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Poisoned Books

7 Jul

An article by Jakob Povl Holck and Kaare Lund Rasmussen explains the use of arsenic a couple hundred years ago and how the danger of reading some old books could be harmful, even fatal. I had no idea how widely used it was until the mid 1800’s. 


Damage caused by the use of green arsenic from a 1859 book (Wellcome Collection)


Thomas Jefferson Cut-and-Paste Bible

30 May

9-26-2013 7-55-40 PMThomas Jefferson assembled his own version of the bible.  He clipped the passages he thought were genuine teachings of Jesus and pasted them, in the four languages side by side, onto pages. Read the article on


10 Things You Need to Know About Virtual Book Tours

8 Jan

By Dorothy Thompson, Founder of Pump Up Your Book

By now, most authors know what virtual book tours are or at least have heard of them.  They’re that wonderful marketing tool that should be a must have in every new book’s campaign.  With each new book I write, I’m making a game plan before the book is even published and a virtual book tour is the first promotional venue on that list.
While most of us know what they are, there are still a few new authors who might have heard of them but have no idea what they involve.  I give you my top 10 things you need to know about virtual book tours so that you will know what to expect.

  1. Virtual book tours are the BEST way to get the MOST online exposure for your book. Not only are you presenting your book and yourself to thousands of people, all of your interviews, guest posts and reviews are archived which means months down the road, you’re still selling your book because of that one tour.
  2. Virtual book tours ARE a lot of work. Not only are you searching for the perfect blogs to host you, you are acting as the middle man between you and the blogger unless you are using a paid service such as Pump Up Your Book who will do all the work for you.  Even if you do sign up with Pump Up Your Book, there is still lots of work to do completing assignments – filling out interviews and writing guest posts unless you choose an all review tour.  Even though it requires a little bit of your time to fill out interviews and write guest posts, it’s well worth it.
  3. You will learn more about your book than you ever did. I had an author tell me that through the interviews and guest posts she had to complete, she never learned so much about her book which caught her off guard.  Now when she is interviewed on radio shows and makes television appearances, she is better prepared.
  4. Virtual book tours will build up your author platform.  No matter if you’re a fiction author or a nonfiction author, virtual book tours will build up your author platform using your key search words.
  5. Your reviews are guaranteed. Offline publicists while they mean well do it all wrong.  They query a book blogger, make arrangements to send the book, then that’s where it stops.  The review is not a guaranteed thing.  The reviewer can post the review anytime they see fit.  With virtual book tours, your review is guaranteed on a certain date unless the reviewer jumps ship which rarely happens.  I had an author tell me she signed up with an offline publicist who sent out many books and only one or two reviewers actually came through for them.  That was money loss for the author.  Books don’t come cheap these days so coming up with a date you and the reviewer can agree upon guarantees that review will be a given thing.
  6. Many reviewers now take ebooks which save you money. Thank goodness someone was smart enough to invent a device that automatically loads a book in a few seconds (no waiting to go to the book store anymore my friend) and makes it fun to read.  When Amazon lowered their price of the Kindle, sales soared and book lovers started talking about getting one.  What that means is that it opened up a wonderful way to get these books to the book reviewers quickly and less expensively.  Have you noticed how much books are and how much it takes to ship them?  Not saying all reviewers will take ebooks, but as time goes on, most will have an e-reader and, as a matter of fact, will prefer an ebook.
  7. More website hits, more blog hits, more Twitter hits and more Facebook Fan Page hits. All authors should have a website or blog and accounts at Twitter and Facebook.  No matter if you think they’re all a waste of time.  A virtual book tour will definitely give you more hits at all places as long as your links are in your bio.
  8. Going on a virtual book tour raises your Alexa rankings. What is Alexa?  Alexa measures how well you are doing in the search engines.  By going on a virtual book tour, and including interviews and guest posts during that tour, your website and blog links are included in every bio (or should be!).  Those are incoming links which Alexa uses to measure your ranking.  The more your website or blog link shows up on other sites, the more valuable your site is to them and thus, your rankings soar.
  9. You will learn how to sell your book through media exposure. Not all authors take advantage of their interviews and guest posts by gearing them toward their audience, thus luring them to their book and/or website/blog.  I’ve had many authors on tour and the ones who really take the time to make their interviews and guest posts effective selling tools are the ones who profit the most.  The key thing here is to make your audience curious.  One liners in the case of interviews may not cut it.  Of course there are only so many ways you can answer “What’s your book about?” but take your time and get your audience’s curiosity peaked so that they do make your way over to your website or your book’s buying link.
  10. Virtual book tours teach you how to connect well with others. There is no better way to learn how to network.  All these wonderful book bloggers who agree to host you are your new friends in your extended network and they will be there for you the next time you have a book to promote (unless they completely hated it of course).  You’ll also learn how to use the social networks effectively as you study how to get people over to your stops by persuasive wording.  Remember to talk to your audience, not at them.

