Blog to Book Project–Advanced Reader’s/Reviewer’s Copies (ARC)

ARC stands for Advanced Reader’s (or Reviewer’s) Copy. It’s a copy of your book that you give to someone before your official book launch. The idea is for these reviewers or Beta readers to have access to your writing so that you can gather testimonials, feedback, and even reviews before your book is published.

So how do you get an ARC copy if your book isn’t published yet? Well, it depends on the publishing platform you are using and the formatting template you chose.

proof

Amazon allows you to order a publisher’s proof before your print book goes live so that you can check for formatting errors. The publisher’s proof is exactly how your book will look once it’s released, provided you don’t make any changes, except there is a message on the cover that states it is a proof and not for resale. As an author, you can purchase up to five copies at a time. You’ll be able to send these as gifts to Beta readers, reviewers, or book bloggers.

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If you are using Pressbooks as your book formatting template, you have a few digital options. You can download your book in PDF, EPUB, or MOBI format to your computer and then just send the file via email. You can also provide the link to your webbook. The address of your webbook is what you see when you click on “Visit Book.”

If you are using Microsoft Word, you can also download a .docx or PDF version you can send to reviewers. Honestly, these are my least favorite format to receive when reading books. When I can, I take the time to use a converter to change the file to MOBI for easier reading on my Kindle. I use Zamzar, which is free online.

You could also publish your book but not publicize the fact. This technique is known as a soft launch. You can gift books to reviewers, or set up a free promotion so that readers can get a copy without buying it just yet. Remember, though, for the review to carry weight with Amazon, it needs to be a verified purchase.

So, another way to provide the book at a discounted is to set the price at $0.99 during the time you are looking for reviews. Then when you are ready for your official book launch, change the price to what you usually would be asking for your book. That way, those reviewers you purchased your book at $0.99 will be able to publish a verified review.

When sending out your advanced reviewer’s copies, be sure to ask what format the reader would like to receive their copy of the book. Also, be sure to include launch day information, so readers have an idea of how long they have to read the book, and any testimonials and reviews will be ready before then. A reviewer should always disclose the fact that he or she received an ARC in their review.

Remember, you can’t force someone to leave a review even if you have given your book away for free. A few reminder emails are ok but don’t start badgering people. Nor can you control what a person might write in a review. You may get some bad reviews. Decide if what the person says is valid or not, then either do some editing or let it go.

Assignment: Decide how you will distribute your ARC.

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ebook cover
Click on the image for a preview!

For Love and Honor by Jody Hedlund

for love and honor

Sir Bennet finds himself in a bit of a quandary.  His elder brother, Aldric, the Baron of Windsor, has made a mess of the family finances and it’s up to Sir Bennet to make things right.  An arranged marriage with wealthy Lady Sabine might just solve the problem.  Not knowing that she is on her way to meet her potential husband, Lady Sabine believes the reason for the trip to Maidstone Castle is to view the renowned relic collection housed there with the hopes of acquiring a few of the ancient pieces.  Little does she realize that the birthmark she hides beneath her glove will be proof enough to be labeled a witch, endangering her own life and the lives of all who surround her unless she is able to prove her innocence.

This novel is written with teens and young adults in mind.  The story is light and romantic. Lady Sabine are Sir Bennet are likable characters and their interactions during their courtship are entertaining.  The discussion questions that follow the story are designed to help teen girls reflect on their own lives.  This book would make a great addition to units on life in the 1300s, superstitions in medieval Europe and the belief systems of the time.

Although there is no Maidstone Castle in Hampton, where this story takes place, there is a castle near Maidstone which dates to the medieval ages.  The setting adds to the romantic nature of the story.

Set in the middle ages, the accusation of being a witch was a serious matter. A person could be accused of witchcraft for a number of reasons but one of the most common was having a witch’s mark in the form of moles, scars, or birthmarks.  Once accused, innocence could be proven through certain physical trials.

