Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Reviews, Reviewerss, Reviewing - Part 1

Reviews, Reviewers, and Reviewing – Part 1

This series of posts is a combination of commentary, instructional advice, and just plain begging. And, doesn't the title remind you a bit of your 9th-grade English class doing a grammar exercise?

What is a book review?
At it’s simplest, a review is an opinion piece written by a reader of a book.
  • A review might be brief: Loved it! Hated it!
  • A review might be one sentence: The cover caught my eye but the writing on the inside is what kept my attention and captured my heart. (This is an actual review of Traveler’s HOT L. It’s one of my favorites.)
  • A review might be several sentences to several paragraphs.


Regardless of length, a review gives a prospective reader a glimpse into the mind of another reader. It informs the searcher of another’s experience allowing the new reader to make a more informed decision.

What’s a book review cost?

  1. A free copy from the author. If you want to do this, make your ebook free for a day and have the reviewer download it.
  2. A gift card to purchase the book from Amazon.
  3. These are very good options, particularly if you provide the book by free download. Amazon rates reviews higher a when they are from a reviewer who got the book as a “verified purchase.”
There are some free opportunities for reviews from well-known sources. Publisher’s Weekly will screen your book for free. If it passes muster, they publish their review. The division of PW that does this is called BookLife.
http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/corp/submissionguidelines.html

Take heart. I promise to suggest something about cost in Part 2.

What’s a book review worth?
Ultimately, book reviews are the driving force in selling your book. More reviews mean more exposure by Amazon. Until your book has 50 reviews, you don’t get much publicity from Amazon. 50 is the current number, it’s changed at least twice in the part two years as more books have hit the market. At 50 reviews, Amazon begins to take notice. They include your books in emails to readers. You know the one’s that start, “Based on your recent visit, we thought you might be interested in these items,” or something like that.

Amazon does have some criteria for accepting reviews in their counting to 50. More on that next time, along with the fulfillment of my promise above.


Next blog: Reviews, Reviewers, and Reviewing – Part 2

Monday, March 21, 2016

A Science Guy’s Almanac #20. Year 2. A ruptured Spinal Disk and Giant Snowflakes – Part 4

A Science Guy’s Almanac #20. Year 2. March 21, 2016
A ruptured Spinal Disk and Giant Snowflakes – Part 4

Disclaimer.
I’ve never written out this story before. I have no defensible estimate of how many words it will end up. Therefore, there will be no snowflakes again this week. However, I’m almost positive that there’s a possibility that I might get to the snowflakes two weeks from now.
What’s here today is pretty funny. I’d read on anyway. But, I’m not you.

I remember regaining consciousness after the surgery. Originally scheduled for something like four hours, the operation ended up taking over five hours. When I did re-enter the world of the awake, I wasn’t really “with it.”

Because my surgery ran long, there were folk in the Recovery Room that would not have been there an hour and a half earlier. Ultimately, there was a plethora of patients and a paltry amount of providers of care. (That is weakly alliterative. Try reading it aloud. Emphasize plethora, patients, paltry, and providers as you read. That makes it sound much more alliterative.)

The first time I woke up, my focus was on my very dry mouth. Sodium pentothal does that. I guess 5+ hours of sodium pentothal creates Sahara Desert conditions in the oral cavity. I croaked some unintelligible sounds, the best I could do to indicate my parched condition. For that, I received a pat on my crew-cut and an “It’ll be alright” from one of the Recovery Room nurses.

I dropped back out of consciousness.

When I awoke the next time, I was determined to get some water… Until I realized something terrible had happened during surgery!

The reason for this occurrence isn’t important. It is sufficient that you know that both my arms were strapped to boards during my surgery and IV needles were inserted in both arms as well. The normal procedure is to remove the boards early in the Recovery Room stay. My boards were not removed. As a result, the second time I woke up, both my arms were asleep.

After realizing I was awake and while preparing to call for the water truck, it struck me. The doctor had amputated both my arms during surgery!

Before you dismiss that thought as ravings caused by drug-induced lunacy, realize that my sensory systems were operating far below normal because of the painkiller I was on after the back surgery. In addition, I had no idea where I was. Add to that that I had no sensation of any kind in either arm, and you should have a better picture of my situation. My priority changed from wanting water to making sure that someone retrieved my severed arms before they were sent down the trash chute.

“Aaa ut rms fff,” I croaked… Repeatedly.
“It’ll be okay,” was the nurse’s response, along with another pat on my pate. Once again I descended into the realm of the unconscious.

The third time I woke up, I was determined to get someone to understand my plight. After all, I’d had both arms surgically removed when I was supposed to have had a ruptured spinal disk repaired. I worked up a mouthful of spit, which was about 1/8 teaspoon of saliva, and swallowed.

“Wa… er,” I managed to semi-articulate.

There must be some protocol in Recovery Rooms about when someone gets water. I think it’s when you can finally make a noise that sounds something like the word water. I say that because I don’t remember having to ask a second time before…
“Here you are,” a nurse said. She placed one hand behind my neck, lifted my head, and placed a single ice chip on my dehydrated tongue. It melted faster than homemade ice-cream in a bowl in the sun at the 4th of July picnic.

I passed out again.

When I got a nurse’s attention the next time I awoke, things happened rapidly.
  1. There was some accusatory discussion of who was responsible for my arm boards still being attached before they were removed.
  2. I got water to sip through a bendy straw.
  3. I was shipped out of the Recovery Room.


I have to comment on #3 above. Remember, my day started before 7:00 AM with the not quite strong enough pre-anesthesia shot. By the time I was leaving the Recovery Room, it was close to 3:30 PM. At that hospital, 3:30 PM was when the day shift left and the evening shift took over.

