We’re told from birth that we can’t judge a book by its
cover. If we’re honest, though, we are drawn to interesting book covers. Bright
colors and images catch our eye, whether we pick up the book or not. Everything
I read about self-publishing says not to skimp on the cover. Fair or not, the
cover can make a big difference in how that book sells.
Today’s writing prompt for the #TwoForTuesday blog challenge issued by Rae of Rae’s Reads and Reviews (https://educatednegra.blog/) is Two Books with Colorful Covers.
One book with a
The Favorite Sister, by Jessica Knoll is a recent release by Simon & Schuster. In fact, I learned about this thriller in an email from the publisher.
I have not read this book, and I don’t know if I’d choose to read it just based on the cover. My parents never played favorites with my brother, sister, and me, as far as I could tell. Of course, that might be because I was the youngest. I wonder if my brother and sister would say I was the favorite sister. I don’t think I’ll ask them.
What triggered last Monday’s rant was an article I read on Janice Wald’s Mostly Blogging blog, https://www.mostlyblogging.com/seo-plan/. The name of the guest blog post by Kas Szatylowicz is “SEO Plan: How to Boost Traffic to Your Website In 2019, 7 Unique Ways.” It sounds like information I need, but it turned out to be light years beyond my grasp. That’s not a criticism of the article. I’m the one who fell off (or missed) the Social Media train.
Here are a few examples from the article that whizzed right
over my head.
“Can chatbots really
improve your SEO efforts?” According to the article, the answer is yes.
It went on to explain chatbots, so I did learn something. “A
chatbot – or digital assistant – is an artificial intelligence powered piece of
software that answers user queries in an instant. It also personalizes the user
experience and nudges the prospect closer to a sale simple by providing
I laugh every time I read or hear that artificial
intelligence personalizes the user experience. It seems like an oxymoron to me.
Artificial personalization? I don’t think I want that on my website. You might
not get an instant response to a comment you leave on my blog, but at least
when you get one you’ll know I wrote it myself.
“Guest blogging. . . drives more traffic in the SERPs simply
because the link juice you gain will improve your rankings.” “Huh?”
“Topic clustering is the new black.” What?
“Lastly, don’t ruin everything by engaging in black hat SEO
practises.” (The writer’s spelling, not mine.) If I asked “What?” on topic
clustering being the new black, then I’ll upgrade that to “WHAT?” for black hat
SEO practices. I. Don’t. Have. A. Clue.
Maybe I’m better off not knowing. I have fewer things to
my last blog post
I’ve had a net gain of 13,700
words to my rewrite of The Doubloon manuscript, bringing my current
word count to 69,100. I get to start on Chapter 17 today!
next blog post
I hope you have a good book to
read. I’m reading The First
Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill
George Washington, by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch. Fascinating!
If you’re a writer, I hope you
have quality writing time.
Look for my #TwoForTuesday blog post tomorrow: “Two Books with Colorful Covers.” Thank you for providing the writing prompt, Rae, in “Rae’s Reads and Reviews” blog. Here’s a link to her blog, https://educatednegra.blog/.
Thank you for reading my blog.
You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose
to read my blog.
I’ve blogged before about my love/hate relationship with social media. Most of the forms of social media take me out of my comfort zone. Actually, that is an understatement.
I enjoy blogging and interacting with people who read
my posts. I follow a lot of blogs and have benefited from them. I learn from
them, I’m inspired by them, and I’m entertained by them.
Facebook comes in a distant second place. I really
don’t need to see a picture of what you ate for breakfast. The most redeeming
qualities of Facebook are that it gives me an easy way to stay in touch with
friends in Europe and family around the United States, and it gives me a way to
know the political leanings of some of my Facebook friends so I’ll know what I
can or cannot say to them in order to keep them as friends.
The down side is that I’ve learned things I wish I
hadn’t about some of my friends. Suffice it to say, if the topic of politics is
going to come up at my next high school reunion or family gathering, I don’t
want to be there.
I like Pinterest, but I haven’t put enough time into
it to make it a productive platform for my writing. I spend more time on
Pinterest than I should, but not necessarily to promote my writing. I pin many
articles to my “The Writing Life” board, but I use it more for the hobbies I
I’m sure this sounds blasphemous to the young adults
who might read this post, but I’m not much of a cell phone person. I could
really do without it. I refuse to be ruled by a phone. I don’t want to be tied
to a phone. I don’t want a phone to monopolize my time, energy, or attention. I
want a phone available for emergencies – and I mean the old-timey understanding
of what an emergency is.
