan is an award-winning author who spent many childhood days roaming two very special islands: Pawleys Island, SC, and Amelia Island, FL. Ms. Nolan is also the author of Down Girl and Sit chapter books. She lives in Columbia, SC with her daughter and two rambunctious dogs.

About the illustrator: Connie McLennan has been a freelance artist for over 25 years, since attending Academy of Art College in San Francisco. In addition to illustrating Mother Osprey: Nursery Rhymes for Buoys and Gulls, she has also illustrated four other children’s books for Sylvan Dell Publishing. Ms. McLennan lives in northern California with her husband, teenage son, and a playful kitten.

This is a reprint of my review for BookPleasures.com.

Direct Link to Amazon Page: Click Here.

Karen Cioffi
Reviewer for BookPleasures.com
Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What's New at the Zoo? An Animal Adding Adventure


Title: What’s New t the Zoo?
Author: Suzanne Slade
Illustrator; Joan Waites
Reading Level: 4-8
Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-934359-93-8 (hardcover)
ISBN: 978-1-607180-38-8 (pbk.)
Rating: 5 Stars

What’s New at the Zoo? takes the reader on an animal adding adventure. This learning zoo adventure begins: “Two hungry pandas eat a bamboo lunch. One cub joins the meal. How many crunch and munch? 2 + 1 = ?” Through delightful rhyming text and numerals Ms. Slade creates a wonderfully engaging learning experience for children. Each page offers a new addition problem.

Within the rhyming text Ms. Slade cleverly weaves information about animals and the names of the baby animals pictured. Did you know that a baby mammoth boa is called a neonate? But that’s not all: the illustrations are striking - they are vivid, realistic and elaborate. Children will love reading this entertaining and educational picture book, in fact, they may not even realize they’re learning in the process.

An added feature to this book is the “For Creative Minds” and “Animal Matching Activity” educational section in the back. It offers additional math problems and solutions as well as information on the animals mentioned in the book. It also explains the differences in the animal classes: mammals, birds and reptiles, and asks the reader to put each of the animals shown within the book into their correct class.

I read this book to my three-year-old grand son. He said his favorite part was the picture with the peacocks. I then had my eight-year-old great nephew read it to me while answering the addition questions. They both enjoyed this book as will all children within the intended age group and even those a little younger. I highly recommend What’s New at the Zoo?

About the author: Suzanne Slade is the author of over 60 books for children. Her works include picture books, and biographies, as well as many non-fiction titles about animals, sports, insects, planets, and various science topics. During an earlier engineering career, she worked on Delta rockets and designed automotive braking systems. Ms. Slade lives near Chicago with her husband, two children, and their tiny dog, Corduroy.

About the illustrator: Joan Waites spent 15 years as a neo-natal intensive care nurse prior to studying illustration and launching her freelance career. In addition to What’s New at the Zoo? Joan has illustrated nearly 40 books for the educational and trade marketplace. She is also an adjunct member of The Corcoran Museum School of Arts and Design in Washington, DC, where she teaches various children’s classes for the college’s Aspiring Artists programs.

You can purchase What's New at the Zoo? An Animal Adding Adventure at: Amazon.com.

Karen Cioffi
Reviewer for BookPleasures.com

Monday, June 15, 2009

Norm Goldman's Interview with Karen Cioffi

Karen Cioffi co-author of Day’s End Lullaby Is Interviewed By Norm Goldman Of
BookPleasures.com

Karen is a former accountant who left her profession in 2000 and has now turned her talents to authoring and freelance writing.

Two of Karen’s favorite sayings are: Nothing ventured, nothing gained and You must be the change you want to see in the world.

Karen is a children's author and children's ghostwriter as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Writers on the Move.

Good day Karen and thanks for participating in our interview

Norm:
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? What keeps you going?


It's a great interview, please stop by and check it out with the link at the top of the post.

Karen

Indie Authors: 3 Tips to Make Model Books Work for You

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