Join an Amazon Tagging Thread

In a previous article, I talked about Amazon book tagging, how it’s done, and how it can help you sell more books. If you haven’t read that one yet, I recommend reading it first, so you’ll understand how to get your tagging started. In this article, we’re going to look at how you can get those tag counts up and really make an impact on your book’s popularity. As I mentioned previously, one way to move your book up in the Amazon search list is to increase your book’s tag counts, and by that, I don’t mean the number of different tags, but rather, the number of customers clicking the tags. A minimum of 50 is probably required to see a noticeable change in position, and if your book is in a competitive category, like romance or fantasy, it will probably take 100-200 taggers to push your work towards the front of the line. So if your list of friends and family members is a bit shy of that, where are you going to find that many people to tag your book? Research Triangle Publications The answer is a tagging thread. A tagging thread is just a chain of messages on a website or forum where Amazon authors gather for virtual chats and community. For example, MobileRead.com, which is a forum for fans of ebook reading devices, has a tagging thread, as does KindleBoards.com, a Kindle-specific forum. The Kindle Direct Publishing site also has a tagging thread in its forums. Any Amazon author is welcome to join these threads, as long as he is willing to participate and reciprocate. The idea is that each participant posts a message with his Amazon book links in it, and the other members of the thread visit those book pages and click on the tags. It can seem daunting at first to join a tagging thread, as all of the members seem to know each other already, and the existing thread can be really, really long. For example, the KindleBoards thread has over 10,000 posts as of this writing, but don’t let that scare you off. You should realize that the success of a tagging thread depends on a constant influx of new members, so you will not be looked upon as an interloper when you join, and furthermore, no one expects you to go back and read all 10,000 posts from the beginning. Keep the following guidelines in mind when you join, and you will be welcomed into the thread and quickly find yourself getting tagged up:
• Join the forum and participate in other threads for a few weeks before jumping into the tagging thread. This way, the long-time members will know you are serious about contributing and not just there to be tagged.
• While you don’t need to read and tag from the beginning of the thread, do read the first couple pages of the thread to make sure you understand the thread/forum decorum.
• Once you’ve done both of those, go ahead and jump to somewhere near the end of the thread, maybe a week or two back from the most recent post, and tag a bunch of books, before posting your links in the thread.
• When you make your initial post, introduce yourself and mention which pages or books you have already done, so the forum members know that you will be reciprocating if they tag you.
• Whenever you finish a tagging session, place another post in the thread mentioning whose books you have recently tagged or just say that you are “caught up”. Your posts will remind others to tag you, if they haven’t already.
• Continue to participate regularly in the thread, at least once every week or two, both as a tagger and as a general contributor, answering questions and socializing with other members.
As long as you participate in the thread, you will continue to get new tags and new eyes on your books; remember, most authors are avid readers as well as writers, so you will certainly get a few sales just from other taggers. Of course, you’ll probably end up buying a lot of their books, as well!

