Monday, June 29, 2015

A Head Full of Ghosts: A Novel by Paul Tremblay

Mulluane | Monday, June 29, 2015 | 1 Comment so far
Part psychological thriller, part thriller and part horror, this book will grab you like the proverbial monster under the bed. Warning… before reading this book, buy a nightlight -- or twelve. You'll need them.

Blurb might contain spoilers, toggle to view. ( Toggle may not function in email and some feed readers.)

A chilling thriller that brilliantly blends domestic drama, psychological suspense, and a touch of modern horror, reminiscent of Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Let the Right One In, and Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House.

The lives of the Barretts, a normal suburban New England family, are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia.

To her parents’ despair, the doctors are unable to stop Marjorie’s descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help. Father Wanderly suggests an exorcism; he believes the vulnerable teenager is the victim of demonic possession. He also contacts a production company that is eager to document the Barretts’ plight. With John, Marjorie’s father, out of work for more than a year and the medical bills looming, the family agrees to be filmed, and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit reality television show. When events in the Barrett household explode in tragedy, the show and the shocking incidents it captures become the stuff of urban legend.

Fifteen years later, a bestselling writer interviews Marjorie’s younger sister, Merry. As she recalls those long ago events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets and painful memories that clash with what was broadcast on television began to surface—and a mind-bending tale of psychological horror is unleashed, raising vexing questions about memory and reality, science and religion, and the very nature of evil.

*Blurb source *William Marrow
A Head Full of Ghosts: A Novel by Paul Tremblay | Thriller Review

Book Source: Publisher

Horror Book Review by Mulluane


At 14 years old, Marjorie has begun exhibiting all of the classic signs of schizophrenia. 
But is she mentally ill or demon possessed?


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Waterborn by Greg Keyes | Epic Fantasy Review | Chosen of the Changeling, Book 1

Mulluane | Tuesday, April 28, 2015 | 2 Comments so far
A Princess wishes for a hero and a God hears her plea. The son of a cattle chieftain starts off on a quest to kill the God who is tormenting his true love. And nothing goes exactly how either of them planned.

Blurb might contain spoilers, toggle to view. ( Toggle may not function in email and some feed readers.)

To find her kidnapped cousin, a princess enters the domain of a deadly deity

Hezhi is a princess, daughter of a royal family whose line was founded by the god known as the River. Her blood is not only royal, it is magic, with a power that will not become known until she approaches adulthood. As she grows into her gift, she will take her place in court—or be judged unworthy and cast into the darkness below the palace.

When Hezhi’s cousin D’en is kidnapped by the priests and taken below, Hezhi vows to rescue him. But he is trapped in the domain of the River, and she will need a hero to help her find her way in the dark.

Perhaps that hero is Perkar, a barbarian who has fallen in love with the goddess of the stream. When the River threatens to destroy Perkar’s love, he embarks on a quest that will take him to Hezhi’s side to do battle with a god.

*Blurb source *Amazon
Epic Fantasy eBook Review of Waterborn by Greg Keyes
Book Source: Open Road Media. Ebook release April 28, 2015

Epic Fantasy eBook Review by Mulluane


This is primarily a character-driven coming-of-age story. Both of the main characters have some growing up to do and through trial, travail and error, grow they will. The core theme is pretty straight forward. The story asks a simple question. "Can you control your destiny or will it control you?"

The answers however, are far from simple.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales | Featured Book

Mulluane | Wednesday, April 08, 2015 | 3 Comments so far

Violent, dark, and full of action, and upending the relationship between damsels in distress and their dragon-slaying heroes, Schönwerth’s fairy tales as collected in THE TURNIP PRINCESS bring us closer than ever to the unadorned oral tradition in which fairy tales are rooted, revolutionizing our understanding of a hallowed genre. 
Information Source: Penguin Classics

ABOUT THE TURNIP PRINCESS:

With THE TURNIP PRINCESS, the holy trinity of fairy tales—the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, and Hans Christian Andersen—becomes a quartet. In the 1850s, Franz Xaver von Schönwerth traversed the forests, lowlands, and mountains of northern Bavaria to record fairy tales, gaining the admiration of even the Brothers Grimm. Most of Schönwerth’s work was lost—until a few years ago, when Erika Eichenseer uncovered thirty boxes of manuscripts in a German municipal archive.
The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales
Buy From Amazon
Now, for the first time, Schönwerth’s lost fairy tales are available in English. Violent, dark, and full of action, and upending the relationship between damsels in distress and their dragon-slaying heroes, they bring us closer than ever to the unadorned oral tradition in which fairy tales are rooted, revolutionizing our understanding of a hallowed genre.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

FRANZ XAVER VON SCHÖNWERTH (1810-1886) was born in Amberg, Bavaria. He had a successful career in law and the Bavarian royal court, rising to the post of personal secretary to the Crown Prince Maximilian. In the 1850s he began to explore the culture of the Upper Palatinate region of Bavaria, recording his observations and the stories of the people he interviewed. Eventually he devoted himself full-time to his research and, between 1857 and 1859, published From the Upper Palatinate: Customs and Legends, cataloging the customs and folktales of his homeland in unprecedented detail. This work contained only a fraction of his total research, the rest of which was eventually discovered in an archive, forming an important addition to the canon of classic fairy tales.

