Guest Post: Self-publishing – The Positives and Negatives

Just publish it

When I was in 7th grade, someone asked me for the first time what I wanted to be when I grew up. After careful consideration, it came down to three choices: author, first baseman for the Reds, and teacher. Well, I could never hit the curveball, so the Reds were out. I never stopped writing, but back in my day (hear a grumpy old man voice when you read that), there was only one way to become a published novelist and that was the traditional route of finding an agent. So it fell to plan C. And it’s been a heck of a plan. I love my students like they’re my own kids and I feel like I’ve made a difference in a lot of lives.

But there was always that voice that kept telling me stories. Stories I thought were pretty good. And apparently funny. I’m one of those guys that people say is funny, though rarely when I’m trying to be. So I decided to listen to the voices (that’s not quite as crazy as it probably sounds), sat down, and wrote a book. It wasn’t nearly that simple or short a process, but it’s also not the point of this story. I wrote a book. I think a good book. I had friends read it and they said it was good. I had an editor read it and she said it was good. So I did what every author does, right? I queried agents. And I queried agents. And I—well, you get the point.

Did I mention I’m 51? While I’m young for my age (some say more immature than young), I didn’t want to waste my prime writing years waiting around for an agent to draw me off the slush pile and realize I’m the next Robert B. Parker. I’d read tons of websites and blogs that extolled the virtues of self-publishing. I kept saying that I’d give it one more month and then I’d take the plunge. I said that for about six straight months before I decide that’s enough one-mores. I self-published. And I’m glad.

Have I sold a million books? Nope. Have I even sold a thousand? Not yet, but give me time. I’ll get there. Why am I glad? Because, even though there are negatives, I feel like the positives outweigh them.

A big plus is autonomy. I control everything, from cover design to marketing. And I don’t share royalties with an agent and publishing house. Granted, the company that prints my books doesn’t do it for free, but it’s a two-way split and two is one less than three. You might be surprised to know I’m not a math teacher.

There are drawbacks. Autonomy is another way of saying nobody to help you. Or at least nobody on the inside. I like writing. I think I’m pretty good at it. Marketing is another issue. I was in retail just long enough in college to remind me to graduate so I wouldn’t have to stay in it. And even if I don’t mind it, there are seemingly dozens of avenues for marketing a book, and without an agent who’s been there, I’m guessing which ones work best. Sometimes I guess well. Other times not.

So if an agent offered me a contract, would I consider it? Sure. But I wouldn’t take it automatically. I really do like being in charge and having the feeling that my success has been on the merits of my writing rather than the merits of someone else’s marketing acumen. And that’s a cool feeling.


Say hi to Joe!


 Joe Stephens has been a teacher at Parkersburg High School in Parkersburg, WV since 1997. He’s a National Board Certified Teacher and a past recipient of the Milken National Educator Award. He self-published his first novel, a soft-boiled detective work entitled Harsh Prey, in October 2014. It’s available to order online in paperback and Kindle formats, as well as from the trunk of his beautiful if somewhat dented Mustang convertible, Ellie. The second book in the series, Kisses and Lies will be out in June 2015. You can read more of his views on the writing life at

My Upcoming Book: Free Book Offer!


This is my latest book, it should be published later this year…

Hello everyone,

I’m planning on publishing the above book in 2015. Wish me luck with me new creative venture!

I am currently looking to ‘recruit’ people to review my new book. I’d need you to publish your review on Amazon and also your own blog if you can, but definitely Amazon.

I’d send you the eBook to your email or gift it to you directly from Amazon, depending on what works for us at the time. It’s not quite ready yet, but I’d love to note down some people who are interested at this stage.

So far, I’ve had some ‘test’ readers and they have ‘loved’ it and found it ‘funny, reassuring and witty.’ So, I’d love your professional review to get the book off the ground. As any author knows, reviews are everything!

Thanks in advance for any support you can offer. Please send me a quick email titled ‘I want to review your book’ to

Book Blurb:

Parenting – it’s hard work. The most challenging job you’ll ever do.


In this candid, often comical book, Alana Munro steers us along the precarious path of parenting. From the whimsical, life-altering decision to reproduce a small human to the awkwardness of pregnancy. From the indignity of child-birth to the every-day reality of coping with a part indignant, part lovable rug rat – she openly discloses what it’s really like to parent.


