Monday, 29 May 2017

Best of the ACW Archives ~ The Ethics of Online Book Reviewing

By Iola Goulton

It’s no secret that there are fake reviews on Amazon. Indie author John Locke has admitted to buying reviews, ‘entrepreneur’ Todd Rutherford admits to selling them, a Gartner study shows 10%-15% of online reviews are fake, and studies show consumers have difficulty identifying fake reviews (many people don’t even know it’s a problem).

Some authors are prepared to let ethics fall by the wayside in the quest for the almighty dollar. I’d love to say that Christians are immune to unethical or dishonest behaviour, but I’ve seen this isn’t the case.

Read more at the following link:

Friday, 26 May 2017

Book Launch Party Planning

Last month saw the long awaited Australian book launch for my recently released Regency The Elusive Miss Ellison. Miss Ellison released in the US back in February, and we had an online launch party then, but apparently it takes a very long time for books to get from the US to Australia!

I’ve been scouring sites such as ACW for months, looking for ideas on what might work on a limited budget, as this was my initiative, and therefore my responsibility. Of course, in the midst of all my info gathering I was praying for God to lead me to make wise choices, and now it’s done, I look back and realise how God was helping me with so many things, even before I knew I’d have a book to launch.
What is your Regency name?

About eighteen months ago we moved to a new church, and over time I came to learn that one of the young women who attends runs our local Christian bookstore. She is an avid reader, and someone who really enjoys Georgette Heyer, so we quickly hit it off 😀. When she realised I was a Christian author with a book due to be published she offered her support.

Me and my 'Mr Darcy'
Originally I’d been thinking how nice it would be to hold the launch party at a historic venue in the area, something to help create the ambiance I wanted for my historical novel. Once I saw the prices they wanted to charge per head, and the rigmarole associated with getting exact numbers, I soon realised this would not be feasible, with those doors needing to remain closed.  😥

Time for tea!
My friend (let’s call her Brooke) somehow managed to read an early copy of Miss Ellison and loved it, so her interest quickly moved from polite curiosity to enthusiastic support. That support soon swelled from thoughts about an in-store book signing to a Regency-inspired book launch, held at the church, where Brooke had managed to pre-sell nearly 50 copies of my book, just to congregation members! Having read it and enjoyed it, she was able to encourage so many of the ladies at our church to pre-order a copy, which in turn generated their excitement and interest in my novel, and willingness to support, via buying copies for their friends and family members, encouraging others to attend, helping set up the day before, and even baking delectable goodies for the afternoon tea. What a blessing!

Props for the Regency photo booth
On the day we had the usual book launch things, such as an author interview, a book reading, the opportunity for books to be signed, even a live Facebook stream (video here), but we took things a few steps further. There were people dressed in Regency attire, opportunity for people to create their own Regency name and locale (Lady Maria Edgerton, of Dalmouth Castle, anyone?), we had a Regency quiz, a Regency conversation game (filled with one-liners from books by Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer and yours truly), even a Regency photo booth! Lots of people commented on how much they enjoyed themselves, and I hope they come to associate fun and humour with reading my work.

I truly could not have done this without the support of Brooke and the people of my church. If I’d pushed ahead with doing things the way I’d originally envisaged, it would have been far smaller, far more stressful, far more complicated, and far more expensive. I'd anticipated that maybe 50 people might attend, maybe 70 if I was really fortunate. As it was there were over 100 (!) people in attendance, something neither I nor any hired venue could have coped with had I gone ahead with my original plans, and so many more people meant so many more book sales and pre-orders for book 2! 
Listening to the author interview

It’s funny isn’t it, how often what we think ‘will do’ proves to be less than what God wants for us. Our God is a good God, and His plans for us are for good and not for evil (Jeremiah 29.11). Our God is a mighty, powerful God. We may have many plans in our heart but it is God’s will that prevails (Proverbs 19.21).

Miss Ellison’s book launch once again proved the importance of trusting our faithful God to open the right doors at the right time. After all, “He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3.19).

So be encouraged! Trust God. He will open the right doors, and close the wrong ones.
He wants more for us than we realise.

How about you? Have you seen God surprise you by surpassing your expectations?

Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. Together with her husband she has pastored a church for ten years, and worked part-time as a public high school English and Learning and Support teacher. A longtime lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. Her Regency novel 'The Elusive Miss Ellison' released in the US in February 2017, and is available at, CBD, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository and Koorong. Her second novel ‘The Captivating Lady Charlotte’ releases June 27 and  is available for preorder now.

