Reluctantly, I give this mess of a book 2 stars, but buyer beware!

I am sorry to have to post this review, but I have given the author, Amy Collins, over a month to make this right. Despite many emails preceding and after the one I quote, below, including promises of payment by a certain date and apologies for its lateness and a new promise, she has posted no payment and provided an unusually bizarre response to my having given her the deadline to respond by the end-of-business yesterday (Thursday, January 28)—see below.

I am appalled and surprised that someone who is publishing a book on writing entitled The Write Way: Everything You Need to Know about Publishing, Selling and Marketing Your Book, would unironically send out ARCs and then another version pre-publication that are both riddled with errors for reviewers.

Know this: the Author and her “publisher” (which I now think is comprised of Collins and one other person in the business) INVITED ME TO REVIEW THIS; I did not solicit her and I rarely do reviews.

After I had read about twenty pages and marked up every page, including the cover, with up to 15 errors PER PAGE, I sent her emails, left voicemails, asked her to communicate with me before I continued. I couldn’t believe this was her final draft. Maybe there was another version, I hoped?

She wrote to tell me that she had had a death in her family and while she was out, that “someone at her office sent out the wrong ARC” (there are two?). Then, for many days, she mostly did not respond (except via automated emails saying she would respond within 24 hours) for this entire communication stream.

She did send me a PDF of another ARC version which was supposedly “the right one,” but it, too, was filled with most of the same errors and some new ones. I read about twenty pages into that and emailed her back, telling her that this PDF ARC was a “new” but not a better version.

I asked for a newer, final ARC; no response. I now think there isn’t a better version (yet).

I waited a few days and sent the email, below. After reading my proposal, the author wrote back to say that she knew that I had given her a break on my editing rate (I did have sympathy for her at that point). She wrote to say that she was very grateful for my offer and agreed to pay me for my editing and postage for me to ship the marked-up edition back to her upon receipt of payment. She promised to pay “by the middle of January.”

I told her that I didn’t want to post a negative review. I’d rather that she revise and improve the book before publication: win-win. Plus, I had already completed reading and marking up the book and had marked up every page. I would be happy to get paid for my work.

January 15 came and went; no payment. More emails, more promises, and no payment, and here we are, January 28: nothing. The author said on January 18 that she had been traveling (and still is, apparently; now she’s on a cruise with other authors and publishers, publicists, etc.), but has she obviously access to the internet, since she’s live tweeting from the cruise ship!

I sent her this on Twitter yesterday (1/28/16):

from Sally Ember, Ed.D. ‏@sallyemberedd
to @NewShelvesBooks AMY: Deadline is EOB today Central USA time. My review goes live at 2 AM CST USA Friday, 1/30/16 if no payment is posted

She responded, astonishingly and terribly unprofessionally:

from Amy Collins ‏@NewShelvesBooks
Hi @sallyemberedd Grateful for all the time you put in. Had to redirect the $ to a project I am afraid. I know your review will be spot on.

To which I replied, with a quoted retweet of the above:

from Sally Ember, Ed.D. ‏@sallyemberedd
Sally Ember, Ed.D. Retweeted Amy Collins
This is known as “breach of contract” by professionals. We had a written agreement. #Youoweme #Payup

I won’t bore you with all of our previous correspondence.

In this post, then, the review occurs, starting with the email I sent the author in which I detailed for her many of her book’s most frequent and egregious errors.

Dear Amy,

I don’t know who your developmental, copy and proofreaders/editors are, but they should all be fired.

Here are a sampling of the errors I’ve found, so you know I’m not being a “troll” or pretending to know what I’m doing. You have these types and/or numbers of errors:

—3 errors ON THE COVERS (back and front and spine) in that your formatting is inconsistent (font color, size, style)
—1 error on the TITLE page (do not capitalize “by” or use it at all, actually; this is not a college essay)
—5 errors on the copyright page (no city of publication is listed; no proper copyright symbol was inserted; no need for “by”; missing colons)
—up to 15 errors(!) per page, with at least one and usually more errors on every page throughout the entire book
—TOC has no page numbers in either version, or the page numbers are wrong, and is on the verso rather than recto side
—Some pages have no numbers (the entire Glossary; all front matter)
—paragraphs and some sentences inexplicably start and end mid-sentence on many pages
— bullets are not formatted in a standard fashion within your own book; most of them are formatted incorrectly; AND, you inserted rhetorical questions within them while you BULLETED those questions(!?)
—seem to have no idea how to use (or when to use) the Oxford comma, apparently, and neither do your editors
—random sections (not consistent as to which or why) in italics
—show no permissions granted from the original authors, nor even where the pieces end, when you quote entire articles within your book
—repeating entire sentences and/or paragraphs and/or concepts from one page to the next within the same chapter, sometimes on facing pages. Word for word, sometimes
—use “so” over a hundred times, mostly inappropriately and without proper punctuation
—no standardization I could fathom for/ among and between your levels of headings regarding font, font size, font styles, alignment and/or purposes
—chapters do not all start on the proper side and you have random blank pages between some chapters (which do not result in their staring on the proper side—recto)

This and much more are wrong. I can’t even group or list all your errors.

All unacceptable, wouldn’t you agree?

I had one idea: You could use this as an opportunity to discuss the very things you warn other indies against within your book, and I would work with you on that if you choose to be honorable and do that.

Or, you could pretend it’s all fine, try to fix the errors yourself (good luck with that; you obviously have no clue how to edit your own work), and hope my review sinks to the bottom beneath all your sycophants’ fake ones.

Anyone who gives this book more than 2 stars (and that would be for content, not professionalism), is lying or has no idea how to read or what to expect from a professional nonfiction book.

I actually got quite a lot of good information from this book and do not want to slam you, but your whole “death-in-the-family—someone sent the wrong version” (in a two-person office?) sounds to me, now, like “the dog ate my homework.”

I am sorry for you any anyone who buys a poorly edited version of this book.

Here is another idea: if you pay me $400 (which is low-balling my rates, considering how much time I put into my mark-up and these emails), plus $5 shipping, I will send you my marked-up copy.

Then, when you complete all the revisions, send me a new one and I’ll review it at that point.

And, now, as we know, I will not receive any payment for my work, despite her emailed promise to do so. I still have the edited copy.

Here are some photos of the mark-ups:

write way cover
front cover of The Write Way with font, color, size errors and inconsistencies.

write way 1
There are multiple errors on almost every page and not one page without an error.

write way 2 upright
Apparently, can’t even keep paragraphs together; this occurs on several pages. How on earth does a copyeditor/proofreader not see these types of formatting mistakes?

write way 3 upright
There are up to 15 errors on some pages; this one has only 8.

Believe me, I take no pleasure in this.

I would certainly have preferred to have been paid for my time and expertise and to have had a positive relationship with this author.

I also wanted this book to be everything it said it would be and for it to live up to its title and promises. Many other authors would then be able to benefit from it.