I set up an account a couple of years ago and never
took the next step. Again, it’s related to my cell phone and its built-in
camera. I’m sure it’s convenient for many people. I just don’t get it.
the Social Media I’ve not heard of
I guess that’s self-explanatory.
Since my last blog post
I’ve had a net gain of 4,550 words to my The Doubloon manuscript,
bringing my current word count to 55,400. I get to start on Chapter 14 today. I
Until my next blog post
I hope you have a good book to read. Nothing grabbed my attention last week.
I had to return The Irishman’s Daughter, by V.S. Alexander to the
public library without finishing it. I’m on the waitlist for it again so I can
finish reading it on my Kindle. Part of the problem is how tired my eyes get
reading regular size print. On my Kindle I can adjust the font size. This
historical novel is set in Ireland during the potato famine.
If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time.
Look for my #TwoForTuesday blog post tomorrow: “Two Books that Encourage Change.” Thank you for providing the writing prompt, Rae, in “Rae’s Reads and Reviews” blog. Here’s a link to her April 1, 2019 blog post in which she listed all the #TwoForTuesday prompts for the month of April: https://educatednegra.blog/2019/04/. Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog.
In my blog on Monday, April 29, 2019 I’ll explain what triggered today’s rant.
Let’s continue the conversation
What’s your favorite of all the social media? What’s your least favorite?
Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
For today’s blog post, I’m going back 20 years to remember a delightful children’s book my sister and I enjoyed reading to one of our great-nieces when she was a little girl. That book is still being published, and I’m thrilled because it is a hilarious children’s book.
The reader and the child being read to get to make all sorts of pirate sounds. The book is How I Became a Pirate, by Melinda Long. In addition to a very entertaining narrative, the book has wonderful illustrations by Caldecott Honor illustrator David Shannon.
I was in Park Road Books in Charlotte, North Carolina
last week and was thrilled to see this book on the shelf. It immediately
brought a smile to my face and then the memories flooded in.
Shiver me timbers! Aargh! The illustrations will entertain a child (and an adult!) for hours. I have been unable to import a photo of the cover of How I Became a Pirate into today’s blog post. Technical difficulties. That’s too bad because seeing the cover would give you an idea of the illustrations within the book.
Complete Humorous Sketches and Tales of Mark Twain, edited by Charles Neider
Another book that makes me smile is The Complete Humorous Sketches and Tales of
Mark Twain, edited by Charles Neider. The copyright date on it is 1961, and
that’s probably about when I received it as a gift. I just realized that was 58
years ago! I was eight years old and had apparently just discovered the humor
of Mark Twain. I became a lifelong fan. From my lopsided signature on the
flylead, I can tell I received it as I was learning to write cursive. Second
Flipping through this collection of Mark Twain
writings makes me smile because I was no innocent in 1961 and got to read the
book for sheer enjoyment. I read this a mere 90 years or so after Mr. Twain
wrote the pieces. That seemed like a million years to an eight-year-old, but
not so long to me now.
Something else about the book made me smile today as I
looked through it. We had a rule in our house:
you don’t write in a book and you don’t underline in a book. Books were
sacred and to be damaged under no circumstances. (The same went for Daddy’s National Geographic magazines. No matter
what the school assignment was, I knew not to cut pictures out of National Geographic. I doubt I could
take a scissors to a National Geographic
to this day. Some things are just beyond the pale.)
So what made me smile today as I went through the
book? On page 43, beside the story title, “A Touching Story of George
Washington’s Boyhood,” I had printed in very light lead pencil, “Satire?” I
found the same marginal note on page 49 next to “Answers to Correspondents.”
There it was again, minus the question mark, (I must have been gaining confidence
in identifying satire) on pager 59 next to “A Page from a California Almanac.”
I guess I lost interest in satire on page 59 because I
can find no more marginal notes in the book. Thank goodness I didn’t use it to
practice diagramming sentences! Do student still have to do that?
The following entry in “Answers to Correspondents”
made me laugh today because it brought back memories of those dreaded “word
problems” we had to do in arithmetic. I believe that’s known as math today.
Here’s the entry: “’Arithmeticus.’ Virginia, Nevada. – If it would take a
cannon-ball 3 1/3 seconds to travel four miles, and 3 3/8 seconds to travel the
next four, and 3 5/8 to travel the next four, and if its rate of progress
continued to diminish in the same ratio, how long would it take it to go
fifteen hundred million miles?” Twain’s answer:
“I don’t know.”