Connect with her:

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Book Review - The Spirituality of Jane Austen, by Paula Hollingsworth

Best known for her novels Pride and PrejudiceSense and SensibilityMansfield Park, and Emma, published anonymously, Jane Austen commented, critiqued, and illuminated the life of the British gentry at the end of the 18th century. But did Jane’s writings highlight anything about her own spirituality?  In this celebratory book, Paula Hollingsworth explores Jane Austen's gentle but strong faith and the effect it had both on her life and her writing.

This book delves into the personal faith of one of the world's most beloved British novelists, drawing from her own correspondence and personal writing. It also examines the deeper mindsets and attitudes of characters in her novels for clues of what their creator really felt.

Jane's own faith is an interesting question, considering her cheeky portrayal of clergymen in her novels, such as the pompous, servile Mr Collins, and the snobby, social climbing Mr Elton. We can't help wondering whether they were proof that she deplored the Christian faith, or if she simply considered that they represented a different brand of Christianity to hers.

Jane Austen's fondness for reading printed sermons, and some of her own written prayers indicate that she was a devout believer in her own quiet way. So do the guiding principles of her main characters. For example, I love the idea that the retiring Fanny Price actually serves the role of Old Testament prophet or seer in the novel 'Mansfield Park.'

It's revealed in these pages that Jane didn't appreciate the evangelical movement or the behaviour of its spearheads, such as John and Charles Wesley. It seems she objected to their emphasis on dramatic conversion experiences, and the sense of superiority it seemed to suggest. For Jane Austen, matters of faith should be strictly between the individual and God. She didn't think highly of the evangelical novelists of her day. In her opinion the Christianity they presented in their stories was too showy and in-your-face, although she used less modern expressions. It's all very interesting, and makes me pretty sure that if she'd been born in our time, she'd probably choose to write for the secular market, just as she did in her own.

I like the glimpse of the popular novels of her Regency time period. They tended to be either Gothic or Romantic Sentimental, neither of which was approved reading for young ladies. They were regarded as frivolous and even dangerous, but the Reverend George Austen gave his daughters uncensored access to his personal library of over 500 volumes, which did include recent hyped-up best sellers.

These days, Austen fans tend to think of him as a good dad, but back then, the majority might have thought differently. I couldn't help comparing his situation to a current question I've seen often going around, of whether conscientious parents should put filters on their kids' internet, or even forbid it altogether. I've come across parents who do either one or the other, although we never did either in our household. It makes me think we were following in the footsteps of the Austens. I love how they were self-proclaimed, unashamed novel readers, in their day and age. Jane has her 'Northanger Abbey' hero Henry Tilney declare, 'The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel must be intolerably stupid.'

Altogether, if you don't mind a fair bit of her plots being re-told, this is a good read with some interesting detail for any fan. Not only does it give another good glimpse into Jane Austen's family life, but gets us reconsidering our own attitudes alongside those of Jane and her family.

Thanks to NetGalley and Lion Hudson for my review copy.

Paula Vince is a South Australian author of contemporary, inspirational fiction. She lives in the beautiful Adelaide Hills, with its four distinct seasons, and loves to use her environment as settings for her stories. Her novel, 'Picking up the Pieces' won the religious fiction section of the International Book Awards in 2011, and 'Best Forgotten' was winner of the CALEB prize the same year. She is also one of the four authors of 'The Greenfield Legacy', Australia's first and only collaborated Christian novel. Her most recent novel, 'Imogen's Chance' was published April 2014. For more of Paula's reflections, you may like to visit her book review blog, The Vince Review.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Bitterness poisons

By Keona Tann

During the early stages of my illness people's expectations of me were still at a high level, let’s give it a scale and say a level 10 represents normal ability. Others couldn’t comprehend what was going on and I struggled to understand and convey it as well. It took months for a diagnosis to be made. Early in my illness I was lucky if I was functioning at level 4! A dramatic difference had occurred that I battled with! I was still expected to be able to function at level 10 but I was shocked and frustrated at how little my ability actually was! As my illness raged on and I tried to keep up with the demands of life, my ability evaporated! I was forced to stop working and was bed ridden! There were many days when getting out of bed was a HUGE challenge. There were days when all I could focus on was completing the very basics in life - getting up, taking the kids to school and eating! Many times I found myself in bed for days and for weeks on end! Now for someone who could previously handle extremely long, full and active days it was an absolute shock to the system (to say the least!)! I became resentful of all the things I couldn't do, all the things I was missing out on and my inability screamed inadequacy at me! The chores unable to be done mocked me! So bitterness poisoned me and permeated into my entire body until I came to that point of pure hatred for myself!

