Sunday, May 19, 2013

10 Summer Reads from Books Just Write Books

Summer is the time to catch up on your reading. Whether you’re at the beach on a warm, sunny day or curled up during stormy weather, a book makes a great companion. Check out these ten offerings from Just Write Books that will provide entertaining on sunny or rainy days.

Chute's Summer Reading Selections
 Coming Home: A Maine Mystery by Robert M. Chute. Jim Johnson returns from World War II to his hometown and to the family business, a country inn on a lake in northwestern Maine. Johnson's return is filled with surprises—a body hidden in a garment bag in an empty cabin, his deceased father's association with bootleggers and his childhood friend, Joan Chaplin, now married but with an absent husband. His relations with Joan, and with other women, are complicated by traumatic experiences during the war which he fears may have left him impotent. Johnson's quest to find answers leads him on a cross-country journey pushing him to explore himself in a rare gem in mysteries.

Return to Sender by Robert M. Chute. Robert M. Chute brings us the sequel to Coming Home: A Maine Mystery. In Return to Sender, Melonie Janus thinks she knows who killed her stepbrother and dumped his body into the lake to fake an accident. Jefferson County's Sheriff Dumont and DA Black are stymied by a lack of evidence for arrest and trial. Melonie embarks on a dangerous private voyage, traveling to Wyman Falls at the southern end of a wilderness lake extending north across the Canadian border. Readers of Coming Home will recognize many of the residents of Wyman Falls as they continue their usual (or unusual) activities. Willis Wyman and his steam-powered lake boat, Leland Fogg, a disabled veteran with mathematical and romantic aptitudes, and the obsessive-compulsive Runner Higgens and his dog Whitey play roles in this excellent mystery set in post World War II rural Maine.

Roadside Rest by Robert M. Chute
With Roadside Rest, Robert Chute returns to Wyman Falls. Readers of Coming Home and/or Return to Sender will recognize many of the characters and much of the landmarks in this mystery set in post Korean War rural Maine. The mystery unfolds as a fellow from West Virginia comes to town with a deed to property owned by Willis Wyman and James Johnson. The West Virginian goes missing. There are more questions than answers in an investigation that includes quirky town characters. Meanwhile Jim Johnson is missing in action from Korea. Enjoy this story as it takes you around the world and back to Maine with nonstop action revealed through Chute's prose—that like, his poetry, is, "careful language, precise, with a sparse beauty."

Islands of Time by Barbara Kent Lawrence. At fourteen, Rebecca Granger falls in love with Ben Bunker. A summer girl is not allowed to love a year-round boy, son of a fisherman in Downeast Maine in 1958. Yet, she does. When her father dies—overpowered by loss and anger—she commits a sin, terrible at the time. That sin nearly destroys Rebecca. She hides in fantasies until as an adult, returning to Maine she struggles to come to terms with that past. Islands of Time is a moving story of loss, pain and growth, but also of unexpected forgiveness and love that celebrates the people and places of Downeast Maine.

The story of a moose with a problem.
 Maney the Sneezing Moose by Roland Wallace
Maney is a Maine moose with a sneezing problem. Maney finds friends who are tolerant of his problem and find a way to help him. The black and white drawings are sure to fascinate both children and adult readers.

A rescue tale.
Lewis and the Lighthouse by Bill McKibben. Bill McKibben has written his first book about Lewis, a boy who lives on the coast of Maine near a lighthouse. Enjoy the tale of Lewis' exciting adventure as he races to save a ship on stormy night. With just enough suspense for young readers, this fun read-a-loud book is illustrated with lively art by Robert Logan.

Betit's Summer Reading Selections

Phu Bai by Paul Betit. It is June 1967, and United States military involvement in South Vietnam is nearing its zenith. As the war ratchets up, John Murphy and Charles Van Dyck of the Army's Criminal Investigation Division investigate the murder of an American soldier at Phu Bai. War intrudes as the two investigators build their case against the most likely suspect. But a bizarre twist turns it into an unusual manhunt in the middle of a war zone.

