New Timeline look for Facebook Pages

On March 30th, all Facebook pages will be forced to move to the new Timeline look. (This applies to PAGES, not your regular Facebook profile; so far, you can avoid changing your own profile page to the timeline look).

Facebook page for The Frankincense Trail

So what does this mean for authors? Well, if you have an author page (used to be called a fan page), and/or if you have pages for your books, you’ll pop open your Facebook on March 30th and see the new timeline look. What does this REALLY mean? – it means that if you don’t create a new cover image (and possibly change your page’s profile picture, too), your page can suddenly look horrible!

Rather than wait for March 30th, you can go to your page and click on preview to see what it will look like. Looks awful? Well, I’m going to give you some pointers on how to make it look better. There’s quite a lot to do… so I’m going to break this into several blog posts. The first, and most important, is to create a cover image.

For some reason, Facebook is vague about what size this should be, and tells us “a minimum of 399 pixels”. This is completely wrong! – and you’ll waste a lot of time resizing your cover image to get something that works; the correct sizing is 851 x 315 pixels.

Using one image can work really well; here’s a particularly spectacular one:

However, for those of us who don’t have a great image that fits those dimensions, or maybe you need several images, you can have several images side by side, but you need to put them together in a graphics program and then save it as one image. For my author page, I wanted all my book covers, so I stitched them together in Photoshop. The image wasn’t tall enough, so I then added a chunk underneath. You’ll have to play around a bit to get something that looks good (and I’m not saying mine looks great – I don’t have all day, every day, to monkey around with graphics every time Facebook changes something, either!)

JodyKiharaBooks FBTimeline

So now I’ll walk you through how to do this.

In the screenshot of my page, above, the five book covers with the ‘Welcome…’ are all ONE image; this large image is called the COVER IMAGE. The smaller square with ‘Jody Kihara Books’ text is the page’s PROFILE PICTURE. (You already have one of those… but once you’ve uploaded your new cover image, you may want to change it.)

change cover imageHover over the area where the cover image is, and you’ll see a Change Cover button appear. Then click on the down arrow and choose Upload Photo. (Remember, the dimensions MUST be 851×315 pixels!)
It’ll take a sec… when you see your new image, choose SAVE.

OK, now you need to look at whether you want to change the profile picture (the small one in the lower left square), because it may no longer “work” with your new cover image. For example, my profile pic was the cover of my book The Frankincense Trail, but now that my new cover image has the same image on the far left, they looked kind of weird together.

To change your profile picture, hover over the profile pic and you’ll see an ‘Edit’ button pop up again. Click on the down arrow, and then you can upload a new photo or choose from an existing. The dimensions should be 180×180 px, so I suggest you make one exactly this size and then upload it. Also, if your cover picture is busy, like mine is, choose a very plain profile picture. Otherwise, it will all look like one big, busy mess.

Now you should have a final product!

Although when I say ‘final’… there’s still more to do to get the page looking good, but that will be in my next blog post… for now, at least you’ve got the most important thing done!

I hope this helps… feel free to leave comments if you have any questions.

Review of White White Pond

It’s always a thrill to receive an unexpected review of one of my books – especially when it’s a great review! LOL. Not only that, but Jackleen grew up near a pond where a woman was rumoured to have drowned… making an eerie connection to White Witch Pond!

Canadian FlagJackleen Lascelles has started a new book review blog, and not only am I super chuffed to have one of my books featured, I also love the fact that Jackleen supports Canadian authors. You can read her review of White Witch Pond below, and check out her blog here.

Review by Jackleen

Looking for something creepy to read, look no further.  Jody Kihara has written a very spooky, spine tingling, hair standing up on the back of your neck witch/ghost story for teens and adults alike.  Eerie ponds, dark winding streets in October, strange black dogs and even stranger creepy happenings all combine in a suspenseful quest to solve the mystery of a witch who drowned in a pond on Halloween thirteen years earlier.

Shaya and Dev Solen have just moved to a new city.  The new neighbourhood is made up of a nest of winding streets in which the uninitiated are soon lost.  As a rule, Shaya must walk home from school with her older brother.  While taking a short cut through the park, they pass a pond, rumored to be the site of a drowning of a witch thirteen years earlier.  Next to the pond Shaya finds a raven feather bracelet.  The bracelet gives Shaya a very bad felling and she throws it away. Unfortunately, the bracelet is picked up and taken home by her brother.  Shaya begins to see shadowy images of the witch both near the pond and at home.  When her brother becomes ill and begins to behave strangely, Shaya knows she must investigate the death of the woman in the pond and return the raven bracelet.  But where should she bring the bracelet?  Now running around alone, by herself in the dark October evenings, Shaya sets out to investigate just what happened thirteen years earlier and to find the true meaning of the raven bracelet.