Sell More Books with Amazon Tagging

Research Triangle PublicationsIf you have a book for sale on one of the big bookseller websites (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords), you know that getting it up there is only half the battle. Once your book is ready for purchase, how do you get people to buy it? Even if it’s the greatest masterpiece since Shakespeare, no one’s going to buy a book they never end up seeing, and that’s where book tagging can help. There are many different marketing approaches an author can take to increase his book’s visibility, but Amazon book tagging is one that is free and easy. When shoppers search on Amazon for a particular word or phrase, such as “European travel” or “urban fantasy”, Amazon has hundreds or even thousands of books to serve up in response and has to determine how to order them. The frequency of related tags on a book is one of the variables in their secret recipe for ordering the list, and more importantly, it’s one of very few you can control! You’re probably familiar with the term “tagging” as it is applied to images on social media sites like Facebook, or articles on websites like this one, or links on bookmarking sites like Digg. Tagging is the process of labeling something in order to increase the odds of people finding it. For example, this article is tagged with the words Amazon, tagging, tags, ebooks, books, book sales, and book marketing. I chose those words, because even if those exact terms aren’t used in the article, I know that people looking for this information will use some combination of those words to search for it. So how do you get your work tagged on Amazon? The first step is to create some tags for it yourself. In order to tag an item on Amazon and have other shoppers able to see your tags, you need to have an account on Amazon on which you have purchased at least one item. Until you’ve purchased something, your tags display only to you and don’t increase your book’s popularity. Each person can tag an item on Amazon with a maximum of 15 tags, so start out by choosing 10-15 useful search tags for your book. For example, I tagged Little Miss Straight Lace with tags I felt would be used by people searching for this type of novel, like “romantic suspense”, “medical mystery”, “multicultural romance”, and “abortion drug”. Other readers later tagged the book with words they felt were appropriate, such as “North Carolina”, “beach read”, and “Judith Krantz”. (Judith Krantz wrote epic tales of strong heroines back in the eighties and nineties; I assume that tagger thought my book was similar to hers.) I do not recommend choosing tags which are popular search terms but aren’t relevant to your book, such as “Stephen King” or “Twilight”. If readers are looking for these products and find yours instead, they won’t be delighted; they’ll be annoyed at being misled, and may take the time to vote down the irrelevant tag or even add a negative tag to your book, like “so-o-o not Stephen King”. Remember, any Amazon customer can tag your book with whatever they like, and negative tagging (“maltagging”) is an unfortunate side-effect of this freedom. To add tags, look for the tag section of your book’s product page. If the book already has some tags, the section is labeled “Tags Customers Associate with This Product”. If it has none, the section is called “Tag this product”. Once there, just type your tags into the little box provided and click “add” (see red rectangle below). Hitting the T key twice quickly or using the “edit” link allows you to add or subtract a bunch of tags all at once in a pop-up window.ebook sales Once you have some tags on your book, they are listed out with little checkboxes next to them and with a tag count in parentheses after them, as in the image. The checkmark indicates that you tagged the book that way (green rectangle); if the box is not checked, the tag is someone else’s, and you have not tagged it that way (purple rectangle). The count in parentheses is the number of people who have used that particular tag on your book. In this image, 171 people (including me) have tagged Little Miss Straight Lace with “romantic suspense”. The main book page will only show the 10 most common tags, but clicking the “See all tags” link will take you to another page that shows all your tags, in this case, 26. The “Agree with these tags?” link can be a bit confusing. It is not, as many think, a way of tagging the product. It is only a way of voting on existing tags. When you click that link, it displays arrows after each tag that allow you to disagree with or “vote down” a tag. This is useful in situations where you think a book has been mistagged or maltagged, as in my “so-o-o not Stephen King” example. So now that you know all about Amazon tagging, will it help you sell books? Frankly, having tagged your book yourself isn’t much help. What you need is to have lots of people tagging your book. Once your book has a particular phrase tagged 50 or 100 or 200 times, it will start moving up in the results list for that phrase. For example, a search of books on Amazon for “mystery romance” (my second most common tag), brings up a list of almost 10,000 books, but Little Miss Straight Lace is on the first page of that list (currently #12), in part because of the high tag count for that search term. While tag counts are only one element to the ordering of the results, they are clearly an important one, so be sure to read the follow-up article, Join an Amazon Tagging Thread, to learn how to use forum tagging threads to get your masterpiece tagged and found.

