Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Fabulous Blog Ribbon Award

Cher Green from Footsteps of a Writer awarded me The Fabulous Blog Ribbon. Thank you, Cher, you are a gracious friend. 

Ribbons and awards are one of my favourite things. I hope you check out Cher's blog, especially her series on Voices of Fiction.

Here are the rules: 

1. Post the rules on your blog.
2. Name five of your most fabulous moments, either in real life or in the blogosphere.
3. Name five things you love.
4. Name five things you hate.
5. Pass the Ribbon on to five other bloggers.

5 Fabulous Moments

1.  Holding my baby for the first time; notice I didn't say giving birth--ouch!!!
2.  Entering the auditorium behind the piper for my college graduation ceremonies.
3.  Walking down the aisle with my dad.
4.  Seeing Buster rescuing Tigger from falling off the deck.
5.  Gathering beneath the birch tree for our family photo in '91. We didn't know it would be our last.

5 Things I love

1.  The shrieking sounds of DH skunking his sons at a game of crib.
2.  The sounds of Loons.
3.  The evening moon reflecting off the glassy surface of Cluculz lake.
4.  The sound of my DH's laughter.
5.  Autographing one of my books for a reader.


5 Things I hate

1.  Cruelty to animals.
2.  Jokes about women's anatomies.
3.  The beauty of a beautiful sunny day disrupted by the sounds of profanity.
4.  Empty Tim Horton's cups on the sides of the highway.
5.  Loud music breaking the serenity of the lake.

With great pleasure I pass this ribbon to 5 lovely ladies:

1.  Hilary Melton-Butcher at Positive Letters.
2.  Susanne Drazic at Putting Words Down On Paper.
3.  Laurel-Rain Snow at Rainy Days And Mondays. 
4.  Penny the Jack Russell dog and Modest Internet Star at klahanie
5. Carol Zampa at To Write is To Breathe, To Live, To Dance.

I find one of the nicest things about awards and ribbons is it gives me a chance to share with you some of my favourite blogs. All my blog buddies are pretty terrific. I hope you'll check these ones out.

Happy British Columbia Day, Everyone~!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Blessed versus Unblessed

If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you know I stay away from controversy. I don't like stirring the pot, rocking the boat, or anything else resulting in an overuse of too many cliches. But in light of what happened in Toronto and Colorado last week, I have to say something about a painfully overused phrase.

Several survivors were interviewed after both shootings and it was heart-wrenching to hear their stories. No one understands what they were subjected to unless they were there; I know that. My heart goes out to these people; but I am disturbed by the comments expressed several times during the interviews, then repeated over and over again on the news. In fact, these are the same cliches I've heard all my life in the aftermath of a horrendous tragedies.

"God saved us."
"God kept me safe."
"My guardian angel was looking out for me."
"I'm alive because God blessed me."

The opposite of blessed is unblessed. In the dictionary it says: not made holy; not consecrated.

I don't believe for one moment that these people realize what they're saying. I've heard these statements for too many years to think otherwise. I know they don't believe the victims deserved to die.

As a writer, I need to take special care when choosing words. As a person, I'm curious as to why no one has ever publicly denounced the use of these cliche statements. Every time I hear someone say I'm alive because God Blessed me, it feels as if the words are spears stabbing me in the heart, telling me that my children died because they weren't blessed, nor did they have guardian angels looking out for them. They're dead because God didn't care to save them.

I don't believe that. But for an instant when I hear these words, the thought does cross my mind that God only saves the blessed.

If you and my child are involved in an accident and you live and he doesn't, I don't believe you're blessed and he's not. Who's to say how blessed death is. I don't know. All I'm certain of is it wasn't your time.

Monday, July 9, 2012


MuseItUp Publishing is hosting a Christmas in July Hunt from July 9 - 23, 2012.

For details, check out their webpage at

Find one hidden Christmas Tree or find them all, then receive your gift:
Package One: a $25.00 gift certiciate to MuseItUp Publishing's bookstore
Package Two: 10 EBOOKS 
Dead Witness is one of the participating ebooks.

Winners will be announced at the end of July.

Other news: 

As you know, my suspense thriller BROKEN BUT NOT DEAD won the IPPY Silver Medal for Canada West - Best Regional Fiction. I'm happy to announce that my eBook, DEAD WITNESS is a finalist in the 2012 Global eBook Awards, under the Suspense Fiction category. 

July 12th and 13th, I'm helping children's author, Carole Anne Carr, promote her new age 8+ mystery, FIRST WOLF. Hope you can stop by. 

You may have noticed my little Mickey Mouse promotional cartoon on the left? Truth is I love my followers and seeing their numbers grow gives me much happiness. Course, I can also hear my mother's voice in my head saying something like, "Modesty is a virtue, Joylene. The Mouse is tacky." I know, Mum, but ...." (head hanging low) "Go away, will ya." If you'd like a similar widget, just click on it while you can and you'll find a new page and numerous widgets to choose from. I can't promise how long mine will be here.