I can identify with that answer.
This is a 716-page book, plus appendix and index. I’m
sure it was the first thick book I owned. I’m glad I still have this treasure
from my childhood.
If you’ve been following my blog for a few years, you
know I love nothing better than attending an author’s book reading and signing.
After not getting to one in a long time, on April 4, 2019 I had the pleasure of
attending Anna Jean Mayhew’s at Park Road Books in Charlotte, North Carolina.
I thoroughly enjoyed her reading at Park Road Books.
She read selected excerpts from the book and talked about the three narrators.
She also played a song written specifically in conjunction with Tomorrow’s Bread and had copies of the
words for all in attendance.
If you’d like to listen to the song and see the accompanying artwork, go to http://shari-smith.com/trio-2019/ and scroll down to Tomorrow’s Bread. The song and artwork came together with Ms. Mayhew’s book through the work of Shari Smith and an entity called Trio.
Trio pairs books with songwriters and visual artists to create a total package based on a novel. I hadn’t heard of Trio or Shari Smith before, so I was thrilled to learn about this concept at Ms. Mayhew’s book reading in Charlotte.
Many of her high school classmates and other friends
from when she lived in Charlotte were there, as well as Catherine Frey, who had
assisted Ms. Mayhew with her research.
I was delighted to renew my acquaintance with Ms.
Mayhew. When I got the chance to talk to her at the end of the event, she again
offered me encouragement on the writing of my historical novel. She has been an
inspiration to me on my journey as a writer.
my last blog post
I have enjoyed rewriting several more chapters of The Doubloon (former working title, The Spanish Coin) and forgive me if I toot by own horn here. Since last Monday’s blog I’ve had a net gain of 20,525 words. The current word count is 50,850. I’m more than halfway to the completion of this rough, rough, rough draft of my novel.
my next blog post
I hope you have a good book to read.
If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time and your
projects are moving right along.
Look for my #TwoForTuesday blog post tomorrow: “Two
Books that Make Me Smile.” Thank you for providing the writing prompt,
Rae, in “Rae’s Reads and Reviews” blog. Here’s a link to her April 1, 2019 blog
post in which she listed all the #TwoForTuesday prompts for the month of April:
Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes
doing something else, but you chose to read my blog.
Let’s continue the conversation
Have you read Tomorrow’s Bread, by
Anna Jean Mayhew? If so, please share your thoughts in the comments section
below or on Facebook.
Have you attended any author book readings or book signings? What do you
like best about such events?
This is not an April Fool’s Day joke. I read six books
in March. Six. I set the bar high for myself by reading ten books in February,
but I could only manage to read six in March. Today’s blog post is about three of
those books. All three are newly-released historical novels.
by Anna Jean Mayhew
I eagerly awaited this second novel by Anna Jean
Mayhew, and it was well worth the wait! Tomorrow’s
Bread was released on Tuesday.
I love the main characters! Ms. Mayhew weaves the
stories of several families together in Tomorrow’s
Bread. She puts names and faces on the destructive aspect of Urban Renewal,
which was a program funded by the U.S. Government in the 1960s to remove “blight”
from inner cities
Although I was only eight years old in 1961 when the removal
of the Brooklyn neighborhood in Charlotte, North Carolina began, I remember the
segregated era on the cusp of the Civil Rights Movement.
I know the main streets referenced in Tomorrow’s Bread. I have traveled them
all my life and, as a young adult, was employed in several offices that were
built as a result of Urban Renewal. I remember separate water fountains for “white”
and “colored” in department stores and the so-called “separate but equal”
I remember riding on racially-segregated Charlotte
city buses. I clearly remember the time my mother and I got on a bus for me to
go to the doctor. All the seats for whites were taken and I didn’t understand
why we couldn’t sit in the back of the bus where there were vacant seats. The
reverse must have been equally confusing for little black children.
In 1961 I was too young to understand segregation or Urban
Renewal and, being white, I didn’t have to understand it.
Bread, by Anna Jean Mayhew, is a must read for anyone living
in the Charlotte area – especially the young people and those new to the area.
To understand some events of today, it’s beneficial to know the history of the
Although only someone who lived in the Brooklyn
section of Charlotte’s inner city could state this with authority, but as an
outsider, I think Ms. Mayhew captured the essence of a place and time not so
long ago in our history – yet a place that is gone forever.
