Overcoming Anxiety Virtual Book Tour

As part of the eBook Launch Extravaganza for Overcoming Anxiety, there will be a huge discount on the book during the first 10 days after the release, and some extensive virtual touring. I will be doing the usual virtual touring activities  (guest posts, reviews, interviews, responding to comments) and look forward to interacting with many of my readers on these sites:

Here is the planned virtual blog tour so far for this nonfiction mental health book:

7/27         interview   Va Beach Publishing Examiner
7/28         excerpt      Book Reviews and Authors
7/28         spotlight      Fit4moms
7/28         review          My Bookish Life
7/28         guest post    Books Direct Online
7/29         review          The Dark Phantom
7/29         spotlight       KitnKaboodle
7/29         guest post     Literally Speaking
7/29         excerpt         Jamie Hope’s Journey
7/30         review           The Serious Reader
7/30         excerpt         Valley Girl Gone Country
7/30         review            Bound for Escape
7/30         interview         CA Milson’s Blog
7/31          interview        Julius Thom Novels
7/31          review            The Pink Lyme
8/1            review              Book Fidelity
8/2           interview         Book Adventures of Emily
8/3           interview       Virtual Book Club
8/4           review              Literary Meanderings
8/5           review               Crafty Mom Zen
8/5           guest post         What is That Book About?
8/6
8/7            review             Ogitchida Book Blog
8/8            interview          Literary Lunes
8/10          interview       The Writer’s Life
8/11           review             Curling Up By the Fire
8/12           review            My Life, Loves and Passion
8/13           guest blog      Mythical Books
8/17           review               Laura’s Interests
8/18           guest blog        Queen Of All She Reads
8/20          review             Our Family’s Adventure
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Independent Publishing in the Year 2015

I mentioned in a previous post that I was planning on self publishing my upcoming Non-Fiction book Overcoming Anxiety, and I noted the changed landscape of the publishing industry. I promised to update and share the information I learned as I picked it up. Reader beware, at the speed of a flash, these things are changing so everything I say here will be outdated by the time I push the publish button on WordPress.

One most noticeable difference is that Discoverability is now the buzz word. There are millions of digital books flooding the market and the gatekeepers have changed.  While previously you needed to send ARC’s to bookstores and newspapers, the gold standard was Publisher’s Weekly and New York Times. You also wanted your legacy publisher to buy you shelf space near the front of the store. Blogs were a nice niche place to get reviews, but they were often seen, with the exception of a few of the bigger ones, as rather frivolous and really nor important.

in 2013-2014 it became more necessary to get plenty of reviews, to get promoted on a site know as Bookbub (which reached over a million digital readers and could be targeted), and to write series, as they were the engines of online sales. For reasons I won’t go into now, even that changed and independent publishing got much harder. It no longer was a gold rush.

Bookbub‘s success (it now reaches over 2 million subscribers) meant that it had to get picky and expensive. You still made your money back and more if they “picked” your book but it was an expensive outlay for the struggling indie author. But getting picked meant, among other things, that you needed at least five substantial reviews, a certain length of book, and the most convincing book description, since you were often competing with 19 other authors for one opening (nowadays there is no specified number, but in a recent Q and A on Kindle boards Bookbub admitted that in a competitive area like contemporary romance, typically 100+ reviews were the norm

To make matters harder, how was a new independent author to get all those reviews? The multitude of authors with whom you are competing all turned to niche blogs to get reviewed, which worked for a while, but then all these bloggers were swamped with books to read after they came home from their day jobs.  Soon getting five reviews in the first few weeks became hard, and when the goal posts moved again (Bookbub‘s success squeezed your success out) – there was no way to get 100 reviews, except by giving away free books in the tens of thousands.  The free giveaway worked briefly for increased sales and definitely for more reviewers (including more negative ones) but Amazon changed the algorithms and the way affiliate referral were made, and so free books, while still a good idea with a series, became much less useful.

When I return to this topic I will talk about the trend to lend (especially on Amazon) instead of sell, and to other issues only briefly touched on here.

Review: Snap Strategies for Couples, a Quick Read

As a psychologist I often read and sometimes review books about psychology and psychological interventions, so when I saw Snap Strategies For Couples by Lana Staheli and Pepper Schwartz, I was eager to get it. In part I was curious because there had not been any good book by a new author skilled in couples work in recent times. I was provided the Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review of this book, which is currently in pre-release status, and will be available for sale to the public on April 21st, 2015.