ABOUT THE EDITORS:

ERIKA EICHENSEER discovered 500 previously unknown fairy tales of Franz Xaver von Schönwerth in the municipal archive of Regensburg, Bavaria, in 2009. In 2010 she published a selection entitled Prinz Rosszwifl [Prince Dung Beetle]. She began her career as a teacher, then worked in the theater for the cultural department of the regional government of East Bavaria. An expert on fairy tales and on puppet theater, she has written numerous books on folk art and customs and has appeared on television, produced radio programs, and performed all over Bavaria as a storyteller. She is co-founder and director of the Schönwerth Society and initiator of the Schönwerth Fairytale Path in Sinzing, near Regensburg, and she wrote the libretto for a musical based on Schönwerth’s “The Flying Chest.” She has been awarded many honors for her services to Bavarian culture.

MARIA TATAR chairs the program in folklore and mythology at Harvard. She is the author of many acclaimed books on folklore and fairytales, as well as the editor and translator of The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen, The Annotated Brothers Grimm, The Classic Fairy Tales: A Norton Critical Edition, and The Grimm Reader. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:

ENGELBERT SÜSS is a sculptor, glass-artist, and illustrator who was born in 1949 in eastern Bavaria. He created the bronze statue “King of Dwarfs” for the Schönwerth Fairytale Path in Sinzing, Bavaria.

My Notes:

I read most of these and unfortunately I often finished a story totally confused as to its message. What I didn't know -- until far too late -- is that there is a meticulous analysis of each story in the "Commentary" section found at the back of the book.

There is also a detailed introduction which I'll admit, I didn't read. I scanned it but it reads like a textbook on fairy tales. Interesting but a bit dry.

In my humble opinion, you'll get the most out of this book if you are interested in its history and origins. This is also a book to be relished for both the miracle of its discovery and the subsequent translation. 

It is NOT a book of stories you'd read to your kids or for pure entertainment. It is a collection to be studied; comparing each story to its explanation in the Commentary when needed and comparing them to the tales we grew up with. It is definitely a priceless look at the history of fairy tales.


Monday, March 30, 2015

State of the Belfry Address

Mulluane | Monday, March 30, 2015 | 4 Comments so far
You may (or not) have noticed that things have been a bit quiet lately. Well life, as it tends to do, often goes in circles. There are good times, easy times, chaotic times and bad times.

Unfortunately, I'm somewhere between chaotic and bad. Some medical problems have cropped up and are taking most of my time.

So, I am going to change a few things. 
Bat surrounded by chaos!
Sometimes life spins out of control!

The first thing I'm going to stop doing is including a variety of affiliate links in my reviews. This process alone takes longer than writing the review itself. 

Besides, nobody ever uses them to buy anything. I used to be able to count on atleast something around xmas. This year I got nadda. 

I'll still do Amazon, and I'm not dropping Adsense. Plus I'm going to leave the various banners in the footer; just in case somebody wants an easy way to access their favorite book retailer. 

A bat can always hope!

Next thing I'm going to do is structure my reviews a bit differently. The word vomit method is great but I'm missing too many points of interest, often repeating myself or leaving out important information. I'm hoping that I'll end up with a much better review and with some structure, I'll stop leaving out vital info. And don't worry, I'll reserve a section where I can rave or rant accordingly :>)

The third thing I did was start a new blog. No, I'm not really insane. Sometimes I just need a new project to keep those creative juices flowing and for now, this is it.

So, when you get a chance, visit Witty Wacky and Wise ~ A (Mostly) Speculative Fiction Book and Author Quote Gallery. From now on, all of my quote work is going there. It is pretty cool actually. I'm using Blogger's dynamic views flipcards. Hover over any thumbnail image and it will "flip" showing you the title of the quote. Once I populate it with a ton of quotes, it will look really neat. Well, I think so anyway :>)

Besides, it is time to stop using them for fillers when I just can't find the time to write a review or article. 

The long and short of the matter is, I'm streamlining things so that maybe I can go back to cranking out reviews like I used to. By taking out the things I DON'T look forward to doing, and by cutting down the time it takes to create a review, I'll procrastinate less and write more. As tired as I am right now, easier is definitely better! 

So anyway, that is what's up. I'll see you all soon!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Laini Taylor | Weekly Quote 37

Mulluane | Thursday, February 19, 2015 | 2 Comments so far

“Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there's no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.”

Laini TaylorDaughter of Smoke & Bone

Laini Taylor Quote about hope on background design by @mulluane

About: This is a weekly feature here in the old belfry. The quote is credited to Laini Taylor

The design, along with any flaws, is mine. 

If you would like to suggest a quote (I prefer it be from a SFF author) let me know in the comments and I'll see what I can do. No promises though. If a quote is too big I may not be able to reproduce it in the space available. I do promise to try though!

Usage: Non-Commercial Fair Use is permitted. The following restrictions apply: Please do not remove or mask the watermark url. Do not sell, print or claim this work as your own and when sharing, pinning, reblogging or posting, a direct link to this post is required. Thanks!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Mulluane | Weekly Quote 36

Mulluane | Thursday, February 12, 2015 | 2 Comments so far

"Bat-ter Not Forget Your Valentine!"
Old Bats Need Love Too...