Munro has three kids and has a fourth on the way – she’s experienced (or is that delirious?) with a plethora of personal history. If your looking for comradeship among the chaos of raising children, this book is laden with down to earth observations, with straight-talking insights to get you through the cuckoo what-the-hell-have-I-done days. For a chuckle, she doesn’t hold back at her frustrations when dealing with other adults since having children. She highlights an astonishing universe where other parents, non-parents and perfect parents say ridiculous things and can challenge us even more than a grumpy toddler.


Munro’s painfully honest account of parenthood could spell the end of vague baby manuals preaching to us how ‘manageable’ raising children is. This book goes beyond the stuffy mechanics and sober advice, and instead digs deeper into the messy, woozy, exhausting and often side-splitting  reality of parenting. But what’s more, this book seeks to encourage solidarity and comfort for all owners of mini-humans. After-all, If we can’t have a giggle together, we’d cry and drink our body weight in gin most weeks.


‘If you’ve not had kids yet, you probably won’t want to believe this honest and delightfully liberating book. If you are mental like me and you’ve took the plunge, you’ll gobble it up. It’ll bring more relief than a glass of wine or two after bed time. I pick up this book and I know – I’m not alone!’ Emma, Mum to three young kids.


20 Signs It’s Time To Let Go and Move On



We find out how strong we are in the moments of uncertainty life inevitably gives us. The unplanned events – layoffs, death, disease or divorce – can come crashing into our world at any moment.

Then the questionable life changes crop up. Should I stay or should I go? Should I buy or save? Should I forgive or forget? Should I move or not? The shoulds become a thirsty internal craving as we try to process the best outcome for our life.

The problem? In doing this, we often hold onto what no longer works.

I have a friend who is in a negative situation, and he’s hanging on for dear life because he wants to be brave and tough it out. He told me, “Giving up is not an option,” which so many of us believe.

But when holding on to something hurts our health and potential to be happy, we have to look closely at why we’re choosing to stay.

Life is a balance of holding on and letting go. We strive to make the right choice but how do we know when it is truly time to let go and move on?

Romantic relationships, jobs, even places we live have an expiration date. Sometimes we hold on to things that aren’t working out of fear we won’t find something better.

Perhaps our greatest fear is the unknown, which is why so many of us grasp, hold on and manipulate our situations trying to control our surroundings. But the outcome is always the same: more pain, immense frustration and ginormous guilt and blame.

To avoid the toxic outburst of staying in situations that no longer serve you, ask yourself if any of the following 20 signs apply.

20 Signs It’s Time To Let Go And Move On

1. When your thoughts go to memories more than the present.

2. When the situation causes you more pain than joy.

3. When you expect, hope and plead for the person, place or situation to change.

4. When you become complacent, bored or resentful.

5. When the pattern persists even though you tried to fix it.

6. When you feel alone, unheard or disrespected.

7. When the situation is holding you back from growing and being who you want to be.

8. When you stay, hoping and expecting things to get better.

9. When you cry more than you laugh and love.

10. When you feel exhausted emotionally, spiritualty and physically.

11. When you have lost your passion and joy.

12. When you core beliefs and values have changed and you sacrifice who you are.

13. When you stop having fun.

14. When you fear this is the best it will be.

15. When you force a smile to mask the pain.

16. When you lose who you are and stop dreaming.

17. When you hold on out of fear of the unknown.

18. When you sense you are holding onto something meant to be let go.

19. When the thought of being free of the situation feels expansive.

20. When you believe in a better life for yourself.

This list serves as a compassionate guide to help you make the right choice for you. If you found yourself saying yes to the majority of these questions, it may be time for you to take a step forward and let go. Trust your future and know you will be guided to happiness.

Source: Mind Body Green by SHANNON KAISER

Photo Credit: Banksy , expandedconsciousness

15 Signs To Prove You’re A Book Addict

Ever worried you might be generally addicted to books? If you have any of these 15 warning signs, you’re definitely a bookaholic too! But don’t worry about kicking the habit. Books are awesome.

Teenage Girl Reading at Hay-on-Wye Book Festival

Teenager reading at Hay on Wye under an umbrella Photograph: Andrew Fox/Andrew Fox/Corbis

I’ve always been a total book addict. I’m addicted to the emotions, excitement, touch, feel and smell of books. If I could live on books and nothing else, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

So yes: I’m a bit of an addict. Hi, my name is Megan and I’m a bookaholic. If you have any of these fifteen warning signs, you’re a bookaholic too. But don’t worry about kicking the habit. Books are awesome.

