Friday Favourites – Reading Things

I love to read. Here are my favourite reading things:

A fabulous book, obviously.

My comfy reading spot is my bed, although I’ll read pretty much anywhere.

My iPad which I love for its bookmarking and note-taking capabilities and sometimes the social media distraction when the novel I’m reading isn’t that great.

A quiet spot to read. I still covet this even though my commute has conditioned me to read in loud, cramped, and sometimes icky spaces. I do become distracted and irritated during loud, obnoxious conversations, particularly first thing in the morning. HERE’s what I have to say about the subway.

Goodreads! I love checking out what other readers think of the books I’ve read when I finish reviewing them (I really try not to peek first.) I also love seeing what everyone else is reading and finding new suggestions to add to my to-read pile.

Book Blogs – Obviously! HERE are some of my faves.

SNACKS! Chips please! And yes, I often munch these in bed while I read. And no, I never make a mess. Sometimes.

Something to sip on: Water and sometimes often a cocktail.

Something to read by when darkness descends, unless I’m using my iPad.

Another fabulous book to pick up as soon as I finish the last sentence. I often barely skip a beat between books. And no, for some reason I don’t find this confusing. I do, however, find myself forgetting books though. But I do this with movies too, so it’s just me and my memory issues – it says nothing about whether I loved or loathed a particular novel.

What are your reading things?

Friday Favourites – Childhood Books

This week’s Friday Favourites is all about the books that fostered my love of reading. Here are some all time favourite reads of my youth:

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

A classic that I absolutely adored and read repeatedly. “I must, I must, I must increase my bust.” And no, I never did the exercises. Maybe.

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13, 3/4

I loved this book and also read it several times. It encouraged scribbles in own my secret diary. And I probably definitely loved the insight into boys.

Anne of Green Gables – The Series

Two words: Gilbert Blythe. Canadiana at its best.

Trixie Belden – The Series

There was no Nancy Drew in my repertoire. My bestie, Andrea, and I devoured Trixie Belden instead and between us accumulated most of the series in our youth.

Sweet Valley High – The Series

Sigh. Need I say more.

Flowers in the Attic  – The Series

All V.C. Andrews novels, really. I devoured them.

What were your favourite childhood reads?

Friday Favourites – Chick Lit Book Bloggers

It’s National Book Day! I already celebrated with my favourite books (so far) of 2013 but have decided to go one step further and post next week’s Friday Favourites one week early to celebrate all the wonderful bookish people that share their love of books – particularly chick lit – by book blogging.

Not only do I adore these sites and frequent them often to find great reads, but many of them have either reviewed, will be reviewing, or have featured Redesigning Rose! All the ladies – and one adorable gentleman – are such lovely people and are a joy to work with.

Favourite Chick Lit Book Blogs:

Chick Lit is not Dead

Chick Lit Central

Chick Lit Plus

Novelicious

I Heart Chick Lit

Chick Lit Club

Chick Lit Reviews and News

Chloe’s Chick Lit Reviews

I Heart Chick Lit

 Novel Escapes

I just had to throw that last one in there! I co-founded Novel Escapes for any newbies out there and we have fabulous book bloggers who not only review for us but have their own bookish blogs: Kaley at Books Etc. and Jen at That’s What She Read.

What are  your go-to book blogs?

Coming Soon:

August 16th – Friday Favourites – Childhood Books

August 23rd – Friday Favourites – Writing Tools

August 30th – Friday Favourites – Summer Stuff

Friday Favourites – Books of 2013

Introducing Friday Favourites,  a quick and dirty list of my favourite things, because what better day to celebrate fabulous things than a Friday!

This week I’m combining all that is fabulous with the giveaway winner I forgot to post last week in my haste to rush up to the cottage and enjoy the long weekend! Whoops! So, without further ado…

Congratulations to Kaley Stewart who TOTALLY deserved to win for her blog post dedicated to suggestions on where to snap your cover shot with Redesigning Rose. Kaley reviews for us over at Novel Escapes, she’s completely lovely, and she absolutely adores books as much as I do. Not that you’re not all deserving. And this was all randomly done over at Rafflecopter. Promise.

