Welcome

by Alan

Thank you for visiting.   I sincerely appreciate your interest in my writing. I will be honored if you will take a moment or two to check out a picture book that I’ve written for children, The Monster on Top of the Bed.  It’s illustrated by fellow Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators member, Manuela Pentangelo.

The Kindle edition is available for immediate download.  These features make it special:

  1. Ice-cream parlor beautiful artwork
  2. Text magnification – so you can read every word easily, even if you are using a small smartphone
  3. Links to download performances of the book in English, Spanish and Italian
  4. Free text-to-speech so children can listen to the book while they read it.

Printed editions of The Monster on Top of the Bed are available in book stores and on line.

Click here to peek inside the book or place an order.

This page contains a number of videos about the book. On this page, you’ll find reviews.

The Monster on Top of the Bed is also available in a multimedia edition that allows you to listen to the story being read by several different narrators from around the world by downloading an .mp4 edition.  Click here for details.

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Many public and private sector employees are starting to think about what to give as presents for the holidays. Here’s an opportunity for you to help your employees buy a beautiful children’s book for 50% off the list price.

Step One: Check out The Monster on Top of the Bed on Amazon.com. Amazon has a “Look Inside” feature. (You may prefer to buy a copy of so you can examine it at your leisure.)

There’s also a companion book, My Monster on Top of the Bed, which allows children to be an author. It’s the same story, but without the words.

Step Two:

Fill out this form, and I’ll send you all the information you need to allow your employees to buy these books for 50% off the list price.


Your employees will thank you!

 

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Categories Press

How To Publish and Sell 100 Copies of your Kindle Book with No Money Down: Detailed Step By Step PlanHow To Publish and Sell 100 Copies of your Kindle Book with No Money Down: Detailed Step By Step Plan by Diana Heuser

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This review is from: How To Publish and Sell 100 Copies of your Kindle Book with No Money Down: Detailed Step By Step Plan (Kindle Edition)

I believe that if you have a good book, and you follow the advice in this book, you’ll sell many more than 100 copies of your book.

I’ve been reading many different books on marketing lately, trying to develop a strategy that I will actually be comfortable implementing. This book points out the reality of publishing–just putting a book out there is no guarantee of it’s success. However, putting a bad book out there is almost a guarantee of failure. Diana’s book provides lots of detailed info on the HOW of how to prepare your kindle book and how to publish it.

There’s a section that helps you to understand how to format your Kindle books that will save you a lot of time, and it is especially valuable if you need to understand the concept of “styles”, which will save you a ton of grief when you’re putting together your book.

Likewise, there’s great advice on formatting pictures and tables — in fact, she advises converting tables into pictures so they stay stable, and even provides a link to a free screen capture utility.

There’s a discussion of how to build a cover, using Kindle’s tools that is helpful.

Once you’ve got your book, Diana shares some really good strategies for marketing. They’re well worth reading. Some points are
* Book trailers
* Setting up a store that includes your books and other similar books, earning your money and increasing the value perception of your books by associating them with other high quality books.

I learned a few things about Facebook Groups and I learned something new about MailChimp–they have a template that links directly to an Author Central Account. I have yet to try that out, but I love to learn valuable things about tools that I use.

The book is filled with illustrated step-by-step instructions. Well worth the investment.

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Categories Book Reviews

I’m relatively new to using Goodreads, and I’ve discovered that one of the things that confused me also confuses other members.

When I go to enter a review, I struggle with the procedure.  It turns out to be simple, but it’s confusing because the link for creating a review is titled “Edit Review.” If it were titled “Create or Edit a Review,” I would find the process to be much easier.

 

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Categories For Readers

The Chase: A Novel (Fox and O'Hare, #2)The Chase: A Novel by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you like action-packed stories that feature interesting characters and plot twists and pure escapist thriller reading, you’ll like this book.

I enjoyed listening to Scott Brick’s presentation, which has excellent pacing and elocution.