Water-ordeal
By Diebold Schilling the Younger

Three trials are mentioned in the story, although there were many more.  Trial by ordeal, where an accused witch was subjected to some sort of physical punishment.  Rapid healing of the wounds inflicted during the ordeal meant the accused was innocent.  However, if the wound became infected, he or she was guilty.  Trial by dunking was another common test.  The accused would be thrown into a body of water from a boat.  If the accused sank, innocence was the verdict and he or she would be pulled up into the boat.  If the accused floated, it meant he or she had renounced baptism by entering the Devil’s service.  The idea of water being so pure an element that it rejects the guilty originates with Pliney the Elder in his Naturalis Historia, BK VII (AD 70) which states that witches will never drown.

The third trial mentioned in the book was The Lord’s Prayer Test.  The accused is asked to recite the Lord’s Prayer.  If he or she is able to recite the prayer without misspeaking, then the accused would be declared innocent since it was thought that the Devil would not allow one of his servants to do so.

Get your copy here.  Read other reviews of the book here.

3 star

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

When Leaves Fall by C.A. King


Ralph just can’t quite understand how he got to where he is, chained to a rickety shelter, and in pain from random beatings.  His life wasn’t always like this.  He remembers being loved, having regular meals and jumping in the fallen leaves.  As time passes, his despair turns to desperation.  How long is he to suffer?

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When Leaves Fall by C.A. King is a short, young adult novel told through the perspective of an abused canine.  As we’ve had more than our share of doggy family members, the story appealed to me emotionally. 

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Chained, malnourished dogs are a common sight here in Mexico, especially with types of dogs bred for fighting.  In January of 2017, the Mexican Congress passed a law that takes the country one step closer to ensuring this inhumane activity can be penalized throughout the country. (See Mexico says ‘no mas’ to dogfighting) In June of the same year, the law was finally approved. Dog fighting is illegal in Mexico, punishable by up to 5 years in jail and $8,300 USD in fines.  If the offender is a Mexican public official, jail time is increased up to 7.5 years. (See Dog fights as sport now illegal in Mexico

dog3

Although I enjoyed When Leaves Fall by C.A. King, there were a few things that I think the author could have done to add to Ralph’s story.  First, Ralph is never identified by breed, so the reader never gets a clear picture of Ralph.  I understand that the author wanted to be inclusive by implying that this could happen to any type of dog classified as “dangerous” but I felt it detracted from the story. While I was reading, I was jumping back and forth with different dog bodies trying to get a good image of Ralph in my mind. 

Secondly, the section of the book that was not told through Ralph’s eyes didn’t seem realistic to me.  Would a woman return an engagement ring in a courtroom over animal abuse?  Although there are established ties between animal abuse and domestic violence (How Are Animal Abuse and Family Violence Linked? ), statistics show that it takes some time for a woman to leave an abusive relationship permanently. (See Eliminate That Seven Times Statistic, 50 Obstacles to Leaving: 1-10).  Is it realistic to believe that what happened to Ralph was enough to save Syndey and her unborn child from the potentially abusive relationship?

Interestingly, many of Ralph’s thoughts as a victim mirror what the mental process of a human victim of abuse. (See EFFECTS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, DOMESTIC ABUSE (ON WOMEN AND CHILDREN).

3 star

Animal lovers and compassionate young adult readers will enjoy When Leaves Fall by C.A. King.  As the writing is somewhat simplistic in an effort to present the situation through the dog’s eyes, this book might not appeal to everyone.

Read more about this book here.  This book was an OnlineBookClub.org Book of the Day.

If the Bed Falls In by Paul Casselle

if the bed falls in

Tom Friday is a slightly overweight struggling photographer battling middle age lethargy, or is he?  One day, just like any other day in his humdrum life, Tom wakes up in Joseph Miller’s car in West London.  The Beretta PX4 Storm in the glove box comes in handy when Tom decides to check out Joseph’s home and meets some bad guys.  Characters in Tom’s life start overlapping those in Joseph’s world.  Is Sarah Tom’s long-time platonic friend or Tilda, Joseph’s dead wife?  Accents start changing as well. Preston, a casual acquaintance of Tom’s, formerly a British up and coming artist, now has a pronounced Baltimore twang. Is it a cocaine-induced hallucination or is there something to this cloak and dagger stuff?  

