The Grape Series by Laura Bradbury

If you are looking for fun and lovely memoirs, you can’t go wrong with The Grape Series by Laura Bradbury. Whimiscal and throught provoking, you’ll find yourself shaking your head at the situations that Laura finds herself in.

In My Grape Year, Canadian teenager Laura participates in a study abroad program in France and finds the love of her life. 

In My Grape Paris, Laura and Franck head to Paris for a year so that Laura can study Medieval French Literature.  

My Grape Wedding is the crazy marriage ceremony of Franck and Laura. 

My Grape Escape chronicles Laura and Franck’s efforts to create a French village vacation rental. 

And in My Grape Village, Laura and Franck return to live for a year in France with their two young daughters in tow. 

My Grape Cellar finds Laura and Franck remodeling a thirteenth century wine cellar.

All of these books are delightful reads. And you can actually see some of the places that Laura describes on her website Graperentals.com. Once you start on this adventure with Laura, you’ll want to continue.

Laura’s descriptions of her life, her cultural struggles as an expat, and her descriptions of village life in France are amazing. I enjoyed living vicariously with her through these stories and I think you will too!

Blog to Book Project — Introduction

The introduction introduces the subject of the book. It may also be referred to as the prolegomenon. This section states the goals and purpose of the main text. It could provide a brief summary or explain aspects that should be understood before reading the text. 

The introduction can be included as part of the front matter or the first section of the main body. If it is part of the front matter, it uses lowercase Roman numerals for pagination. If it is included in the main body, standard pagination applies. 

Don’t skimp on the quality of your introduction. Amazon allows readers to have a “sneak peek” of your book with the Look Inside option. Providing this little tidbit in the form of a stellar introduction can be the difference between a sale and no sale.

Consider answering these questions directly in your introduction:

  • What problem does your book solve?

There are so many competitors out there. If your book can solve any issue for your reader, highlight it. 

  • How does your book solve that problem?

Tell readers what type of information they will find that will help them resolve that issue.

  • Why are you qualified to provide this information?

Perhaps this problem was something you studied or learned through experience. Tell your readers why you are an “expert.”

  • How will your book improve your readers’ lives?

Make your book part of a bigger picture for your readers. Not only will you be able to do X but with this skill, you can finally achieve Y. 

  • What proof can you give readers that their problem will be solved by reading your book?

This would be a great place to include brief testimonials. 

  • What does your book promise to provide?

Include something of a disclaimer here. While everyone’s situation is unique, learning X can help you do Z. 

  • Encourage readers to begin reading RIGHT NOW!

Here is the call to action. Readers should feel inspired to begin your book (or purchase it if they are reading this with the Look Inside feature.)

Be sure to proofread this section carefully. Spelling and grammar errors will turn off potential readers. Remember to keep this section to about two pages as well. 

Assignment: Write your introduction. Proofread it. Does it inspire action?

Bad Sons by Oliver Tidy

I love a good mystery and Bad Sons by Oliver Tidy didn’t disappoint me. David Booker was teaching English as a second language in Turkey when he came back to the UK to help his aging relatives liquidate their bookstore. When he arrived, no one was there to meet him. No one had seen his aunt and uncle that day. And then a body washes up on the beach.

The descriptions were so detailed I could imagine myself on the gray, chilly mornings, standing next to David looking out at the English Channel. David wasn’t a superhero, quite flawed actually, a smoker, drank a little too much, had a bit of a temper but was overall decent. His concern for his relatives drives him to do more investigation than the local police would like. 

David forms a sort of alliance with Detective Cash, the female detective assigned to his case. Together they do some poking around in an effort to discover what has happened. Not to spoil the story, but they discover that sometimes things are exactly what they seem. 

Delightfully, this is only the first book of the Booker and Cash trilogy. I wonder what sort of other mysteries find themselves entangled in. 

Blog to Book Project — Prologue

A prologue is a scene or event that occurs prior to the point in which the book begins. This section is most often found in fiction. As a rule of thumb, if you have a prologue, you should also have an epilogue. 

The prologue should set the stage as it were. It provides information that helps the reader understand the following book. It can be written in character or as a direct address to the reader. 

A prologue could:

  • Provide the backstory to the events in the book. These might include historical events or dramatic moments that caused or influenced later actions. 
  • Intrigue the reader so that he or she continues reading. Consider how to make the information in the prologue arouse the interest of the reader. Can you make it suspenseful or mysterious? Does it trigger strong emotions? Do the characters find themselves in desperate situations in need of resolution?
  • Be told from a completely different point of view. Perhaps the villain imparts some useful information in the prologue while the main story is told through the eyes of the heroine.

Keep it short! A page or two at most should be enough. The idea is to pique a reader’s interest, not reveal information that is contained later in the book. 


Assignment: If you plan to include this section, write your prologue.

Get Aligned Now: Free Your Mind Through Body Intelligence, The Path to Achieve Aligned Results by Bethany Londyn

I’m currently on a quest to become a certified life coach and picked this book for this reason. Initially, I thought I had made a mistake. Some sentences in the introduction were so poorly worded and word choices were so unusual, that I thought perhaps the author was someone whose native language was not English. However, the author chose to include one of my favorite quotes by Joseph Campbell, and I decided to keep reading. 

I’m glad I did. Although I won’t say that every chapter resonated with me, quite a number did. Each chapter focuses on a single type of activity that you can do to start listening to your body to begin to make better choices. There were seven sections that used the imagery of a mighty tree as a representation of your body, from roots to the process of photosynthesis.