Kagnew Station by Paul Betit. In this sequel to Phu Bai, CID investigator John Murphy travels to a remote U.S. military base in East Africa during the summer of 1968 to investigate the mysterious death of an American soldier. Evidence points to a marauding band of Eritrean rebels. The investigation becomes personal when someone tries to kill Murphy, still coming to grips with his Vietnam War experience. Murphy uncovers the identity of the murderer but faces an unusual dilemma while wrapping up the case.

Seymour's Summer Reading Selections
Hidden World Revealed by Tom Seymour. Hidden World Revealed is a collection of short works by Tom Seymour previously published in his blog "Wild Plants and Wooly Bears." In Hidden World Revealed, Seymour discusses his interaction with animal neighbors and explores plants and seasonal changes. Each piece reflects Maine rural life. The narratives of his walks in the woods are instructive about the natural environment and revealing of a human who walks lightly on the earth. A humble man with a fine mind invites us to know our Maine woodlands and rural neighbors. A great book to read every day of the year. 

Wild Plants of Maine: AUseful Guide by Tom Seymour.  From insect repellent, to table fare, to a relaxing wintergreen tea, Tom Seymour identifies the source and describes the method of preparing wild plant concoctions or foods. Any person living or visiting in Maine should have this book to enhance the enjoyment of our great Maine outdoors. From the shore to the forest and from the first green of spring to the snowiest winter day, join Tom Seymour as he enjoys Maine "wilds."

What other Just Write Books are you reading this summer?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

10 Steps to Prepare for a Book Signing/Event

Trish Mason signs The Seaside House.

Once your book is in print, one great way to get the word out and connect with your readers is to hold a book signing. These can be very enjoyable experiences, but there can be some stress involved. Here are ten steps to keep your sanity as you plan one.

  1. Dress the part. This may be your readers’ first look at you aside from the jacket photo, so put some care into your appearance. Clothes should be professional but comfortable. You’re going to be talking to a lot of people whether sitting or standing, so dress appropriately.
  2. Know where you’re going. Once you’ve made all the travel arrangements, check them again. Get directions that you understand and know where to park, if necessary. If you’re not self-published, confirm all travel arrangements with your publisher in advance—air, hotel, car rentals, etc.
  3. Bring the “write” implement. Since you’re going to be signing a lot of books, make sure you bring your favorite pen. It needs to be comfortable in your hand and ink needs to flow smoothly. That being said, bring a back up!
  4. Know the spot. Call the bookstore in advance to coordinate logistics. Make sure they have enough books for the anticipated crowds. If it’s nearby, visit in person to scope the lay of the land.
  5. Design your signature. Just as your book as a voice, so should your signature have a personality of its own. No need to be overly decorative, but make sure it’s consistent.
  6. Arrive early. You’ll be able to make sure your table is set up correctly. You won’t have to wade through readers to get to your seat.
  7. Bring extra books. The bookstore may run out of your book and you don’t want to send away disappointed readers. If you’re able to, bring a box or two to keep stored under the table for all eventualities.
  8. Get the word out. Write a news release to send to local media outlets. Check out this blog post for more details on this. Talk the event up in all your circles—social, business, the random person on the street, etc.
  9. Capture your audience. Have an opt-in sheet for people to join your mailing list. This gives you an easy way to inform them of new releases and other upcoming events.
  10. Get help. No one ever said you had to do it alone. Ask a trusted friend to be your companion, help make travel arrangements or just bring you water. They can also be in charge of all book sales, so you can focus on greeting your readers.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Buy Local guru tells why it matters

Samantha Ricker talks about buying local.
If buying local matters to you mark your calendar. Samantha Ricker, Bath resident, will discuss her book, The Maine Conscious Consumer Tuesday, May 14 at 6 p.m. at Shift, 56 Maine Street, Brunswick and Thursday, May 16 at 2:30 p.m. at J. R. Maxwell’s, 155 Front St., Bath.

Ricker is a proponent of why buying local matters. Ricker knows what she’s talking about when she says, “Shifting our consumer habits away from mega retailers and a global marketplace and toward small businesses and our local marketplace boosts our own economy and helps slow global climate change.”