I was on a gurney. A nurse and a male orderly were ordered to take me up my room on the 5th Floor.
Gurney circa 1968. Read on to find out why I was glad it had a foot board!


Gurneys are not easy to steer. It’s common for the person at the front of the moving gurney—the foot of the bed—to be nothing much more than the propulsion device. (S)He pulls the gurney through the hallways. Steering was relegated to the person at the back of the gurney—the head of the bed. In this case, the orderly should have been at the head of the bed with the nurse in the steering position.

However, since it was time to go home, the quicker I got delivered to my room, the faster the orderly would be able to leave. He took the head of the bed. Having limited if any experience at the foot of a moving gurney, the nurse protested. The orderly prevailed. He began to push the gurney.

It was immediately obvious to me, as passenger on this rolling bed, that the nurse lacked precision control of the gurney from her position in the leading end of the gurney. Everyone in the Recovery Room became aware of that within seconds.

As we neared the double doors to the Recovery Room, the nurse darted away from the gurney to push the automatic door-opening button. That left… no one steering.

The gurney hit the doorframe at full speed. I slid down the bed with my feet clanging against the rail at the foot of the device. Remember, I’ve just had hours of back surgery.

The silence was immediate but short-lived. The Head Nurse of the Recovery Room spotted the departure from standard protocol. She informed the orderly that he and she would be having some one-on-one time before he left for the day. I sanitized that directive a bit. Okay, more than a bit.

After rearranging the driver and propeller, we made it to the elevator, up to the 5th Floor, and to my room without further mishap.

I was larger and heavier than most of the 5th Floor patients. After one feeble attempt to slide me off the gurney, there was a “y’all come” call for help in moving me from the gurney to my bed. Within minutes, five nurses and the orderly had arranged themselves three on a side.

Moving a patient from a gurney to a bed requires the two beds be placed side-by-side against one another. Half the movers reach across the patient’s in-room-bed and grab the sheet on the closest side of the gurney. The other half of the moving crew stands next to the gurney and grab the other side of the sheet.

After the obligatory, “One. Two. Three!” the movers on the in-room-bed side lift the sheet and pull the patient toward them. Meanwhile, the movers on the gurney-side lift and reach across the gurney as the patient rides the sheet onto the in-room-bed. That’s the theory.

5/6 of the movers were tall enough to perform the requisite actions. Mover #6 was a nurse who might have been 5’ tall if she measured her height in the morning in her nursing shoes. She was stationed on the gurney-side of the tableau and was responsible for the corner of the sheet closest to my right ankle.

Understand that the nurse in question was not on the in-room-bed side because the couldn’t reach across the bed, grab the sheet, lift and pull. She lacked the vertical dimension required for that. If you think about it, after the patient is moved, the people on the gurney-side end up in the starting position of the people on the in-room-bed side.

I’ll wait while you visualize…
Okay, if you don’t have that visualization by now, you might never get it.

As I was pulled off the gurney, about halfway on to my in-room-bed, the vertically-challenged nurse lost her corner of the sheet. I kind of bounced into my final resting position.

Next Almanac post will have another episode with the short nurse very near the beginning.
Oh, yeah. I GUARANTEE snowflakes in Part 5!

Next Almanac post: A ruptured Spinal Disk and Giant Snowflakes – Part 5

Follow me on Twitter: @CRDowningAuthor
My website is: www.crdowning.com

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

What’s in a Name? How do you title your book? Part 2

What’s in a Name? How do you title your book? Part 2
March 15, 2016

I found out two big things from my first Amazon search for RIFTS. I there are a LOT of books that have rift in the title, the series title, or the book content, including the Rift Valley. I stopped scrolling through the lists after I’d seen over 150 books in the search results—none of which were my book.

Today, February 15, 2016, I did another search in books for RIFTS. Similar results. This time, I scrolled through 260 books without coming to mine.

So, what’s my point?

Your book’s title is probably more important than even you thought it was. I say that not only because of what you’ve already read. Remember Insecticide? I did a search for that term. NO books showed up. Only ONE item showed up—spray cans of… insect killer. That means a lot more viewed hits by searches for the book than are currently occurring.

I’ve investigated changing the title of my book from RIFTS to Insecticide. Since RIFTS is already a designated ISBN, I’d have to get a new ISBN for the “new book.”

I’ve even played around with a new cover. I've checked with the cover artist. She's okay either way.

At this moment in time, I’m still undecided about whether I should change the title and the few interior items that also would require replacement. You see, I’m still not convinced that RIFTS isn’t the best title…

Speaking of best titles, my most recent book release is a series of 9 humorous short stories about the (mis)adventures of two middle school-aged boys. Title: Best Friends9 Tales of Daring and Disaster, it is Volume 1 of what will be The Adventures of Henry Langdon series.

I considered other titles. In fact, my physical proof copy from CreateSpace has Sir Isaac’s Car as the main title in the front matter. I did a search of Best Friends as I had for RIFTS. There are hundreds of books with Best Friends in similar roles as with Rifts. Some contain content I neither read nor approve of.

So, why keep that title?

Because my book is a book for readers as young as 4th or 5th-grade. Middle-Grade readers, as well as Young Adult and Adult readers, will resonate with the theme.

Time will tell if the decision was a wise one

Next blog: Reviews, Reviewers, and Reviewing

Follow me on Twitter: @CRDowningAuthor and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CRDowningAuthor

My website is: www.crdowning.com


e-mail: crd.author@gmail.com

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