Monthly Archives: January 2009

Review – Within The Law

Within the Law – Where Murder and Love Collide


Rating: 4 of 5

Author: Chelle Cordero
Available: Paperback, Kindle

Eight years after the abduction and murder of his fiancé, Tom Hughes throws back his last drink pondering the next day’s hearing. Her killer had been found. Consumed with rage and wanting to confront the man who took his future away, Tom leaves the bar and stumbles upon an attractive well dressed woman named Alli whose badly bloodied her knee after twisting her ankle. Uncertain why such a woman would be found so late in a rather dangerous part of town, Tom comes to her aid. Though cautious of a complete stranger wanting to help her, Tom insists ensuring that Alli does not suffer the safe fate as his fiancé years before.

At the hearing, Tom begins to think perhaps his life can finally move on with the killer to be tried and a new woman in his life. His dreams quickly unravel when he learns that Alli is the killer’s attorney. Taunted by the man as they leave the courtroom, Tom beats him so badly the killer is hospitalized and later found murdered. With his life turned upside down, Tom is now accused of murder and Alli must prove his innocence.

Chelle Cordero begins Within The Law with a great setup of murder, betrayal, and plot twists that engage the reader immediately. As I read the opening chapters, I was reminded somewhat of Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent. Cordero then takes a turn I didn’t expect, and the opening story arc closes. In Ken Follet style, the novel subsequently explores the tragic sequence of events keeping Tom and Alli from being together. The novel is, therefore, less courtroom murder mystery and more star-crossed love story.

Cordero’s writing and plot is engaging and entertaining. One is drawn to Tom and Alli and their story just as they are drawn to one another. The dialogue is real and crisp and the novel moves quickly. Within the Law makes a great summer beach read.

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Overwhelming Response to the Beta Test!

Wow, a number of you posted to be considered on the beta test for the Amazon search experiment.

I expanded the number to 15 but wanted to cap it there to make sure this works first.  I don’t want to waste everyone’s time if it doesn’t.

I’ve heard it takes up to a week for these requests to be processed and many times they may be rejected if the reason is too promotional.

Apparently a good reason for a search term is something simple and straight forward.  For example, for the search “time travel” the reason might be “because this is a book about time travel”.

So for the 15 authors on the beta test site, please visit each of the other authors books and keep track of how long it takes to either get your submissions approved or rejected.  Add a comment to this post with the outcome or send an email to me.

Once I compile all the information, I’ll write a new post and upgrade the site to take more submissions.

Thanks all!

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How to hit #1 on Amazon Search – Beta Test!

What is Amazon Search?

So now that you have conquered tags and you are in the #1 place in your customer community created by your tag, what’s next? Clearly, tagging provides huge visibility if you’ve chosen an active customer community as discussed in the post “how to choose the best tags”. But what if you have a book that doesn’t have an active community associated with it? Or what about those Amazon customers who don’t even know about customer communities?

Likely many folks who come to Amazon try to search on the main page as if they were on Google. Say a customer wanted to find the best books in the “chick lit” category. They might just type in “chick lit” and search from the main page not even knowing there is a “chick lit” customer community. What would they find? Take a look.

chick-lit-main-screen

The first books a customer would find would be “Mommy Tracked” and “Miss Match”.

However, in the “chick lit” customer community which ranks books by tags, the results are different showing the top two books as “Remember Me” and “Love The One You’re With”.

chick-lit-customer-community-2

So how do you get to the #1 spot in Amazon searches?

This is where another option related to Amazon tags comes in to play. Let’s use Elise Chidley’s book “Your Roots Are Showing” to illustrate.

your-roots-are-showing-3After opening this books page on Amazon, scroll down to the tag section. Note our focus now are not the tags themselves but the section circled in red called “Tag if for Amazon Search”. Underneath this section, there is another area circled in red called “What would you suggest”. Click on the word “suggest”.

amazon-search-4

This will open a new page where you are requested to enter two items:

  1. “When someone searches for…” in the next box one would type “chick lit” as shown.
  2. Then you must fill in an explanation “Why this product is related to chick lit” in the box below.

chick-lit-search-description-entry-51

One then clicks the “preview” button and follows the instructions from there.