This is the second (or maybe third story if you count the teaser short story) in the Fox and O’Hare series. Kate O’Hare, an FBI agent who might be considered a lethal weapon and Nick Fox, a super-handsome thief are forced to pair up to steal a work of art and make sure that it is returned to the Chinese government. They also have to take down Carter Grove. Grove a former White House Chief of Staff, now heads up Black Rhino, a black ops version of Pinkerton Detective Agency.

It’s fun escapist reading, with a cast of characters that were originally developed in The Heist. I enjoyed it. I found myself hoping that the series allows the characters to grow.

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Why Children Love The Monster on Top of the Bed

Once upon a time, there was a critter who was scared every day by a little girl named Suzy who loved to jump up and down on her bed. One day a critter who lived under her bed, Karrit, got up the nerve to visit Suzy and become her friend. Because Karrit did that, he discovered that Suzy was also afraid of him.

Because Suzy did not want the critter to be scared, she treated him the way that she wanted to be treated. She even told him a mantra that her Grandmom had used as a child, “You’re welcome to stay until I say, ‘Nay’, then it’s time to go and you can’t say, ‘no.’ After working through a series of humorous misunderstandings and fears they became best friends, and neither of them were ever afraid of monsters again.

Bloggers Say:

By Macaroni Kid:

The Monster on Top of the Bed” is such a fantastic story and so well written that my daughter literally went to bed on her own the first night I read it to her! Seriously! Score!”

TheSuperMom.com:

A fear of monsters under the bed is common with children of all ages, starting with a vague sense of the unknown with younger toddlers and graduating to perhaps a more solid image in the minds of older children.

The Monster on Top of the Bed flips the idea around, like the famous Disney Movie Monsters Inc., and bases the story on the concept that it’s the monsters that are actually afraid of the children.

Karrit, the actual monster under the bed, is very scared of the monster on top of the bed, who happens to be Suzy, the little girl who of course, sleeps on top of the bed. Karrit has heard that Suzy eats “hot dogs” and strange things like “cakes made out of pans”, and horrors of all horrors……Karrit has heard that she eats carrots!

2Wired2Tired.com

Last week a new book arrived in the mail… The Monster on Top of the Bed by Alan Jordan.

Since then we have read it so many times that I have lost count. It is now one of those books that you somewhat memorize and can recite without actually reading the pages!

All 3 of my kids, aged 18 months, 5 yrs, and 7 yrs, have brought the book out to read either independently or for me to read to them, without suggestion or prompting! …The book was good and that is not an understatement. There is nothing like a good book, but it was the silliness of the monster’s interpretation of Suzy and the illustration that really makes the book a winner!

The graphics are great! Bold colors reminiscent of Pixar’s Monsters Inc. I also have to give the author props for adding free downloaded recorded readings of the book with multi-lingual capacity that can even go on your iPod! … Overall I have to say that the book was a huge success… especially since all the recent purchases at the school book fair have been totally ignored since this book came in the mail!

Overview

Children, parents, grandparents, teachers, librarians and reviewers love The Monster on Top of the Bed! It empowers children to discover (1) How to banish monsters; (2) that friendship conquers fear; and (3) that the key to making friends is The Golden Rule.

Special Features

Gorgeous Artwork

The ice-cream parlor delicious artwork automatically displays in two-page spreads. The words scale to whatever size device you are using. Plus, the book includes pop-up text so that the words can easily be read even on small devices like phones.

Keep children occupied while you are on the run

One mother said, “I was in a long line at the supermarket and my four-year old daughter was bored. I whipped out my Droid, pulled up the Kindle app and showed her the book. She reads the same book at home on a Kindle Fire HD and she was immediately captivated.”

Grab a copy now, or give The Monster on Top of the Bed as a gift. Your children or grandchildren will thank you!

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Brothers and BonesBrothers and Bones by James Hankins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Brothers and Bones pulled me in from the first sentence, “I sometimes feel like my own little world is encased in a souvenir snow globe, the kind you shake so you can watch fat white flakes swirl around a miniature Eiffel Tower.”