White Witch Pond is youth fiction, but since the arrival of Harry Potter and other children literature, adults have felt more comfortable reading books ear marked for kids.  There is something to be said for a book that you can pick up and read in one sitting.  Youth fiction, Harry Potter’s 700 plus pages aside, tends to be formatted for younger readers, therefore; shorter in length and designed to get the attention of younger readers quick and sustain this attention to the conclusion.  In my opinion, those authors who write good youth fiction must have better writing technique then those writing for adults.  They must employ fewer words, write more concisely and yet, at the same time deliver a high caliber plot driven story designed to keep children’s attention.  Jody Kihara is a master at clean concise writing that grabs your attention from the creepy beginning to the not- a- Disney- ending, dramatic cemetery conclusion.

The suspenseful pace and creepy settings are straight out of a Stephen king horror book, minus the hand shooting out of the ground.  Lost in twilight running down dark allies, being chased by a big scary black dog and shadowy glimpses of the witch near the pond and even in front of Shayas’ own home, added a spooky atmosphere to this fast paced book.  This book is scary.  I read this book from beginning to end in one night tucked up in my bed.  I was caught up in the building suspense and at a point in the story where someone seemed to be sneaking up on our main character, Shaya, when my husband decided to walk into the bedroom, as he is wont to do for the last twenty years.  Bad timing. I screamed.  He nearly jumped out of his skin, and looked behind himself, because surely there must be an axe wielding mad man or maundering bear immediately behind him to cause such a reaction.  What’s wrong with you, he yelled. (Years and a team of professionals might be able to come up with an answer to that!)  Scary book, was my only answer.  I had only intended to read the first couple of chapters but once I started reading I was hooked.  (In all honesty, I needed the story resolved before I could sleep.)

The characters are well drawn and true to life, Mom acts like a typical busy mom, distracted and yelling.  Older brother, Dev, is annoying in the way that all brothers are, pestering and superior.  The relationship between siblings is very real with equal parts competive, antagonistic and loving.  The main character Shaya is a bright twelve year old, full of the insecurities of a young girl in a new school and new neighborhood.  Shaya employs great determination to resolve this mystery and does not give up despite being very frightened, and, uses good detective skills in order to save her brother.

I believe girls will like this book more than boys.  The true depiction of the older brother’s taunts and lack of contribution to household chores may be a little too real for a boys taste.  Shaya is a fine model for young girl as she demonstrates good problem solving and independent thinking.  Although new in school, Shaya is able to maintain her own identity and does not allow herself to get caught up in the questionable activity of her new friends.

I thoroughly enjoyed this well written book and will certainly encourage my children read White Witch Pond.  Jody Kihara has written 6 other books which we hope to read soon.

Thanks to Jackleen for the detailed review – and best of luck with the new blog! cheap essays for sale

Promotional photos – make sure you have the rights!

Do you use photos in your website or for your book covers? If you haven’t bought the right licensing, you could be in big trouble!

Image: Know the rights!

One of my side jobs is website editing, and I’m compelled to post this piece because I’ve lately come across a few people who were using photos on their websites, book trailers, and even book covers (!!!) that they didn’t own the rights to. If you use photos in anything, even your blog, it’s really important that you understand photograph copyright and licensing!

Many people, when they want to place an image in their website, do a search on Google Images, download a photo they like, and then re-post it, thinking that if it’s ‘out there’, it can be re-used. Not so!!! Under international copyright law, the person who took the photo owns the copyright, which means that if you use the photo without their permission, you could be sued for using it. Think of photo licensing as similar to software licensing: a company produces a piece of software (like MS Word), and many people buy licences to it. If you download a ‘cracked’ copy… that’s illegal!

DCMA Takedown Notice

The good news: there are many photos out there that people are allowed to use for free, same as there are hundreds of free software programs. How do you know if the photo you want is a ‘free use’ one? First of all, STOP using Google images and start either buying stock photos or only searching sites that provide free photos (more on these below). And don’t download photos off other people’s websites and blogs! Even if they bought the rights to the photo, it’s not up to them to give you permission, it’s up to the copyright holder — which means you still have to buy your own rights (same as with software).