Kaley wins my favourite book (so far) of 2013! There has been much speculation surrounding what it is and here goes…

Favourite Reads (so far) of 2013:

#1:  Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

#2 The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Milay

In random order: 

Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman

Forever Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid

 Confessions of an Alli Cat by Courtney Cole

The Promise Of Stardust by Priscille Sibley

Dearest Rose by Rowan Coleman

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A.Tucker

The Twelfth Child by Bette Lee Crosby

The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman

Shake Down the Stars by Renee Swindle

I KILL ME: Tales Of A Jilted Hypochondriac by Tracy Tucker

If Kaley has already read Me Before You, she can choose any one of the above. And because I know she has an ereader, she also wins Confessions of an Alli Cat by Courtney Cole, my favourite Indie Read of 2013 so far!

What are you favourite books of the year so far?

Coming soon: 

August 16th:  Friday Favourites – Book Blogs

August 23rd:  Friday Favourites – Childhood Books

August 30th:  Friday Favourites – Writing Tools

Three Women and a Book Baby

Meet the wonderful women of Redesigning Rose’s dedication. Here I am with my mom (back right), her mother, Granny Down the Street (front right) and my dad’s mother, Granny at the Lake (front left.)

001 (2)Granny and Granny was confusing when my brothers and I were kids so we began adding where they lived after their names to understand who we were talking about.  Thus they were named Granny Down the Street and Granny at the Lake for years, until we lost Granny at the Lake to a short battle with cancer in 2001.

These beautiful ladies have been such an inspiration in my life and with Redesigning Rose having such strong female protagonists, there was no doubt in my mind as to who the book should be dedicated to.

Mom reading RDR

My mom is just pretending here as she’d read and commented on a few of the last drafts of Redesigning Rose. Granny Down the Street, although posing for this picture, is actually reading my book. Mom says it’s probably the first novel she’s read in decades; she’s been a magazine girl for as long as I can remember. I was a little nervous for her to read it with a few steamy bits, but, encouraged by her enjoyment of Sex and the City, I thought it might be okay. I forgot she watched the reruns – heavily edited. So far, though, all she keeps harping about is the swearing. You gotta love a liberal 86 year old Granny.

Granny reading RDR

Giveaway!

Redesigning Rose is one month old today so I’ve decided to throw a party and give a book (or two) away in the loot bag! But you won’t win Redesigning Rose – you’ll win my favourite book of 2013! And if my favourite indie read of 2013 is available for the ereader you use, I’ll give you that one too! I kind of feel like Oprah!

How to enter:

I want to see where you’re reading Redesigning Rose this summer. Take a photo wherever you happen to be reading Redesigning Rose and upload  it to Facebook or Twitter. Make sure you tag me so I can find your entry (Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lydia.laceby Twitter: @lydialaceby. And please do tell me where you are in the world! Friends and family, new readers and old are eligible – and that’s not old, old, but old in that you ran out and bought my book baby within days or weeks after it was available – thank you again!

If you head on over and ‘like’ my Facebook page, I’ll give you a second entry. Heck, I’ll give you an entry even if you don’t snap yourself reading Redesigning Rose but just like my Facebook page. Twitter, too! Then enter below with the ever fair Rafflecopter (you just need an email address for contact when you win and to select how you entered.)

I’m not disclosing the winning books. You’ll just have to trust me. If you’re new here, I have plenty of book review experience at Novel Escapes. If you’ve already read my pick, I have a couple of others up my sleeve.  No heckling me to reveal my faves. I may crumble under the pressure.

What are you waiting for, get snapping! I can’t wait to see where you’re lounging with Rose!

The nitty-gritty:

Contest is available worldwide.

Deadline for photo upload is midnight, July 31st, 2013.

Click through to Rafflecopter and tell me what you did (photo, Facebook, Twitter, or the kitchen sink).

Ebook users must show the legible cover of Redesigning Rose on their ereaders.

Ebook winner must show proof of purchase.

The winner will be selected at random by Rafflecopter.

E-reader winners will receive ebooks and paperback winners will receive a paperback.

If you prefer to show your furry friend reading and remain faceless, by all means. I live with an internet-phobe, so I get it. I’m still not sure why he married an author, though.

If you already own the books I selected, we’ll discuss some of my runner-ups.

3 ways to enter: upload a photo (one entry per person, per purchase of Redesigning Rose), like me on Facebook and/or like me on Twitter.

Good Luck!