Immediately, I knew that I’d get to know this character intimately, and I was not disappointed.

A little later Charlie, the main character, gives a homeless man some money. The man says, “Thanks, Wiley,” and stuns Charlie because the only person ever to call Charlie that was his brother, Jake, who disappeared thirteen years ago. Is the homeless man his brother? This question haunts Charlie and causes him to go through so much personal angst that he’s in jeopardy of losing his job, his fiancee’ and his life, as he knows it.

To be honest, suspension of belief is required in some places, but that’s something that Hankins has in common with other bestselling authors.

If you like to read a story where you get to know, really know a character that is constantly placed in fear of death–psychological, physical and career, and you enjoy a plot that’s filled with twists, you’ll enjoy this book, and it’s priced right.

If that’s not enough, check out the sheer quantity of reviews on Amazon. Most New York Times best selling authors would envy the number of people who have chimed in their thoughts. It takes a lot of time to write a review, and to have so many people review a book is fantastic.

View all my reviews

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Before Publishing Your eBook: a 3-Month ChecklistBefore Publishing Your eBook: a 3-Month Checklist by Pepper Wu, Laura

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
View all my reviews

It’s rare that I find a marketing book that delivers <I>exactly</I> what it claims. This book does. It starts with a short intro and then gets into the meat of the subject, which is planning a book launch.

I have to tell you that I have been particularly bad about planning book launches. I tend to want to just get my book out there, and as a result I cheat myself and my readers. This has been true for the books that I’ve published traditionally and through self publishing (not vanity press–real self publishing) options.

Recently, I’ve been reading a number of books on marketing because it’s time for me to change and to start doing what is necessary to sell my work. As such I’ve read one of Laura’s other books, and found it helpful. When I saw this one, I grabbed it–didn’t even bother with looking for a preview, and I was not disappointed.

There’s much material in this book that I already know: The value of proofreading, formatting and “brilliant book covers,” for example. And, there’s a lot of material that I sort of know. How to build an awesome auto bio, and soliciting blurbs, for example. I still need to hone my efforts in these areas, and Laura Wu’s advice is extremely helpful to me.

I read this book on my Kindle Fire HD, and that’s a great device for reading it, it’s easy to make highlights and notes, and then to go back later to my Amazon Highlights page and quickly review the high points, but don’t read this book exclusively on a Kindle–also read it on a PC or Mac and click the links to some of the checklists. In that way you’ll be able to print them out.

Now that I’ve given you that advice, perhaps I should talk about the type of links that Laura Wu uses. This book is filled with links to resources that are valuable. Some may, in fact, be self serving, but it does not feel that way. I truly get the impression that she is doing everything she can to provide all of the information that you need to benefit from this book. As a result, I think very highly of Ms. Wu.

  • Let’s get on the value of some of the advice provided:
  • Building our mailing list – Good information and a link to a reputable, relatively easy-to-use mailing list provider.
  • Host content that you own – Too many people invest all of their effort writing for Facebook, etc. When they get banned, or the rules change, all of that investment can go down the tubes. Ms. Wu explains this in an easy-to-understand and friendly way.
  •  Dedicated media page – I’m still working on mine.
  • Engage and interact with readers – She provides a link to an example that you might emulate.

Just download a sample and look at the Table of Contents–it’s filled with helpful topics, but in my opinion, the most helpful information is what to do and when for our book launch. There are checklists for three months before, two months before, one month to go, two weeks to go, one week to go and launch day.

Ms Wu (I keep wanting to call her Laura because she writes in a conversational way and imparts valuable information) has overdelivered, and I recommend that you immediately purchase and read this book. Then, implement it’s advice. I’m going to implement much of it.

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Get Your Book in the News: How to Write a Press Release That Announces Your BookGet Your Book in the News: How to Write a Press Release That Announces Your Book by Sandra Beckwith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Before I start this review perhaps I should mention that I’ve written many press releases for a variety of products. I bought this book because I’m involved with marketing some of my own books now–something that I need encouragement with because I enjoy writing a lot more than marketing. I thought it would be good if I went through this book and found at least one thing that was new for me. I’m going to pinpoint the information that I found most helpful. Now, onto the review.