So what is bitterness? Bible study tools describes bitterness as "the feeling of misery and wretchedness, giving rise to the expression ‘bitter tears’" and it goes on to explain it as an untruth and immorality - as in the bitter thing in opposition to the sweetness of truth and the gospel.

If we search the Bible we can find many examples of God's truth about sweetness for our lives. But I think this one is so relevant: 2 Corinthians 2:14-17 declares that we can thank God! For He has made us His people and leads us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. We are used to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? We do not preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us. (NLT version paraphrased).

I just couldn't see how I was a "life giving perfume" when I couldn't do much! I felt that I had no value left because I had nothing to give! But 2 Corinthians 2 declares that we can join Jesus in a parade of celebration! That it’s not about what I can do but who I am! Because of Jesus I am someone worth celebrating! How incredible and amazing is that?!

I see now that I was in a season of rest and thankfully God held me in his hands so that I was protected! I felt that so much was stripped away from my life. I see now that the things distracting me from pursuing God's perfect plan for me are gone! I have been refined by the 'fire' of affliction as described in Isaiah 48:10 (AMP): "Indeed, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested and chosen you in the furnace of affliction.”. Refining is not a pleasant experience and so much gunk comes to the surface but how incredible is the result!!!

“There is only one way of victory over the bitterness and rage that comes naturally to us--To will what God wills brings peace.” Amy Carmichael

Living with bitterness is a really yucky place to be in. I implore you to search your heart for any bitterness and speak out the promises from God.

Declare Psalm 119:103 - Lord your words are so sweet to me, sweeter than honey! Fill me with your sweetness so that I can spread it to those I encounter!

Many blessings!

Keona Tann has lived most of her life in the beautiful Australian state - Tasmania. She has been married to her college sweetheart for over 20 years. Keona and her husband consider themselves extremely blessed to be raising 2 wonderful teenagers. They have also been long time child sponsors with Compassion. Keona's working life has seen her develop over 15 years of customer service experience. Health issues have plagued her for 28 years and over the past 2 years have been severely debilitating. Seeking direction from God her passion for writing was recently reignited. Writing the following mission statement: "I desire to impact the world through the words I share. I long to enrich, empower and encourage others whilst delivering my stories with empathy and understanding." she hopes to launch her new career soon.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Writing different genres By Susan Page Davis

Today we welcome Susan Page Davis to our blog. Susan writes several different genres and is blogging about this for us today. 

From the time I started writing fiction, I’ve written in several different genres. I love variety, and writing different kinds of stories keeps me from getting bored and, I like to think, keeps my writing from getting stale.

The first full-length book I ever finished was romantic suspense, but my first book ever published was a historical romance. I’ve continued to write in both genres, but I have also published two children’s chapter books, a couple dozen cozy mysteries, and a few plain ol’ romance novels.
What am I working on now? A historical romance novella, a cozy mystery, and a romantic suspense novel in my Maine Justice series.

Working on several books at once doesn’t bother me, unless they are somewhat alike. For instance, if I’m working on a novel set in 1860 and a novella set in 1880, I might have moments where I get confused as to what technology and services were available at that time. Did this area have railroads yet? Telegraph? A county courthouse?

As to the projects I’m working on now, the historical novella is set in Texas in 1886. The other two are contemporary, so no problems there.

But the characters for my suspense novel—cops and their families, suspects, friends, and crime victims—do speak, act, and think differently from the modern, middle-aged women who own the tearoom in the cozy mystery series. The tearoom ladies are much more genteel than the cops, much more upbeat, and always trying to make their friends and customers feel loved, or at least valued.
My cops, on the other hand, see a lot of rough happenings, and sometimes they get depressed. Sometimes they argue and throw things. Sometimes they break the rules and give their bosses cause to discipline them.

So, for each genre I have to have a distinct “voice,” which amounts to attitude. My Texas Ranger is a little folksy, a little funny, but determined to get his man. My tearoom owners are gentle and compassionate, but good at exposing lies and crimes. My Maine Justice cops are tough, but each has a tender side that is only seen by those who know them well.