Mulluane

"Bat-ter Not Forget Your Valentine!" Old Bats Need Love Too... Valentine Image by Mulluane

About: This is a weekly feature here in the old belfry. The quote is credited to Me! Yep, my wicked sense of humor at work scaring the masses again.

The design too, along with any flaws, is mine. 

Slow week for me. Have a family medical thing going on. Should not be serious but it has required preparing for a change in the household routine. 


I'll be back up to speed in a week or so.

If you would like to suggest a quote (I prefer it be from a SFF author) let me know in the comments and I'll see what I can do. No promises though. If a quote is too big I may not be able to reproduce it in the space available. I do promise to try though!

Usage: Non-Commercial Fair Use is permitted. The following restrictions apply: Please do not remove or mask the watermark url. Do not sell, print or claim this work as your own and when sharing, pinning, reblogging or posting, a direct link to this post is required. Thanks!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Book Blogging Tips: Make Sharing Easy | It Is A Visual World! Use Shareable Images

Mulluane | Friday, February 06, 2015 | 4 Comments so far

Welcome to my Book Blogging Tips Series!


Today I want to continue with the basics of having shareable content. Before we get started, if you haven't already, please feel free to read my premise for this series and/or my disclaimers.

Note: all the links in this post are affiliate free. I'm not being paid to promote any product or website. The owners of the sites I link to however, may or may not use affiliate links in their posts. 

You may notice that there are alot of links. They all link to articles or tools pertaining to whatever concept I'm discussing at the time. And even better, the tools have free versions! All are well worth a look see. 

Finally, while most of the advice offered here is aimed at Blogger / Blogspot users, the core principles apply to everybody!

Done? Good! Lets get started!

The Importance of Shareable Images


The Importance of Shareable Images

One of my favorite ways of sharing content is by using a post image. 

Unfortunately, I frequently run across book blogs with images that are either too small or placed in iframes. (ie, Amazon affiliate image links.) If the image is too small or in an iframe I can't pin it, nor can I create a visual share. And some blog posts have no image at all! 

Why is this important?

Everything is visual these days. Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Pinterest, Instagram and the list goes on. Even my favorite scheduling tool, Buffer, has added a "share this image" on hover function to its browser extension. With all those beautiful images flooding the internet it breaks my heart to see content I can't share!

So why do people use tiny images or iframes?

Iframes are what Amazon uses for their affiliate links. There is a better way of accomplishing the same thing with much better images and I'll explain how in a moment... or twelve.

Page load speed is the other reason. Large images can really really slow things down. Especially if you don't know how to optimize them -- but here is the thing. The size of the image inside the post isn't always what matters when it comes to sharing. As this Pinterest article states -- about 1/2 way down the page -- it is the size of the original image that counts!


When Using Images to Share Content, Size Matters


Let me show you what I mean. Take a look at this quote. Nora Roberts. Leave it up in a separate tab. You'll need it in a minute.

Inside the post I have it set to extra large so it measures 640 X 512px on the page. Somewhat less than the 750px wide minimum Pinterest suggests. 

Now, I'll show you a trick. 

Right click on the image and depending on your browser, click on either "view image" [Firefox] or open image in new tab [Chrome]. (I couldn't find a way to do this in IE.) Now hover over the tab from another open window. Don't view the actual image, just mouseover its tab. It will tell you that the same image is 1280 X 1600px! And that is after Blogger scaled it down by 44%. 

The size you see in the tab is the one that matters. Your post could have an image measuring 100 x 200 but if the source image is between 250 and 750px wide (or larger) it can be pinned to pinterest with beautiful visual results.

But what about Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google +? 

Well, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google plus have their own sizes. There is a trick to creating the perfect image for sharing across those four platforms. That will require a bit of in depth explanation so hold on to your hat! I'll link and explain it all next. 

*Tip: if you want to make image/link sharing easy for those of us who use the Buffer extension, the hover button will only appear on images that are atleast 350 X 250 px at the source. Thank you Buffer support team!


More Technical Stuff, One Size Fits All!


I searched and searched for an answer for creating one image that I could share to G+, Facebook and Twitter. Finally I ran across this tutorial: How to Optimize Your Images to Work Across Social Networks. Go read it. He explains it way better than I could. (Note: He doesn't mention Google + but his method works there too!)

Go ahead... Read it... I'll wait...

Done? Brilliant isn't it!

Now me being me, I had to do things a bit differently. Since I use Picmonkey I played around with containing that 560 x 292 base inside a 40px border. I didn't like the idea of guessing the dimensions but I found a simpler way. I put a 40px museum matte frame around the base image, got rid of the black edge and set the color to reflect my blog theme. Then I resized the whole thing back down to 560 X 292 and Boom! An image that shared beautifully across all 3 platforms!

See for yourself:

G+
Facebook
Twitter

Cool huh...

*Tip: Tired of Twitter's 140 character limit when you have so much more you want to say? Create an image like this! Stonehill Downs by Sarah Remy. Image was created using PicMonkey and sized just for twitter at 1024 X 512px. Just make sure you use add photo to attach it when sharing your post link.


Pin that Image!