The authors have both published before, and this is their first collaboration. Dr. Staheli is a coach, and Dr. Schwartz describes herself as a “relationship coach,”but she is best known as a sexologist and sociologist. Dr. Schwartz writes a column on sexuality for AARP, and a book she wrote earlier made the New York Times bestseller list. In Snap Strategies for Couples neither author give their specific credentials; however from the content of the book it is likely that they are both trained in the coaching area. As a consequence, some might find these ideas a little too simplistic. Yet the 40 brief interventions that the authors describe are consistent with the kinds of emphasis and scope that is often found in the coaching domain. As such, Snap Strategies is a useful and well written collection of simple straightforward things a couple can do to improve their relationship.

Each of the 40 topics is introduced and followed by two clinical anecdotes that illustrate the issue. Each of these brief 5-9 page chapters is then concluded by a prescribed solution offered by Drs. Staheli and Shwartz.  Many of these suggestions seem self-evident, as in the chapter on Snarky Comments. The authors point out that making snarky comments to your spouse can “poison the relationship,” and in the prescription, they say that recipient should first recognize that the snarky comments are hurtful, take them on, and then be specific in describing what is being said that is so hurtful. This is fairly typical of the level at which these discussions are presented. They are always straightforward and  simple, but nonetheless often useful. However, if you expect in depth or scholarly discussions of marital problems and their solutions, tied to research or to the known experts in the field, then the reader may be disappointed. The authors do have a chapter on the Languages of Love that credits and relies upon the 1995 book by Chapman.

I found some of these pithy interventions quite well crafted and helpful. For example, one solution to a tendency of one partner to be too critical is for the critic to focus instead on the good things that they would like to see increased, rather than on trying to  curb purportedly problematic areas.  Where this book is at it’s best, however, is in addressing sexual conflicts and problems. Dr. Schwartz has already made something of a name for herself in this arena, with writing as far back as 1970 in her topic area. Her expertise shines through in these chapters, mostly outlined towards the end of the book.

I give the book Snap Strategies for Couples 4 out if 5 stars, and this quick read, aimed at couples trying to breaks some bad habits and patterns, may help many couples navigate these conflicts and problems more smoothly.

Snap Strategies for Couples

40 Fast Fixes for Everyday Relationship Struggles

by  Lana Staheli and Pepper Schwartz

Seal Press

263 Pages

Release Date: April 21st, 2015

 

 

 

 

Published in: on January 19, 2015 at 11:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Review of See Bride Run by Charlotte Hughes

See Bride Run! is the latest book by Charlotte Hughes, and I enjoyed this book, which was a quick and funny read. It can be read in one sitting (it is 211 pages long) and is really a classical romance.

Charlotte has the ability to paint characters that are both funny and 3 dimensional. She writes great dialogue and keeps the plot moving. In this story she has a prologue in which the protagonist, Annie Hartford, steals the family limousine in order to flee a wedding forced on her by her father. She has lived under her father’s thumb all her life, since he raised her as his only family member.

The car brakes down in Pinckney Georgia, in front of Sam Ballard’s Café.. Sam and Annie go through many of the usual crises/conflicts before the HEA, but the reader has fun along the way.

The book is fun and a quick read, with several quirky characters. I can recommend this book with 4.5 stars.

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See Bride Run!: (Click here for more)

Published in: on January 2, 2015 at 3:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Review of Against Her Will by Peter Martin

Against Her Will is a debut novel by the author, and as such introduced me to an author of whom I will keep track. His book is a hybrid and includes a plot that at the beginning and end reads like a suspenseful thriller, with a breathtaking pace and twists, turns and a surprise ending. However the middle part Is not at all like this and focusses instead on a very adroit but much slower psychological profile of a woman dealing with the aftermath of rape.

The plot follows the protagonist Donna, from a rape she experiences on the way home from work, devolving further and further into a world of pain and isolation. Initially she attempts to stay with her boyfriend, but when that does not work, she moves in with her parents, and eventually to a care home, where recovery seems impossible. However she meets a male from the staff of the institution and moves in with his family. The ending of the film has a surprise twist, and this reviewer won’t give it away.

I am a clinical psychologist and have treated countless men and women who have dealt with the aftermath of trauma, and I can say that for a work of fiction this rings true enough, and the book seems to care deeply about the protagonist, and it gets the morass that Donna finds herself swimming through. While this section is well written, the suspenseful parts elsewhere in the book are better, and they show the promise of this new writer. Despite the problems with pacing, I highly recommend this book and will be eagerly to see what the author next has to offer.