There is a lot of information in this book that is truly valuable to an author who wants to promote their book. This information includes:

  • The questions that each press release should answer. One of these questions surprised me: “Why did the author write it?” – I wasn’t quite sure how this would be handled, but later in the book it was revealed that this topic should only be covered by quoting the author. That made perfect sense to me. Interestingly, in the past when I wrote releases I focused on quotes about the content of the book, not why I wrote it. This tip alone made the purchase price of the book worthwhile to me.
  • Who could/should receive a press release. – There’s an extensive list of job descriptions (book reviewers, journalists, etc.) that might be interested in receiving your press release.
  • Resources for creating your own media list. – This is pretty comprehensive list, and it includes some places, like masthead.org, that I knew about, and wished that I had learned about sooner.
  • An extensive “bonus” (really an Appendix) that displays actual press releases in a variety of styles that the reader can review and emulate. – This is valuable stuff because in one place you can see the differences in style of vtarious press releases. It saves hours of work.Here are some of the topics that I think most readers will find valuable:
        • Elements of a book announcement press release;
        • How journalists and other use your release;
        • Step-by-step instructions for preparing a release – These really are the steps, and they’re well explained.
        • Common press release mistakes – If you avoid even one of these, you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle.
        • Press release formatting – She doesn’t say this. I will. People prejudge a book by its cover, and they prejudge press releases and screenplays by their formatting. If your formatting isn’t right, it’s often a complete waste of time to send out a release.
        • Ways to distribute your release. – The information is excellent, but leaves out certain resources that might help you to distribute on a shoe-string budget.
        • Following up with the press.

    With all of the raving that I’ve done, you may be interested in knowing why I didn’t rate the book five stars. The answer is that this book is really the first part of a pipeline. There are many opportunities in the book to spend more money, with the author (and I assume with her business associates.) That bothers me, but not too much. I know what to ignore. I’m concerned that a novice might get taken advantage–not so much by the author, but by some of the affiliates to which links are included.

    Also, I know enough about the topic to see that the author often reveals about 90% of what you need to know–which will encourage readers to contact the author to do press releases for her. She also does not reveal some of the ways that you can obtain press releases at relatively low cost, but this is acceptable to me because someone who does not know how to judge a professional from a charlatan might get taken advantage of with incomplete knowledge.

    I’ve rated this book four stars, and I recommend that you buy it and use it.

    View all my reviews
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Categories Book Reviews, For Readers, Techniques
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Motivating Young Children to Read

by Alan

Children get excited about reading when they are engaged in an interesting book like The Monster on Top of the BedOne of the best ways to motivate children to read is to read to them constantly, and to read them books that interest them. I know, I used to read many books to my daughter (She is now grown up, married and living 3,000 miles away.) We read books that ranged from Frog and Toad are Friends to Treasure Island to Kipling’s Just So Stories.

Another way to motivate children to read is to engage them in writing their own stories.  For some children, this is easy.  Others feel dumb when they don’t have a story that they want to tell you.  However, almost all children can make up a story when they are given pictures or stuffed animals and asked to make up a story or poem about them. You might even try suggesting to a child that they write a story about why a particular favorite stuffed animal wants to read. That’s a winner.

It used to be that children only read printed books, but with the advent of the Kindle and iPad, that’s changing, and I’m pleased to help make that happen.

One of my books, The Monster on Top of the Bed, is available as an inexpensive Kindle book that than can be read on most phones, tablets, iPads and Macs and PCs. It has special features like pop-up text, and text-to-speech conversion that children love to play with. Children are more interested in these features than adults. When children get involved with technology, their interest in reading increases.  I have found that children also enjoy reading the print version–they point to the illustrations and immediately get involved in the book. (Click the widget, below.)

More than one parent has read my books to their children (example of a review on Two Wired Too Tired) and had them love going between different editions.