"Geez Mulluane, there you go with the pinning again. Why are you so obsessed with Pinterest?"

It took awhile to gather speed but now I get around 500 repins every week and some of that stuff is yours! I don't get that kind of juice from G+, Facebook and Twitter combined. And there are 2 other factors you should consider. 

People who use pinterest are looking for items to buy, inspire, or create. Unlike other platforms, pinterest users are far more likely to buy the book, enter the giveaway, or check out your blog. Twitter is for social engagement and facebook? You are lucky if anybody even sees your post. I can't speak to G+ because I just gave in and joined it, but so far I'm not impressed.

The other beauty of Pinterest is that its images stay prominent indefinitely. I still get repins of books I pinned over a year ago. On the other platforms, you are lucky if a post lasts an hour, much less a year!

"Sweet! I want that kind of exposure! What should I do?"

First you need the right images in your posts. Then you need to install Pin It buttons on your blog.

Pin it buttons, the official ones from Pinterest, will not work on iframed images/book covers like those people use from amazon. You are much better off using the publisher's image or one from Goodreads and inserting your own link. All you need to do is add your Amazon tag at the end like so: 

http://www.amazon.com/dp/ISBN/?tag=your_Associates_ID 

Replace ISBN with the actual ISBN number. Either 10 or 13 will work but on ISBN 13 do not include the dash. If you don't know how to make an image clickable just follow the instructions here: Linking a picture in your post to a website.

Personally I'd do this anyway. Amazon is not known for its high quality images.

One last tip. Images do not have to be 750px wide as Pinterest suggests. That is just what they advise you to use for optimal pinning. (However, for Pinterest the taller an image is, the better. Tall images are repinned far more often than short ones. No idea why.) Pinnable images do however need to be atleast 250px wide at the source or the Pin It widget may not "see" the image.

"So Mull, what do you do in your posts to accommodate all those different platforms?"

I use 2 images! One for pinterest (a regular book cover) and one for Facebook, G+, LinkedIn and Twitter. See how I did that here: Daughter of the Empire. And don't forget to use both alt and title tags on your images. I've seen publishers who get this wrong. In Blogger, click on the image. Click on "Properties" and put a descriptive sentence in both fields.

Why?

3 reasons. 

  • Alt tags describe the image for people who use text to voice software. 
  • Search engine bots read this info for clues to your content which affects the search terms that are used to pull up your content in both text and image searches. These days, having your content found in image searches is almost as important as showing up on the first page of search results! 
  • Thirdly, some platforms use that info in the description when the image is shared. Don't leave it to chance, write your own description. 
*Tip: If you use the buffer extension, you can use the share image function in Pinterest to share to Twitter! This wasn't possible previously as Pinterest only provides sharing to email and Facebook. Don't forget to expand the pin first! 


Sidebar Images


And don't forget those sidebars! I know everything is mobile, mobile and more mobile but some of us still prefer PCs. For us, big beautiful sidebar images grab the eye and scream click me! The longer a visitor stays on your blog, the more likely they are to fall in love with your content. They may even find something that they just have to share!

I recently discovered this cool tutorial for making sidebar widgets that rotate images from whatever posts you link it to. (Blogger only) Not only are the images large and gorgeous, the way they slide in and out catches the eye. The tutorial is here and it can't be simpler! Truly Simple Slideshow Gadget for Blogger | Code It Pretty. And it is even easy to change the links whenever you want. 

You can see them in action here: Dragon's, Heroes and Wizards, three of them no less! 

*Tip: If you use/modify your own images, (1) either taken with your camera, (2) free domain images you have modified or (3) images you created with an app, always watermark them! Inserting a watermarked url unobtrusively into a modified or original image insures that you'll still get the credit, even if the image is incorrectly linked! But, never!!! claim an image as your own unless it meets one of those three conditions.  


Conclusion


It Is A Visual World! Use Shareable Images
One last thing before you run off and start reading all those links. Here are some more links!

Some people, with just cause, are afraid to use images for fear of violating copyrights. Not to scare you, but it can happen

But not if you do things correctly. There are tons of Free Domain pics out there. Book Covers btw, fall under the heading of Fair Use. As long as the cover is being used to promote or discuss the book, your use is protected.

"So what do I do? I'm not a photographer and I need images!"

Well, it is not as hard as you might think. 
  • You can make your own images in Picmonkey or Canva just like the goofy old bat pic you see before you. (Also see link below)
  • You can use Google image search's tools to find free images. Just click on Search Tools, click Usage Rights and choose: Labeled for Reuse With Modification. Do NOT use any old photo you find. Make sure you filter your search. And even then check the source.
  • You can use a free photo stock site like TheStocks. Or a site like Webweavers for cute gifs and clipart or make your own gifs with Lunapic.
  • Check out this link: 4 Tools to Enhance the Images in Your Content Marketing. It gives you links to the 4 tools I mentioned and tells you why you should use them.
*Tip: Ever wonder where an image came from? Want to make sure you are linking to the original source? Use Google Chrome! Rightclick on any image. Pick "Search Google for this image." Look for a link to the artist. May take a few pages to find them. Don't count on Pinterest links. They are full of unattributed links!