I was surprised to find that what I believed to be a British spy novel actually was a Prepper conspiracy theory book in disguise. Somehow Amschel Rothschild was involved in Tom/Joseph’s identity crisis along with the incorrectly misattributed quote “Let me control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws.”  That opened a whole new can of worms which included the CIA,  the Federal Reserve, and the fictional US President Harrington.  

Much to my delight, I learned some new vocabulary in the course of reading If the Bed Falls In by Paul Casselle.  Did you know that the term Limey is a slightly derogatory term used to refer to a British person?  It comes from the practice of British sailors sucking on limes to prevent scurvy and is North American in origin.  A mortise is a hole cut in a door frame designed to meet up with the lock section in the door once the key is turned. Scrumping is the act of stealing withered apples usually by scaling a wall or fence. Unfortunately, I’m still not quite clear what the adverb bolshily might be, possibly coming from the word boshy.

The desk clerk, Cyril, was my absolute favorite character in the book.  Remicient of Angus Bough, Johnny English’s assistant, he does whatever he can to aid his favorite hero.

3 star

Will you enjoy reading  If the Bed Falls In by Paul Casselle?  If you enjoy spy novels, then yes.  If you don’t, well, then no.

Read more about this book here.  Get your own copy here.  This book was an OnlineBookClub.org Book of the Day.

Cancelled: The Ultimate October Surprise by Michael Pinsky

cancelled

Cancelled: The Ultimate October Surprise by Michael Pinsky

It’s June before the 2016 US elections and things are a bit out of the ordinary.  Business tycoon Austin Howard is the unlikely dark-horse for the Republicans.  A former senator, Secretary of State and former First Lady Samantha Thompson is battling it out at the Democratic primaries with Senator Leland Anthony, the popular favorite.  While the public is being entertained by the mud-slinging Presidential candidate debates, General William Mendenhall, retired commander, becomes increasingly alarmed about the underlying motives for the Presidential orders that cut military spending but increase militarization of federal agencies.  The whole world is watching as the days count down to the election.

Although Cancelled: The Ultimate October Surprise by Michael Pinsky is a work of fiction, a number of characters could be easily identified as having some basis in reality.  This added to the intrigue and the what-if scenarios but also was a little confusing.  For instance, several actual episodes of the Trump/Clinton race are presented through the eyes of Austin Howard of Samantha Thompson, thereby accrediting things not known to be true as motives for the real events.  Then worldwide terrorist attacks were mentioned in the text, along with fictionalized attacks making it difficult to keep the parallel universes straight at times.  Despite this, the political story that unfolded was riveting.  Perhaps there is something to all those conspiracy theories after all.

I had more trouble following the covert military sections.  Instead of prose, most of the story was advanced through dialogue.  There were multiple characters to keep track of including retired and active duty military personnel, senators, governors, and terrorists.  Not being terribly military aware, I couldn’t say if the maneuvers were more or less authentic or boys playing soldier.

If you followed the 2016 elections as carefully as I did, I believe you would enjoy this book.  If you are following the political developments under POTUS 45 since his election, I believe you would find the book incredibly interesting.  Could the events that are depicted in this fiction book actually happen?  Only time will tell.

3 star

I could not, in all conscience, rate this book higher, however much I enjoyed it, because of the number of typographical errors and poorly worded sentences.  The dialogue was forced and repetitive in many instances.  A good editor would be able to fix these errors and add to the quality of the book.

This book was an OnlineBookClub.org Book of the Day.  Click here to see other great titles.

The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron

Illusions, pretense, secrets and lies. When a man dies at his own resurrection, escape artist Wren Lockhart, former apprentice to the great Harry Houdini, takes center stage in the investigation. Encompassing the years 1907-1927, from Washington, DC to Massachusetts, crossing the ocean to include England and France, the layers of mystery surrounding her are a puzzle for Agent Elliot Matthews to solve. What roles do magic, sleight of hand and faith play in Victor Peale’s death?