Now, with the Kindle edition it turns out that kids ask their parents if they can read the book on their parent’s phone or iPad when they are with their parents in stores and meetings and are bored.

Children who become interested in reading at an early age, they are likely to stay interested their entire lives. Check out http://www.MonBed.com to learn more about The Monster on Top of the Bed.  This book truly does have the ability to motivate children to want to read, and in the process it banishes monsters and models how to use The Golden Rule to help children make friends.

Thinking about the idea of inspiring children to write, I’ve decided to create a version of The Monster on Top of the Bed without words and title it My Monster on Top of the Bed, and leave a space on the front cover for the child’s name as the author.   This will be a print book that children can write their own story on. Underneath that in small print will be something like, “Inspired by the story The Monster on Top of the Bed by Alan H. Jordan and the illustrations for that book by Manuela Pentangelo.” They can refer to The Monster on Top of the Bed if they want to get story ideas.

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Good Guys vs. Bad Guys

by Alan

This post is inspired by a Guest Post by K.C. Berg on Self Publisher’s Showcase. (The emphasis is mine, but) K.C. said:

Why?  Because writing should mimic life—and few things in life are that ‘cut and dried’.  Think about the people you know; few people are all good or all bad.  Typically, humans are a mixture of these two extremes.  What does this mean to you as an author?  It means that the characters you create also have to be a mixture; your protagonist, in essence, has to have flaws, and your antagonist should also have some positive (if not endearing) qualities.

I agree, and I’d like to point out that the eminent editor Sol Stein emphasizes this point in his books and software programs.  James Hankins, Dean Koontz and Stephen King are experts at revealing mufti-dimensional characters.  There’s an art to making someone wonder about a character, as James Hankins does in his book Drawn. He writes

If this seat was occupied when he came in, Kenny the bartender politely asked whoever was sitting there to find another stool. (Endearing)

Immediately, I’m wondering why a bartender would do this.  Is it related to the bartender?  Is it related to the character, Kenny?  To both?  As you may surmise, in one sentence Hankins develops both characters.  Of course, the above sentence does no have to stand on its own. The character of Kenny starts out with one of the most intriguing openings I’ve seen. Link to Amazon preview.

Okay, let’s go to children’s books for a moment.  I wrote a book The Monster on Top of the Bed.  (Kindle Edition with pop-up text and text-to-speech) Suzy and Karrit are two children, although Karrit not human.  How did I make a character who is  monster endearing, and non-threatening to children.  Much of the the work was done by the illustrator, Manuela Pentangelo, of Sardinia, Italy because she was able to create an interesting looking character with huge non-threatening eyes and a ponytail. Nevertheless, her drawings originated from the characters that I created in my manuscript, so I deserve some credit.  I had decided to make the character of Karrit vulnerable, and to make his name non-threatening. (How many children are afraid of a carrot?)  After introducing a character that was likely to scare many children

(Note: Click these images to see them larger .)

I give Suzy a way out of being afraid by using a mantra that her Grandmother (a trusted source) has given her:

and soon we learn that Karrit has been scaring Suzy.  Both characters are good and bad, and because they follow The Golden Rule in the way that they treat each other, both characters are endearing.

we learn that Karrit has been scaring Suzy.  Both characters are good and bad, and because they follow The Golden Rule in the way that they treat each other, both characters are endearing.

Now, you may say, that’s just a children’s book.  True, in a full length novel, it’s more complicated.  Or is it?  Children have absolutely no tolerance for boring stories.  You can lose someone in a novel from time-to-time, but bore a child and they put the book down and don’t pick it up again, and they’ll never tell you why.

I’m writing a novel, and I’m striving to make my characters multidimensional and vulnerable. For me, that’s the key to making good guys who do have some bad qualities and bad guys who have some good qualities.

P.S. I’m fighting against spammers.  Comments will be open only for 24 hours.  After that, please use the Contact page to reach me.

 

 

 

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Categories Techniques, Writing Insights
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