Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

Saturday, June 29, 2024

A Reader Review Event is Not a Book Blog Tour

 For some reason, I did not realize this event had posted 3 weeks ago:

So it's a bit late, but I thought I'd share it along with my analysis of the experience. 

Women on Writing, or WOW, calls this a Reader Review Event. I signed up for it as part of my marketing for We Burned Our Boats. I've done blog tours before with Women on Writing, and I've recommended them to my authors. Blog tours are great for marketing and generally worth the money, especially when the participants do a review instead of an interview or guest post. 

A good review is the gift that keeps on giving. The publisher can take snippets of it and post with the name of the blog on the Editorial Review section of the book's Amazon page. When they're chosen carefully, these snippets will help to sell a book. Reviews from random readers are nice if they post on Goodreads and Amazon, but a good editorial review on your Amazon page is way better.

I chose WOW's reader review option rather than their book blog tour option, not realizing fully the difference. It didn't help that the person I dealt with seemed distracted and not forthcoming with information. Although I sent her my updated photo and bio, she used an outdated one from a blog tour I did with her ten years ago for Afraid of Everything.

I missed the event because she didn't notify me when it posted. I only happened to come across it online. And were there links to blogs where I could see the full reviews? I guess not. The participants apparently aren't book bloggers. They're individuals who agree to do a review in exchange for a book. WOW facilitates the process, which is what you're paying them for. Fair enough, but for a little bit more money, I could have gotten the traditional book tour with links to the participating blogs. Perhaps with the upgrade, I might also have gotten better communication from my facilitator. 

I do think most of my book's reviewers did an excellent job. I'm overall pleased with their reviews, just not sure the value of this service was worth the expense. If I were to do it again, which I won't, or advise anyone else, I'd suggest they pay a little more and get the real book blog tour instead of the cheaper reader review option. 

Monday, June 24, 2024

Malfunctioning Blog List

 I should never have deleted my Blog List. I could have edited and updated it without deleting and starting over, I'm sure, and that's what I wish I had done. Because although everything on the gadget looks like it should work, it's not working. The list doesn't update itself according to new posts. It doesn't show the titles and snippets of the most recent post. It's only a list of blogs I follow with a quick link to their blog.

I've taken it off and added it back numerous times to see if that helps, but it never comes back like it used to, with the functionality working as it's meant to work. Where you can see the blogs you follow automatically updated according to their latest post. I've tweaked it every way I can think of, but still get nothing but the links. No snippets, no automatic updates.

This is a small and simple thing that's causing me way more frustration than it should. If anyone knows a way to fix that gadget I'd love to hear your ideas. And if anyone is tempted to remove yours and reinstall to update it, DON'T. 

Friday, June 21, 2024

The Shabby Corner Hotel

 Working on my South America manuscript, I found myself editing it in sections for blog posts like I did for the A to Z Challenge. Well, why not go with it? So, this continues my South America stories where they ended on April 30.  

They'll show up now and then rather than daily like in April. As before, my intent is to make each one complete in itself whether read from the beginning post or coming to it for the first time. This manuscript has yet to have a title or an ending. But you'll find a story woven through these experiences of my son Forrest and me during our three months in Chile and Peru. I hope you enjoy it.

A couple days before we left Estancia 107, I finally satisfied my curiosity about a nearby building on the corner. It looked like a large three-story house, gated with a small front garden. When I asked the hotel clerk at Estancia about it, she said it’s called Runcu. They allowed long-term guests for about 700 soles a month, the clerk said. That was only $200 a month!

Walking past a few days later, I saw a lady outside doing a bit of gardening. I greeted her and asked if she owned the building. A nicely dressed middle-aged woman who cares about the property and decides to pull a few random weeds. In other words, the owner.

When she responded in the affirmative, I asked if I could see a room. “I’m staying at Estancia 107 now, but I’d like to return to Arequipa next year for a few months,” I explained. 

I found her friendly and easy to talk to and we hit it off right away. She said, “We mostly rent to professional people who need to stay in the city for awhile.” 

“That’s perfect for me,” I replied, “because I want to enroll at the Spanish school and study.” 

She took me around to see the available rooms. They looked shabby but comfortable, what one might call “shabby chic.” Except that shabby was no longer chic, especially not in a hotel. Still, it was clean and quiet, obviously well-cared for by this pleasant lady and, at $200 a month, the price was right. 

“We are putting in a kitchen with laundry for guests as part of our remodel,” she said. “It should be ready next year when you want to come back.” 

I thanked her for the tour and asked how to contact her; she wrote down the hotel Facebook page and said to private message her.  When I returned to Arequipa, I wanted to stay at this charming but shabby big house. I knew from our conversation that any guests had to first meet with her approval. “Mostly professionals,” said it all. This was no hostel for backpacking millennials. 

It was August, 2019. I decided right then to come back in 2020 and study Spanish in Arequipa, lodging at the Runcu. I saw myself curled up in one of those big comfy armchairs in the bedrooms—I would want a room on the second or third floor—working on a book, like Hemingway during his expat days in Paris. 

Such were my dreams for 2020, a magical number that would surely bring magical events. I had big plans for 2020.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

No Such Place as Perfect

 I've been missing in action since April ended due to traveling and then guests. I arrived in Kansas City just in time to rush from the airport to the school and see these two on their last day. Kindergarten "graduation"-- missed the "ceremony" but got to surprise the graduate afterward. I don't think he expected to see me. Then we picked up his brother in first grade for a photo opportunity. Nonny who lives in Mexico hasn't been around much, unfortunately.

After two weeks in the States, I returned home to Veracruz and prepared for one of my sons and his family to visit. Here we are visiting Mandinga, a small fishing village north of Veracruz. This is one of the best pictures but unfortunately, my daughter in law isn't in it since she took the picture. Probably why it turned out so well. She's great with a camera.

I love the tropical climate and relaxed lifestyle where I live. It's only a few minutes from the beach and in an area with lots to see and do. Quite a few family members have come and stayed in my large house with me. When I leased it, it was with my family in mind. I'm so happy when they come and sad when they go. Travis's family was here last summer and loved visiting the taco stand across the street from my house.

I've been here nearly five years and even with flying back a couple times a year, I miss so much. I will miss Mexico when I move back to the States, no question about that. The ideal would be for all my family to move to Veracruz so I wouldn't have to leave. But that won't happen because jobs, money, mortgages, kids, schools, college, responsibilities. 

Me, I'm retired and can come and go as I please. I tend to chase the ideal so who knows where I'll land. But I always remind myself there's no such place as perfect. Only those oh so fleeting perfect moments, captured now and then with a camera.