Harry Houdini and Dorothy Young on stage.

Fictional character Wren Lockhart was inspired by the real-life entertainer Dorothy Young, stage assistant to Harry Houdini.  The premise of this novel is a comment Houdini made about returning from the dead, that “it’s humanly impossible.”  After being convinced of the fraudulent nature of mediums, he spent considerable effort debunking various spiritualists of the time. (See also Houdini and the Supernatural, Houdini’s Greatest Trick: Debunking Medium Mina Crandon, Harry Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle: a friendship split by spiritualism, Harry Houdini Investigates the Spirit World, Houdini: Magician, Spiritualist, or Skeptic?)

Houdini, the magician who debunked magic, could not bear to see the great rationalist (Arthur Conan) Doyle enchanted by ghosts and frauds. And so he did what any friend would: He set out to prove spiritualism false and rob his friend Doyle of the only comforting fiction that was keeping him sane. It was the least he could do.—John Hodgman

Following in her mentor’s footsteps, Wren uses her knowledge about performing and sleight of hand to assist the investigation into the resurrection of Victor Peale performed by self-proclaimed magician Horace Stapleton. The historical details that have been included in this novel give the reader a glimpse into the brilliant vaudeville world of the 1920s. The suspense built by brief looks into Wren’s long-buried past and the developing criminal case, as well as a blossoming romance, made the entire reading experience quite enjoyable.

A thoroughly delightful read.  Get your copy here.

5 star

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Solar Storm, Solar Winter, and Solar Dawn by Rob Lopez

This post-apocalyptic series follows the Nolan family and small band of friends as they attempt to survive the aftermath of a Carrington force solar storm.

Sergeant Rick Nolan and his crew are part of a black-ops operation in Syria. Lauren Nolan, a former military interpreter, has just begun a new job requiring frequent traveling. Josh, a moody teenager, and Lizzy, a serious 6-year-old, have been left in the care of Lauren’s parents in North Carolina. And then the solar storm knocks out the power grid around the world.

Solar Storm chronicles Rick and Lauren’s struggles to return to their children and the children’s struggles to keep body and soul together as society collapses around their ears.

Solar Winter picks up with the onset of an extremely frigid winter. The Nolans and their rag-tag band of survivors hunker down in what used to be a golf clubhouse to wait it out. New factions arise and not all of them have the best of intentions. Boss rounds up and enslaves men and women alike. Packy is a bit of a pyromaniac and self-proclaimed trader. Just when you think things couldn’t get any worse, the nuclear power plant goes into meltdown and the 4 horsemen of the Apocalypse, in the guise of Rick’s former nemesis Major Connors and his cronies, arrive on the Nolans’ doorstep.

Solar Dawn begins with the Nolan clan fleeing west. They encounter other pockets of civilization and other raiders. Rick attempts to unify the small groups to fight against the hooligans. Meanwhile, Major Connors and his crew have been busy setting up a new government, one Rick does not want to be a part of. Lauren is taken captive and the militia of the Carolinas overseen by Connors declares all-out war on Seargent Rick Nolan.

Solar Revolution, the next book in the series will be released sometime in 2019. I can’t wait until this book is out!

I enjoy apocalyptical dystopian stories and this series has been my favorite so far. Practical issues that are so often left out in other stories were integral parts of this saga. For instance, what’s a woman to do when she has her period? She can’t run out to the store anymore and pick up tampons. The stores have all been looted. Then birth control. Without modern medical interventions, people will be breeding like rabbits even if the environment is no longer feasible for infants.

There was also the fallacy of those prepper bunkhouses. It was a piece of cake for raiders to poison the air supply and take all those long-hoarded supplies for themselves. I also thought it realistic that those that had knowledge of the best survival skills, the elderly, were also the first to go. Physically they were no longer able to survive the difficult circumstances that the lack of electricity brought about. Of course, that meant that the younger survivors, who never had to make do with shortages in the land of abundance (the U.S.), found it more complicated to create a life off-grid.