Bread made me stop and think – like I never had before –
about the people who were displaced by Urban Renewal as real flesh and blood
individuals. They went from living in a sustainable neighborhood with grocery
stores, a doctor, a library, and a church all in walking distance to having to
look for affordable housing in neighborhoods that offered none of those things.
Loraylee, Hawk, Rev. Eben Polk, Bibi, Uncle Ray, and Jonny No Age will stay
with me for a long time.
Thank you, Anna Jean, for writing this novel and for
prompting me to give serious thought to a time and federal program in the 1960s
that – in the name of giving people a better life – demolished their homes,
businesses, and churches and split up families that had been neighbors and
friends for generations. It’s not a pleasant read, but it’s a story built
around fictional characters you will love and pull for.
Now, I want to know what happened to Loraylee, Hawk,
and Archie. Is there a third book in the works, Anna Jean?
on the Line,
by Aimie K. Runyan
This is a historical novel about “the hello girls” –
the women who served as military switchboard operators in France and Germany
during World War I. The service these women provided was an integral part of
the Allies’ ability to defeat Germany in the War. It was something I was not
aware of, although I’ve studied history and minored in history in college. It
just goes to show how women’s contributions have often been ignored or
I listened to this audio book and found myself
listening to “just one more chapter” (and then a couple more) before going to
bed at night. I hated to see the book end. It followed Ruby, an experienced
telephone switchboard operator, and the six women she supervised in France.
Ruby’s brother had been killed in the War and joining the US Army Signal Corps
was her way of honoring his memory.
The book tells how the military switchboard operators
had to go through rigorous training and had to memorize new codes daily in order
to do their jobs. They worked long hours and were always under stress as it was
their duty to make sure they correctly and efficiently connected phone calls
between generals and other officers.
These women were denied military benefits by the US
Army until 1979 – 60 years after their service. Sadly, only 28 of the 228 US
Army female switchboard operators lived to see that day.
The story line of the book includes Ruby’s being torn
between her less-than-exciting fiancé and the Army medic she met and fell in
love with in France. Some of the dialogue between Ruby and Andrew, her new
love, is a little sappy but other than that I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
by Ann Weisgarber
I had the pleasure of hearing Ann Weisgarber speak
several years ago at Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina. Her novel, The Promise, had just been released. I
purchased a copy, but time got away and too many library books kept coming into
my house. Long story, short: I haven’t
read The Promise yet. In fact, The Glovemaker is the first of Ms. Weisgarber’s
novels that I’ve read. I want to read all of them.
Having visited Capitol
Reef National Park in Utah, I could really picture in my mind the setting for “The Glovemaker.”, Fruita, (formerly,
Junction) Utah is a stark place As I recall from my visit there in 2002,
there’s nothing there today but an orchard, an old schoolhouse, and a picnic
table – along with sheer rock cliffs, interesting rock formations, dry creek
beds, and no trees to speak of aside from the orchard.
I learned some things
about Mormons that I hadn’t known before — that there was an underground
railroad-type network that assisted Latter Day Saints to a place of safety when
they were being tracked down for prosecution for polygamy. I love it when I
learn something about history when reading a novel!
The book paints a
picture of the hard life the early settlers in that part of Utah had in the
1880s. My heart broke for Deborah Tyler and her brother-in-law, Nels. Deborah
watches each day for her husband’s return from his traveling wheelwright work
in southern Utah, but the weeks turn into months. Nels loves Deborah but cannot
have her because she is married.
There is suspense when
a stranger appears at Deborah’s door seeking directions to the safe place and
when the US Marshal comes looking for that stranger. Deborah and Nels are
forced to lie and keep secrets due to the conflict between Mormons and
non-Mormons and the law.
There is also tension
among the eight households in Junction due to the secrets being kept and due to
differences of opinion about polygamy and other The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-Day Saints doctrines and practices. Add to that the bitterly cold
weather and snow and you have a recipe for good historical fiction.
my last blog post
The word count for my The Doubloon manuscript stands just shy of 22,000. That’s a net
gain of nearly 8,000 words since last Monday. I had a good writing week last week.
my next blog post
I hope you have a good book to read.
If you’re a writer, I have you have
quality writing time and your projects are moving right along.
Thank you for reading my blog. You
could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to
read my blog.
continue the conversation
Have you read any of the books I talked about today?
If so, please share your thoughts with me. Have I piqued your interest in
reading any of these books?