Great Book Websites

I want to mention a few fab websites for finding books – new books, and old ones you (barely) remember.

Websites3 If you like chatting about books, Goodreads and Shelfari are both great sites, although Goodreads has a bigger membership. Amazon has always owned Shelfari, and just recently acquired Goodreads, and it’s unclear yet whether the two sites will be merged or kept separate.

I like a lot of Shelfari’s features, so I hope Amazon merges the two; in particular, I like that authors can add a lot of info about their books. What I love most about Goodreads is the ability to search for new books to read; Listopia has book lists within every genre you can think of; you can post a question in a discussion; or use the Recommendations feature (which is really quite nifty). (Side note: Goodreads defaults to emailing you every time one of your discussion posts is replied to, so go in and set all your email defaults before you start posting, or you’ll suddenly have 200 emails in your inbox.)

Another great site for book information/discussion is LibraryThing. I’m obsessed with book covers, and I love that Library thing has a ‘covers’ page for each book, where you can see the different editions.


Another site that isn’t as well know but is fabulous for tracking down books is Abebooks Booksleuth. Is there a book you read years ago that you’d love to re-read, but you can’t remember the title or author? The GhostBooksleuth forum is the place to find it! The sleuths have found books for me on the flimsiest of details. I particularly love the Children’s Books forum,because it proves just what a strong impression books make on children… I was delighted to find that there are thousands of people who, like me, want to find some children’s book that they can only remember a few details of – yet they’ve remembered them for 30 years! (I never would have found my first really scary childhood book, The Ghost on Saturday Night, without this forum).

And if you’re an author looking to chat with other authors, there are dozens of websites, but Absolute Write Water Cooler is probably “the biggie”; and for children’s/YA authors, it’s Verla Kay’s Blue Board. Tons of great info on both, from writing to editing to finding agents and publishers. And if you want to get input on your work, then CritiqueCircle is the place to be.

Happy browsing!

Moonrise Kingdom and the Magic of Book Covers

MoonriseKingdom  ReturnOfAuntieLorraine_sm

I was stoked to see that Moonrise Kingdom received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, because I thought the film was fantastic. Besides being a visual delight (I loved the colour tone of the whole thing; it matched the 1960s setting so perfectly), it’s sweet, funny, and well acted. And there’s one plot point that warms an author’s heart: when the young female protagonist runs away from home, she takes an entirely impractical set of possessions (i.e., HEAVY ones), which include five (hardcover!) books. That’s because to her, the books are essential.

SuzyReadingIn the film, Suzy reads aloud from the books, both to her boyfriend and to the band of campers-gone-rogue who later come to her rescue (that scene had a very “Wendy and Peter Pan’s lost boys” feel). The titles of the books sounded so much like real 1960s mid-grade novels, and the covers looked so authentic for that era, that I looked them up. It turns out the books weren’t real ones; the titles and excerpts were written by Wes Anderson (the writer and director of the film). Not only that, but he had the covers specially designed!

I’m something of a book cover aficionado (read: obsessed), and I love how these covers look exactly like 1960s and 1970s mid-grade books. To be honest, when I was a kid I hated the style of the most children’s book covers of that era (and still do); what I love about these is how well the artists captured those styles. Here are the covers next to some real 1960s/70s counterparts; don’t they look like they were drawn by the same artists?

Moonrise Kingdom Books

Top row: Moonrise Kingdom books. Bottom row: real books. Spot the difference!

I have a fellow compatriot in my book cover obsession, and that’s the creator of the Cliquey Pizza website, a massive collection of mid-grade and YA book covers. They’re mostly YA and mostly from the 1980s, but there are some 1970s and possibly older in there, too. So if you want to take a trip down school-library memory lane, start at the A authors and work your way through!

Wes Anderson was so into his book creations that he decided to make an animated film trailer based on them! You can view the trailer below.

I’m also impressed by how well Wes Anderson also captured the general mid-grade fiction writing style of the time. Here are a couple excerpts:

The Francine Odysseys
His eyes downcast, his kingdom in ruins, Mynar pressed his heavy paw through the rippling surface of the cool shallows and down to its stone floor.
“My people were once led by a great and noble beast. And I no longer see his face in this reflection.”
Meanwhile, on the plains of Tabitha, Francine rested. There would be another time for war.

The Disappearance of the Sixth Grade
The flashlight’s beam drew a moon through the black across the attic and settled on a gap in the base-board. A mouse hole, no bigger than a pocket watch. Eric crouched on his flat feet and placed his hand in front of the tiny opening. “It’s windy,” he said.  “Like someone in there’s blowing on my fingers.”

Shelley and the Secret Universe
If there’s one thing competition level gymnasts know how to do, even if they’re only eleven and a half years old and they’ve been publicly betrayed by their extended families, and they’ve been grounded since February and now are going to be forced to get braces for an overbite that isn’t their fault, it’s jump.
Shelley did.
Our story begins as her feet leave the ground.

(The tone of that one sounds more 1980s to me; plus, did kids have braces in the 1960s?)