1. Over 90% of any wishlist (birthday, Christmas, shopping list) are books. Who needs food and clothes anyway? And if you ever go into a bookshop or library, you leave with at least five books more than you planned on buying. Oops…

2. Your friends or family chat about TV or film adaptions of books and all you can say is: “Please. The book was a million times better. I mean, the film didn’t even mention this, they changed that, they didn’t have this quote, they…” Double points if aforementioned friends and family roll their eyes and say “Typical insert-your-name-here”.

3. Everyone else you know has pictures of the latest band, movie or animal on their wall, but your walls are covered in bookshelves, book posters and book postcards.

4. Speaking of your room, you have so many books in your bedroom that they’ve spread of off the bookshelves onto floors, desks, chest of drawers and beds. But really, who needs to see their silly old floors anyway?

5. Most kids went as pop stars, footballers, doctors, nurses and superheroes to dress-up-as-what-you-want-to-be-when-you-grow-up day, but you went in wearing normal clothes with a notebook tucked under your arm. You also gave scathing looks to anyone who asked “What are you meant to be?” Because, obviously, you were an author.

6. Some of your best friends aren’t ‘real’ – as non-book-addicts put it. They’re characters from your favourite books. Your heroes also aren’t pop stars, movie stars or humanitarians. They’re authors. You look up to authors as godlike creatures who hold your favourite characters’ fates in their hands.

7. You have been mentally scarred by books (Harry Potter, The Fault In Our Stars, War Horse…). But despite this they make you happier than anything else. Until you finish them. Then it feels like your heart has broken and the hole in your soul will never be healed. Until you find your new favourite book…


Have you ever sobbed your heart out because you’ve finished a brilliant book? And then sobbed more to see the film? (here are Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort in The Fault in Our Stars, but you know that…) Photograph: James Bridges/PR

8. You are the go-to-person for book recommendations. Everyone knows you read more than a normal mortal and that, generally, you always have a suggestion. Book addicts are awesome like that!

9. You can bring any topic back around to your fave book. For example: “Ah, the dangers of cyber-crimes. We’d really be so much safer if we all bank at Gringotts, where of money would be looked after by goblins and dragons. It’s really only logical. In Harry Potter…” “Oh, your boyfriend’s name is Eddie? He’s brilliant in Vampire Academy: I really love him. Have you read that yet? It’s so…” And so on and so on.

You also have a bookish quote for all situations. Wishing someone good luck: “May the odds be ever in your favour.” When someone says something about reality: “Of course it’s happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should hat mean that it is not real?” A dramatic, heart-breaking, beautiful love story: Snape’s “Always” and TFIOS’s “Okay? Okay.” I could go on – trust me… All your advice comes from books too – you just direct people to your favourite book on the topic!

10. You don’t have normal dreams: you dream about worlds you’ve visited in books, characters you met in books and adventures you’ve had in books. Basically, you’re all books, all the time. You even daydream about books.

11. You’d do anything (eat a poisoned apple, spin gold from hay) if you could live in your favourite bookish world – even just for a day.

12. When you grow up and have children (or pets), you plan to name all of them after your favourite characters from books. Poor Hermione, Augustus, Luna, Magnus and Sherlock…

13. You’d happily give up the real world (and food) if you could just live in books all the time. Actually, if you’re reading an awesome book, you do ignore the real world – you forget about water, sleep, homework and other people. People have to say your name five times to even get your attention and you end up sleep deprived because you stayed up super late to finish the book. But you don’t care because that book… it was so worth it!

14. When you’re trying to do revision for exams, you settle on this little reward system: for every two chapters of the revision book you read, you can read a chapter of the fiction book you’re currently reading. I mean, what better reward is there than a chapter of an awesome book? (Your friends say the answer is biscuits, YouTube or sleep. You agree to disagree.)

15. If you were freezing to death and had to put something on the fire to keep it burning, you’d burn your own clothes, pencils, shoes, food and even your own hair before you’d throw your books on. Who cares if you survive, so long as your pretties are ok?

To view the original article head to The Guardian.

Guest Post: Six science-backed reasons why you should be reading books


Reading – such a simple pleasure…

In a busy society where screens are omnipresent and smartphones are a must-have, it’s easy to understand why people don’t read as many books anymore. A recent US study that involved 1,000 adults, found that 28% of those interviewed didn’t read a single book last year. Reading books is not just engaging, motivating and entertaining, but also healthy. It helps the brain process data faster, it feeds the intellect with useful, practical information and in some ways it makes us happier. Here are 6 science-based reasons to read books.