However, since Ms. Collins doesn’t keep her word and seems to be clueless as to how to behave professionally, I am no longer surprised by the poor quality of the writing, the editing and the proofreading. Very disappointing, though, wouldn’t you agree?

Whoever did the editing and proofreading should have to refund their money to Ms. Collins. If she or anyone else continues to hire them, s/he/they should fire these horrible excuses for professionals immediately.

As I already stated, there are many great points, tips, ideas and resources in this book, if readers can ignore or get past all the mistakes and problems with the formatting, writing, proofreading and repetitions.

Especially for amy writers who are new to self-publishing, such writers would benefit from reading this book and taking notes. Do as she says, not as she does!

Try to borrow it; don’t buy this version!

Reluctantly, I give this mess of a book 2 stars, but buyer beware!

Definitely do not hire the author or her team for anything at all, ever. She calls herself a “teacher” and an “expert,” but I also found mistakes on her website (no surprise, now), which is: http://www.newshelves.com/ Do not contract with New Shelves for anything since they seem to have with no respect for agreements, unless you’re willing for her/them to decide arbitrarily to put time and money into other projects.

Sorry to have to post this saga and review. I would vastly have preferred the other plan to have occurred, as we had agreed.

When you get back from your cruise, fix your book and try to behave more professionally in the future.

proofreading-details-1
image from http://www.michellerenegoodhew.com

Homage to and Review of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Finding My Elegy: New and Selected Poems

Homage to and #Review of Ursula K. Le Guin’s
Finding My Elegy: New and Selected Poems, 1960 – 2010

Finding my Elegy cover

Ursula K. Le Guin is my favorite writer. No contest.

I have enjoyed, admired, appreciated, envied and learned from her novels, novellas, short stories, essays, and poetry for over forty years. She is about my mom’s age (in her early 80s, now) and still going strong. She is my idol, my mentor, and my role model. I also found out, after reading this collection, that she and share not only a love of writing, speculative fiction, feminism, social justice, pacifism and environmentalism, but Buddhism and meditation. Ah, pure bliss!

This latest collection of her poetry so delighted me that I had to write not just a short review on Amazon or Goodreads, but an entire blog post, complete with images, video, quotes. I hope you run right out and buy, borrow or sit and read aloud from this collection ASAP. You will be glad you did.

Poetry is meant to be read aloud. I enjoy reading poetry aloud as if I am the poet, wondering as I hear each word, line, idea, image, stanza, what the poet was imagining and how this exact turn of phrase came to capture it. Knowing how long many poets take to conjure the precise manner in which to describe and evoke every part of their intention, I want to savor it.

I do NOT read in that artificial, almost-questioning (upturned inflection on the end of lines), drawling almost-monotone that many poetry readers make the horrible mistake of using.

No.

I read poetry aloud as if each poem is its own story, because this unique version of that story is interesting, new, and not mine. I use the line breaks and punctuation as suggestions to help me go with the poet’s flow. I smile, I laugh, I pause, I taste the words on my tongue.

Try it. You’ll like it!

Le Guin has many poems rooted (pun intended) in nature. This little bird caught her attention several times. She mentions the Swainson’s Thrush by name; sometimes it is unnamed and alluded /referred to throughout this collection.

I had to find what the Swainson’s Thrush looks and sounds like. Enjoy!

I marked pages of this book with pieces of scrap paper so I’d remember which stanzas, poems, titles, lines caught my heart. Here are some, in no particular order. I sometimes annotate or explain. Find your own parts to love and for your own reasons.

I want to give this poem, For the New House, to my son and his wife when they find their first home to purchase. I adore the entire poem, and here are my favorite lines:

For the New House
And may you be in this house
as the music is in the instrument.

I also welled up with tears reading this next one, Song for a Daughter, imagining myself as a new mom hearing this from my mom, and sharing this with my son’s wife should she/they be lucky enough to have a child. Le Guin captures so much of the complexity of these relationships elegantly and succinctly, with beautiful turns of phrase, like these from the first and final stanzas:

Song for a Daughter
Mother of my granddaughter
listen to my song:
A mother can’t do right,
a daughter can’t be wrong….

Granddaughter of my mother,
listen to my song:
Nothing you do will ever be right,
nothing you do is wrong.

Soldiers perfectly depicts the horribleness of most wars, particularly our most recent USA-led wars, in which the military industrial complex—to enrich corporations—sends/inspires young men (and women) to go to their deaths or disfigurements with lies and for specious causes. The anguished images of this powerful poem end with this, which completed the breaking of my heart:

Soldiers
And soldiers still will fill the towns
In blue or khaki clad,
The brave, the good, who march to kill
What hope we ever had.

Unsurprisingly, given the title, and with Le Guin’s being both a Buddhist (we meditate daily on impermanence) and in her 80s, much of the poems in this collection are concerned with the end of life: the end of her own life, the changing of the seasons, the ruination of nature and places. She draws upon rich and varied imagery from many religious/spiritual traditions, employing words and phrases from several languages and invoking aspects of the rituals of Native Americans/Native Canadians and other indigenous peoples (harkening to her anthropologist father’s influence, as always), among others.

I especially liked Every Land (which starts with an epigram from Black Elk), in which she repeats this line, “Every land is the holy land,” at the end of each of the three stanzas, like a wistful refrain.

From one of the longer poems, At Kishamish, which is divided into named sections, these lines from “Autumnal” were quite moving. They eloquently evoke the juxtaposition of being somewhere now, when we’re so much older, suffused with so many memories of having lived and been at that same place so many times with our children as our younger selves:

At Kishamish

AUTUMNAL
It’s strange to see these hills with present eyes
I hold so clear in my mind always, strange once more
to hear the hawk cry down along the meadows
and smell the tarweed, to be here—here at the ranch,
so old, where I was young—it hurts my heart.

One of the “good-bye” poems here could make a statue cry: Aubade, which means “a song or poem to greet the dawn.” The term is unironically used here as the poem’s title. Le Guin simply depicts what might be said between lovers or long-time intimate friends or family members who must now part due to death. She frames it perfectly in two gorgeous stanzas, which I quote here in their entirety:

Aubade
Few now and faint the stars that shone
all night so bright above you.
The sun must rise, and I be gone.
I leave you, though I love you.

We have lived well, my love, and so
let not this parting grieve you.
Sure as the sunrise you must know
I love you, though I leave you.

Tibetan Buddhists talk about the “between place,” the Bardo, the state between a person’s pre-birth to our birth, and of the time between our body’s death and the shifting of our consciousness to our next incarnation. Le Guin speaks to this and illustrates her readiness, willingness, almost eagerness to “move on” to be In the Borderlands. Fittingly, this poem is placed on one of the last pages of this collection. Le Guin leaves us considering her perspective in this way, putting her thoughts of yearning to leave her body into this poem in the form of a conversation between her soul and her body, ending it in this final stanza with gentle humor and grace:

In the Borderlands
Soon enough, my soul replies,
you’ll shine in star and sleep in stone,
when I who troubled you a while with eyes
and grief and wakefulness am gone.