Of the three, I was least satisfied with Solar Dawn. The story turned from practicalities to war maneuvers as civilization was reduced to roving hoards of delinquents. Of course, they haven’t turned to cannibalism yet which seems a given in many apocalypse books I’ve read. So perhaps there’s hope that the world will find a way to begin again in Solar Revolution.

Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins

real artists

Everyone is familiar with the idea of the starving artist, but have you heard of the thriving artist?  Using the life story of Michelangelo Buonarotti as inspiration, you know, that guy who painted the Sistine Chapel, Jeff Goins debunks that starving artist myth and presents a new paradigm in which would-be starving artists become thriving artists.  

Although Michelangelo is the primary artist featured in this book, countless other artists, both past and present are included.  The author has compiled these fascinating rags to riches stories through research and interviews with artists and entrepreneurs. Each story supports the claim that in order to be a successful artist, one need not starve.

Before you can create great art,you first have to create yourself.--Jeff Goins

Now that doesn’t mean every creative soul should quit his or her day job just yet.  There are a few hurdles you’ll have to vault. The conflicting beliefs of the starving artists and the thriving artist are nicely outlined in 12 chapters. Some of these beliefs might be surprising.  Did you know that the thriving artist steals his or her ideas from others?  Would you believe that it is essential to cultivate a patron in order to succeed?  Are you aware that you should receive monetary recompense and esteem for your creative endeavors?

At any point in your story, you are free to reimagine the narrative you are living. You can becom.jpg

There were some truly inspirational sections in Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins. When I had finished reading, I felt encouraged and hopeful while at the same time realizing how very far I have yet to go to become one of those thriving artists. Fortunately, just like Michelangelo, I’m as stubborn as a donkey, so perhaps one day I’ll get there.

four star

Read more about the book here.  Pick up your own copy here.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Beyond Justice by Cara Putman

beyond justice

Beyond Justice by Cara Putman

Seventeen-year-old Miguel is killed while being held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s juvenile detainment center in Texas.  Hayden McCarthy, a young D.C. lawyer known for thinking outside the box, is assigned as an advocate for justice for Miguel’s family.  As her investigation deepens, so does the danger for everyone involved. Why did Miguel cross the border?  How did he die?  Who covered his death up and for what reason?  

With immigration still a sensitive topic in politics these days, perhaps it might seem that the scenario in the book is a bit far-fetched.  How likely is it that minors seeking refugee status be kept in what is essentially a juvenile prison?  Unfortunately, it’s the new reality in the US.  

In 2014, it became policy to detain and hold undocumented individuals in privately owned and maintained detention centers much like the one described in the book.  Some of these detention centers have been specifically designed for the detainment of women and children.  As of August 2016, more than 2,000 women and children are being detained in facilities, known as Family Residential Centers, both in Texas and Pennsylvania.  Not surprisingly, the restrictive arrangements have caused irreparable mental harm to the mothers and children, some as young as 2 weeks old, who have fled their home countries in search of safety. (See Teen mother at immigrant detention center in Texas attempts suicide, Infants And Toddlers Are Coming To The U.S. To Work, According To Border Patrol, Is Texas Reforming or Enabling Immigration Lockups for Children?, Immigrant kids detained in warehouse of humanity)

Life for teenagers in the detention camps is not easy. (See What It’s Like to Be a Teen Living in an Immigration Detention Center, The Shame of America’s Family Detention Camps)  Legal aid came too late for Miguel, which is not unusual for teenagers seeking asylum in the US. (See Teenage Immigrants Are Being Denied Asylum Because They Have No Right to an Attorney)  It might seem that against such overwhelming odds, there can be no justice.  Fortunately, there are lawyers, like Hayden McCarthy, who take it upon themselves to assist these children seeking asylum. Personally, I have the honor to know Nicole Ramos, whose tireless efforts have saved countless women and children.  (See Modern Day Marias–Nicole the liberator)

Beyond Justice by Cara Putman, although fiction, resonated with life.  It is yet another avenue that the voices of these lost children, like Miguel, can be heard.  Once heard, their stories can be shared.  Once their stories are known, action can be taken on their behalf.  No child is Beyond Justice.

5 star

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”