My 100th post: A Thank You to Readers and Reviewers!

I want to take a moment to thank everyone who has reviewed A Place In the World.  Two special bloggers recently took the time to review and post on their blogs, Amazon AND Goodreads.  Rosie Amber of the UK generously connects readers and writers, and Jessie, who is part of Rosie’ s Book Review team. Both women are avid readers and book reviewers. Rosie posted her review yesterday and her author interview of me today

Jessie has her own lovely blog, Behind The Willows, about life, motherhood and of course books. I urge you to check out both websites as places to go for book recommendations.

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Here is a snippet of Jessie’s review:

… this is a lovely little book, set in Colombia, amongst the beauty of rain forests on a coffee farm, where a woman leads her life the best she can…an American who has lived for many years in Colombia, she handles things with an amazing blend of the two cultures.  Stepping back and forth between them so well  that the big drama fades into the background,  leaving the focus of the book right where it should be, on the young woman in search of her place in the world.

It just so happens that her world is run by men, contains active volcanoes, guerrillas, , coffee crops and an occasional iguana in the water tank – making it infinitely more interesting to read about than our own.

Would I recommend it? I would. Drama aside, the information on the culture, rain forests and coffee growing would have been enough to keep me interested.

This is an excerpt from Rosie’s review:  rosie-gardening-02-smaller

I’m happy to give this 5 stars…The moment I read the description of the finca in a cloud forest I began falling in love with… the flora and fauna… so well written that you could almost hear the birds calling and feel the moisture on the leaves.

(at) the finca, Las Nubes, there is no mains electric, no piped water, no telephone, and the road ways are often just tracks…They live a simple life…There are hardships too, a road accident, bandits and a volcano which erupts covering the ground in ash and burning the coffee plants with acid rain. But through all this the author fills you with the Colombian people, their way of life … the coffee trade at the mercy of politics, the weather and the market…

This book took me to a new world, that I’d never given much thought to and I really enjoyed it.

I’m so pleased with both of these reviews and their insights. It’s wonderful to hear that a reader likes what you’ve written – and even better when someone takes the time to post a review. Many thanks to both Rosie and Jessie and another recent reviewer, author Rita Gardner  (Only space prevents me from acknowledging all the others, but please know that each review is greatly appreciated and helps readers decide whether they want to read the book.)


AWARDS :front-cover-place-in-world2014-ContestSEMIFINALIST

A Place in the World won three modest awards this year:

the Kindle Best Book Award 2014 (Semifinalist in Literary Fiction); Runner up (2nd place) at the San Francisco Writer’s Conference     in the indie category and last month Honorable Mention in the Mainstream/Literary Fiction category for Writer’s Digest’s Self-Published Book Awards.

The following is the comment by a judge for Writer’s Digest’s Book Awards:

A Place in the World is a rather quiet book tackling powerful issues. Alicia who has been a child of the world, marries a Colombian and heads back to one of her favorite places. Although she is there under some misleading information, she settles in on the family finca and learns all about growing coffee in isolation on the edge of the cloud forest.  Background issues include guerillas, active volcanoes, wild life, shy natives and family indifference.

Following an automobile accident, Alicia’s husband deserts her and … Alicia makes her way alone on the coffee plantation. Alone, she is able to pursue her studies in biology with her illustrated journals becoming a centerpiece for the narrative. A fellow American who visits the finca infrequently becomes more than friend to her.

Alicia’s passion for her place, the people there, her son, her studies and for her lover holds the reader throughout the book.  The author paints pictures with her words just as Alicia illustrates her journals with her findings. The reader is drawn into the story and the place on every page. MacKinnon has enlightened us about the biodiversity of the cloud forest, growing beans, and about the frailties and strengths of relationships.

The conclusion presented in the voice of Alicia’s son serves to tie all the bits and pieces together in a most satisfactory way. Everyone in the story has found her or his place in the world. A Place in the World should attract a wide audience.

Thank you “anonymous judge 59!”

So to celebrate, my 100th post is written in appreciation of all of my readers, supporters, editor and reviewers. It’s been a wonderful year. (For more reviews see  )

Please note if you would like to write an honest review of my book, I will send you a (free) ebook file or PDF. Just let me know how to contact you, below (or privately on the Author/Contact page of this website).

Indie/Self-Publishing (Publishing 101 Part II)

Recently I wrote about traditional or commercial publishing.  This post addresses the pros and cons of indie or self-publishing.

Writers are turning to self-publishing after running the gauntlet of publishers and agents – it’s an exciting time. In the strictest definition this means you will handle not just the printing, but also the editing, distribution and marketing; you will be in charge of every facet. That said, there are so many companies out there that will handle different aspects of this for you.  At a minimum everyone will tell you to hire a good editor – and they are right. An editor can help make the difference between a mediocre book that never takes off and a scintillating read.

In the old days there was the stigma of “vanity presses” and that was just about an indie author’s only option outside of traditional publishers.  In fact they are still out there: beware being talked into paying thousands of dollars for books that could end up in your garage (unless you have a stellar marketing plan).

But times have changed and the quality and reputation of self-published books has gone up. This is where the greatest growth in publishing is occurring. The grand prize winner at the San Francisco Writers Conference this year is a self-published book, A Chair with a View by David Sabine. (And I can’t bypass the opportunity to say A Place in the World came in second in the Indie category). 12756072   thumbnail cvr

Actually there is a history of self-published writers ranging from James Joyce and Gertrude Stein to Mark Twain. Even Margaret Atwood has joined the group. Authors are publishing their own books because of opportunity,  speed (relative to the year{s} it takes to publish traditionally)and to garner a bigger share of the sales.