Do you see a particular attitude or mood running through books of your favorite genre, even when they are written by different authors?
Short bio:
Susan Page Davis is the author of more than seventy published novels. A Maine native, she now lives in the state of Kentucky in the USA. Visit her website at: , where you can see all her books, sign up for her occasional newsletter, and read a short story on her romance page. Her newest books are Found Art (romantic suspense) and My Heart Belongs in the Superstition Mountains (western historical romance).

Monday, 22 May 2017

Best of the ACW Archives ~ Are you a Reviewer, an Influencer or a Basher?

By Iola Goulton 

Last week I talked about how book reviews are for readers. But not all reviews are created equal. When it comes to online reviews (at Amazon or other sites), it can be hard know which reviews you can trust. 

The trick is knowing something about the reviewer’s history. On most sites you can click on the reviewers name and see their profile, which includes their reviews. Sites like Goodreads and Christian Book show the average rating for a reviewer. Amazon doesn’t show this statistic, but the reviewing page will soon show you if they a reliable reviewer. 

Personally, I ignore reviewers who only have one review, or who only ever review books by a single author. To me, those shout ‘fake’ (biased friends and family, shill, sockpuppet, or even paid reviews). I ignore reviewers who only ever give five stars, because that doesn't tell me anything about their reading tastes and whether I'm going to like the books they like. And I ignore books that only have five-star reviews, because even the classics have one-star reviews.

Read more at the following link:

Friday, 19 May 2017

Free, Bargain or Discount ebooks

Today we are sharing ebook deals from authors who contribute to our blog. Prices are listed in US Dollars. Please check the price before buying.

Young Adult Fantasy

Heart of the Mountain: A short novella by Jeanette O'Hagan

YA Fantasy Adventure in the lost realm deep under the mountain.

Twins Delvina and Retza’s greatest desire is to be accepted as prentices by their parents’ old crew when they stumble across a stranger. Trapped under the mountain, young Zadeki’s only thought is to escape home to his kin. Peril awaits all three youngsters. Will they pull apart or work together to save the underground realm?

Heart of the Mountain is available for 99 cents USD (usual price $1.50 USD) from Amazon Kindle and Books2Read.

Romantic Suspense

The Priority Unit (Maine Justice Book 1) by Susan Page Davis

A missing man.

A mysterious computer program – 

Even the people constructing it don’t know what it will do.

On the worst night of Harvey Larson’s life, his partner is killed and his wife, Carrie, walks out on him. Ten years later, the Portland, Maine police detective has learned to cope with his grief and depression. When he and the Priority Unit investigate the disappearance of software designer Nick Dunham, he meets a young woman who will change his life. Jennifer Wainthrop was the last person to admit seeing Dunham alive.

Harvey and his partner, Eddie Thibodeau, stay a step ahead of a bomber and put together the clues that tell the truth: Dunham’s kidnapping and the bombings are one case, and Jennifer is caught in the middle. News that Carrie has committed suicide may plunge Harvey back into despair. Harvey turns to God for help untangling his complicated life. He finds strength in his faith as he attempts to save Jennifer from the same grim fate that claimed Nick. But Jennifer must depend on her own wits and God alone when the killer gets too close.

The Priority Unit will be offered FREE (ebook regular price $4.99 USD) on June 8 on Amazon Kindle.

Contemporary Romance

Cinderella's Boot by Darlene Franklin

Cynthia Ellen Cooper—known affectionately as “Cinderella”—left her wedding boot in the dust when she ran away from her wedding to work on a sheep station in Australia.

Four years later, she’s back home—and so is her ex-fiancé, now a DVM from Oklahoma State University. They reach a truce and work side by side in his father’s animal clinic.

Cyn soon discovers she wants more—but she has to battle bad history and a demanding pet owner for Keith’s attention.XXXXHow can Cinderella find a second chance at love?

Cinderella's Boot is available for $2.99 USD on Amazon Kindle.

His Perfect Catch (A Sapphire Bay Novella) by Narelle Atkins

Sydney girl Mia Radcliffe borrows her cousin's beach house in Sapphire Bay to escape the scandal surrounding her ex-fiancé. Her new neighbor is her secret crush from years ago… and she’s still captivated by the handsome builder who was a youth group leader at her church. 

Living next door to Mia wasn’t part of Pete McCall’s plan when he started renovating his beach house. The blonde beauty inspires thoughts of settling down, despite her high maintenance ways and big-city dreams. 

Love kindles during their time together and Mia’s heart is set on returning to Sydney with Pete. When new opportunities arise, Pete and Mia must decide if their love is for keeps.

His Perfect Catch is available for 99 cents USD on Amazon Kindle.