Can You Tell a Book by its Cover

Free eBooksAs some of you may have noticed, I recently had a new cover made for Little Miss Straight Lace. To go along with my new look, I thought I’d post an excerpt from the story that recently appeared on Red Adept’s Book Review blog. Hope you enjoy it!
Josie pulled her laptop toward her, but peered out the corner of her eye. Shit. They were sitting right up at the bar. Probably waiting for a table for dinner. Six o’clock, too. Why didn’t they make reservations? Losers. She saw Gary shift in his seat, opening his view to the room. Then, as he glanced around, acting casual, he caught her eye and grinned ever so slightly. A twinge poked in her belly. She quickly shifted her focus back to her laptop. Ignore him, Josie. Your club, your friends, not his.
“Jos!”
She looked up. It was Shawn, grinning from ear to ear. She smiled back, “So…did you work it out?”
“Better.” He plunked down in his seat and picked up his wine. “Guy was kissing my ass.” He tossed back the last of his glass. Josie grinned and leaned in to hear the scoop, but before Shawn could say any more, they were interrupted.
“Shawn, Josie, how are you two?”
Goldman. Great.
Shawn answered for both of them, “Gary. Is there something we can do for you? Josie and I are in the middle of a very important meeting.”
Gary brushed the top of their empty wine bottle with his thumb. “Looks like it.” He turned to Josie, “Shawn tells me you’re getting married soon. Kind of hoping I might get to meet your fiancé. Oscar says he’s a real swell guy. Nic, right? Not gone to South America again, is he?”
Pins and needles started pricking the back of her neck. Why was Gary asking about Nic? How was it he cared enough to remember Nic’s name and where he was from? An image flashed in her mind of the day at the airport, of Gary watching Nic load his bags in the trunk of the car. Was he going to do something to Nic? Try to get back at her by hurting him? Not while she was alive! Josie looked up and faced Goldman as she hadn’t before. Stupid sardonic grin. Ice cold green eyes—nothing like Daddy’s. She looked Gary in the eye and answered him, “None of your damn business.”
Both Shawn’s and Gary’s eyebrows shot up. After a second, Gary recovered and reached out toward her, running his finger along the top edge of her computer. “Well now, that wasn’t very friendly.”
Not very friendly, is she? Three guys standing around her and one behind—surrounded!
Huh? What was that? What was she thinking of? Josie felt the color draining from her face.
Before anyone could say anything else, Gina suddenly reappeared at the table. “Josie, hun, sorry to interrupt, but would you taste test these for me? New recipe I’m trying. It’s called chocolate covered golden hearts. See, it’s these little flaky pastries with a layer of…”
But Josie wasn’t listening. Chocolate covered golden hearts. Chocolate covered. Chocolate covers. Gold hearts. Josie could see it—a bed with a chocolate brown coverlet. Windows with chocolate brown drapes. A bathroom with chocolate brown towels. All with gold accents. Where? When? And Gary Goldman. Huh? Why was all this stuff floating around in her head today?
“Josie? Will you, hun? Will you try them for me?”
She tried to focus on Gina’s face and her pretty red hair, but Gina was standing right next to Gary, who was still grinning his stupid grin and no doubt seeing the confusion on Josie’s face. The voices in the room were pulling away, sounding distant. Someone had lowered the lights. And turned up the thermostat.
“Jos, you okay?” Shawn’s voice.
“What is your name? Where do you live? Do you know who I am?” Gary’s voice. But the words didn’t match his lips. How was he asking that? Why was he asking that?
“Doctor, should I increase the dose now?” Gina’s voice. But her lips weren’t moving at all. And why would she call him ‘doctor’? Well, he was a doctor—of finance, right? But Gina didn’t know that.
The room was getting darker still, and the voices in it further and further away. Crap—she was losing it. No, no, no. Not now. Not right in front of world’s biggest jackass. Not right after she’d finally stood up to him. Josie pushed herself up from the table…wobbly as shit. Just need to get out of here, get some fresh air. She backed away from the table, knocking her chair down as she went, and ran toward the veranda door.
Buy Little Miss Straight Lace now.