Homework: Try it yourself! Rightclick the image in this post: Robin Hobb Quote. Use the chrome image search. (Don't worry, the search results won't go on for 10 pages.) See for yourself where that image came from!

Still awake? Oh good, you'll be glad to know that's it for now. Actually that may be a bit much! But you can always bookmark and come back to explore all those links later. I'll still be here... plotting my next post.

So what about you? Do you use images in your content? Have you seen a positive result? Ever run across great content you couldn't share? Questions? Suggestions? Did I leave out something important? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Raymond Feist | Weekly Quote 35

Mulluane | Thursday, February 05, 2015 | 2 Comments so far

"Love doesn't demand; it accepts."
Mara to Kamilo

Raymond Feist

Love Doesn't Demand; It Accepts ~ Quote from Mistress of the Empire (Riftwar Cycle, Empire Trilogy) by Raymond Feist and Janny Wurts.

About: This is a weekly feature here in the old belfry. The quote is credited to Raymond Feist's (according to Goodreads) but it may be Janny Wurts'. Hard to be sure since they co-wrote the book. 

The design, along with any flaws, is mine. 

You can see my review of the first book in this series, Daughter of the Empire, here: 

Daughter of the Empire (Riftwar Cycle: The Empire Trilogy 1) by Raymond E. Feist, Janny Wurts

If you would like to suggest a quote (I prefer it be from a SFF author) let me know in the comments and I'll see what I can do. No promises though. If a quote is too big I may not be able to reproduce it in the space available. I do promise to try though!

Usage: Non-Commercial Fair Use is permitted. The following restrictions apply: Please do not remove or mask the watermark url. Do not sell, print or claim this work as your own and when sharing, pinning, reblogging or posting, a direct link to this post is required. Thanks!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Nora Roberts | Weekly Quote 34

Mulluane | Friday, January 30, 2015 | 2 Comments so far

“If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it.

If you don't ask, the answer is always no.

If you don't step forward, you're always in the same place.”

Nora Roberts


Inspirational quote by Nora Roberts on a design by @Mulluane

I was down with a stomach virus this week so did not do any posting. Instead, I'll leave you with this timeless quote. Hopefully I'll be back up to speed by Monday!

About: This is a weekly feature here in the old belfry. The quote is Nora Roberts'. The design, along with any flaws, is mine. 

If you would like to suggest a quote (I prefer it be from a SFF author) let me know in the comments and I'll see what I can do. No promises though. If a quote is too big I may not be able to reproduce it in the space available. I do promise to try though!

Usage: Non-Commercial Fair Use is permitted. The following restrictions apply: Please do not remove or mask the watermark url. Do not sell, print or claim this work as your own and when sharing, pinning, reblogging or posting, a direct link to this post is required. Thanks!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Book Blogging Tips: Make Sharing Easy | Allow Subscriptions and Why You Should

Mulluane | Friday, January 23, 2015 | 2 Comments so far

Welcome to my Book Blogging Tips Series!

Today I want to start with the very basics of sharable content. Making it possible for folks to track your posts! Before we get started, if you haven't already, please feel free to read my premise for this series and/or my disclaimers

Note: all the links in this post are affiliate free and while most of the advice offered here is aimed at Blogger / Blogspot users, the core principles apply to everybody!

Done? Good! Lets get started!

The Importance of Sharing

Sharing is fun! How to make it easy.

One of the things that I have learned about building a blog following is the importance of content sharing. Content sharing does two things. It builds relationships and it establishes you as someone with authority; someone who is knowledgeable about the book industry.

While I was researching curating sharable content there was one lesson I took to heart. The 80/20 rule. (See #3) This rule states that you should share 80% other's relevant content and 20% your own.

Sounded good to me, so most nights I comb through my feeds looking for interesting content to share on Pinterest and Twitter. I then schedule 10 tweets on Buffer to go out in non-spammy hourly intervals the next day. Anything for Pinterest I pin to a secret board and manually post those in between my buffered tweets, checking the box to crosspost to twitter. 

The results are amazing. If people like what I share they not only reap the benefit of new sources for the things they are interested in; they get curious about the person who found the information for them! I call that a win/win.

How I find content to share

To locate shareable content, I utilize several methods. One is a RSS feed on my Yahoo page. (I have an entire tab devoted to my favorite blogs.) Another is email. A third is Bloglovin. A final source is twitter itself by way of Tweetdeck filtering. Facebook I've given up on but I do check it periodically and Google Plus I'm just now getting around to exploring. (Could use some advice on that one.)

However, much to my surprise, there are some awesome blogs and websites that I'd love to promote, but they don't offer a way for me to subscribe to their posts!

There is no link to their RSS feed. No mention of their twitter account. No option to subscribe by email. No bloglovin button... nothing I can use. Blogger does have a link to atom feeds but not every reader will accept those nor do most people know how to use them.

It makes me sad. All that great content and I have no way to keep track of it. I NEED subscription options!

How I Offer Subscription Options

I use Feedburner for my email subscribers. You do need a google account to use it but it is free. Despite all of the internet buzz to the contrary, I don't believe Feedburner is going anywhere. There are far too many big companies still using it, including major publishers.

As for follow buttons, I personally made my own using Powerpoint and coded them myself. But I'm thinking of remaking them. It's what I do for fun, lol!