Enter here: A Rafflecopter giveaway

How to Pitch a Book Blogger

I often judge a book before I even lay eyes on its cover.

During the last four years of reading review requests at Novel Escapes, particularly after accepting self-published novels (as well as those who tried to sneak in before we nudged that door open) I noticed a few things, particularly…

Time and effort in a book review pitch almost always translates into a well written and polished novel.

Here are some suggestions on how to create a fabulous review pitch based on what has flown into the Novel Escapes inbox over the years.

Do:

  1. Put your title, name, and ‘review request’ or similar in the subject line.
  2. Write all the pertinent information within your email, including your name, a blurb about you, your book title and synopsis, and anything else you think is appropriate.
  3. Keep it short and sweet.
  4. Be professional, yet personal.
  5. Portray your novel’s tone and style within the email.
  6. Personalize the email like you would a job cover letter. Tailor it to each blogger you pitch.
  7. Include a salutation: A blanket “hello” with no names, earns you 1 point. No salutation, 0 points and using our names? Priceless. Using my name, or one of our bloggers or even “Novel Escapes ladies” tells me you’ve researched our site. You know we’re a team of reviewers. Would you go to an interview without researching the company? You would? Okay, then. Off you go. Good luck.
  8. Include a link to your novel on Amazon. This saves me time, which I will heart you for. And don’t think I won’t search your book on Amazon and/or Goodreads if you don’t add the link. I seriously vet every self-published novel that finds its way to our inbox, reading the first chapter of each one to ensure high quality.
  9. Be patient if you do not receive an immediate response. For many of us, book blogging is done in our spare time around jobs and family commitments.
  10. Even if you receive a negative review, an email saying thank you for your time and the thoughtful review or some such comment is nice, but not mandatory. Or comment on the review itself. We love this.

Don’t:

  1. Number one book blogger pet peeve: Pitching your book on Facebook, Twitter or Goodreads. This is a serious faux pas. Take the time and pitch properly. For me, personally, if you’re lazy in this regard I might wonder what else you’re being lazy about.
  2. Refrain from emailing your entire novel without acceptance. It gunks up my inbox and makes me grouchy.
  3. Ditto with photos. A PR sheet is fine (and should include your cover anyway.)
  4. Avoid faulty links.
  5. Refrain from asking to review more than one novel in an email. This taunts my organizational skills (this may just be me.)
  6. Don’t sound like Bridget Jones when your novel is serious, and vice versa.
  7. Do not expect an immediate reply – or any reply if we are declining your pitch here at Novel Escapes. Do your research and read the review policy. Check it frequently if you are delaying your review request. They do change from time to time.
  8. Control your irritation if we won’t review your novel. Don’t reply and argue why we should. (Novel Escapes True Story)
  9. Stomp down and crush any thoughts of responding negatively to a negative review. Google Emily Griffin and negative review as an example. Better yet, just don’t even think about it.
  10. Avoid requesting us to review a genre we have no interest in or explicitly state we will not review. This happens more frequently than you would think.
  11. Shove the desire to send multiple emails if you don’t hear back from us within a few days off a cliff.
  12. Do *NOT* state I can just use “this” review if we “don’t have time.” (Novel Escapes True Story)
  13. Don’t expect a review to happen immediately. We are typically booked at least a couple of months in advance.
  14. Avoid mass emails with one sentence and a link to Amazon.
  15. Avoid mass emails. Period.

I don’t often decline novels solely based on a pitch – although I have, particularly those falling in the last two don’ts mentioned. Put some effort into it. First impressions run deep, and you want to grab attention and start off on the right foot. Don’t you?

Cover Buddies

When I began working on the cover for Redesigning Rose I sat down with my beautiful and talented friend, Jane Speed, at Carte Blanche Creative to brainstorm. After her insight and suggestions, I took to the internet to gather some more ideas. I spent hours studying stock photos. We hadn’t even intended on using one. But when I stumbled across a photo that haunted me for the additional dozen hours I continued searching, I decided I had to use it. I didn’t believe there was a better image that represented the novel and when a select market survey came back with “freedom” as the word it evoked, I knew it was perfect.