Amazon Best Sellers

Published in: on December 28, 2014 at 11:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Stephanie Plum Movie

As someone who has met Janet Evanovich and read all of the Stephanie Plum novels, I am waiting with anticipation for the Stephanie Plum movie that is due out in a couple weeks, called One for the Money.

One for the Money stars Katherine Heigl in the role of Stephanie Plum, Evanovich’s bounty hunter protagonist of a series of novels. The first Stephanie Plum movie is based on One for the Money, the first book in the Stephanie Plum series. Irish actor and TV star Jason O’mara plays the male lead, Joe Morelli. Ranger is also played by an actor mostly known for TV roles.

I plan to review the movie when it comes out but wanted to discuss the casting issues here. The original offer for the role went to Reese Witherspoon who apparently turned it down. It is a big career decision to take on a part like this, and Katherine Heigl is likely to be as associated with the Stephanie Plum movie character as Sean Connery is with James Bond, even if she does only a few of the seventeen (at least) sequels that are inevitable.

Sandra Bullock was also discussed, especially by Evanovich fans, as the best choice for the One for the Money lead, but it is well-known that she was out of commission for some time, only recently returning to work on movies, after she had a bad romance.  

Debby Reynolds as Gramma Muzur was also not a first choice. Many wanted Betty White, and I would be curious to learn (does anybody know?) if the first choice was actually Debby Reynolds, or was it Betty White?

I also was surprised that the male chosen to play Ranger was not taller, and why he was not expected to wear his hair in a pony tail. He should have been cast as a contrast to the Jason Omara character, who might be expected to be comparatively more clean cut.

 As I mentioned above, I plan to review this when it comes out and expect I will enjoy it, and it will enjoysome  box office success as fans of the Stephanie Plum books will not be able to resist taking a look.

Antisocial Media: A Review of The Social Network

I went to see The Social Network, the new movie about Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg and his antics that made him the world’s youngest billionaire. I wrote a more comprehensive review here, but first a couple quick thoughts. If you are looking for a gripping movie with a lot of conflict, this movie will disappoint.  I myself expected to see an insightful and incisive critique of the views of Zuckerberg on issues like privacy. These views are so controversial today with Facebook, and if that sort of conflict of ideas was what you were looking for you would also be disappointed. Any conflict that was in the movie was between egos not people.

But the psychologist in me found it a vivid portrayal of a prototypical  anti-social personality (actually at least 2 of them). While I have never met Mr. Zuckerberg, and so consequently I could not pretend to actually diagnose him, the character portrayed in the movie (most likely closer to fiction than realty) was, it seemed, a mix of antisocial, narcissistic, and schizoid personality characteristics.

His lack of concern for the welfare of his best and only friend, may well parallel Facebook’s apparent lack of concern for the privacy of it’s users.

Published in: on October 13, 2010 at 11:59 pm  Comments (2)  
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Predator by Patricia Cornwall is a Little Too Much

Predator by Patricia Cornwall

Paperback: 464 pages

Publisher: Berkley (September 26, 2006) 

ISBN-10: 0425210278

This crime novel is from a series that features Kay Scarpetta, and it is filled with oddball characters who are macabre, at best, and I am not even talking about the bad guys.  The story is focussed on a Harvard program that is studying the mind of serial killers, and as the reader we soon find ourselves inside the mind of at least two villains. Throw in a radio shrink,  tree blight,  spiders, Christmas in July, and sadomasochist torture and you have covered maybe 10% of the book. 

This book was written before CSI and such shows dominated the airwaves so a look inside crime scene investigations, autopsies and forensic labs is not a cliche here, and Cornwell is good at delivering details for the crime buff who might be interested. But the sexual and psychological warfare among the characters is as jumbled for the good guys as it is twisted fro the bad ones, and nobody tells the truth much, or trusts anyone.  The plot switches faster than the speed of light and the excesses of the plot detract from the book.

While Cornwall’s characters as always are interesting they are mostly hard to like, and you can feel certain they would never like or trust you if you had a chance to meet them.  Dr. Kay Scarpetta is reserved,  insecure, and suspicious of everyone she has ever known. Troubled lesbian niece Lucy has a secret in this book.  Pete Marino, the macho biker  security chief of the National Forensic Academy, has become a charicature of masogyny and narcissism, and the radio shrink is so shallow no one would ever call her for advice. As a psychologist reading this book I found the psychologists described unartfully. While I cannot give away the ending of the book, it involves a psychological twist that is almost believable, but could have been boltered with some consultation from a psychologist.

The book gets 3 stars, mostly for the forensic details and the villains. The earlier books in the series are better, but this is still a good read and worth your time. Give yourself a glimse inside the mind of the twisted.