More work than tags, but potentially bigger pay off

So this is certainly more work than tagging, and you can’t enter multiple search phrases at the same time. It also requires the user enter an explanation supporting the search phrase. Finally, the entry is not immediate and goes into a “pending review” from Amazon.

Call for volunteers to help with an “Amazon Search” experiment

So I’m looking for 10 authors to help experiment with this Amazon Search function. Similar to tags, the author should provide their books’ Amazon link, and one requested Amazon Search phrase. This may be similar to the tag, but consider how a customer would search on Amazon. My book, The Time Cavern, is juvenile fiction, but I’m going to experiment with the phrase “books for boys”. Check out the new tab, “Search My Book”, and submit your request there. To participate, you must agree to fill in the Amazon Search requests of the other nine authors who I will post there.

If this works, I’ll expand the program. Thanks all!

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Review – Turning Idolater

Turning Idolater – Literary Fiction for the Internet Age

Rating: 4 of 5

Author: Edward C Patterson
Available: Paperback, Kindle

Emotionally distraught after finding male pornography in her son’s room, Philip Flaxen’s mother shares her discovery with her husband. Ashamed and disgusted with this revelation, Philip’s father disowns his son, kicks him out of his only home, and warns him to never return. Philip turns to his only friend, Robert Spraque – “Sprakie” – who takes him into his apartment. Sprakie introduces him to the seedy world of adult internet sites where Philip can get work by “baring it all” in order to stay off the streets.

Online, Philip encounters a “customer” different from his normal patrons – this client is well educated, articulate, and thoughtful. Intrigued, Philip breaks all the rules to meet this man face to face in hopes of kindling a romance. As it turns out, Philip’s admirer is an extremely successful though considerable older author. A May-December romance ensues yet both men struggle with their very different backgrounds and social strata. Each consider whether they should turn idolater or leave love behind. Meanwhile, a series of cold blooded murders involving Philip’s acquaintances occur and neither Philip nor his lover realize that their choice for love is also a life or death decision.

In “Turning Idolater”, Edward C Patterson has create a novel best described as contemporary literary fiction. Inspired and anchored by Melville’s “Moby Dick”, Patterson explores the social mores impacting two men drawn to one another yet kept from complete commitment due to the fabric of their very different backgrounds and colliding realities.

Through Patterson’s lyrical prose and keen understanding of the human condition, he creates characters so real I felt as if I was reading a memoir. Frequent reference to literary classics and intricate and loving descriptions of priceless book restoration invite the reader into a contemporary equivalent of a Jane Austen  novel. Fans of Patterson’s work will certainly enjoy Turning Idolater.

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How To Choose the Best Tags!

Picking Tags…

A number of folks have asked me how to choose the best tags. So I thought I’d post a few pointers that I believe will maximize your marketing opportunity with tags.

The key is to maximize your visibility to your target audience, so you want to pick tags related to your book. However, you also want to pick tags that have active customer communities on Amazon. Othwerwise, you could have the #1 spot in a community no one frequents – so no visibility.

How do you do this?

The easiest way is to start with Amazon’s “Tag Cloud”. What is a tag cloud? Well, it is a graphically representation of the most frequent and recent tags customer’s use. The graphic shows Amazon’s tag cloud as of 17 January 2009. The larger the words in the cloud represent the most frequently used tags. The darker the word, the more recent the tag has been used. For example the tag “Fantasy” is one of the largest and darkest meaning it is used very frequently and has also been used recently. Clicking on this tag takes you to the “Fantasy” customer community.

Amazon Tag Cloud

Amazon Tag Cloud

Here you will find over 1000 discussions in this group, many of which have had activity within minutes and hours. This is a very active community and imagine your book is #1 here. In every discussion group, your book’s picture would appear in the upper left hand corner – wow, that’s visibility.

