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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Kirkus Review of "One Fine Day"

Kirkus has reviewed my novel - for non-self-publishers, this is a  paid review request. It's not a bad review but it isn't great either: http://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/suzanne-schiffman/one-fine-day-PhEMQnHk/


The reviewer liked the writing but found the story "predictable" which is fine by me.  The only problem is, she told most of the story including the ending! So who's going to buy a book when they know what's going to happen? The other smaller issue is that the story is set during the Viet Nam war era and for the reviewer[who clearly wasn't alive then],  would probably only appeal to that generation, i.e. baby boomers. She's right, I suppose, yet love stories based in other eras still appeal to a general audience and not just those who lived at that time. But, whatever.  I'm reasonably happy with the review, whether the story line is predictable or not.  I like predictable, wouldn't want to fool a reader with too many gimmicks.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Miracles Happen!

My husband throughout the writing of my book, the marketing and the snafus has been an unbelievable supporter.  How did I get so lucky?!  He has just pulled off a major [to me] miracle.  Long story short, my book was originally self-published by FastPencil and put up on Amazon.  The Kindle version at that point was priced at $9.59.  For months now, we have been trying to remove that version at that price in favor of the self-published version with createspace at $0.99 with NO LUCK. Neither FastPencil nor Amazon could apparently go through the necessary steps to do this. 
Yes, a pinprick in the cosmos, but my husband wanted everything to be "kosher" and at the same price so...he wrote an e-mail to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.  To the top! And guess what? He got a  phone call the next day from someone who said, "Jeff asked me to give you a call".  Within hours, the problem was taken care of and now all is the way we've wanted it.
I am SO impressed with this - my husband's perseverance and Amazon's response.  Miracles do happen and I'm very grateful to all parties even though this is a very minor thing in the scheme of things. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Everything's Connected

It's so satisfying to see my website [suzanneschiffman.com], this blog site, my "One Fine Day" business cards, the book facebook page [which I haven't posted on since the book was self published - my bad] and twitter account in place and all connected. The book site on Amazon still has some pricing issues, but at least the webpage connects to the proper pricing and that's all that should matter. I got help from so many, especially my very able tech-savvy daughter. Yay!
Now that the Brazilian interlude is over, I can start thinking about how to USE all this effectively - got to post on some sites and start tweeting, guide peeps to my blog maybe. Others do it, I'll get the hang of it. I'm sure.  My review from Kirkus should arrive any day.  If it's good, I'm going to splash it around as best I can.

Played a chess game on my Ipad that lasted 4 weeks! Happy to say I WON!

Final Stop - Rio

View south  from Tijuca Park

 February is high summer season in Rio - temperatures at 90 degrees and above, Carnavale anticipation rising. We opted for Hotel Santa Teresa located up in the hills overlooking the city [an area much like Fiesole outside Florence] and spent the entire first day hopping from one view over the city to the next [Corcovado where the Christ statue is, Tijuca National Park which is the largest urban park in the world, Sugar Loaf mountain]. Rio truly is a beautiful city to view from above- the blue blue sea, white sand beaches, skyscrapers and remnants of the Atlantic rain forest and rolling hills and rocky outposts.  We also drove through a favela, the so-called slums which are really independent villages within the city, with stores and restaurants, teeming street-life and, sadly, lots and lots of garbage.  Last stop was, of course, Ipanema and Copacabana beaches. Pretty yes, but looked hot and Brazilians don't seem to like the slightly chilly water... Best eating was on the Sofitel hotel second floor terrace overlooking Copacabana beach and at Aprazivel in Santa Teresa district overlooking the whole lovely city. Back home now nursing a horrible cough...
Ipanema Beach

Repair shop in favela

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Amazon II

Our guide takes us into the archipelago on Rio Negro

The mysterious Amazon

Defense mechanisms in the Amazon
Cruised around the archipelago near the lodge [hundreds of small uninhabited islands in the river]. During dry season, you can basically walk around them, now in the middle of rainy season, perfect for viewing flora, later beginning in April the rains come and push the water level up another 5 metres or so.  Afternoon a bit orchestrated as went up river to a village [actually 13,000 inhabitants so not minor] and watched "pink dolphins" being fed bits of fish- very cute.  Then visited several craft work places [salvaged wood for knick knacks, reeds from which baskets, trays etc fashioned, and finally a real shop with jewelry, shirts and [more interesting] arrows.  Saw true Amazon Indian family in the town [getting into a pick-up!].  Back to lodge where evening thunderstorm again prevented night boat trip.  Hot, but not unbearable.