Make Your Own Follow Buttons!

If you want to make your own follow buttons there is one site I recommend over all others. Code It Pretty has wonderful tutorials but even better than that, her code is up to date, elegant and it works! 

Click on the link and it will take you to her step by step instructions on how to make ombre follow buttons. 

And they don't have to be ombre. You can choose any colors you want! Even better, her instructions for the buttons apply to self-hosted Wordpress, Blogger and Typepad Unlimited.

PicMonkey is also a fun (and free) choice. There is a great tutorial on how to use PicMonkey to make themed buttons here: Fabulous Blogging. This is how I'll be making my new set of buttons!

"But Mulluane! I can't code!" 

Neither could I at first, but I learned and I'll warn you; it is fun, frustrating, rewarding and addicting! (You've been warned...)

Following any of Code It Pretty's tutorials will teach you alot. Even if you have never coded anything before. She very patiently walks you through every aspect, step by step.

Other Button Methods

Another, easier method is using the individual buttons offered by various platforms. Since they can sometimes be hard to find, I'll link them below. You can get the major ones here:

Pinterest: Follow Buttons
Facebook: Follow Button
Twitter: Follow Button
Feedburner RSS: Blogger Widget List or use "Publicize" in Feedburner (Instructions)
Tumblr: Buttons
Google Plus: Blogger Widget List or Direct (Advanced Options)

Note: I couldn't find any RSS button tutorials I trusted that didn't require either making your own or using Feedburner's. They are likely out there, I just didn't find any.

Feed Readers

If you don't use social media, (and even if you do) you should still provide other ways for followers to easily track your posts. Bloglovin is the feed reader I prefer since it shows your actual blog and not just a text version. Other feed readers strip CSS, and most if not all of your javascript, leaving your blog looking like a mess.

You can add your blog to Bloglovin for free then get a widget to put on your blog.

If Feedly is your thing, (I don't like it myself), you can also get a follow button from them. If you use other feed readers, I'm sure they offer their own buttons. I've only listed the ones I've personally used.

Tip: Subscribe to your own blog in a variety of ways. RSS, feed readers and email. This serves two purposes. First you can see if there are any formatting issues. Email and some feed readers don't "see" your CSS style sheet, strip jquery and javascript plus disallow attributes like "onclick." You may find things misaligned strangely or looking odd. You may even discover that there are elements, like certain divs, that you should wait to add after your blog has been picked up by the readers and email. You'll also know instantly if your blog is hacked. Faster you see it, faster you can get it stopped!

Mobile Friendly Subscribing

Mobile is becoming a huge source of traffic but with mobile there is one huge drawback. No sidebars, so no widgets, so no follow buttons! 

If you are like me, and use a separate mobile template, (something I bless blogger for every day,) you need to make sure that you make following and subscribing available on mobile too. 

What I have done is make a page containing both my email subscription form and my follow buttons. Since I use my pages as my menu, all of my sharing methods are available on mobile!

I can't speak to other blogging platforms but I'd imagine that as long as your menu works in mobile, creating a follow page or post, then adding that to your menu, should work the same. 

Conclusion
Add RSS buttons, an email subscription form and lots of follow buttons!

I love sharing. Doesn't even matter to me if you return the share, though it would be nice. What matters to me is sharing my love of books with as many people as possible. To do that I need to build relationships, be interesting, establish authority and garner followers.

Making your blog post shareable in as many ways as possible will help me and others share our love of books and our appreciation of your quality content. It really is a gift that keeps on giving...

So what about you? Do you curate and share content? Have you seen a positive result? Ever run across great content you couldn't share? Questions? Suggestions? Let us know in the comments!


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Suzanne Collins Song | Weekly Quote 33

Mulluane | Thursday, January 22, 2015 | 1 Comment so far

“Deep in the meadow, hidden far away
A cloak of leaves, a moonbeam ray
Forget your woes and let your troubles lay
And when it's morning again, they'll wash away
Here it's safe, here it's warm
Here the daisies guard you from every harm
Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true
Here is the place where I love you.”
Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games


Suzanne Collins Song | Weekly Quote 33


About: This is a weekly feature here in the old belfry. The quote is Suzanne Collins'. The design, along with any flaws, is mine. 

If you would like to suggest a quote (I prefer it be from a SFF author) let me know in the comments and I'll see what I can do. No promises though. If a quote is too big I may not be able to reproduce it in the space available. I do promise to try though!

Usage: Non-Commercial Fair Use is permitted. The following restrictions apply: Please do not remove or mask the watermark url. Do not sell, print or claim this work as your own and when sharing, pinning, reblogging or posting, a direct link to this post is required. Thanks!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Stonehill Downs by Sarah Remy | Fantasy Book Review

Mulluane | Monday, January 19, 2015 | Be the first to comment!


Malachi is the last of his kind—a magus who can communicate with the dead, and who relies on the help of spirits to keep his kingdom safe. When he's sent to investigate brutal murders in the isolated village of Stonehill Downs, he uncovers dangerous sorceries and unleashes a killer who strikes close to home.

Avani is an outsider living on the Downs, one of the few survivors from the Sunken Islands. She has innate magics of her own, and when she discovers the mutilated bodies of the first victims, she enters into a reluctant alliance with Malachi that takes her far from home.

But Mal is distracted by the suspicious death of his mentor and haunted by secrets from his past. And Avani discovers troubling truths about the magus through her visions. She could free Malachi, but first they must work together to save the kingdom from the lethal horror that has arisen.

*Blurb source*HarperCollins
Blurb might contain spoilers, toggle to view.
( Toggle may not function in email and some feed readers.)



Stonehill Downs by Sarah Remy | Fantasy Book Review

| Source: Requested From Netgalley
| Author: Sarah Remy
| Genre: Epic Fantasy
| Content: Necromancy, Ghosts, Magic, Mystery
| ISBN-10: 0062383434
| ISBN-13: 9780062383433
| Publisher: Harper Voyager Impulse (December 30, 2014)
| Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
| Rating: 3/5 Stars
| Affiliate Links:
Book Depository Affiliate Link Kindle Affiliate Link Amazon Affiliate Link
Stonehill Downs



♥ Mini Review ♥
This is a story of two souls who were tailor made for each other. Though if you were to ask them, they would vehemently disagree. One is Malachi, who is the last known magus. A man who deals with the spirits of the dead. Then there is Avani who is a refugee witch, a loner and who, as it happens, can see both ghosts and visions.

Together they must fight off a great evil. One that threatens their kingdom. But first they must discover its source.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Book Blogging Tips: Make Sharing Easy | Disclaimers

Mulluane | Friday, January 16, 2015 | 2 Comments so far
Back before the first of the year I promised to write a series of posts on how to make your content more shareable.

But before I do that I want to clarify my intentions, terms and conditions. Instead of including these on every post, I'm going to note them all now. That way I can link to this post instead.
The old bat lays out some guidelines for blogging tips posts
  1. My intention is to help my fellow book bloggers make their sites more sharable and in some cases, more SEO friendly. I am not in any way trying to "steal" business from the professionals. If anything I plan to send business their way.

  2. With that in mind, I want to clarify that I do not make any kind of living, much less one in webdesign, SEO or journalism. When possible, I will link to the experts for clarification of my advice.

  3. I apologize in advance for any slight I give because I can not remember or find the bookmark for the exact source of my information.

  4. I AM an expert in researching and testing. Any advice I give will be about changes I have already researched, instituted and tested on my blogs.

  5. These articles will NOT contain any affiliate links. Any website, service or product I link to will be ones I have tested, like and use. Not because they are paying me. 

  6. These articles are aimed primarily at Blogger/Blogspot users. I don't use Wordpress. I prefer Blogger because it allows me complete control over my template so I can advance my knowledge of CSS3 and HTML5 at my own pace.

  7. For all of your Wordpress needs I highly suggest Ashley at Noze Graze. She really knows her stuff!

  8. No worries though. There will be something for everybody. Some suggestions will be general and apply to all platforms. 

  9. If and when I include any snippets of code, use at your own risk. Sometimes I will change or add to a snippet of code I obtained from somewhere else. I'll always link to the original before I show you my changes.

  10. ALWAYS backup your template before using anyone's code. I can't stress this enough. I use an Awesome Inc. template as my base, though I've modified it well past any resemblance to the original, but all codes do not work on all blogger templates.

  11. As a rule, my widgets, codes, and changes apply only to the PC versions of my blogs. I use a separate template for mobile and let Blogger handle that version of my blogs. A few suggestions may be aimed at being mobile friendly but they won't involve any coding.

  12. Questions are welcome. If you see any element of my blogs that you'd like to use on your own, just ask. If possible I'll include the instructions or source links to the instructions in my next post.
Stay tuned! My first post will be on the importance of having multiple ways to subscribe to your blogs!


Thursday, January 15, 2015

JK. Rowling Quote | Weekly Quote 32

Mulluane | Thursday, January 15, 2015 | 7 Comments so far
“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, 
but just as much to stand up to our friends.” 

-- J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone --

JK. Rowling Quote on Background Design by @Mulluane

About: This is a weekly feature here in the old belfry. The quote is J.K. Rowling's. The design, along with any flaws, is mine. 

If you would like to suggest a quote (I prefer it be from a SFF author) let me know in the comments and I'll see what I can do. No promises though. If a quote is too big I may not be able to reproduce it in the space available. I do promise to try though!

Usage: Non-Commercial Fair Use is permitted. The following restrictions apply: Please do not remove or mask the watermark url. Do not sell, print or claim this work as your own and when sharing, pinning, reblogging or posting, a direct link to this post is required. Thanks!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Robin Hobb | Weekly Quote 31

Mulluane | Thursday, January 08, 2015 | Be the first to comment!
“Home is people. Not a place. 
If you go back there after the people are gone, 
then all you can see is what is not there any more.”

-- Robin Hobb, Fool's Fate --

Robin Hobb Quote on Background Design by @Mulluane

About: This is a weekly feature here in the old belfry. The quote is Robin Hobb's. The design, along with any flaws, is mine. 

Check out my review of Robin Hobb's Farseer Trilogy. One of my all time favorites!

If you would like to suggest a quote (I prefer it be from a SFF author) let me know in the comments and I'll see what I can do. No promises though. If a quote is too big I may not be able to reproduce it in the space available. I do promise to try though!