L.A. Caveman Book Review

Research Triangle PublicationsL.A. Caveman by Christina Crooks. $2.99 from Smashwords or Amazon. From the cover: When corporate reorganization strikes, spirited journalist Stanna keeps her job but discovers her struggle has only begun. The workplace becomes a sizzling environment as she battles her macho, hard-bodied new boss for control of the Men’s Weekly column. She’s determined to reform him. He’s determined to train her. Neither wants to acknowledge the electrifying attraction that pulls at them both. Approx. 56K words. This past week, I read L.A. Caveman from author Christina Crooks. Ms. Crooks has four romance novels to her credit, of which, L.A. Caveman is the third, and the fourth is due out soon. L.A. Caveman could’ve been my kind of book, as it spins a tale of romance and suspense in the modern corporate world, wherein the hero and heroine are continuously at odds over business decisions for the magazine that he owns and she writes a column for. Throw in a sleazy, conniving former editor who intends payback for having been relieved of duty, and you have all the ingredients for a saucy, sexy story that should tickle the brain and tug at the heartstrings. Unfortunately, for me, it didn’t turn out that way. The novel begins by pitting two strong-willed characters against each other in an emotionally charged situation. Jake Tremere has recently traded his nest egg for the floundering Men’s Weekly magazine, believing that he can breathe life into it by steering it in a more macho direction. One of his first acts toward that end is to fire Stanna Whitland, a spunky writer who presents the feminine point of view in her regular weekly column. When Jake discovers that he can’t fire Stanna, because she has a three-year contract, the sparks begin to fly. Within the first few pages, I was captivated by the author’s elegant writing style, which makes use of crisp, natural language, rich vocabulary, and varied constructs. Between the writing and the strong premise, I expected to really be taken in by this romantic tale, however, the book’s path from there on was not the one I would have chosen. While the plot had the potential for a number of interesting interactions among the major characters, I felt the best scenes were almost always “off-screen”, referred to in passing or summarized after-the-fact, while all the scenes presented to the reader were the ones where Jake and Stanna were either at each other’s throats or rolling around in the hay; I never saw the positive interactions and bond-building scenes that would make me believe these two people had any real feelings for each other, other than animosity and lust. Even at the climax of the story, I felt as though I had missed something–where was the resolution to the enormous issue which had separated the two? They never spoke one word to each other about what had come between them before skipping to the HEA. I would recommend L.A. Caveman to any reader who appreciates a rich writing style and has a taste for pure romance and steamy sex scenes. If you can look past the egregiously inappropriate nature of this owner-employee relationship, you will lose yourself in the crazy ups and downs of their love affair. If, like me, you prefer your romance couched in action, adventure, and mystery, this book will leave you wanting.
 

The Kissing Room Book Review

Research Triangle PublicationsThe Kissing Room by Cheryl Anne Gardner. $1.99 from Smashwords or $1.99 from Amazon. From the cover: Merle tells us her tale of love, longing, and desperation. As she struggles with the guilt over her husband’s suicide, Merle’s gut wrenching quest for redemption takes her on a downward spiral into a hell of her own making. Resigned to a life of self-mutilation, abuse, and despair, will she find hope in a mysterious stranger, or will she die? Approx. 16K words. I recently had the pleasure of reading Cheryl Anne Gardner’s The Kissing Room, a novella of only 16K words. The Kissing Room is not a light, cheery romance for a Sunday afternoon; rather, it’s a dark, disturbing story that threatens to repel the reader with its brutal honesty, but compels him to read on, anxious for resolution. Consider yourself warned—if you dare to sample the first page, make sure you’re in a comfortable chair. This fast-paced story is hardly a chronological one, beginning in the middle of the action, and then alternating between what happens next and what happened before. The story also fluctuates frequently between gentle, romantic, or bittersweet moments and truly ugly, stomach-churning scenes of violence and despair. I would add, however, that even the nastiest situations are not described graphically or in lengthy detail, though neither are they for the faint of heart. The Kissing Room is told in the engaging, first person voice of Merle, a woman whose short life has already seen too much tragedy, making her wizened and weary beyond her years. While the reader may not agree with her choices or even understand her reasons for making them, it is impossible not to sympathize with this character and want to see her prevail. The character of Lain was less clear to me, and I wasn’t always sure I liked him, but that did not seem important; I was rooting for Merle, and if he made her happy, that was all that mattered. The Irish pub setting of the story is unique and authentic, with both the language and the details bringing it to life. I could always see and feel the story happening as though I was a participant, rather than some disconnected voyeur. The only time I felt thrown out of the story was when the point-of-view suddenly shifted from Merle to Lain for a brief passage near the end. I understand why the author did this, but for me, it broke the spell. Fortunately, I was so caught up in wanting to know what would happen, I just ignored it and went on. I think I’ve made the point that The Kissing Room is not exactly a “beach read” with its violence and macabre themes, but I don’t mean to imply that you will not enjoy it. I read the book nearly straight through, and only stopped because of an unavoidable interruption. I was annoyed to have to pause the action going on in my head, and went back to it as soon as I could—I just had to see how it would end. When it is all said and done, Cheryl Anne Gardner’s The Kissing Room is a deeply touching love story; you just won’t know it til it’s over.