There you have it.  10 reasons I feel you need to know about virtual book tours in a nutshell.  If you have a tour coordinator as opposed to setting one up yourself, she will walk you through it so that it will be a fun experience for all.  Your book will thank you for it.

Dorothy Thompson is Founder of Pump Up Your Book, an award-winning public relations company specializing in online book publicity. 

You can visit the website at or follow Dorothy on Twitter at and Facebook at



8 Hacks for Mother’s Day (For When You Really Wish They Wouldn’t)

10 May

By Pauline Daley-Parril


1. Breakfast in Bed


It’s five minutes past dawn and you hear your kids banging cupboard doors down in the kitchen. Soon there will be syrup and pancake batter dripping from the walls, floors, countertops and overhead fixtures. Worse yet, you are about to be compelled to consume a plateful of cold pancakes that are burnt black on the outside while still remaining uncooked on the inside, all swimming in a bathtub’s worth of syrup.


The Hack: Quick. Hide the syrup. Give them a bag of chocolate chips and a package of paper muffin cups. Ask them to count all the chips into the cups. Tell them you would like a banana and twenty-thirteen chocolate chips for your breakfast. Ask Daddy to supervise. Hurry back to bed.


2.  The Card


Did your kids spend all of 47 seconds last week pouring school glue and dropping pieces of macaroni onto a piece of heart-shaped construction paper? Now you have to store that adorable handmade creation at the back of your closet for the rest of eternity with the rest of the collection of Penne necklaces and pasta shell pencil holders, right? That proves you love them right?


The Hack: Feeding them proves you love them too. Boil up a large pot of salted water, drop in the collected works, put your feet up and wait till all the noodles are al dente. Drain, toss in a handful of shredded cheese and voila! An easy mother’s day dinner is served. Don’t forget the paper plates.


3. The Husband With a Poor Sense of Timing


The minute you launch the kids on their way with the bag of chocolate chips, guess who slides back into bed beside you with less-than-minty morning breath and rough unshaven chin? Did he just scrape/nuzzle the back of your neck and offer you a “steamy” Mom’s Day present in the shower?


The Hack: You do want your pillow back right? If you want to unpoke his tongue from your ear fast, tell him he is a sweet boy and then remind him to call his Mom today to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. Point out that an early call might be bad timing as maybe his Dad is also giving his Mom a steamy morning kiss right about now too. Use descriptive adjectives to make sure he gets the picture. Then punch him playfully in the arm and cackle, “Aren’t you just a chip off the old cock?” As he begins to gag a little, mention that you just downed a handful of chocolate chips. Mistake! Aren’t they just ripping right through you! Yell “outta my way,” jump out of bed and hop towards the bathroom with your hands pressed against your backside.


4. The Spa Day

Did you get a gift certificate for a day at the spa? Nope, neither did I. Don’t let that stop you.


The Hack: Of course the answer is to book your worthy self in for the salt scrub flotation cabin, lotus glow massage and mani-pedi with truffles as soon as possible.


5.  The Flowers

Every mother loves getting a gift of cut flowers right? Trouble is now you have to clip the stems properly on a 45 ° angle with a sharp florist’s knife, creatively arrange the blooms in a vase like the Pinterest people are watching, and change the slimy water everyday. As if you didn’t have enough to do. The baby is teething and the toddler is trying to flush the cat down the toilet and now you are in charge of freshening up those candy-pink Carnations.


The Hack: Fill a carafe with red wine and let it aerate for five minutes. If the baby is crying very loudly, feel free to skip the breathing step. Carefully arrange the blooms in the empty wine bottle. If you have too many stems, you may open a second bottle.


6. His Mother


There is no known hack for your Mother–in-Law. Deal with it.


7. Your Mother


In all the bustle and fun of enjoying your special day, did you forget to call your own mother to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day? I know. I forgot too. Kill me now.


The Hack: Google images to the rescue. Spice up your apology message with some links. Recommended search terms: “shirtless hot dudes.” “Old Spice Guy + snake. For a few blessed moments, she will probably forget that she ever had you. Of course you still owe her chocolate.