Published in: on April 30, 2009 at 4:02 pm  Comments (2)  

Afraid I Liked It- A Review of Jack Kilborn’s Afraid

 

Afraid

By Jack Kilborn

Grand Central Publishing (March 31, 2009)

Paperback, 384 pages

$6.99

 

Safe Haven, Wisconsin is under siege, and the war on terror has come home to Midwestern America. This sleepy rural Wisconsin town-on-a-lake is the perfect place to live out your quiet retirement, or die trying. There is only one road in, so when a helicopter crashes and that road is blockaded, the evil that has been unleashed is going to go unchecked unless the local talent can somehow prevail.

 

We meet several appealing characters including the town sheriff, a firefighter, the single mom and her son, the son’s dog, and of course a cross-section of local villagers. But there is mayhem loose and death is a welcome alternative to what lies in store: a nemesis that relentlessly stalks and toys with the all too human prey.  The horror seems superhuman, and figuring out what makes the enemy tick is part of the puzzle that needs to be solved for the good guys to prevail.

 

Kilborn has written a masterful horror story, and he has put the “terror” back in terrorist. Filled with so much adrenaline and suspense you will need  to take a time out, this book is in your face with menace and gruesome peril. The book is well over 2/3 through before the reader begins to feel there is a chance this won’t all end very badly. More accurately, by then you have likely come to believe that the menace is unstoppable, or at least un-killable. While you do root for the townsfolk, you soon begin to suspect that your team is going to lose, and lose big.

 

I really enjoyed this first book by Jack Kilborn. Kilborn, is also JA Konrath, who is a very funny, accomplished and talented mystery writer. When you read his Jack Daniels Mystery series, you come to expect an irreverent humor that provides a break from the darker mystery plots. But under the new pen name, Kilborn gives the reader no such relief. Don’t expect any comedy.  Don’t expect any relief. You won’t get any relief until you take a plane out of Safe Haven. If you like your thrillers with more kills than thrills, and you do not have a weak stomach, then you will be consumed by this suspenseful book.

 

4  Stars

Published in: on March 30, 2009 at 7:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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5 Star Review: Nutcase by Charlotte Hughes

As a psychologist I love the opportunity to read fiction that involves psychology. Nutcase is a romantic suspense by Charlotte Hughes. It features Kate Holly, a clinical psychologist from Atlanta. While it has a plot that centers on a serial arsonist, the book is really an ensemble story with a host of interesting and fun characters, and its central premise, that the life of a psychologist is enough to drive anyone nuts, rings true.

The story begins with Kate and her ex-husband in couples therapy. In the first book in the series (this book stands alone fine) Kate and her husband Jay “accdentally” go through with a divorce that Kate intended to call off. But what with a nitroglycerin explosion of her office and other madness and mahem from the first book, the divorce unfolded without protest. Now they are trying to get back together, but her Jay complains that she is using sex to avoid talking.

And there is a lot that kate is keeping to herself. Like that she is being evicted from her office because of the explosision and may have to move to share an office with a psychiatrist ex-boyfriend, who still wants her back. Her dog gets depressed from an empty nest syndrome. Her aunt (who is her mother’s twin and co-owner of a Junk art business) has run off with a con man who is also her patient. Her eccentric receptionist is dressing like a nurse as a dress rehearsal for nursing school, and one of her patients thinks she is Marie Osmand.

These problems and dozens of other unusual predicaments challenge Kate, who just happens to have a mild obsessive compulsive disorder (Monk light) and serve to entertain while the arson plot unfolds.

This is the second book in this series by Ms. Hughes, and in this series, one can see that she perfected the art of writing a series when she co-authored the FULL series with Janet Evanovich. This book is most like her ensemble romantic comedy A NEW ATTITUDE in that it’s also about the support and love you get from friends and family, when the going gets tough; it is also just as uplifting. There are several therapy scenes in the book, and as a psychologist I thought that they often (while obviously magnified for fictional effect)
not only true to form but also often potentially helpful to the casual reader who has not had the benefit of therapy. I especially enjoyed the vignette where she helps a young gang member sort things out.

I give this book my top rating, despite its relatively striaghtforward suspense plot. It still a novel you cant put down, and what it lacks in dramatic tension it more than makes up for in humor and inspiration. This is a book you will keep on your shelves, so your friends will just have to get their own copy. Charlotte Hughes writes incredibly realistic dialogue, makes her characters always 3 dimensional, and most important makes them so likable and interesting that you are sorry the book ends. The perfect setup for a series that will be a great success.