Halse Anderson’s “Speak” Labeled Pornography

There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.
 
—Ray Bradbury, Coda to a later edition of Fahrenheit 451
When I was in high school, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 was required reading. It was one of the better books we were given to read, and it stuck with me. Fahrenheit 451, if you haven’t read it, is about a future world where books deemed dangerous to society are banned and burned, in order to protect people from their potentially inflammatory ideas (pun intended).Research Triangle Publications The books so designated included anything historical and most of classic literature and poetry, lest anyone reading them be inspired to an original thought. I’m reminded of this book today after reading an editorial in the September 18th Springfield, MO News-Leader, entitled “Filthy Books Demeaning to Republic Education”. In this piece, Dr. Wesley Scroggins reports on some books that are part of the Republic, MO school curriculum, which he feels are inappropriate for the school system and should be removed. Which tasteless tomes has he targeted? Besides some sex education materials designed to explain the birds and the bees to the eighth-graders before they figure it all out for themselves, he picks on Laurie Halse Anderson’s young adult novel Speak. This highly acclaimed, award-winning book is extremely popular with both teachers and students, because it presents an ugly topic—teenage acquaintance rape—in a fictional, non-preachy, easily accessible format. Speak takes a painful subject, ordinarily relegated to whispered conversations, and places it squarely in the hands and minds of those who need it most. Dr. Scroggins objects to two passages in the book which hint at the rape of a high school freshman by a boy she met at a party. Dr. Scroggins refers to these passages as “soft pornography”. Pardon me while I laugh so hard I choke on my own spit. Speak is told in the voice of the victim, a young girl whose description of the experience is perfectly age appropriate and about as objectionable as an evening with the Disney Channel. Maybe less so. I find myself wondering what his real motive is, as I can’t see any reasonable person being offended by the material in this book. The Scarlet Letter was a whole lot racier, and does nowhere near what Speak can do to encourage young people to open up about their problems, rather than keeping it all inside. But what am I saying? I’m sure Dr. Scroggins hates The Scarlett Letter, too, since it opens up that nasty can of worms about religious leaders who abuse their positions of power… This attack on free speech hit a little closer to home for me, since it was my discovery of Speak several years ago that inspired me to write Little Miss Straight Lace. Speak was the first book I ever Free eBooksread that managed to explore the unpleasant aftermath of teenage sexual abuse in a realistic, but fictional format that would appeal to anyone. LMSL takes a similar approach, but focuses on mature adults embroiled in a conspiracy tying back to traumatic experiences in their youth. I can only hope that my words will carry a fraction of the impact that Ms. Anderson’s have. And I can also hope that some future-world maniac will threaten to ban my work from schools and libraries, as I could use the publicity. I suppose Ms. Anderson owes Mr. Scroggins a debt of gratitude for his very public, ultra-conservative tirade, since it has already spurred a renewed interest in her already popular book. Sorry, Dr. Scroggins, your book-burning plan just backfired.