8. The Hugs and Kisses


Who needs to hack a Mother’s Day kiss and hug? It’s totally the best part. Take all the sweet squeezes and smacks that you can get—even if the chubby fingers are smeared with chocolate chips and the bearer of the lips still needs a shave.



collette-author-dress-background-lighter-fixed-240x300Collette Yvonne has written more than 150 articles published in Ontario’s Dailies.  Her short story, Snapshots for Henry, was made into a short film directed by Teresa Hannigan and received a 2007 Genie nomination for Best Live Action Short Drama.  More of Yvonne’s short stories, including From the Cottage Porch and Wild Words 2010 appear in published anthologies. She is a graduate of Toronto’s York University with a BA degree in Creative Writing, creating both fiction and non-fiction works. Her latest novel, The Perils of Pauline was published by Astor + Blue Editions in January 2015. For more information visit






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Grab Inspiration and Never Let Go

26 Jan

I’ve murdered men. I’ve started wars, had great loves, lived through apocalyptic plagues, survived on Mars and been an ambulance driver in The Great War. And it was all in my head. That’s why I love books. That’s why they inspire me.

Great books give me something I can’t get anywhere else. As an author, as a reader, as a guy with a set of working eyes and an endlessly curious brain, I can’t replace the feeling of complete satisfaction, of complete transportation when I read a good book.

 Is that what inspires me to write? Partially.

 In truth, it’s a mix of feelings. Awe, satisfaction, excitement, and just a tinge of jealousy. That last one is important. It’s what drives me to keep working. I sometimes read something so good (for instance, Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice) and it makes me mad. Not that I think those fantastically creative, hard working, eloquent people don’t deserve what they have, but because I haven’t gotten there myself. I see something beautiful, and I desperately want to be a part of it. So, I go back to the grindstone. I do that last revision, change that line, give that character a squinch more motivation to finish their quest.

 Maybe that’s the wrong way to go about it. Could be that letting envy motivate me is entirely self-destructive. Frankly, I don’t care. Whatever it takes to compel me to put out the best work I can, I’ll do. Writing anything is a hard business to break into, writing novels a magnitude harder than that. You really have to shine and work your fingers into nubs if you ever want to make enough to simply feed yourself.

 And that’s fine, because there are people like me who are crazy enough to try anyway.

 Reading a great novel is what keeps me going, keeps me working to no end, chasing no goal in particular other than to make my next book the absolute best it can be. I want to be the guy who immerses people, who makes them live a thousand years in the future, and remember it as well as they remember their first beer. That’s what inspires me to write.

By M. Stephen Stewart




MSSTwitterAvM. Stephen Stewart is the author of We Are Watching, a new YA Dystopian Action-adventure currently available on Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble.

Find M. Stephen Stewart on Twitter and Goodreads.





I’m looking forward to reading this book.  –Dawn

Ghost Writers

11 Jul

The authors of Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Bobbsey Twins, and many other books written for children were actually written by ghost writers for Edward Stratemeyer and his daughters. Read the article here.

When I first found this out, I had to check on my favorite sleuth when I was young, Trixie Belden. I was relieved to find out that at least the 6 books were actually written by Julie Campbell but the remainder of the series was also written by ghost writers under the pseudonym Kathryn Kenny. 


nancy drew 1 sizedhardy boys 1 sized


10 Jun


“…did you know there’s a town known as the ‘town of books’? In fact, the town is so crazy about literature that it holds an annual literature festival each May… Hay-on-Wye, the National Book Town of Wales which is located on the Welsh/English border in the United Kingdom and lies on the banks of the River Wye. It is one of those towns left untouched by the 20th century…” 

28 Books You Should Read if You Want to

25 Feb


There’s a great article on The Millions in response to recent lists that were posted by other sites listing the books that we should read. My favorites on this list:

You should read the book that you hear two booksellers arguing about at the registers while you’re browsing in a bookstore.

You should read the book that you see someone on the train reading and trying to hide that they’re laughing.

You should read the book that you see someone on the train reading and trying to hide that they’re crying.

You should just keep reading.

100 Books to Read in a Lifetime

17 Feb

The editors at Amazon came up with a list of 100 books that you should read in your lifetime. Goodreads then invited their readers to list the books they think should be on that list.  I was happy to see that some of my favorites made both lists. I’ve read about a third of them. I guess I need to get busy! How many of these books have you read?

Some of my favorites that were on one or both lists:



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Mother Goose

29 Aug

7ac1cb277f1bffcd337ecd99ffb7f628I didn’t realize that Mother Goose wasn’t how cruel and gruesome Mother Goose was originally. An example is “A Little Man”: 


There was a little man, and he had a little gun

And his bullets were made of lead, lead , lead.

He went to the brook, and saw a little duck,

And shot it right through the head, head, head.


Then there is this verse from “Goosey Goosey Gander” which isn’t found in today’s nursery rhyme:

Old father Long-Legs

Can’t say his prayers:

Take him by the left leg,

And throw him down the stairs.

And when he’s at the bottom,

Before he long has lain,

Take him by the right leg,

And throw him up again.


Read more about the Mother Goose we thought we knew.

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