On the other hand, if you go to the “Amish” customer community, you’ll see there are only 2 discussion groups which have little activity (days since anyone posted a reply). However, “Amish” is also a very specific community versus fantasy, so while infrequent, this still may be an appropriate target.

My suggestion is to explore the customer communities you think may be appropriate for your book by either clicking on the tag in the tag cloud OR by searching on your tag using the “jump to tag” box in the upper right hand corner of the Amazon tag cloud page.

For Amazon tag cloud click here!

I hope this was helpful! Please feel free to comment.

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Review – The Trouble With Being God

The Trouble with Being God – Demons are all around us, but the worst are found within…

Rating: 4 of 5

Author: William Aicher
Available: Paperback, Kindle

Brutally murdered, a catholic priest hangs crucified on the side of an abandoned brewery. Steven Carvelle, a feature reporter for the Courtsdale Courier, covers the slaying. One murder leads to the another, each one more heinous, and a serial killer is born. Tormented by his own internal demons while covering these cases, Carvelle begins having his own nightmares of increasing brutality. Subsequently, his relationship with his girlfriend, best friend, as well as his inner self deteriorates and his grasp on reality begins to warp. Carvelle questions the meaning of life, the purpose of religion, and what the slayings all have in common. Unfortunately, the answer may be one he is unwilling to face.

While reading William Aicher’s, The Trouble With Being God, I was reminded of the 1987 movie Angel Heart starring Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro, and Lisa Bonet. Both feature a main character trying to solve the mystery surrounding a series of brutal slayings while evidence mounts pointing to them as the potential killer. Both also have substantial religious overtones.

Aicher’s writing is crisp and the novel moves quickly. There are a number of philosophical discussions between Carvelle and his friend Miles that recall the days of late night college dorm room discussions. Many of these involve religion and its role in society. However, not all are delved into as deeply as I would have liked. Also, for those expected neat and tidy closure to the various story arcs, you may be a little frustrated at the end. But realize Aicher’s focus isn’t necessarily the slayings themselves, though this provides the novels backbone pushing the plot forward, but the inner journey of our own occasional brutal thoughts and passions and how we choose to manage them.

Something unique offered by this novel to enhance the readers experience, are Aicher’s footnoted musical selections to be listened to while reading various parts of the novel. For this, Aicher draws on his experience as Director of Marketing for an online sheet music retailer and previous position as Editor In-Chief for an online music review website. The songs are available on the books website.

For those looking for a face paced read, while realizing the novel contains violence similar to that featured on an intense CSI episode, check out The Trouble With Being God.

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Review – Vespa

VespaA High Octane Thriller – I found my new Crichton!

Rating: 5 of 5, TMBOA recommended

Author: Dean Lombardo

Available: Paperback

1940 – Deep within the jungles of the Amazon river basin, a young native boy leads a group of Nazi scientists in search of el monstruo. The boy, being smaller than the rest, moves fast through the dense forest intent on finding the prize and pleasing the strangers who bring food, medicines, and supplies for his people. He soon distances himself from the group and finds what he seeks. Unfortunately, he alone is no match for el monstruo.

Present day – Tom Goodman, an entomologist and expert on the control of invasive species, is contacted by the U.S. government to investigate the mysterious disappearance of several animals in a remote area of southwestern Connecticut known as the Lucius Pond Ordway Perserve – or the “Devil’s Den” as the locals call it. What he finds seems impossible but Tom and a team of isolated scientists soon discover what the young native boy learned years before – nature has found a way to bring the impossible to life.

In Vespa, Dean Lombardo has created a highly charged entertaining thriller similar to novels written by Crichton at his best. A cross between Preston and Child’s The Relic and the X-files season II episode Firewalker, Lombardo’s Vespa is crisp, fast paced and engaging. He seamlessly introduces just the right amount of science and entomology into the novel providing a plausible explanation for el monstruo. About ¾ of the way through, the limits on my suspension of disbelief were stretched, but by this time I was so engaged in the story it didn’t matter.

This is a really good book. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. What a spectacular debut novel. I anxiously await Lombardo’s next book.

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