Rogue Wave Book Review

Research Triangle PublicationsRogue Wave by Maureen A. Miller. $.99 from Smashwords or $.99 from Amazon. From the cover: U.S. Geological Survey expert, Nick McCord cannot account for the destructive waves assaulting the Windward coast of Oahu. The only viable culprit is the new housing development, Manale Palms and its attractive contractor, Briana Holt. Try as he might to find blame with Briana and her site, the truth remains a mystery as yet another threatening wave attacks the coast. Now allies, Nick and Briana narrow in on the source of these anomalies and find themselves in a struggle to save the island coast and their very lives. Approx. 70K words. Maureen Miller’s Rogue Wave is a romantic suspense that takes place against the lush, exotic backdrop of the Hawaiian Islands. Ms. Miller’s style reflects that beautiful background, bringing an almost lyrical feel to the narrative, despite the harsher realities of the storyline, which includes conflict between modern beachfront developers and conservationists, along with some present-day pirating. Ms. Miller presents her setting with a deft hand, describing scenery pithily, yet poetically: “Beyond Aloha Tower, the ocean was turning dusky rose under a violet twilight. The lights of the marketplace flickered on, and further beyond, a freighter moored at Sand Island became an illuminated hulk on the dark horizon.” With characters, she is equally clever, breathing life into not only the traditional good-looking, intelligent hero and heroine, but also the quirky side-kicks and troublesome family members. The central conflict in Rogue Wave is a series of unexplained mini tidal waves that are threatening the coast of Hawaii. As the story unfolded, I was intrigued by the underlying mystery, and would have liked more of that. It seemed that the focus was more on the relationship between the hero and heroine and less on the bad guys’ shenanigans, which I wanted to know more about. In other words, the plot was more like that of a traditional romance than I personally would have liked, but for traditional romance fans, it would be spot-on. From a technical standpoint, the story was well done, with no clunky transitions or shoddy plot holes, and no more than one or two typos. My one complaint was the frequency of point-of-view switches in the scenes between the hero and heroine. While I am a huge fan of multi-character POV, I prefer to spend more than a couple paragraphs at a time in any one character’s head, else I begin to suffer the onset of multiple personality disorder. That little detail aside, if you are in the market for an elegantly written romance mixed with an intriguing mystery, Maureen Miller’s Rogue Wave will not disappoint.

Not What She Seems Book Review

Research Triangle PublicationsNot What She Seems by Victorine Lieske. $.99 from Amazon. Not What She Seems is a sweet romantic suspense, appropriate for all ages. Back blurb: Steven Ashton, a billionaire from New York, and Emily Grant, on the run from the law…and when they meet he can’t help falling for her. What he doesn’t know is that interfering in her life will put his own life in danger. Contemporary romantic suspense is probably my favorite type of book, but only if the plot is complex and unpredictable, and the tension is balanced with some lighter scenes and/or humorous moments. Victorine Lieske’s Not What She Seems gets high marks from me in both of these categories. Now, for about the first quarter of the book, I was not impressed. There were only a few important characters, and I thought I had the whole plotline figured out lickety-split. I was wrong. At about that point, the story underwent the proverbial “plot thickening”, like a well-made holiday gravy. Many more locations, characters, and twists and turns began to unfold, and the initially simple plot turned into a roller coaster ride with no easy exit (I actually read everything beyond the first chapter in one 24 hour span). A plethora of potential suspects presented themselves, all with reasonable motives and opportunity, such that I was reminded of a lively round of “Clue”, where everyone from Miss Scarlett to Colonel Mustard was looking good for the deed. With all of those characters and locations, however, I would have liked to have seen a little more development of personalities, interrelationships, and time spent on setting. But I may be alone in this; many readers prefer the fast-paced, plot-focused novel and find the other elements merely a slow down. As this is an indie published work, I was prepared for formatting and technical difficulties in this book, but instead, it was as free of those problems as any traditionally published novel I’ve seen. I only spotted two or three spelling/grammatical errors and no noticeable point-of-view gaffes. There were a couple of minor plot elements that struck me oddly (why did Emily go to the trouble of getting a fake SS number, but continue to use her real name?), and I found the action at the climax scene at Vincent’s house a little confusing, but these were minor flaws that didn’t detract from the overall effect. Finally, as mentioned, I appreciated Ms. Lieske’s moments of humor that broke up the otherwise breakneck pace. She made me laugh out loud more than once, notably at the “Spiderman sheets” comment. If you are a reader who enjoys steady action, a complex plot that keeps you guessing, and prefer to go easy on the life histories and weather reports, your money will be well-spent on Victorine Lieske’s Not What She Seems.