  1. Reading calms people’s nerves

If you’re stressed out, reading a book can prove to be an extremely helpful medicine. A 2009 study performed in Sussex, at Mindlab University, showed that book reading overcomes stress, thus beating other favorites relievers like drinking tea, walking or listening to music. The participants grabbed a book and started reading; it took them 6 minutes to relax and unwind. Scientists emphasized that reading relaxes the brain. It fosters imagination and thus persuades the reader to evade into a world free of stress and tension.

  1. Reading sharpens the brains

Reading books keeps your brain in good shape. According to a new study published in a Neurology journal, book reading is a mentally stimulating activity. In older people, it keeps their minds sharp and lowers the rate of mental decline. The study in questioning focused on 294 participants and the results showed that when people participate in activities that are mentally stimulating (like reading), they experience slower memory refuse. Adults who exercise their memory later in life have a 32% lower chance of developing mental decline.

  1. Reading might ward off Alzheimer’s

Older people who stimulate their brains with inspiring activities such as solving puzzles and reading are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. This is merely a claim, an association made by specialists who want to emphasize that reading books is an excellent stimulant for the brain. Researchers didn’t find a cause & effect relation between Alzheimer’s and reading books; but they do emphasize that the brain is an organ that ages fast if it is not used. Just like exercise strengthens the body, reading strengthens the brain, keeps it focused and engaged.

  1. Reading books wards off insomnia

Reading books calms the mind and helps the body recover from a stressful day. Many people can’t sleep properly, even if they’re dead tired. In some cases, it is because they can’t stop thinking about their problems. Experts recommended reading books before bedtime to de-stress the body. Make sure the lights in the room are dim to help you relax, and select books that are inspiring, motivational, and easy to read.

  1. Reading books makes people more compassionate

A recent study highlights that reading fiction books increases empathy. Several European researchers mentioned that people who are emotionally involved in reading such books may experience boosts in empathy. The study showcased that reading makes people become better human beings; now of course, it’s important for the book to be stirring. Generally speaking, adventure novels and everything in the fictional domain have the power of fostering our imagination. Readers relate to the characters; they began understanding their needs and worries, so it’s natural for them to develop feelings of sympathy and compassion.

  1. Reading self-help books diminishes depression

Also known as “bibliotherapy”, self-help books can persuade people to improve the quality of their lives. A recent research that analyzed people’s perceptions towards reading motivational books was connected to decreased levels of depression. One of the experts that took part in the study, said that self-help books have an important clinical impact, and that the results of the research are incredibly encouraging. Depression destroys people lives; it makes them believe that the problems that they have now are the worst. The good news is, by reading self-help books, readers will finally understand there’s solution to everything problem and that willpower is everything they need to thrive and overcome their fears.

Reading books has a great effect on our brains and souls. Certain genres stimulate our perceptions and make us want to succeed in life and in our careers; other genres like fiction, allow us to evade for a few hours, elope in a fictional world with nothing but our own rules and regulations.

Author Bio: Edward Francis is a tech writer basically and he loves reading books. His favorite hobby is to read eBooks and he prefers to get a variety of books at the same place.

Opportunity – Contribute your crazy parenting experiences to my next book

parenting quote 78

I am currently working on a new book set to be published sometime in the next year. I’m working on it right now, as come May time – I’m gonna be a wee bit busy with baby 4!

The book is about parenthood and it is a witty (I hope!) book about the gloriously insane reality of being a parent.

If you have any stories you would like to share with me, please do. I can keep any stories you share anonymous.

My first book did pretty well, it was a best-seller on Amazon Kindle in 2013 and received media coverage in Australia, so this is a fun opportunity to get your voice out there. You could share your birth story, daily life with a small person, what life is really like raising kids etc. It will need to be light and reasonably funny.

If you can help contribute that would be AMAZING. If you want your name up in lights (well, you never know!) and want acknowledged in the book you’d have to be happy to use your real name, otherwise I totally understand if you’d rather remain anonymous.

Anyway, I truly hope you have at least one funny story to share that can help other parents along in their parenting journey.

It’s best to email me your stories to and I can let you know if your story or stories are going to be added to the book.

If you doubt your writing ability just give me as much info as possible and I can pull it all together for you.