Thank you, Ursula, for sharing your deep and soulful moments with us all. Once again, due to your artistry with words and your generosity and intelligence, you have paved the way for me and others to follow with some surcease from pain and lighter hearts as we face our own partings, disappointments and deaths.

Ursula K Le Guin photo
image from her website, photo ©by Marian Wood Kolisch

May your contributions to our literary and emotional landscapes always be known as blessings while you still live and after you die, and may all beings benefit.

Find these poems, this and all her other work here: http://www.ursulakleguin.com Her latest poetry collection, Late in the Day, is my next poetry read!

Wise Teacher, Wise Student: Tibetan Approaches to a Healthy Relationship – Book Review by Sally Ember, Ed.D., featured on The Buddhist Door website

Wise Teacher, Wise Student: Tibetan Approaches to a Healthy Relationship – Book Review by Sally Ember, Ed.D., featured on The Buddhist Door website

Thanks to Frances McDonald and others at The Buddhist Door for this opportunity to be a reviewer for your site! As a long-time student of #meditation (since 1972) and a #Buddhism student since 1996 in the #Tibetan #Vajrayana tradition, I was pleased to review this book.

Anyone interested in knowing more about how to choose a spiritual teacher or mentor and all the varying types of these there can be, how to be in a better relationship with one or more than one teacher, how and why to end that relationship, and what its pitfalls might be, and so much more, would benefit greatly from reading this book and keeping it around to refer to frequently.

Please read this review and support The Buddhist Door!

Berzin book cover

http://www.buddhistdoor.net/features/wise-teacher-wise-student-tibetan-approaches-healthy-relationship-book-review

5 Stars***** for This Changes Everything, Vol I, The Spanners Series: “a fantastic science fiction read”!

5 Stars***** for This Changes Everything, Vol I, The Spanners Series: “a fantastic science fiction read”!

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks
Cover art and logo by Aidana Willowraven for The Spanners Series http://willowraven.weebly.com/

Debra L. Mauldin “willowtree” reviewed This Changes Everything, Vol I, The Spanners Series
Book Review August 24, 2015

EXCERPTS:
“Her characters are well-rounded and strong.”

“The reader has to think with an open mind and will find that everything flows, reverses, and fast forwards in an easy and understandable story.”

“Trust me, this book is not boring and is easy to follow if you don’t try to make it too hard.”

“I highly recommend this book to all science fiction and utopias/dystopias readers.”

read full review here:
https://mauldinfamily1.wordpress.com/2015/08/24/this-changes-everything-the-spanner-series-book-1-book-review/

or on Amazon, where you can download Volume I, This Changes Everything, PERMAFREE:
http://www.amazon.com/This-Changes-Everything-Spanners-Series-ebook/dp/B00HFELTG8/ref=cm_rdp_product

logoAuthorsDen

Vol II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, is $3.99

final cover print

Vol III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, goes into half-price pre-orders 11/1/15 – 12/7/15 for $1.99, then $3.99 on 12/8/15, RELEASE DAY!

For all links, other reviews, author interviews, updates and excerpts: http://www.sallyember.com Look right; scroll down

Critical Review of This Changes Everything, Vol. I, The Spanners Series from the Starving Reviews site: Not a Fan!

Critical Review of This Changes Everything, Vol. I, The Spanners Series
from the Starving Reviews site: Not a Fan!

I am grateful to James B. Garner and every other reviewer who takes their time, makes the effort, reads indie authors’ books and writes thoughtful reviews: THANK YOU!

This is the first careful, thorough, critical review TCE has received in a long time, so I am sharing it in its entirety: so no one can say I “cherry-picked” his sentences or phrases. I haven’t changed one word.

I also post the link to the Starving Reviews site, below, so please visit there and comment!

And, for an alternative view of the type of social/utopian/speculative/visionary fiction I write, please also visit and watch/read: “Radical sci-fi by social activists ‘decolonizes the imagination,'”
by Laura Hudson http://boingboing.net/2015/04/02/octavias-brood.html


“Every once in a while, I feel like I have to break the rules set down for me by the Starving Reviews, LLC corporate office. So far, I have restrained myself because, well, I’m starving, darn it! I need this literary sustenance to flow and I dare not cut off my biggest supplier. Today, though, I may wind up breaking that creed, as today’s long-delayed culinary snack can’t be dissected without some SPOILERS!

This Changes Everything is, on the surface, a science fiction novel talking about an alternate future where aliens approach Earth and offer entrance into a galactic collective. This sort of treat, at first glance, looks scrumptious, offering a many-layered look at the interactions between our delightfully bizarre little planet and a vast series of societies and species. In some ways, Changes delivers on some aspects of that promise.

“The writing itself is solid, at least once you get used to the various styles employed. The book is comprised of many nuggets of scenes, each written in a different style and from different view points. It can be a bit jarring at first but is easy to get a grip on once you realize what’s going on.

“The plot … has problems. The majority of the rest of this review will touch on that, but let me get one thing out of the way. If you ever wanted a true definition of a Mary Sue, read Changes. You see, the Mary Sue concept isn’t one of abilities or perfection (though those help), it is the plot black hole they represent. The protagonist in this book is the most important person in the world (literally), receives almost universal praise from most quarters, gets pretty much everything she could desire, lives happily ever after, and nothing really bad, dramatic, or dangerous really happens. There is the hint of tension at several points but, as described below, there are certain story and structure elements that destroy all the drama before it even has a chance to start.

“The problems start to come in when the concepts of the ‘reality’ of how time and history work in this universe. The core concepts of the book (that all time exists simultaneously and that time lines can be altered and culled by anyone with the appropriate psychic training) do provide some interesting promise, but the way they are actualized in the story create a rolling cascade of issues that really break the book down as a fictional slice of cake.

“It boils down to a few major, seemingly paradoxical, concepts. First, the concept of all time being simultaneous doesn’t really hold out in how the events of the book work. The aliens, and later Earthlings, can alter time by changing events (which don’t often require them actually doing the actions, which is strangely dissatisfying) … but how does that work when all time is simultaneous, which suggests there cannot be true causality? Likewise, the book repeatedly talks about the existence of free will, but how can free will truly exist in a world where others can reset and alter their personal time lines, altering entire sequences of events, thereby altering those free will decisions? Finally, there are strange arbitrary limits on how often people can alter their time lines, with no mention on how this is enforced or even known to be. Maybe it’s something touched on later in what is supposed to turn into a ten book series, but arbitrary, unexplained limits on what is essentially a ‘magic’ system in a fictional world is always a bit of a distaste for me.

“The main story issue that this concept of time and time altering brings about is the total destruction of dramatic tension. Very early in Changes, we already know, from the characters that can see the future as well as future documents included, that everything turns out A-OK. The girl gets the boy, Earth turns out fantastic, and the main character gets a healthy, happy ending. We know this by (if I remember correctly) chapter 5 of a 30+ chapter book. Yes, you can argue that the meal can be no less tasty when you sneak in dessert early, but that’s usually not the case. Knowing everything turns out great turns every attempt at adding some drama or tension to any point of the novel fall flat.

“That is a key component of what really leeches the taste out of Changes. I could excuse the very strange time alteration parts (it is a fictional universe, after all) and roll with it, but the lack of dramatic tension, the lack of any real conflict and consequences (something that the writer tries to interject with the idea of ‘Psi-P’, the emotional backlash of choosing to go with time-lines that benefit others but are not the best for you personally, something that never gets written to have the real impact it could), just makes Changes a sludge of a book. It is simply tiring to read, with no real emotional high or pay-off. It’s just not entertaining and that is the biggest sin a work of fiction can have.

“You may be wondering where the spoilers were? Well, I saved that for last because I have to take a moment to chew the fat about something that may very well be opinion. This next bit isn’t a critique of the book, which is why it comes at the end, but a critique of some ideas in the book (a very different thing). Changes has some very insulting and, to me personally, dangerous ideas about what is good about humanity. Humans are depicted in some cases as being so unable to cope with the idea of actual alien contact that they die or go crazy from the news. Like significant swaths of the population, at least before the aliens change history again. Not to mention there is an Appendix, as well as mentions in the main text, where it is shown that many human achievements in many areas, from the Underground Railroad to splitting the atom to most major religious figures (Jesus, the Dahli [sic] Lama, and others) were directly influenced by this alien collective, either through dreams or direct intervention. It frankly made my gut curdle to see so much of humanity’s accomplishments turned into the results of alien meddling. Changes pains humans with a very savage and ignorant brush, laying our salvation and much of our past good points in the hands of our alien saviors. Now, about those aliens …

“The aliens in this world alter time repeatedly to change human history to make the Earth a better fit for their galactic collective. They banish people unable to conform with their way of doing things to a ‘prison’ alternate time line until they reform or die. They alter the biochemistry of the ENTIRE human race in one chapter to make them more receptive and peaceful without the consent of, well, anyone. They are fully telepathic and casually mind-read the main character (and the rest of humanity) for most of the book. In a different book, these aliens would be the worst kind of manipulative overlords. In this book, though, they are perfect, wonderful utopians. I find especially that their methods really don’t jive with that ‘free will’ concept. How can you have free will when aliens are altering your biochemistry, psychically manipulating you, and implanting thoughts, dreams, and knowledge into you?

“Wow, that went on for a while. Okay, so, how does this come together? This Changes Everything is a science fiction yarn that just has no drama or fun in it. Regardless of how you may feel about its philosophical or moral points, Changes breaks the cardinal rule of any fictional work, and that is to entertain. If you’re looking for good, interesting sci-fi, look elsewhere. If you, however, are looking for a very unusual tract on philosophy and morals, you might want to give this a read, just don’t expect to be entertained by it.

“FINAL VERDICT: ** (Heavy on philosophy and moral tracts, without a single tasty bit of fun!)”
Link to full review:
https://jbgarner58.wordpress.com/2015/04/03/starving-review-this-changes-everything-the-spanners-book-1-by-sally-ember/

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

TCE is FREE everywhere ebooks are sold: http://www.sallyember.com has links to every TCE download/sale site as well as links and more reviews for it and Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever. Volume III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, is due out some time in 2015.

**** 4 Stars for This Changes Everything from Dee Fox!

**** 4 Stars for This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series by Sally Ember, Ed.D.
Reviewer: Dee (Devorah) Fox

logoAuthorsDen

Some books are like a train. I hop on and let it take me for a ride, I just go where it goes. Spanners asked me to get in the engine compartment and help the conductor. I felt that I had to sign on to the concepts and by believing, be part of the story. I liked what the author was trying to do by writing in the present tense. It never stopped bringing me up short. However every time I had to reorient myself I found myself thinking about time and how it’s just a construct. I also appreciated the humor in the depiction of how throughout history our society’s thought leaders and innovators were participants in the Many Worlds Collective. Of course they were! The series is ambitious and thought provoking. Not an easy read. I’d even say it takes a little work but well worth it for the experience.

TSS v1

Thanks, Dee! Dee Fox was a guest on Episode 18 of CHANGES conversations between authors: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPbfKicwk4dFdeVSAY1tfhtjaEY_clmfq  
#Authors, especially those in sci-fi/speculative fiction and who blog, learn more about and get yourself on CHANGES, and #Readers, recommend an #author to be scheduled as a guest: CHANGES G+ HOA  https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d/  

Read this and more reviews and download Volume I for FREE on Amazon:
http://goo.gl/0yN5GE

For other formats, Volume II purchase links, reviews, interviews and more, visit my website; look right and scroll down on http://www.sallyember.com

TSS v2

All logo and cover art for The Spanners Series by Aidana Willowraven.

15 reasons I could only give a 2-Star #Review for The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide, 2015

I received an Advance Review Copy (ARC) of The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide and promised to write and post an honest review here on my own blog and on at lesat one other ebook site (see links, below) in exchange.

Self-publishing Ultimate cover

According to the co-editors, this Guide “is the first and largest collection of curated and verified resources for independent authors who plan to publish their own books. Produced by a team with long experience in both traditional and independent publishing, the over 850 resources are listed in an easy-to-use format that includes live links, phone numbers, email addresses and brief descriptive copy. The Guide makes vendors and other resources easy to find by separating them into 33 distinct categories within the 3 main tasks the self-publisher must deal with. How to Prepare, Publish, and Promote their books.”

15 reasons I could only give a 2-Star #Review for

The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide

PERSONAL NOTE: This Guide already received some excellent endorsements from “heavy-hitters” in the Indie-Publishing industry, several of whom happen to be my unofficial mentors: Mark Coker of Smashwords, Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn, and Joan Stewart, The Publicity Hound, to name a few.

I’m daring to add to and not to agree with these experts’ opinions, here. If I were you, I’d also go read theirs! And, please: I’m trying to be constructive, so I give a lot of recommendations and make many pleas. It’s not just a pan.

I wanted to like this book. I wanted to give it 5 stars. I cannot.

The best thing I can say about this is that the editors promise that they want it to be improved and added to quarterly or annually.

I am NOT trying to be snarky or mean. I genuinely went in with high hopes and expectations, given all the hype and positive endorsements this Guide has had. These hopes were dashed in the first few chapters and it did not get better as I went along.

I hope they will take my critique and others’ feedback to make the Guide better, not just longer.

Here are my 15 reasons for giving Guide only 2 stars:

  1. Why isn’t this an actual GUIDE? Why is the Guide almost entirely just a lot of somewhat organized lists?
    Instead of directing, informing, and assisting new indie authors with each selected aspect (and I do like the aspects, or chapters, they decided to include), there is a lot of information not given. This info is either missing, such as the reasons a writer would need to use a section or how to use the information provided, or withheld, such as the providing of a rating system or users’ experiences for each resource—annotations, as in YELP or Angie’s List—for each entry.
    If we wanted to acquire a list of resources, we could do that from many other places.
    The editors say these have been vetted, but where is the evidence of that? What did they assess? Why don’t they include their assessments, or a summary of why each listing is “better” than those not included, and for what, exactly?
    I was very disappointed in the editors’ lack of interaction with each listing provided. They seem to have merely collected a lot of self-written descriptions or blurbs about each entry (meaning, written by each resource provider, not the editors or users) and put the selected listings in alphabetical order.
    Since they say they vetted each entry and rejected some, why aren’t we reading more about WHY they included each entry?
    If I had paid for this “GUIDE,” I’d want a refund.

  2. This book was poorly written and edited. However, the authors’ long, impressive bios (see below) list extensive experiences in editing and proofreading. They also exhort the need for both in this Guide .
    However, even though I wasn’t looking for or expecting to find mistakes, find them I did. There were numerous mistakes in grammar, punctuation and syntax as well as inexcusably sloppy and poor writing in almost every one of their brief intros/summaries for each section/chapter. Finding so many problems was surprising and very disappointing.

  3. The editors mention more than once a warning to readers to “read the fine print” if they choose to enter into contracts, but nowhere do they provide any tips or hints about exactly what to watch out for, what to avoid, what to accept. Why?
    Their advice is so vague as to be trite and useless; without specifics, they’re not helping anyone. Why not a chapter on “Don’ts” or “Beware of…”?
    [It’s as if they started to write a guide and then, halfway through, made it a listing service instead. It makes me wonder if there was some money exchanging hands, ensuring certain listings and keeping out others.
    Is that just my inner cynic talking? There is no evidence of resource providers’ purchasing their listings….]

  4. Why did they not include a chapter on authors’ support networking? There are so many indie authors’ forums, Kindle Boards, authors’ groups, etc.
    If they take my advice and add that chapter, I hope they make notations as to which resources/ groups/ providers are fee-based and which are free, and what the fee ranges are, if applicable, and what the fees avail members of, specifically.
    Fee information is crucial but missing from every chapter.
    Also, I hope they weed out the “review swap” groups, since these violate Amazon’s Terms of Service, and I hope they would EXPLAIN the TOS violation consequences (removal of reviews, for example) in their new chapter.

  5. Why is there a chapter on websites for authors? What makes a website for authors particularly unique vs. a website for bloggers, e.g., or vs. any other small business? This claim of distinction is never explained, yet there is a chapter devoted to a list of people they are supporting who supposedly create websites “for authors.”
    I’m scratching my head over this. If the editors explained their rationale, I might be on board. However, again, no explanations are given.

  6. There is a chapter devoted to Book Reviews with no mention of the extremely important and controversial issue of paid vs. free reviews, and no annotations as to which of those listed charges authors for providing reviews nor how much they charge.
    These omissions are significant oversights. Must correct in future revisions, please.

  7. There are several chapters that are devoted to formatting one’s book—ebooks vs. print vs. Print On Demand vs. “Short Run” [sic]—with no explanation as to the differences among these formats or which to do first and the reasons.
    Also, what about the issue of whether or not even to have a print version: why? when? at what cost? Many of us do not have any print versions: what are the consequences of going ebook-only for each genre?
    Furthermore, when introducing each type of formatting, there is no explanation about the reasons/ bases for ebooks’ formatting issues or the assistance offered, via Smashwords vs. Amazon, for example, or about difficulties of passing through Smashwords‘ “meatgrinder” successfully and what that success generates in benefits; no mention is made of that nor that Digital2Digital does not use such gate-keeping, for example.
    If this is truly going to serve as a guide, MORE ANNOTATIONS and information are needed.

  8. What is a Short Run [sic]? I have never heard of it (since I have no print books, yet) and it was not sufficiently explained (nor hyphenated?). Why include it if not also to explain more completely what it is?

  9. Several key “players” were omitted, which I know can be corrected, but since some of them provided endorsements or reviews, I’m baffled by their absences. Many of those missing are very prominent in the blogosphere, Google+ or Twitter but not so much on Facebook. What about those who shine on Pinterest, Instagram, or Tsu?
    Maybe these editors not as active on the other social media platforms? The Book Marketing Tools and its free ebooks listing tool, e.g., were not included.
    In order to be an actual GUIDE and not just a list, part of this chapter should include annotations giving pros and cons of authors’ activity on each platform and who the leaders are on each.

  10. Social media platforms are the not the only places authors need to “go” or be “seen.” Start with: Blog Talk Radio shows that feature authors and books, like Indie Books with Will Wilson, The Backporch Writer with Kori Miller, and so many more; Google+ LIVE and taped Hangouts on Air, such as my show, CHANGES, which then go to Youtube; D’vorah Lansky’s and others’ teleseminars and webinars devoted to books, book marketing and authors; The Authors Show, A Book and a Chat and many others on their own “channels”; podcasts and other shows, such as The Author Hangout, with Shawn Manaher and R.J. Adams, via iTunes and other sources, and so many more.
    Please request and create a chapter with annotated listings of opportunities of this type and how to access them.

  11. There was no mention of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited and the controversies/problems indie authors face regarding this, nor was a distinction made between Kindle Select and Kindle Direct.
    These are exactly the types of explanations missing from this book that need to be put in, please.

  12. Why was there such a small number of “Social Media Consultants” included? I could come up with more than that, yet I am not one myself nor have I used one.
    The editors need to do better outreach, here, and a LOT of annotating, since many who call themselves “experts” are NOT; I know vetting is something these editors say they have been doing, so let’s see the results.

  13. There needs to be more info about money. For example, if the chapter on contests and awards is going to be useful as more then an incomplete list, each entry needs to be annotated to include info on entry fees and deadlines as well as more about the actual value of winning or placing in each.
    These contests can take a lot of time: show us what’s required, specifically, to enter, please, and what we might gain from winning.
    Great to include a chapter on acquiring funding, too, but that also seemed a bit “light.” There are many more opportunities out there, but at least there were several clearinghouses, like C. Hope Clark’s Funds for Writers, listed.
    Such lacks make this book more of a jumping-off point than a guide, though.

  14. I also don’t understand why those who provide services in more than one area (as delineated by these editors) are not dually or triply listed, as often ought to be the case. Readers/users will find resources only in the chapters they go to skim and may not read other chapters at all.
    For example, Judith Briles is listed for her private site, but Author U is not listed at all, anywhere I could find.
    I know it would make the Guide longer, but there must be a way to show readers that a listing appears elsewhere in the book, or could appear elsewhere (and in what chapters) but editors decided to list each resource only once for space reasons, right?

  15. I do not think Book Promoters are the same as book PR people, but perhaps I’m alone in this. In any case, I think having the word “Promoters” missing from the chapter headings is confusing.

If/when most or all of these omissions, errors and improvements are managed, I’d love to see that version. Or, maybe they should change the title from “Ultimate Resource Guide” to “Resource Compendium” or “Resource Listings.” They’d have fewer changes to make if they did that.

I wouldn’t think that would be as useful, though, as my revised version could be. I hope SOMEONE makes that version!

Meanwhile, although I believe The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide may be worthwhile as a starting point, it is far from being the “Ultimate Resource Guide” at this point.

Any newbie to self-publishing would have to pick up many other and better guides to make this one useful.


On their book’s website, in the FAQs, they state: “We plan to update the ebook edition of The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide monthly after the launch, eventually moving to a quarterly update. The print edition will be updated once each year, so we’ll have a new edition reflecting all the changes at the end of 2015.”

Proof? they post this excellent exhortation/invitation on the “CONTACT” page:

The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide is a living document.

Although we have tried to gather the most valuable resources for indie authors, it’s inevitable that some have been missed, and new products and services are constantly being introduced. We want your help to make it even better. If you know of a person, company, product, or service of value to independent authors that’s not included in this guide, please let us know. You can send submissions to be included in the next edition of The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide by the contact form below. Thank you.

Essential Qualification Guidelines for those who wish to be listed in The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide.

Extensive, professional experience in serving the self-publishing community.
A current, informative, interactive website.
Complete contact information; location (city, state/province, country), phone number, email address, and contact person if applicable.
Outstanding reputation; positive client/customer testimonials and/or reviews.
The final decision on all listings is at the editors’ discretion.

Note: Personal connection or recommendation of resource/business, is meant for anyone who is recommending someone else’s business. Say you are an author and use an editor not listed in the book. You can put that into the submission as your connection (I am an author who uses these services) and recommendation (what you think of the services you receive). It would not apply to someone who is asking for their own company to be included.


For more information: http://www.spresourceguide.com/

Ebook Purchase and Review Links:
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QSKUS2Q/
B&N (Nook): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-self-publisherr-joel-friedlander/1120927172?ean=2940150138957
Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-self-publisher-s-ultimate-resource-guide
Apple (iBooks): https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/self-publishers-ultimate-resource/id950440919?mt=11

The Authors/Editors:

Joel Friedlander
“…is an award-winning book designer and blogger who has been launching the careers of self-publishers since 1994 from his book design and consulting practice at Marin Bookworks in San Rafael, California. Joel is a self-published author and the blogger behind http://TheBookDesigner.com, a popular and award-winning blog on book design, book marketing, and the future of the book. Joel is also the founder of The Self-Publishing Roadmap, a training course for authors, and http://TheBookMakers.com and http://BookDesignTemplates.com, where he provides tools and services for authors who publish their own books. He speaks often at publishing industry events and is a past president of the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association.”

Joel-2014-headshot-300x

Betty Kelly Sargent
“…is the founder of BookWorks, and the founder of The Educated Author, and writes a monthly column on self-publishing for Publishers Weekly. She is a member of the Independent Editors Group (EIG) and has spent more than 30 years in the traditional publishing business, most recently as editor-in-chief of William Morrow, where at one point she had three books on the New York Times best-seller list at once. She has also been executive editor at HarperCollins, executive editor at Delacorte Press, Fiction and Books editor at Cosmopolitan magazine, and book reviewer for CNN. She is the author of seven traditionally published books and one self-published book. She moderates panels and workshops in New York City and Los Angeles and is passionate about helping indie authors learn to navigate the ever-changing landscape of self-publishing.”

Betty-photo-1

Copyright © 2015 Marin Bookworks, All rights reserved.

CONTACT:
The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide Editors,
Joel Friedlander and Betty Kelly Sargent
Marin Bookworks
369-B THIRD STREET #572
SAN RAFAEL, CA 94901
editor@spresourceguide.com

**** for This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, Vol II of The Spanners Series

**** for This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, Vol II of The Spanners Series! by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

Review by: Brenda McCracken on Nov. 09, 2014: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/424969

and

http://www.amazon.com/Changes-Family-Forever-Spanners-Series-ebook/dp/B00KU5Q7KC/ref=cm_aya_orig_subj

I found this to book to be a very imaginative and creative story. Ms. Ember’s Jewish faith shines through her characters in this book. This is the first I have read from the series and I found the uses of telepathy within her characters and the plot interesting. I love sci-fi and fantasy and this is the real deal. Although I disagree with the cover art. As someone who has dabbled with Poser and Daz, those characters on the cover give me the willies. No offense!

Thanks for the review, Brenda! Glad you enjoyed it, but I LOVE the cover art, by Aidana Willowraven!

final cover print

Volume II is available everywhere ebooks are sold (links on http://www.sallyember.com on the right of every page) for $3.99.

Volume I, This Changes Everything, is FREE! Good idea to start with this one!

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

**** for This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, Vol II of The Spanners Series

**** for This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, Vol II of The Spanners Series! by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

Review by: Brenda McCracken on Nov. 09, 2014: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/424969

and

http://www.amazon.com/Changes-Family-Forever-Spanners-Series-ebook/dp/B00KU5Q7KC/ref=cm_aya_orig_subj

I found this to book to be a very imaginative and creative story. Ms. Ember’s Jewish faith shines through her characters in this book. This is the first I have read from the series and I found the uses of telepathy within her characters and the plot interesting. I love sci-fi and fantasy and this is the real deal. Although I disagree with the cover art. As someone who has dabbled with Poser and Daz, those characters on the cover give me the willies. No offense!

Thanks for the review, Brenda! Glad you enjoyed it, but I LOVE the cover art, by Aidana Willowraven!

final cover print

Volume II is available everywhere ebooks are sold (links on http://www.sallyember.com on the right of every page) for $3.99.

Volume I, This Changes Everything, is FREE! Good idea to start with this one!

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

“Quick Book Reviews” Gives “Thumbs Up” to This Changes Everything, Vol I, The Spanners Series!

This Changes Everything, Vol I, The Spanners Series, gets a great review from Quick Book Reviews back in January but I just found out this week!

Here are two quotes from the review:

“I found the story itself to be one of the most immersive and original ones I have read recently. Amongst the sea of science fiction novel clones, there is This Changes Everything, a book in which old ideas are taken in completely new directions (such as the whole intergalactic committee actually trying to help the humans), and new ideas are spawned by the dozens.”

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

This Changes Everything is certainly much more than what I expected from it, presenting us an enthralling and original storyline set in a majestic and extremely-detailed world, populated by many characters that will stay with you once the last pages are closed. I wholeheartedly recommend the book to science-fiction fans, especially the ones who prefer their literature to explore ideas and concepts through words rather than actions.”

This Changes Everything is now PERMAFREE everywhere ebooks are sold and Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, is $3.99.

final cover print

Volume III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, is due out early in 2015.