Color Me Grey Book Review

Free eBooksColor Me Grey by J.C. Phelps. $2.99 from Smashwords or $.99 from Amazon. From the cover: Meet Alexis Stanton, a 5′ 4″ petite young woman with a yen for adventure. She grew up as a tomboy wishing she could have all the adventures boys could have. She has since decided that being a boy instead of a girl has its advantages, but being a woman is much better. She finds that job she could “just die for”… and it looks like she just might! Approx. 80K words. J.C. Phelps’ Color Me Grey is the first of a three-book series about Alexis Stanton, a spoiled rich girl who decides to trade in her easy life as a data processor living off Mom & Dad for one of action and adventure, by embarking on a new career with a mysterious company where everyone is code-named a color–Mr. Black, Mr. White, Mr. Red. Alexis, code-named Ms. Grey, is the first woman to join this team of highly trained professionals and quickly shows up the men with her skill, daring, and never-quit attitude. Much of the book is devoted to the details of Alexis’ training as a fighter, scuba-diver, and survivalist, and only becomes a true action/adventure novel near the end when she joins the team on a rescue mission that hits close to home. The novel is strongly pro-female in that Alexis is continually shown as being at least as capable, if not more so, than her male colleagues, which for me, was a bit unbelievable. That a petite woman could take down a trained male opponent twice her size, while intoxicated no less, was one of several points I had to take on faith, but for younger female readers, Alexis would likely be inspirational. The book also includes hints of romance, but in this volume at least, nothing that comes to fruition. Color Me Grey is written in the first-person, past tense point-of-view, and at times, a bit stream of consciousness. I’ve said before I’m not a huge fan of first-person POV, but it does lend a youthful, up-to-the-minute air to this novel. The writing itself would benefit from some additional editing, as it suffers from occasional bouts of over-explaining, a few spelling errors, and some misused phrases. I would also prescribe a healthy dose of commas for the longer sentences. Editing issues aside, however, if one enjoys adventure novels where the focus is more on action and less on character and relationship development, Color Me Grey will be just what the doctor ordered.

Reunion Book Review

Free eBooksReunion by J.L. Penn. $2.99 from Smashwords or $2.99 from Amazon. From the cover: Reunion is a lighthearted and witty yet suspenseful story about how an innocent Facebook reunion with an old high school crush turns one woman’s life upside down. Will she remain faithful to her steadfast husband, or will she succumb to nostalgic desire for the one that got away? Approx 82K words. J.L. Penn’s Reunion is longer than a typical romance or “Chick Lit” read at 82,000 words, yet never feels so, due to the smooth pacing throughout most of the book. Only the first couple chapters seemed bumpy and unpredictable to me; after that, the scenes and the plot unfolded quickly and held my interest throughout. The book is written in first-person, present-tense, which I personally dislike, but must admit, gives the story an ultra-modern polish, entirely appropriate for this tale of virtual flirtation and temptation and where they may lead. While the content is not appropriate for young audiences, neither is it overtly sexually graphic, and handles the necessary sexuality gracefully. The one bone I would pick with this author is with her consistent failure to use commas before conjunctions that join complete phrases. While I firmly believe a fiction author can and should bend grammatical rules to suit his story, his characters, and his voice, this particular omission makes it difficult to read the longer sentences and seems like more of an oversight than an intentional stylistic choice.  That one minor flaw probably only caught my eye, however, because the book is otherwise so well edited. Overall, Reunion really hit the spot for me with its delicate balance of drama and humor.  It is not laugh-out-loud funny from start to finish, but I did find myself chuckling, giggling, and grinning throughout the story, while simultaneously feeling pensive, thoughtful, and at times, even a bit misty-eyed. I eagerly await the next production from J.L. Penn.