The Amazon!

Deep in the Amazon jungle but hardly roughing it.  At the Anavilhanas Lodge on the Rio Negro which really is black water. Rio Negro flows down toward Manaus [east] becoming  the Amazon. So far have done a walk in the neighboring jungle with an indigenous guide who taught us about medicinal and toxic plants [it's a do or die complex environment!] and soon out to explore by boat the night sounds and sights.  A far cry from the struggles just a few short decades ago to map this incredible region.  [Water on river too rough for the night boat trip so will do another time before we leave, we hope]. Pictures to come later as wifi very slow here.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Iguacu Falls II

Another great day in Iguacu Falls area with early morning visit to Brazilian side of falls - better all-encompassing views but you can't get as close as on Argentine side. Morning was cool and quiet as hardly anyone was touring yet. Birds and monkeys were out to scare up breakfast, and a fascinating golden orb spider cleaned a wayward leaf out of her web. Next stop was the Bird Aviary located at the entrance to the park on the Brazilian side, a beautifully done conservation area for South American bird life. You walk through a tropical forest and are able to enter many of the enclosures and get up close and personal with toucans, macaws, flamingos, hummingbirds and butterflies and a vast array of  exotics as well as observe birds of prey . There's also a small area for monkeys and reptiles. A real treat to see so much tropical fauna.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Brazil! Iguacu Falls

It's far from home - an overnight flight - but worth the travel time. After a seamless transfer through Sao Paulo airport [Sao Paulo looked to be a massive, sprawling city with skyscrapers popping up all over for miles and miles as seen from the air], we arrived in Iguacu [or Iguassu] where one of the most spectacular falls in the world is located. Spent the day first viewing via cat walks on the Argentine side the several falls made up of 275 cataracts over a nearly two mile spread, including Garganta do Diablo. Summer here and the hordes were out but didn't detract from the view.  The whole area on both Argentine and Brazilian side is a UNESCO national park. Part two, after lunch, was a speedboat tour on the river right up to and then close enough for a substantial shower under the falls.  People happy. Drenched and tired, called it a day.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Marketing Platforms

Life intervened and I had to miss the "Marketing Platforms" class I had signed up for today.  I hope to be able to go to it or a similar one down the pike because the subject encompasses everything a self-published author needs to think about to self -promote. [Is "Branding" passe?]
I found a terrific site though - WritersDigest.com - which  has  a good overview article on this subject as well as related topics:
There seems to be enough on the site so you don't have to subscribe to either the digital or print version of the publication.  I plan to look this stuff over, though, and perhaps it would be worth subscribing for a bit. Lots to think about. What I have in place is a good webpage with lots of info on my novel. It links to the Amazon site where the book can be purchased [either hard copy or e-book]. I have a Facebook page for the book and a twitter account, business cards and - oh yeah - this blog. Problem is - who is my audience and how do I find them and, more importantly, what exactly am I selling and to what target group? Should be fun, like a jigsaw puzzle as I unravel the complexities of this crazy digital age and this new world of self-published novel-dom.




Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Custom Business Cards!

Just got my business cards from createspace and I love 'em!  One side is the book cover, the other references my book webpage and contact information as well as a brief quote from a review of the book.  I plan on handing a few out - just for fun - in a "marketing platform" class I'm taking  in a couple of days.  Want to hear what the instructor thinks.  No harm in leaving them around here and there, methinks. Libraries probably wouldn't mind if I dropped off a few books along with the cards - after all, it doesn't cost them anything. Wonder if Barnes and Noble would consider same thing...Starbucks? Are bricks and mortar places touchy about this?  I guess I'll have to find out.  Will definitely leave in select places when I'm in Brazil [t-minus 4!] and see what happens. The father-daughter issues dealt with in the book might resonate there where a more paternalistic society has existed.