Hope you can help…Alana x 

Guest Post: A Beginners Guide to Astrology


Don’t mess with a bull! Image:


A bit of fun this week…what’s your Sun Sign and are you anything like predicted? I’m a Taurus. I’m pretty much as they say! Although I do embrace change (actively seeking changes) and get rather bored if my feet aren’t exploring new places. I don’t bother to read my star signs in the newspapers, but I do find it fascinating how some people are very Leo – two of my kids who are born for the stage, or very Taurus – one of my kids is a gentle, slow moving soul, or very Libra – my husband who weighs up just about everything!  


A Beginners Guide to Astrology

Astrology is the art of studying the position and movement of the planetary bodies in the sky in order to determine a connection between these planet’s movements and events in our lives on earth. The planets are continuously moving which is why every day can predict something different. As with all predictions though, we all have free will to change our paths whenever we want but it is a good guide into understanding yourself and other.

Most people’s experience of Astrology is reading their star signs in the Newspaper.

In actual fact what you are reading is your Sun sign. Your Sun sign is calculated by the month and date you were born in. Most of us have this precise information.

For example

Dec 21st – 21st Jan – Capricorn – Earth sign

Jan 21st – Feb 21st – Aquarius – Air Sign

Feb 21st – March 23rd – Pisces – Water Sign

March 23rd – April 21th – Aries – Fire Sign

April 21st =May 21st – Taurus – Earth Sign

May 21st – June 21st – Gemini – Air Sign

June 21st – July 21st – Cancer – Water Sign

July 21st – August 23rd – Leo – Fire Sign

August 23rd – September 22nd – Virgo – Earth Sign

September 22nd – October 21st – Libra – Air Sign

October 21st – November 22nd – Scorpio

November 22nd – December 21st – Sagittarius – Fire Sign

As you can see there are four elements that each Sign is related to. Earth, Air, Water and Fire. The elements run in sequence.

Each element gives a general description of the type of person you are.

Earth Signs are generally slower in energy, but see projects through to the end. They are practical, nurturing, careful and give their advice freely. This makes them good business advisers, teachers, bankers and leaders. Sometimes a little withdrawn and contemplative and sometimes the opposite. They may take a long time to trust people fully but will be loyal to the last when they do.

Air Signs have a faster pace of life. They are generally great communicators, story tellers and activists. They have a massive humanitarian streak which seeks out the truth and will forge ahead to make changes. They tend to forgive everybody for any wrong doing in attempt to keep everything running smoothly. They just want you to like them. The problem sometimes with Air Signs is that they change their minds often, so one day they could be fighting madly for one cause, then their energy is then ploughed into another equally more worthy cause a few months later. They will always make you laugh along the way though.

Water Signs are the deeper signs of the zodiac. You will not always know what they are thinking and feel no need to know what you are also thinking. For this reason they may seem a bit aloof and detached. They look for deeper meaning in life and when they love, they love entirely. However if you break their trust you will find it very hard to get back in their favour, because they will hurt like no other. The water signs tend to be strongly psychic and can read people and see things that other signs of the zodiac seem to miss. They tend to have a very creative flare and can often turn their hand to producing unusual pieces of art and writing which comes from their free imagination. Again very strong loyal, nurturing and protective signs who will want to help the venerable whenever they can.

Fire Signs are the leaders in the Zodiac. They tend have dynamic personalities which get everyone else up and moving. These very charismatic high energy people are also very warm but don’t suffer fools gladly. They speak honestly and hotly sometimes offending others in their path to the top. They are not deliberately hurtful, they just don’t have time in their busy schedules for any wishy washy day dreamers. People tend to see them like Marmite, you either love their bold, passionate love of life or you hate their bossy, over bearing points of view. Generally they will be the life and soul at a party, competing only with the Air signs for attention.

These are the Sun sign characteristics and only give a very general view. However we are all individuals and precisely what time/ date and year you were born is a major factor in determining your Moon sign, which identifies how you are emotionally. For example if your Sun sign was in Taurus and your Moon sign was in Scorpio, how you react to a business transaction and an emotional relationship would be completely different. There are other planets that effect who we are and how we deal with life and general but only a very experienced Astrologer could give you an accurate personalised reading and predict what is ahead of you.

If you wish such a reading please visit Derek Acorahs Psychic Ether and look for Psychics who have those precise skills. So whether you want to know if your partner is a good love match or if your business is going to do well – we can help support you with some of the answers. This piece was researched and written by Karen Sealey from Psychic Ether