The Light of Seven Matchsticks
“But I’m not going,” said Barnaby Jack. “I’m running away tonight, for good. And this time, I won’t get caught.”
“I’m coming with you,” Annabel whispered.
Her yellow hair, now brown at the roots, caught up in the wind and danced.
Barnaby Jack took Annabel’s hand and pressed something into it the size of a jelly bean.“Hide this in your socks, and be ready at midnight.”

(I love how that one ties in to the film’s plot!)

If you haven’t seen the film, I highly recommend it!



How book burning saved a library

How to “change the conversation” – and how social media saved a library

This is a FANTASTIC story, you must read it and watch the video. Lessons in so many great things here:

  • How to “change the conversation”
  • How to engage people in an issue they didn’t care about before
  • How to make people see something in a different light
  • How a low-budget campaign can spread like wildfire (no pun intended)
  • How to save your local library!

Here’s the story:

How Book Burning Saved a Library

article from Free-Range Thinking

An unusual campaign in Troy, Michigan proves yet again that if you want to change the world for the better, first you have to change the story.

Image: Troy Public Library

Troy Public Library

This month marks the one-year anniversary of an unconventional campaign that prevented a beloved public library from closing. You probably haven’t heard this story, and the affairs of Troy, Michigan may seem far removed from your own, but if you’re in the business of changing how people think and behave, it’s worth checking out.

In August 2011, things were looking pretty bleak for the city of Troy. A decline in property values had led to a 20% decrease in revenue, forcing personnel layoffs and cuts in municipal services. Despite a proud history spanning nearly fifty years, the Troy Public Library was facing permanent closure that month unless the voters passed a tax increase.

Proposed tax increases had failed twice before, and the anti-tax sentiment whipped up nationally by the Tea Party was playing well in Troy, especially as the local economy sagged. Sure, people loved their local library, but it looked like they hated taxes a lot more.

When the vote was set for August 2nd, the library’s supporters had only six weeks to conduct their campaign, and turnout during the dog days of summer promised to be low. Even though the proposed tax increase would be less than 1%, local experts predicted defeat for the ballot measure. But then something strange started to happen all over the city.

Image: Book burning sign

Book burning sign

Yard signs started to appear with the message, “Vote To Close Troy Library Aug 2nd, Book Burning Party Aug. 5th.” The signs promoted a Facebook page set up to help interested parties coordinate for the event. Need a baby-sitter so you can help burn some books? Click here! Want to buy a book bag emblazoned with a book burning party logo? Order one here!

As you might expect, Troy residents were outraged, and the story blew up on Twitter, local media, and eventually national and international media. At first blush, it appeared the local anti-tax forces had gone one step too far, but here’s where the story takes its most interesting twist.

The yard signs and social media campaign were actually the work of locals who supported the tax increase (with pro bono help from the ad agency Leo Burnett Detroit). They recognized that the Tea Party was controlling the narrative on this issue, defining it as a story about another burdensome tax increase. To win on August 2nd, the library’s supporters knew they had to help voters see another story. A more resonant story. The story of what happens when a library closes.

Of course, a “book burning party” is an extreme and, some might say, perverse stretching of that story, but given the risk of losing their library forever, supporters felt that extreme measures were required. (It’s worth noting that Troy Library officials weren’t involved in the campaign and were shocked by the strategy.) Just a few days before the August 2nd vote, the Facebook page introduced a new message: “A vote against the library is like a vote to burn books.”

When the true intent of the book burning campaign was revealed, Troy residents not only breathed a sigh of relief, they turned out at the polls in numbers 280% higher than predicted. Shocked out of complacency, they passed the tax increase in a landslide and saved the library. More importantly, they demonstrated to us that stories are powerful tools of persuasion. And when they are used against us, it’s our responsibility to come up with better ones.

And here’s the video:

Thanks again to Free Range Thinking for this fantastic article!

Proofreading symbols

This one’s so brilliant, I had to share it on my blog! Many an editor has wanted to use these symbols… why did it take so long for someone to invent them? LOL!

Proofreading Symbols

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CreateSpace now distributes to Amazon Europe!

Exciting news for CreateSpace authors/publishers: CreateSpace is now distributing its print books to all of Amazon’s European sites! Previously, CreateSpace books were only available on, which meant book buyers in other countries had to pay massive shipping fees. Now, they will be able to buy them in their own currency and only pay their domestic shipping fees. This is fantastic news for authors as their print books are now more affordable in other countries… which of course translates to more sales!

CreateSpace LogoYou can read the announcement from CreateSpace below. If you have books already published with CreateSpace, make sure you go into the Distribution Channel selector for each book and opt in for Amazon Europe. (You have to do this yourself; your books are not automatically opted in.)

CreateSpace has done so much for authors, and continues to do so – a huge round of applause for them!

Make Your Print Book Available in Europe

Now with CreateSpace, you can distribute your print book directly through Amazon’s European websites, including,,,, and Plus, CreateSpace offers flexible royalty payment options. You can easily select direct deposit in the U.S. or Europe and get paid in U.S. dollars, British pounds, or Euro – your choice. Join CreateSpace and learn how to distribute your print book in Europe for free.

CreateSpace Europe