It turned out author Kathleen Long thought so, too, for the cover of her novel, Changing Lanes. When I emailed her to say ‘Hi’ and let her know we were cover buddies and send her my best wishes that she sell oodles of novels with the beautiful image, she responded in kind. She also told me she had the image in her design folder for forever and was surprised someone hadn’t snagged it earlier. So was I. It makes such a perfect contemporary women’s fiction cover and could fit a multitude of stories. I also found out this isn’t the first time Kathleen has had a cover buddy!

“I’ve encountered cover buddies (love that term!) on multiple occasions – with both my traditionally and independently published titles. I believe readers are savvy enough not to confuse books with similar covers from different authors, and I think the fact a stock photo appealed to more than one designer is a strong indicator the image will resonate with readers. Who doesn’t hope for that?!” –Kathleen Long, USA TODAY Bestselling Author of Changing Lanes

Redesigning Rose - Cover ImageChanging Lanes by Kathleen Long

When my friend, and fellow book blogger at Novel Escapes, Sabrina-Kate, first alerted me to my cover twin she wrote in her email ‘uhm, this is kind of awkward, but…” and spilled it. Being on the beach on my honeymoon, I was relaxed enough not to freak out. But more than that, I knew this happens – more frequently than anyone wants to admit. I knew the risks going into a stock photo. Anyone can buy and use the same image. I just didn’t anticipate having a cover twin so soon, although I was certain it would occur at some point.  But I shrugged, knowing this happens – and not just to self-published authors. Traditional publishing houses have been using stock images for some time now, a fact I knew because of a Facebook post by Sarah Pekkanen, author of  The Best of Us and three other fabulous novels, including one of my favourites, Skipping a Beat. When I reached out to her to thank her for posting about this issue because it lessened my devastation to know I was in good company, I also asked what her thoughts were.

“This has actually happened to me twice, which is amazing – my editor has never had this happen to any of her other authors even once! For my first book, THE OPPOSITE OF ME, the cover was very similar to a new book out by Julia Glass. There was still time to go back and recreate a new cover from scratch, and it ended up working out for the best, since I liked my second cover so much better and felt it was more suited to the story inside. With THESE GIRLS, we kept the cover and my book was published around the same time as a young adult novel with a nearly-identical cover. At first I was a little worried this would confuse readers, but a year out from the publication of THESE GIRLS, it has been a non-issue. And the other author and I emailed about it, and eventually laughed and shrugged it off. We even bought each other’s books!” – Sarah Pekkanen, author of THE BEST OF US.

Since Sarah’s Facebook discussion of this issue, I’ve discovered these keep popping up. Lindsey Kelk, author of the fabulous I Heart series and another favourite of mine, The Single Girl’s To-Do List, has a cover buddy and finds it a little strange.

“It was a bit strange seeing my cover on another book, two books actually! You always think of your cover as an interpretation of the individual work that is inside and having the same cover on different books really takes away from that. It must be incredibly confusing for the reader. But publishers are always going to use stock photography for certain covers – I had the model from the US edition of I HEART NEW YORK email me and say she loved the book but then a model who would have been on the Australian cover of ABOUT A GIRL refused to release the image! Harsh. I still love the Canadian cover of SINGLE GIRL’S TO-DO LIST and even though the main image popped up elsewhere, I think it fits the book perfectly. The strangest part is I know the people who developed it and how carefully they went through the processes to get it just right – I guess great minds think alike?” – Lindsey Kelk, author of ABOUT A GIRL.

A Weekend with Mr. Darcy by Victoria ConnellyThe Single Girls To Do List

Francine Lasala, author of The Girl, the Gold Tooth, and Everything, recently discovered – to her utter delight – that she is cover buddies with literary giant, Margaret Atwood. Lasala’s novel, Rita Hayworth’s Shoes, shares the same cover as Atwood’s, The Heart Goes Last, and while delighted to share a cover with her idol, Lasala wondered:

“What’s an indie author of quirky women’s fiction to do when the indelible imagery of her first wacky book will now no longer be fully hers? Now that a superstar, a goddess of letters, will also be using it?” – Francine Lasala, author of The Girl, the Gold Tooth, and Everything.