Ricker completed her Master’s Degree thesis in Sustainable Business and Communities from Goddard College in Vermont. She walks her talk. She uses two Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares, is an active member of the local group, serves as the assistant to the Bath Main Street group and consults with land trusts and other organization working on sustainability. 

In The Maine Conscious Consumer Ricker tells consumers how to shop locally within their communities and why it is important. It lists organizations and programs that can help them along the way. While it may be more broadly applicable, it also includes resources created for Maine residents to find local foods, and even more specifically for southern midcoast Maine residents to find local independent businesses.

Samantha Ricker is available for interviews. Call her at (207) 504-2362 or email. Her website:

Her book is available at local bookstores and for your convenience through the Topsham publisher’s website: Buy the book from the Maine publisher

For more information contact:
Just Write Books at 729-3600 or or

Buy Local
Buy the book at your local bookstore.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

10 Things to Know About Using Photos for Social Media and Marketing Success

Guest Blog by Keith Spiro

So, maybe you've already written your book, contracted your product for distribution and now need to get the word out on social media to ensure your marketing is successful. Here are ten things to be aware of when you choose photos:

1.       Use a professional photographer for author or bio photos for press releases or social media placements. Really. There is no comparison. No matter how good your friend/partner is, they don't take as many portraits as I do, and probably are not as capable of eliciting the diverse facial expressions that a professional can. Period. Most buying decisions start with believing the trustworthiness and honesty of the person they see represented before them and a professional photo is the best place to start.
2.       Never use stock photos. Never. If it's not your portrait we're talking about, then any picture you take will be better than someone finding your personal unique business image marred because it is showing up on more than one website. Happens more often than you think. [JWB note: Some of us use stock photos but make them our own. We customize them. I still think that works fine.]
3.       Don't be afraid to crop your own photos. Most photo tools allow for simple cropping and sometimes that's all you need to do to add clarity. Eliminate clutter.  No online bio photo should ever have two people in it unless you're Siamese twins. Still un-separated.
4.       A picture is worth 1,000 words. Remember that old adage is truer now than ever; choose a good picture that tells a story. Instant comprehension.
5.       Social media users recognize they can now add photos everywhere—Twitter stream, Facebook, blogs, even into text messages. See #3 above. Read it again.
6.       Make sure your color balance and lighting is good and reduce the image size to 72 dpi. Most programs will automatically re-size to fit. If you're currently not happy with what you see or upload, refer to item #1. If we're talking business, one session will provide you with properly-lit, properly-sized images to rotate through your site/social media needs for a year.
7.       Q: How often should you change your profile image/Facebook page photo?
A: As often as you dust your bookcase. Mostly it's when new guests need to be impressed or the holidays are coming and you know that you need that fresh look.
8.      Add photos to blogs posts and other online properties:  photos are good anchors for the roaming eye. Photos with caption text can create a more complete story. Tell complete stories with your photo(s). Take a look at some compelling storytelling here:
9.       Know what “Alt Tags” are and use them with your photos. Search engines look for Alt tags when they encounter photos.  If you're ever prompted by a program to add one, please do so. If Alt tags are beyond you, but you're curious, then you are ready for a basic class in search engine tools (SEO). Send me an email. We're glad to help or recommend someone else who can.
10.   [JWB Addition] Save your “professional you” photos in one folder/directory for continuing use. You have the photos but if you cannot find them, they are of no use to you. Place them in an appropriately named folder.]

Questions about this blog contact Keith Spiro at

Keith Spiro, Visual Correspondent
As a long-time business leader, entrepreneur and professional photographer, Keith uses his photographic skills to inform his business approach and to focus attention on people, interactions and places that matter.  Trained as a scientist, he serves as Entrepreneur in Residence at Kendall Press while also advising and investing in Marketplace AU, LLC, a young business organization that is building bridges internationally across cultures and generations. Keith is widely published, both online and in print, with feature photo spreads and stories highlighting the Northeastern stretch from Maine to Boston.

Keith Spiro’s website can be found here: