23 March 2016

The Marauders by Tom Cooper [Review]

I had the chance to read the book, The Marauders by Tom Cooper. I have to tell you I was VERY surprised about how much I enjoyed this book. It's a heartfelt story that's kind of on the violent side in some moments, but in others, you really begin to care about these characters and understand them (even though quite a few of them are rough).

This book was a combination of things for me - a bit of comedy, a bit of tragedy, and a lot of Louisiana. The characters in the book struggle with two devastating environmental factors - Hurricane Katrina, and the BP Gulf Coast Oil Spill. You are first introduced to two brothers - the Toup brothers - who are looking out for their territory (which hides their very special secret stash of something special, if you know what I mean) and spot Gus Lindquist who is roaming a bit too close to their property. But Gus isn't looking for their stash. He's looking for gold. Since Hurricane Katrina, so much of people's stuff has ended up in the swamp which Gus collects and sells for cash. He has made his share of enemies by using his medal detector to sell off his findings, but things for him get much worse he realizes his prosthetic arm is gone.

But these aren't the only hardships we hear about in the tale. Next we have father and son shrimping team Wes and his father. Sadly, they lost Wes' mom in Hurricane Katrina, they both have been battling those memories since the day she was gone. Both are battling the impact of the BP Oil Spill as Wes' father struggles to keep himself afloat as a shrimp fisherman. But when Wes resolves to finish his boat and cuts ties with his father, he begins to face exactly what it means to fight for what you want and not lose yourself amongst the struggles.

In another part of the bayou, coming out of prison, Cosgrove partners up with a fellow parolee, Hanson, an opportunity steal the goods out of an elderly woman's house to re-sell. But then they come across even more trouble when the mess with none other than the Toup brothers.

I wasn't sure if I was going to like these characters, but despite their often unappealing and appalling ways, each of them became endearing to me (except for the Toup brothers who remained a threat for most of the book; but even them I got to know a bit better).

The shrimping community comes alive in this book and the competition to sustain a life among the tragedies following Hurricane Katrina and the BP Oil Spill make each person you come across likable and understandable. Each character provides good humor to bounce off of such as Gus' corny knock knock jokes.

In my mind, I thought it was more a guy book (not a lead or supporting female character among them) and there is some mildly uncomfortable violence throughout, I had a heart for these characters and their woes and struggles. As for the ending, I was very satisfied, even though it had a sad twinge to it.

I would highly recommend this book if you want to experience the lives of unique, but dysfunctional characters. Cooper's vivid depiction of the Louisiana area made me feel like I was there and his ability to portray the dialect of the region was perfect.

Purchase the book now by visiting this link to Random House website.

I received the above titled book in exchange for my honest review.

21 March 2016

Chat with Author James Thibeault and Win Prizes [Twitter Party!] #DeaconsFolly

I am so excited to announce we have another Twitter party coming up! I'll be chatting with the author of the book Deacon's Folly by James Thibeault and this book is really good. I can't wait to hear what he says about it!




About the Book Deacon's Folly

When a backwoods town has a barbecue, it's to mock a teenage boy who nailed himself to a tree house. While Devon’s not the brightest bulb and has no recollection of his childhood, he’s a kind soul who seems friendly enough. Still, the whole town despises him. Only the new deacon in town takes sympathy towards the boy and is determined to discover Devon’s forgotten past, and the reason why it is never discussed.

About the Party

The party will be on April 3rd at 2pm PST and we will be using the hashtag #DeaconsFolly.

If you haven't joined in a Twitter party before, you will have the chance to chat with the author about his book as well as win some prizes! Here's what you can win -

Grand Prize - $25 Amazon Gift Card
Second Prize - $10 Starbucks Gift Card
Third Prize - $5 iTunes Gift Card
Fourth Prize - free eBook copy of Deacon's Folly

Make sure you RSVP so I know you'll be coming! Enter your Twitter user name, link to your Twitter account home page, and your email (see how I've done it below). Also by RSVP'ing I'll be tweeting you a reminder to join in before the party starts, so you won't miss it! Make sure you follow me @BeingTheWriter and the author at @DeaconsFolly1.



If you're joining, click the tweet below and let all of your followers know they can join in too!

Chat with @BeingTheWriter about the book #DeaconsFolly with @DeaconsFolly1 at 4/3 at 2pm PST RSVP to win prizes http://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com/2016/03/chat-with-author-james-thibeault-and.html

Can't wait for the party to check out James Thibeault's book? Click this link to purchase on Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Here's some disclaimers -

Winners to be announced throughout the Twitter Party. I am not responsible for shipping the prizes to the winner. Selections of winners are random and based on whether or not the participant has participated in Twitter party and include hashtag # in their tweets in response to questions asked of participants throughout the party. Prize winners will be announced throughout the Twitter Party and must follow necessary directions to claim prize. Please only RSVP once. Multiple RSVPs will not increase chances to win prizes. I have been compensated to host this Twitter party. I am not eligible for prizes.

18 March 2016

5 Lessons I Learned the Hard Way with Hosting Twitter Parties

Over the last 8 months or so, maybe longer, I've had the opportunity to host Twitter parties with authors about books they want to promote. If you don't really know what a Twitter party is, it's an hour long (usually; some can be a half hour!) Q&A with participants who seek to win prizes and you (the host) will be discussing the brand or company or person or book. A twitter party with an author is a bit different because I have an Q&A session with the author as well as give opportunities to those joining in to win prizes. So after I ask the author a question, I'll ask the participants a question so they can win a prize. I also encourage participants to ask the author questions as well.

But along the way I have learned some lessons. Very valuable lessons that I take with me into each brand new party I prepare for. I thought I would share them in case you want to start hosting these parties yourself.

1) Have clear guidelines on how people can win prizes.

This was a lesson learned the hard way. My very first party someone called me out towards the end that I had contradictory rules on my blog post about how people win prizes. I was imagining a sudden stampede of angry people at my door demanding a redo of the entire party when that happened. I apologized and explained this would be fixed. All was well, but I realized I couldn't let this happen again.

So as you are describing rules on how people can win prizes, make sure they are clear! Do people need to RSVP? Do they follow you and someone else? What people aren't eligible? Make sure that is obvious on wherever you are announcing the party.

2) Choose a short hashtag.
This may not seem like a big deal, but hashtags are imperative to a successful twitter party! Everyone will be using them too - you, the author (or company you are promoting), the participants, etc. With each tweet, a hashtags must be added to tweets so people can follow along the party and see all the tweets of whoever has joined in.

So if you have a long hashtag, let's say about 15 characters, that's taking up a lot of tweet space. And you want enough characters left on twitter to promote, ask questions, announce prizes, etc. Make sure you select a hashtag that is unique, but short enough so it gives you room to say what you want to say.

3) Simplify how people reach you for prizes.

I once asked people to PM (private mail) the author on Twitter if they have won a prize. This wasn't a mistake exactly, but people kept asking me if the author could follow them so they can send their info. This caused confusion and way too much back and forth. I've also tried asking people to send me emails and that ended up with me continuously checking if people emailed (some said they did, but I never got an email).

I've simplified it now so people people PM their necessary information to me and I send it all to the author at the end so they can easily send out prizes. It isn't always perfect but it sure is less of a headache than many other scenarios I have tried.

4) Try all kinds of promotional methods for your Twitter party event.
You'd be very surprised about the ways you can promote your Twitter Party! There's twitter party calendars you can list on. There's social media promotion. There's sending messages to your email subscribers. You can trade favors will fellow bloggers and friends to help you promote your party. You can send tweets to people who have participated in the past. Tweet people who RSVP'd early before the event starts in case they forget.

But attempt only one method of promotion and you won't have much attention at all. This was also a lesson learned the hard way when I naively thought I didn't need to do THAT much extra promotion leg work. Well, I did need to and it wasn't a successful event (at least not in my opinion). So put in the extra effort and it will pay off.

5) Be prepared. For anything.

I always plan my tweets in advance and since twitter parties can move fast this preparation saves me plenty of headaches.

But because of how my twitter parties work, I invite people to ask authors questions! This sometimes results in someone taking one of my prepared questions, which creates difficulties on my part as I scramble with a new question to replace the one I had prepared. So my advice here is to prepare things in advance. I have extra questions to ask in case this happens and always try to do digging on the author's previous interviews to see if I can find something unique to ask.

Overall, twitter parties can be a successful and fun way to promote your company or your book. There are a lot big social media companies out there who will do this for you and create all the buzz you need, but if you are trying a DIY approach on marketing your book, you may want to keep these tips in mind.

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