Read the full review here:
http://quick-book-review.blogspot.com/2014/01/this-changes-everything-volume-one-by-sally-ember.html

“Quick Book Reviews” Gives “Thumbs Up” to This Changes Everything, Vol I, The Spanners Series!

This Changes Everything, Vol I, The Spanners Series, gets a great review from Quick Book Reviews back in January but I just found out this week!

Here are two quotes from the review:

“I found the story itself to be one of the most immersive and original ones I have read recently. Amongst the sea of science fiction novel clones, there is This Changes Everything, a book in which old ideas are taken in completely new directions (such as the whole intergalactic committee actually trying to help the humans), and new ideas are spawned by the dozens.”

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

This Changes Everything is certainly much more than what I expected from it, presenting us an enthralling and original storyline set in a majestic and extremely-detailed world, populated by many characters that will stay with you once the last pages are closed. I wholeheartedly recommend the book to science-fiction fans, especially the ones who prefer their literature to explore ideas and concepts through words rather than actions.”

This Changes Everything is now PERMAFREE everywhere ebooks are sold and Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, is $3.99.

final cover print

Volume III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, is due out early in 2015.

Read the full review here:
http://quick-book-review.blogspot.com/2014/01/this-changes-everything-volume-one-by-sally-ember.html

5 Stars for This Changes Everything from “Raving in Alaska” on Amazon!

5 Stars for This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D., from “Raving in Alaska” on Amazon!

Here is his/her review:

After seeing all the other reviews why did I give this one five stars? Because it was not light entertainment and did cause me to think. Much like a role-playing video game, the entire book shifted perspective, past, present, future, within a page or paragraph. Interesting concept. And, at times I had to put it down and think about what I just read. Intriguing and with a bit of a twist. How would I react in the given premises? Very good question indeed.

Read review and my response here: http://goo.gl/e47jZ6

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

Now Permafree everywhere ebooks are available!
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HFELTG8?tag=viewbookat0e-20

More links for purchase of Volumes for the series and much more info: http://www.sallyember.com Look to the right and scroll down!

5 Stars for This Changes Everything from “Raving in Alaska” on Amazon!

5 Stars for This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D., from “Raving in Alaska” on Amazon!

Here is his/her review:

After seeing all the other reviews why did I give this one five stars? Because it was not light entertainment and did cause me to think. Much like a role-playing video game, the entire book shifted perspective, past, present, future, within a page or paragraph. Interesting concept. And, at times I had to put it down and think about what I just read. Intriguing and with a bit of a twist. How would I react in the given premises? Very good question indeed.

Read review and my response here: http://goo.gl/e47jZ6

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

Now Permafree everywhere ebooks are available!
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HFELTG8?tag=viewbookat0e-20

More links for purchase of Volumes for the series and much more info: http://www.sallyember.com Look to the right and scroll down!

“Mrs. G” Reviewed This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series

An open letter to a reviewer:

Thanks, Mrs. G., for your thoughtful review of This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series, on Amazon. I appreciate your candor, your thoroughness and your specificity of what you liked and what didn’t work for you. I wish all readers and reviewers took the time and gave the attention to their reviewed books and reviews as you have!

I am sorry the linked Table of Contents didn’t work for you. What version of ereader are you using? I haven’t heard of that problem from other readers and I wish that hadn’t happened for you.

Thanks, again, for your considered review. I would be happy to send you a copy of Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever.

Best to you,

Sally Ember, Ed.D. (author)
http://www.sallyember.com

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

P.S. I agree that The Spanners Series‘ stories would make an excellent T.V. series! I hope your wish comes true!

Here are her review and a link to it:

* * * of 5: Great concept–difficult translation into written form. September 6, 2014
DO NOT read this if you want a normal, linear story that makes complete sense and introduces ideas in a logical sequence.
DO read this if you want to try something very new and think about the universe in a completely different way.

I’m actually not even sure how to review this in a traditional way because the book was so very bizarre in its format. Let’s go with this…

What I liked:
The aliens and the whole concept of the multiverses working together to make life better.
The characters (a lot of them) and how they felt real.
The whole idea of alternate time lines–something I’ve loved since Isaac Asimov’s “The End of Eternity”.
The enormous attention to detail in the whole world-building thing.

What irked me:
The fact that shortly after meeting the aliens, we are thrust into the future (or is it a flashback–that’s how hard this is to follow) and a ton of acronyms and entities are suddenly taken for granted. There is an “appendix” with a glossary of terms. That might have worked for me except that in the ebook format at least, that meant jumping to the end and then there was no way to navigate back (no table of contents to take me back to the chapter I’d left). Perhaps in paperback form where I could dog ear the pages…?
As other reviewers have mentioned, the whole matter of tense and the writing style that makes it hard to know *when* I am. Which, yeah… Is a little moot when we’re talking about alternative timelines and the fact that time is not linear. Yeah, I get it. But the readers still are used to linear, so we need to have it explained to us in that way.

I really think this would work better as a TV series where the visual clues might make it easier to tell “when” the reader is reading. It vaguely reminded me of Cloud Atlas, but harder to follow.

http://www.amazon.com/product-reviews/B00HFELTG8/#reviews-container?sortBy=recent&reviewerType=all_reviews&formatType=all_formats&filterByStar=all_stars

“Mrs. G” Reviewed This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series

An open letter to a reviewer:

Thanks, Mrs. G., for your thoughtful review of This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series, on Amazon. I appreciate your candor, your thoroughness and your specificity of what you liked and what didn’t work for you. I wish all readers and reviewers took the time and gave the attention to their reviewed books and reviews as you have!

I am sorry the linked Table of Contents didn’t work for you. What version of ereader are you using? I haven’t heard of that problem from other readers and I wish that hadn’t happened for you.

Thanks, again, for your considered review. I would be happy to send you a copy of Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever.

Best to you,

Sally Ember, Ed.D. (author)
http://www.sallyember.com

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

P.S. I agree that The Spanners Series‘ stories would make an excellent T.V. series! I hope your wish comes true!

Here are her review and a link to it:

* * * of 5: Great concept–difficult translation into written form. September 6, 2014
DO NOT read this if you want a normal, linear story that makes complete sense and introduces ideas in a logical sequence.
DO read this if you want to try something very new and think about the universe in a completely different way.

I’m actually not even sure how to review this in a traditional way because the book was so very bizarre in its format. Let’s go with this…

What I liked:
The aliens and the whole concept of the multiverses working together to make life better.
The characters (a lot of them) and how they felt real.
The whole idea of alternate time lines–something I’ve loved since Isaac Asimov’s “The End of Eternity”.
The enormous attention to detail in the whole world-building thing.

What irked me:
The fact that shortly after meeting the aliens, we are thrust into the future (or is it a flashback–that’s how hard this is to follow) and a ton of acronyms and entities are suddenly taken for granted. There is an “appendix” with a glossary of terms. That might have worked for me except that in the ebook format at least, that meant jumping to the end and then there was no way to navigate back (no table of contents to take me back to the chapter I’d left). Perhaps in paperback form where I could dog ear the pages…?
As other reviewers have mentioned, the whole matter of tense and the writing style that makes it hard to know *when* I am. Which, yeah… Is a little moot when we’re talking about alternative timelines and the fact that time is not linear. Yeah, I get it. But the readers still are used to linear, so we need to have it explained to us in that way.