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There is a veritable gamut of companies ranging from strictly print-on-demand (POD) printers to Indie publishers who are a bit more selective and offer a menu of services similar to the traditional (“Big Gun”) houses. The costs are as varied as the companies so you need to comparison-shop. One book I found thorough and helpful is: The Fine Print of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine – which by the way is a highly successful SP book.Fine Print of SP

Not only will he teach you the basics of self-publishing, but he gives information on over two dozen companies, rates them and tells you what to look for in a good POD.

With traditional publishing you send a query letter to agents and the smaller publishing houses (the big ones will not look at a query unless it is from an agent) – fish around for awhile – perhaps a long while in what Levine calls the “black hole.” Let’s say you land your fish and give your rights to a traditional publisher for 5-8% royalty – then if you are very lucky (or famous) they will give you an advance. But an advance  must be paid back through book sales before the author receives more money –like a loan you are given against future royalties. Next you will probably get the bad news that the marketing rests with you as they do not have the budget – although they do have the contacts for you. Marketing can be expensive. Thus to my mind, IF you are paying for your own promotion, you might as well go the indie route and keep a much bigger royalty.

Will you get rich with a traditional publisher? Probably not. Will you get rich in SP? Probably not.  It’s difficult to earn even a modest living from writing.  A newbie author might have a more realistic ambition to try to break even, for the joy seeing her/his book in print and sharing it with the world.

So to sum up, the bad news is that you have to do practically everything yourself or hire professionals to help you. Make no mistake: it is a lot of work to do it right. You have to invest money as well as time; while it is possible to publish a book for less than $500 it isn’t possible to have a professionally edited, designed and marketable book distributed for anything like that. Although shop around, because there are deals to be had – I found professionals who were not out to gouge people (in fact in two cases I felt like telling them “you could charge more”!)  Alternatively you can hire a publisher who offers a complete range of necessary services (and usually pay a bit more). I opted to hire my own editor and book designer (but I had contacts, so I knew mine would be as good and I thought probably better, than the in-house ones) although my publisher, Virtual Bookworm would have done these things for me. (BTW I choose this small company a year ago because the owner was willing to hold my hand and walk me through the process – many will not even speak to you by phone.)  I even got my own ISBN so technically I am the publisher – known as Multicultural Press. I have been pretty happy with the decision and A Place in the World has won two modest awards recently.

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Contented indie author.

On the plus side SP gives you an option to traditional publishing (see my post Publishing 101 – the Three Routes from July 17, 2014,) you have a larger slice of the pie, independent control and almost anyone can do it – I say “almost” because it does take drive and organization – but hey you just wrote a whole book didn’t you?

So you have your decisions and work cut out for you (and you thought writing was the hard part?). Before you  give up any rights and/or money  please do your homework – it will pay off in the long run. Another book I can recommend (this one covers all your publishing options from traditional to SP) is: The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published by Eckstut and Sterry.     519UsIKw2gL._AA160_

Please share your experiences and opinions. If you have questions I will endeavor to answer them. (Please comment below rather than on FB).

Good luck!

2014 Kindle Book Awards – A Place in the World is a semifinalist :)

Some happy news came by email yesterday: A Place in the World just made the semifinals list for the 2014 Kindle Best Book Awards in the Literary Fiction category. Finalist to be announced in September.  (In February the novel won an award with the San Francisco Writer’s Conference  in the indie category.)

book cover2014-ContestSEMIFINALIST

“A Place in the World” Wins an Award

Toot, toot!

A couple of weeks ago I found out “A Place in the World” was a finalist in the San Francisco Writers Conference (SFWC) contest.  My husband and I were flying back home from a vacation in the wee hours of Saturday morning and I debated whether to get up and go hear the announcement of the winners (there were seven finalists, so what were the odds?).   Two things held me back – lack of sleep and the steep cost of attending, but then SFWC organizer Barbara Santos graciously offered me a guest pass for the event.  That sealed the deal: bleary eyed I joined the slow traffic crossing the Bay Bridge and through the city and spent another 20 minutes looking for a place to park ($35 for a three hours), then trudged up a VERY steep four blocks to the Mark Hopkins Hotel.

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It was all worth while when they announced my name in second place. I was excited – now I have an “award winning” novel with a Kirkus review.  I introduced myself to David Sabine, the Grand Prize winner, and when told him I was the “runner-up” and he said “I’m glad I ran faster!”   By the way, his novel, A Chair with a View is another Indie!  This would have been almost unbelievable just a few years ago, but is still remarkable.  Yay – go Indies!

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Latest review excerpts:   This well-written, riveting plot captures strong elements of friendship, love, freedom, perseverance and endurance amid all the physical and emotional challenges, heartache and pain. This pages of this novel are filled with beauty  and grandeur.The characters are well-developed, their personalities adding depth and dimension to a story that’s heartwarming and emotionally riveting. It’s a fascinating and moving story .        Wendy Goodreads (See the full review: A-PLACE-IN-THE-WORLD-Review)

“A Place in the World” is a serene, affecting, and poignant novel by a gifted storyteller. This gentle, meditative novel ramped up the tension toward the end and morphed into a genuine thriller. The author created a world that was wholly realistic and honest. In fact, everything about this novel pulsated with authenticity—the place, the characters, the animals, the community, the rebels, the indigenous tribesmen, and most of all, the everyday drama…the sign of a genuine five-star story. I recommend it highly.                         B. Case, Emeriti University Librarian. (See the full review: A-PLACE-IN-THE-WORLD-Review)