A big THANK YOU to Cher Green for the Fabulous Blog Ribbon Award, which I will feature next week. Speaking of awards, you may have noticed I've removed all my awards on the right? It wasn't an easy decision, I loved them, even though I could hear my mother whispering in my ear, "Joylene, remember it's not ladylike to--" However, several of my readers emailed to say that my blog took too long to download and they final stopped visiting for that reason. Yikes!

Lastly, I went fishing on the weekend with my DH and sons. I'd love to post pictures of all the happy burnt faces but I've been ordered NO INTERNET PHOTOS MUM!!! So, I'm left with a quick note to say it was a wonderful day for all involved, except maybe for the fish.

ps. My mother actually never said anything to me about bragging. She, herself, never boasted about her abilities. Come to think of it, she only ever bragged about her children and grandchildren. So, maybe it was my grandmother whispering in my ear?

Which reminds me, our little man Blake got his first haircut!

pic compliments of Skype

Definitely lastly, a prayer to all those experiencing the terrible heatwave and fires across Colorado. Smoke settling on Cluculz Lake alerts us all to just how bad those fires are. Our thoughts are with you. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Carole Anne Carr, author

I don't feature authors too often, unless I can't help myself because they're just so darn wonderful. Carole Anne Carr is one of those authors. Carole writes children books that my grandchildren love. And we all know you can't fool a child when it comes to good storytelling. 

Enjoy, these are exceptional reads...

Carole Anne Carr is an author and independent publisher of four children's books: two historical fiction, one fantasy, and one picture book.  Her early years were spent as a bank teller in Africa, then as teacher, owner of an art and craft business, poet, creative writing tutor, actress and Third Order Franciscan. She held the Office of Reader in the Church of England before beginning her writing career.  She's working on sequels to her children's books.  She's taught poetry and other aspects of creative writing, been Deputy head of a Shropshire primary school for nearly twenty years, and she's a member of the Society of Authors, the National Association of Writers in Schools, and W.I. Speaker. 

Candle Dark
Book One - Ironbridge Gorge Series
  - a children’s historical fiction adventure story set in a Victorian mine that is being promoted as a free eBook from the 6th to the 8th July inclusive – Pacific Standard Time.

Joshua was nearly eleven and he worked down the Blists Hill coal pit in the Ironbridge Gorge and he hated it down there. He hated working in the dark, he hated the rats and the stink of the tunnels, and he especially hated it when the mine flooded and his boots got soaked and rubbed his feet raw. Then the day that Mr. Bradley the horsekeeper gave him another beating so bad he ached and ached all over, he made up his mind to run away and find work on the Severn trows. But what would happen to poor Drummer, left behind in the dark? What would happen to his mother, left to the mercy of the evil Isaac Whitlock? And how could he sail to Bristol when his father had been sent to work in the most dangerous part of the mine? Afraid of the river gangs, and sick with worry about his dad, Joshua must decide whether to run for his life, or to stay in Coalport and protect his family despite the terrible danger.  
(the sequel - River Dark - to be published in September 2012)

Link for purchase: 

First Wolf
Book One - Wolf Series
– a children’s quest adventure story is set in 8th century Northumbria that is being promoted as a free eBook on the 12th and 13th July – Pacific Standard Time.
It was Toland’s twelfth year of life when his father hurled the wolf’s head at the mighty Eorl Uhtred, bringing his childhood to a violent end.  These were dangerous times, with people driven from their settlements, tribal wars, and bands of robbers on the roads, but Toland must keep his solemn promise to save the Lindisfarne Gospels from the Vikings, protect his family, and find his father.  With his faithful hound Bodo, he sets off on his quest through Anglo-Saxon Northumbria. Surviving the first Viking attack of Lindisfarne, his many adventures lead him to the mysterious hermit on Inner Farne, Bamburgh fortress, the slave girl Kendra, the mystery of the stolen jewels, a blood debt, and a terrible discovery at the White Church…..


Carole Anne Carr – Children’s Author
B.Ed.Hons.(PrimaryEd), Dip.Ed.(Medieval History), HDTheology, HD.Child.Lit.(Open), Office of Reader - Church of England (WEMTC), Member of The Society of Authors, Nat. Assoc. of Writers in Education, National Children’s University (Shropshire), Society of Storytelling, Women in Rural Business, Shropshire Chamber of Commerce, W.I. Speaker Author of First Wolf, Little Boy Good-for-Nothing and the Shongololo, Candle Dark, Thin Time, River Dark

Thursday, July 5, 2012

ASK PZM July 2012

In place of Phyllis Zimbler Miller’s usual monthly Ask PZM column in which she answers questions, she has provided Chapter VI of her brand-new ebook TOP TIPS FOR HOW TO MARKET YOUR BOOK ON AMAZON AND FACEBOOK: Action Steps You Can Do Immediately Whether You Are Traditionally Published or Self-Published:


Categories are an incredibly important aspect of your books being found on Amazon – and an aspect that is fraught with inconsistencies and frustration. Do NOT skip this step – it can be very, very important to your sales on Amazon.