A lot of people figure they can ‘borrow’ photos because the internet doesn’t have a photo police force, so what are the odds someone’s going to bust you for using their photo? Well, it doesn’t happen often, but it can. So why risk it? Yes, it’s easy to take a photo down if someone demands that you do so, what if you’ve used that photo in your book trailer? Now you have to redo the whole trailer! Or even worse, what if you used it in a printed book? The photographer might suddenly feel a lot more litigious…!

What if I’m reviewing books or other products? Can’t I post photos of those?
Yes you can, because of a clause called ‘fair use’, which allows you to use images that are “for the benefit of the public”. You can post the book cover along with your book review, because the review is for the public’s benefit. But if a photo is promoting your product or service, that wouldn’t count as ‘fair use’. You might think your service benefits other people, but if the first purpose of the photo is to get you customers (or sponsors or advertizers), this is benefiting you. If the dividing line seems a bit hazy, that’s because it is; this article explains it really well.

I recommend playing it safe by making sure all your promotional photos are licensed. There are a few ways to do this:

1. Buy stock photos from sites like ShutterstockiStockphoto, and 123RF. Their licensing agreement states what you can use the photo for, and how big a print run you can do (yes, you do have to read the fine print!). I like iStockphoto because I can use the photo electronically and/or for print runs of up to 50,000 copies. (Which means that if my books sell more than 50,000 copies, I need to buy additional licensing for the cover photos… but at that point, I can afford more licensing!) Some stock photos sites are more affordable than others; the three I just mentioned are very affordable.

2. Use Creative Commons 
Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. Which basically translates to: people post their photos and make them freely available. They still own the copyright, but are giving you a free license. However, there are certain restrictions, so make sure you read and understand these. If the photo has a ‘Non-Commercial’ license, this means you can’t use it for commercial purposes (such as selling your product or service). So, no using these ones for your book cover! Or even your website, if your website is promoting your books that are for sale.

Creative CommonsIf you need photos for commercial purposes, make sure you’re searching the ‘Attribution License’ ones – which means you can use them commercially but must give credit to the photographer (like I do on my Frankincense Trail website).  Make sure you read the license for each photo, because if you’re searching on Flickr Creative Commons, you can sometimes ‘slip’ into the Non-Commercial section without realizing it!

Complicated? My recommendation is to go with stock photos, because this way you can be sure you own the right license. A small photo for your website only costs a few dollars – well worth the price of avoiding a lawsuit!

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Reviewers needed for Frankincense Trail blog tour

Another of my books is going off on vacation!

Lightning Book Promotions is organizing a blog tour for The Frankincense Trail in November, and we’re looking for reviewers. If you have a book review blog with 250+ followers, like YA historical fiction, and are interested in participating, please contact Stormi (details in her post). Once we have a list of confirmed bloggers, we’ll provide you with a copy of the book to review. We’ll also be running a 10-copy giveaway that your readers can enter.

Here’s the book’s trailer:

…and the synopsis:

In 200 BC, frankincense was worth its weight in gold, making Arabia was the envy of the world. But wealth comes at a cost: the precious resin had to be transported along the Frankincense Road, a dangerous route through rocky mountains and barren desert.

Alia is a princess in a dwindling kingdom that lies on the Frankincense Road. Having grown up hearing tales of Bilqis, the Queen of Sheba, she dreams of finding a way to restore her kingdom’s former might. When a caravan journeying to the mysterious incense lands stops to take on travellers, she sees her chance.

She soon realises, however, that her trust in the caravan leaders has been misguided. They are not mere incense merchants, but traitors and mercenaries. Alia’s journey soon turns from dangerous to life-threatening.

The Frankincense Trail is a story that transports the reader to a time and place reminiscent of the Arabian Nights tales.

You can read more about the book (and a preview of the first two chapters) on its website.

UPDATE: we now have all the blog tour places filled. I’ll post news of the tour nearer to the time (Nov 1-10), including details of the giveaway!

New Site, Old Site

Welcome to my new site! It’s about 90% done now, but as the rest involves tinkering with CSS that is currently beyond my understanding, I’ll save that for a rainy day. (Rats, wouldn’t you know it just started raining…)

Even though it badly needed the update, it’s kind of sad to see the old site go — like the passing of an era. Goodbye, little site – you served me well!

Jody Kihara WebsiteIf you encounter any broken links or other oddities in this site, please let me know. And apart from those… hope you enjoy the new site!