Each of those seven sections were further divided into daily activities. At the end of each chapter, there was a recap list, which was quite helpful. For example, one chapter was about minimizing distractions and included brief discussions on how applying the concepts of Feng Shui, Minimalism and saging your home environment could help you do that. 

As I mentioned, some of the chapters weren’t for me. I don’t feel that restless energies are trying to speak to me at 3 a.m. I am not in any way clairvoyant, nor do I regularly comune with a guardian angel. But that’s just me. Undoubtedly, there are those out there who would find tapping into those aspects of the unconscious a useful exercise. 

On the other hand, the sections on listening to your body, overwhelming yourself in gratitude, and seeing the world as one of abundance rather than scarcity were spot on in my opinion. So, in the end, I found Get Aligned Now: Free Your Mind Through Body Intelligence, The Path to Achieve Aligned Results by Bethany Londyn worth reading.

I received an ARC from Reedsy Discovery. You can read my review here.

Blog to Book Project — Title Page

Frontispiece

The frontispiece is a page with an illustration that is before the title page. It usually is facing the title page on the left hand (verso) side. This picture might be an illustration from the book, the author’s portrait or a dramatic rendition of the book’s topic. 

You don’t need a frontispiece, but it is a nice addition. In my books, I often have a smaller version of the cover illustration without any text. Remember, you should have permission to use or own the copyright for any illustration you include. 

Half-title Page 

The half-title page is a page which only has the title of the book on it. Sometimes the title has a bit of decorative script or ornamentation about it. The author’s name, subtitle, publisher and edition are not included on this page. The reverse is usually left blank.

The half-title page is counted as the first numbered page in a printed book even if it doesn’t actually have a number on it. It is part of the front matter and would use lowercase Roman numerals for numbering. It should be on the right side (recto). Hardback books still include the half-title page, but paperback books typically leave it out. 

A second half-title page is sometimes included after the front matter before the first page of the first chapter or part. It is almost always identical to the first half-title page. 

Title Page

The title page should have the title, subtitle, author’s name and publishing company and city (or city and state). It also may include editor’s name, illustrator’s name, translator’s name, edition of the book, series number and year of publication. 

You may also see:

With an introduction by….

Foreword written by…

Prologue by… 

The reverse side of the title page is often the copyright page. 

If you wish to add illustrations, creatively use font, or add some decorative bits, then feel free as long as the information on the title page is still clearly visible and legible. 

Assignment: Design your title page. If you will be including a half-title page, design that. If you have a frontispiece, set it up. 

Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico

Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico

Curanderos (healers) in Mexico still practice traditional herbal remedies learned centuries ago. It is only recently that scientists have begun to take these healing practices seriously. Study after study has validated the medicinal use of plants native to North America as well as some brought by the Spanish after the conquest. It’s time to reexamine the basic healing power in 34 common herbs used by traditional Mexican healers.

Included in the Herbs and Essential Oils Ultimate Bundles 2019.

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Let me know what you thought!

"Your Inspired Story" Writing Challenge

I decided to start the year off with a little writing challenge. I actually am going to work on several books I have in the works, so I may not have a completed book at the end of the 28-day challenge, but I will be further along (hopefully). I wasn’t able to do the Na-no-wri-mo challenge in November, and fell behind a bit in getting these books published. Maybe I’ll set up my own writing challenge later in the year, depending on how this one goes. 

If you’d like to join in the “Your Inspired Story” Writing Challenge sponsored by Bridget Cook-Burch which begins on January 6 you can join the Facebook group here and sign up for the email prompts here.

Blog to Book Project — Testimonials

A testimonial is a formal statement testifying to your book’s value and indirectly, your qualifications as an author. Whether you include them in your book or on your landing page, testimonials are powerful influencers that literally sing your book’s praises. 

If you plan on including testimonials in your book, you should try to gather them together BEFORE your book is published. Otherwise, you need to add them later and upload your manuscript again. 

You could request a testimonial from other writers who have read your book or experts on the topic your book focuses on. Look for endorsements from someone that inspires confidence in you or your book. So although your mom would love to write a testimonial, unless she is an expert in her field, maybe pass. 

Asking for a testimonial doesn’t have to be difficult. Begin your request with flattery because it will get you everywhere. Explain how this person or his or her work inspired you, changed your life, or means the world to you. Be sure to state that if this person needs a testimonial for a book or endorsement for a business, that you would be happy to reciprocate in this manner.

Then tell this person exactly what you are requesting from them which is a few lines about your book before a not too distant but not too imminent date. 

Finally, ask how he or she would like their name and credentials listed. Offer to include a link to a business or website. If someone prefers to remain anonymous, clarify if using their initials or a pseudonym would be acceptable.

Amazon has a Look Inside feature which could highlight those testimonials very well if you decide to have a testimonial page included in your book. If you do, place them as close to the beginning of the book as you can get since Amazon only shows the first few pages. 

Amazon also allows you to add testimonials to the book’s landing page via your Author Central page and they appear on the book’s landing page on Amazon. This is much simpler to update since you aren’t constantly uploading your manuscript for each new testimonial. However, you’ll need to decide where your testimonials would work best for you. 

Don’t go overboard with the number of testimonials you use. A page and a half of praises are probably sufficient. If you have more than that, consider including some in your book and others on your landing page so that readers aren’t overwhelmed with your greatness. 

Assignment: Gather testimonials to include either in your book or on your book’s landing page.