(To find the Amazon categories currently for your book or ebook, on your book’s page scroll down, down, down until you see “Look for Similar Items by Category” and these are the categories your books or products are in. You may even find that your book or ebook has NO categories!)

The goal is to get the most tightly targeted correct categories for each of your books. This requires going deep into sub-categories and being truthful about what categories are appropriate for your books.

You need to read Aggie Villanueva’s book AMAZON CATEGORIES CREATE BEST SELLERS to get a detailed description of how to look for the best subcategories for your books. This also includes not risking the penalties of choosing the wrong categories.

As Aggie says, “Tight targeting of your categories is the only goal. Never choose a category based on lack of competition. If your book is not in the most tightly targeted category, Amazon cannot successfully sell the book for you. It’s as simple as that.”

FYI: When you choose categories if you publish a physical book via CreateSpace, these categories are apparently only for the CreateSpace catalogue. (Note: CreateSpace now has a “Publish on Kindle” option: “Once you have finished publishing and distributing your book on CreateSpace, be sure to make your book available to even more readers through Kindle Direct Publishing.”)

First, where on Amazon’s site are its categories from which you can choose?

If you put BOOKS in the Amazon search window and nothing in the field for a book title and then click on GO, you will have a screen that are the far left side has under the word “Department” – BOOKS. Click on those categories to see the sub-categories (notice that some categories have more sub-categories than others). Here's part of what you'd see:


  •   Any Department
  • Books
Now do the same for KINDLE because the categories are NOT the same. Put KINDLE STORE in the search box, nothing in the book title field, and click on GO. Then under “Department” and under “Kindle Store” click on KINDLE EBOOKS. Here you will be able to click categories and sub-categories as you did for BOOKS.

Because the Amazon categories and the Kindle categories are not always the same, if you have a title as both a physical book on Amazon and an ebook on Kindle, you will have to work through the categories two times – first working through the “books” categories figuring out the most tightly targeted subcategories and then working through the “Kindle ebooks” categories figuring out the most tightly targeted subcategories.

And now we get into the complications and inconsistencies:

The number of categories you are allowed to choose appears to continually change. The Amazon Author Central rep I spoke to could not give me a definitive answer.

In fact, I was told that, in one specific case, while I was only allowed two categories, over time I might have more depending on “reader input.” If I were to manually ask to have the book’s categories changed, that book’s listing would revert back to only showing the two allowed categories.

Inconsistency: When you upload a book to KDP, you are given a choice of categories. But these KDP categories are NOT the same as the Kindle ebook categories that you see on Amazon’s home page if you follow the instructions above.

When you upload an ebook to KDP, the best bet would seem to be to choose as closely as possible to the categories you ideally want for your Kindle ebook. Then, once the ebook is published, contact KDP support via email to request changing the categories to the ones you originally chose.

In the email request to KDP you must type the categories exactly as you want them. Here are the two categories I asked for CIA FALL GUY and I typed these just like this in the email:

Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Crime, Thrillers & Mystery > Thrillers > Spy Stories & Tales of Intrigue

Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Romantic Suspense

Now this is another odd thing about Amazon and Kindle categories:

A very nice Author Central rep explained to me that, at this time, books only have “books” categories on their sales page but the same title in Kindle has both “books” and “Kindle eBooks” categories.

Why does your title in “books” only have “books” categories but the same title in “ebooks” has both “books” categories and “ebooks” categories?

The same Amazon Author Central rep explained that Amazon logic says that a person looking at Kindle ebooks would also be interested in physical books for that topic. But people looking at physical books for that topic would NOT be interested in Kindle ebooks.

Really? Let’s hope some top exec at Amazon has just read the above sentence and seen the idiocy of this logic. Then let’s hope that top exec changes the policy so that a title’s “ebooks” categories also show on the title’s book page.

To add more confusion to this topic, the “books” categories on your book’s Kindle page are not always the same as the “books” categories on that book’s Amazon page. This answer to this situation is explained below:

If you only have a Kindle ebook and there is no physical book on Amazon, you may think of trying to try to change the book categories listed along with your Kindle categories on your ebook’s Kindle page.

I thought of this, and here is the response I got back from KDP when I asked that a book category be changed for one of my ebooks at the same time that a Kindle category be changed:

Please note, “Books >” categories automatically generate from the “Kindle >” categories selected for your titles, therefore we cannot manually set these for you.

This is important to remember because it partially explains why your book categories listed on a physical book on Amazon may not be the same as the book categories for the same title in Kindle format.

In conclusion, while choosing categories for your books and ebooks on Amazon may seem like a lot of work (and it can be), it is very, very important you undertake this step if you want to greatly increase the chances of your books or ebooks being found on Amazon.

Phyllis’ new ebook can be found on the U.S. Amazon site at and on the U.K. Amazon site at

Thanks, Phyllis!

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the co-founder of Miller Mosaic LLC and the author of fiction and nonfiction books and ebooks, including the HOW TO SUCCEED series for teens and young adults.  

She has currently enrolled the second book in the series, HOW TO SUCCEED IN COLLEGE AND PREP FOR BEYOND COLLEGE, in Amazon’s Kindle Select option.