She posed the question on her blog: Who Wore it Better.  Her post instigated a firestorm of questions, particularly: Why? You can’t be a reader or writer without knowing Atwood’s name and, knowing who she is, you know her novels aren’t of the light and fluffy variety. You might wonder, like many of us did, why her publisher chose to use a stock image that not only could be duplicated, but that is also a rather, uhm, economical way to design a cover? And particularly that image, which, in my humble opinion, is much more suited to Lasala’s contemporary women’s fiction title. Have a look:

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret AtwoodRita Hayworth's Shoes by Francine Lasala

I’m sure we will ever know the reasoning behind the decision of Atwood’s team to use that particular image, but it’s interesting to see a stock image used for such a high profile author. It has definitely left me feeling a little more relieved that my use of such an image is a wide-spread phenomenon in the publishing world, whether you’re of the DIY variety or have a team behind you – not that anything could make me feel discouraged about the cover of Redesigning Rose. I adore it and nothing could change that. Thank you, Jane Speed, for altering the image in ways I would never have contemplated if left to my own devices. For anyone interested, here’s the stock image as it was purchased, and Jane’s revamp for Redesigning Rose’s cover. Isn’t she awesome? You can find her over at  Carte Blanche Creative if you’re interested in having a stunning cover designed.

RR Cover Image - Large

Redesigning Rose - Cover Image

Good Book When

During my teen years, my mom once walked past the bathroom as I stood in front of the sink engrossed in a book. She shook her head and said “It must be a good book when you can’t even put it down to brush your teeth.” I mmm-hmmed with a mouthful of toothpaste and went about my reading. My teeth had probably never seen such a scrubbing. That was the sign of a great book. I couldn’t even put it down for the two minutes it took me to brush my teeth. I’ve stopped reading when I scour my pearly-whites, but there are many other hints I’m reading a fabulous book – other than the words themselves.

I want to know how you can tell when you’re in the grip of a great book? Post below, or hashtag it on Facebook or Twitter with #goodbookwhen and I’ll find your responses!

For me, I know I’m reading #goodbookwhen:

  • I actually look forward to my morning commute.
  • I forget to eat.
  • I eat cheese and crackers or oatmeal for dinner.
  • I zoom past my stop on the subway.
  • Someone asks me what I’m reading and I get cranky at a potential conversation…about books! True story.
  • I actually look forward to my morning commute.
  • Even the sweaty, smelly, elbow and briefcase jabbing commuters don’t bother me.
  • I crave a subway situation to prolong my page flipping.
  • I am desperate for a relaxing bath but won’t take one because the book I’m reading is on my iPad.
  • It is one of the last things I put down at night and the first things I think about in the morning.
  • I’d pick the book over shopping…for shoes.
  • I fib and say I have an appointment so I can read on my lunch instead of socialize.
  • I find myself avoiding reading or reading slowly so it won’t end.
  • I re-read sentences and marvel at the writing.
  • I think about it for days, months, years after I’ve finished.
  • It changes my life.

What’s a Girl to do When She’s Published?

Redesigning Rose is finished. It’s in various stages of production, including available for sale at Amazon and Kobo, is in the process of uploading to Kobo, and the paperback is awaiting a cover tweak before final processing.

So, what’s a girl to do one’s she’s shoved her baby into the world to sink or swim?

1. Watch Amazon sales go from zero to one (the one being the copy I purchased this afternoon so I would have one. Okay, it was also to make sure the sales reporting system worked and maybe a smidgen to check how quickly the sales figure updated.)

2. Refresh my Kobo Writing Life page enough times to warrant a system meltdown.

3. Debate how many times is reasonable to post about my book on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest.

4. Have another celebratory cocktail.

5. Call my mom and moan that I have no sales.

6. Write a blog post about the writing/publishing process. Sneak in the words “Redesigning Rose.”

7. Alienate a few more friends when I link the blog post to Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and Pinterest.

8. Hope the rest of my friends will stick with me for the rest of this week. I have no self-control.

9. Can I pay someone to buy the book?

10. Check Kobo again.

11. Re-read lovely reviews and kind words early readers have written.

12. Realize not everyone will love it.

13. Nibble my thumbnail and worry about inevitable negative reviews.

14. Down cocktail and pour another.

15. Maybe I can gift a few copies?

16. Walk away from the laptop. Walk away!

17. Pick up smart phone.

18. Consider moving to the middle of the forest.

19. Wonder if picking up the next manuscript will help.

20. Is it worth the agony of writing another if no one wants this one?

21. Do I have any sales yet?