Usage: Non-Commercial Fair Use is permitted. The following restrictions apply: Please do not remove or mask the watermark url. Do not sell, print or claim this work as your own and when sharing, pinning, reblogging or posting, a direct link to this post is required. Thanks!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Gideon by Alex Gordon | Paranormal Horror Review

Mulluane | Tuesday, January 06, 2015 | 4 Comments so far


Preston and Child meets Kim Harrison in this edge-of-your-seat debut thriller—a superb blend of mystery, urban fantasy, horror, romance, and the supernatural.

When Lauren’s father dies, she makes a shocking discovery. The man she knew as John Reardon was once a completely different person, with a different name. Now, she’s determined to find out who he really was, even though her only clues are an old photograph, some letters, and the name of a town—Gideon.

But someone—or something—doesn’t want her to discover the truth. A strange man is stalking her, appearing everywhere she turns, and those who try to help her end up dead. Neither a shadowy enemy nor her own fear are going to prevent her from solving the mystery of her father—and unlocking the secrets of her own life.

Making her way to Gideon, Lauren finds herself more confused than ever. Nothing in this small Midwestern town is what it seems, including time itself. Residents start going missing, and Lauren is threatened by almost every townsperson she encounters. Two hundred years ago, a witch was burned at the stake, but in Gideon, the past feels all too chillingly present . . .

*Blurb source* HarperCollins
Blurb might contain spoilers, toggle to view.
( Toggle may not function in email and some feed readers.)



Gideon by Alex Gordon | Paranormal Horror Review

| Source: Publisher
| Author: Alex Gordon
| Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
| Content: Witches, Ghosts, Mystery
| ISBN-10: 0061687375
| ISBN-13: 9780061687372
| Publisher: Harper Voyager; 
Original edition (January 6, 2015)
| Pages: 432
| Cover Design: Richard L. Aquan
| Read a Sample
| Rating: 5/5 Stars
Book Depository Affiliate LinkKindle Affiliate Link Amazon Affiliate LinkBooksAMillion Affiliate LinkAbebooks affiliate link

Gideon



♥ Mini Review ♥
In the past a mistake was made. An evil was created. An evil that is now stalking Lauren. Secrets, for good or ill, have been kept for generations. Secrets Lauren must now unravel before she too becomes just another victim of an ancient wrong.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Professional Versus Amateur Reviewing | Poll

Mulluane | Friday, January 02, 2015 | 5 Comments so far
Back in 2008, when I first started my blogs, one of the first things I did was write a disclaimer. It went something like this:
The opinions here are all mine as are any mistakes. If I am in any way unfair to my readers, or the authors and publishers of the books I review, I'm sure that karma will exact its due. I am not a publisher, editor or literary genius so my reviews will not be expert critiques on plot, theme, voice, syntax, or writing style, they will be from the viewpoint of one reader to another. The reviews I write are not structured in any way, they come from my heart and are based on my gut reactions. And remember that we are all different, what appeals to me -- or doesn't -- may or may not affect you the same way. All I can suggest is read the books and decide for yourself.

The reason why I did this was a combination of lack of self confidence -- I wasn't sure I could do this reviewing thing -- and intimidation from reading reviews that I quite honestly, did not understand. 
The book by Blumestien on DeviantArt
The book by Blumestien
on DeviantArt

Those technical reviews contain in depth comparisons to other books and authors. They analyze voice, plot, pace, fictionalization, characterization, worldbuilding, themes and style. They use words that I don't know the meanings of but feel like I should.

And their grammar and punctuation is perfect; another thing I know I fail at miserably. It has been a long time since 12th grade English.

But...

They generally have no passion. They do nothing to make me want to read the book. They (the reviewers) would never be caught squealing over a dragon or wanting to comfort a young witch. 

That alone makes me hope that I do fulfill a need in the book reader universe. 

The Difference...


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Anne Rice | Weekly Quote 30

Mulluane | Thursday, January 01, 2015 | Be the first to comment!
“But you love books, then,” Aunt Queen was saying. 
I had to listen.

“Oh, yes,” Lestat said. “Sometimes they are the only thing that keeps me alive.”

“What a strange thing to say at your age,” she laughed.

“No, but one can feel desperate at any age, don’t you think? The young are eternally desperate,” he said frankly. “And books, they offer one hope — that a whole universe might open up from between the covers, and falling into that new universe, one is saved.”

-- Anne Rice, Blackwood Farm --

Book Quote from Blackwood Farm on a background designed by @Mulluane

About: This is a weekly feature here in the old belfry. The quote is Anne Rice's. The design, along with any flaws, is mine. 

You can read my review of Anne Rice's newest Vampire Chronicle here: Prince Lestat

If you would like to suggest a quote (I prefer it be from a SFF author) let me know in the comments and I'll see what I can do. No promises though. If a quote is too big I may not be able to reproduce it in the space available. I do promise to try though!


Usage: Non-Commercial Fair Use is permitted. The following restrictions apply: Please do not remove or mask the watermark url. Do not sell, print or claim this work as your own and when sharing, pinning, reblogging or posting, a direct link to this post is required. Thanks!

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