I really think this would work better as a TV series where the visual clues might make it easier to tell “when” the reader is reading. It vaguely reminded me of Cloud Atlas, but harder to follow.

http://www.amazon.com/product-reviews/B00HFELTG8/#reviews-container?sortBy=recent&reviewerType=all_reviews&formatType=all_formats&filterByStar=all_stars

5-Stars for Volume II of The Spanners Series on Goodreads!

John Betts’s review of This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, Volume II, The Spanners Series, from Aug 01, 14 on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/983982709?book_show_action=false&page=1

5 of 5 stars

Read from July 09 to August 01, 2014

I enjoyed reading this following on from book 1, book 1 give the groundwork so you really get into book 2 quickly and understand what is going on from the very beginning, if I had more time to spare, this is a book I would have read cover to cover non stop.

final cover print

Cover art by Willowraven

Thanks, John! More info about and links for author, John Betts, below.

Twitter https://twitter.com/JohnArthurBetts

LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/home?trk=nav_responsive_tab_home

Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/johnarthurbettsfantasyworld

Google+ https://plus.google.com/u/0/115539396811049169679/posts

Mia’s Legacy
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mias-Legacy-John-Betts-ebook/dp/B00MDIQ0CE

The Twin Rings of Ra https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/327514

An Adventure of Bunny Bertie and Blueberry Elf http://www.amazon.co.uk/Adventure-Bunny-Bertie-Blueberry-Elf/dp/1784075965 and
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/407885

5-Stars for Volume II of The Spanners Series on Goodreads!

John Betts’s review of This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, Volume II, The Spanners Series, from Aug 01, 14 on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/983982709?book_show_action=false&page=1

5 of 5 stars

Read from July 09 to August 01, 2014

I enjoyed reading this following on from book 1, book 1 give the groundwork so you really get into book 2 quickly and understand what is going on from the very beginning, if I had more time to spare, this is a book I would have read cover to cover non stop.

final cover print

Cover art by Willowraven

Thanks, John! More info about and links for author, John Betts, below.

Twitter https://twitter.com/JohnArthurBetts

LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/home?trk=nav_responsive_tab_home

Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/johnarthurbettsfantasyworld

Google+ https://plus.google.com/u/0/115539396811049169679/posts

Mia’s Legacy
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mias-Legacy-John-Betts-ebook/dp/B00MDIQ0CE

The Twin Rings of Ra https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/327514

An Adventure of Bunny Bertie and Blueberry Elf http://www.amazon.co.uk/Adventure-Bunny-Bertie-Blueberry-Elf/dp/1784075965 and
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/407885

Supporting gender and sexual orientation diversity is important: It’s sometimes a matter of life and death

Children’s Book Review

Made By Raffi by Craig Pomranz

by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

July, 2014

It’s not often that two people who knew each other as teenagers both become authors around the same time, but here we are, Craig Pomranz and I, both from Olivette, MO (a suburb of St. Louis), finding this new outlet for our creativity!

Craig is one year younger but was two grades behind me in our high school due to district entrance deadlines. It was quite “scandalous” at the time that I chose him to be my among my good friends, because I was a popular, powerful senior and he was a lowly sophomore in our three-year, Ladue Horton Watkins High School in 1971.

Why did I pick Craig out of and lift him from the kiddie pool? Because he was amazingly talented, charismatic, charming, intelligent, fun and earnest, even then. At our almost-clueless ages of 15 and 16, we bonded over musical and dramatic theater, party games, sex, jokes and movies.

We were also both not exactly cis-gender or completely heterosexual. In those ways, we kind of “met in the middle” and found a lot of common ground. We are still doing that, over forty years later. Craig and I both have wanted our experiences to be utilized so that we could be helpful to younger people in our professional work (as I have) and our writing.

This spring, Craig authored and this month published s wonderful, unique children’s book, Made by Raffi, that I’ll let him tell you about from an email he recently sent to me:

“I wrote the book to support young boys and girls who are perceived as ‘different’ because of their appearance or hobbies. It is a funny, colorful book with a serious message and will interest those who care about promoting diversity and embracing our differences, as well as all children seeking to fit in. This is an important topic for today…”

Craig went on to explain: “I have really become interested in the idea of how we tell our kids what is ‘appropriate’ activity based on gender. Most of the parents of young kids I know are trying, on the one hand, to let them follow their own interests, but on the other are concerned about their kid’s fitting in and not being teased. As a result, atypical hobbies and behaviors are only encouraged so far.”

He knows I AGREE with him completely, so he asked me to review and help promote his great book. Here I am, doing just that.

Buy this book. Share it with younger readers and even younger pre-readers. Talk about it. Allow Raffi’s story to raise questions and stimulate important conversations. Donate it to schools, libraries, homeless shelters, runaway hostels, children’s hospitals, youth mental wards, rehab centers.

I mean it. Made by Raffi should be everywhere so that gender disphoric and gender diverse youth can find it. It doesn’t matter that it’s a “children’s book.” That just makes it an easy read, brief but pithy. Also, the brevity and easy language mean that a young person who still has trouble with reading or whose English isn’t great could understand and benefit from it.

Why do I do this when I’m not a professional book reviewer? Because supporting gender and sexual orientation diversity is important: it’s sometimes a matter of life and death.

Craig wrote to me to share “some shocking stories”:

  • “A principal told a boy he could not bring his ‘My Little Pony’ lunchbox to school because it was a ‘trigger’ for teasing and bullying.

  • “The same week, a girl was expelled from a Christian school because of her short hair, perceived masculine look and interest in sports.

  • “A woman in Portland killed her child of four because she thought he ‘acted, walked and spoke like a gay person.'”

Craig continued in his email to me: “I would love to help those raising children—-and that includes parents, teachers, friends and relatives (the wide range of ‘families’ out there)—-who have had to deal with the issues of teasing and bullying and the difficulty we all have in defining who we are.”

From the book’s description:

Raffi is a shy boy who doesn’t like noisy games and is often teased at school. But when he gets the idea of making a scarf for his dad’s birthday, he is full of enthusiasm even though the other children think it is ‘girly’ to knit. Then the day draws near for the school pageant, and there is one big problem: no costume for the prince. And that’s when Raffi has his most brilliant idea of all — to make a prince’s cape. On the day of the pageant, Raffi’s cape is the star of the show.

Raffi cover

Age Range: 5 – 9 years

Grade Level: Kindergarten – 4

Hardcover: 40 pages

Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books (July 29, 2014)

Illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain

Buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Made-Raffi-Craig-Pomranz/dp/1847804330

If you read the book, let Craig and others know on Twitter @MadeByRaffi

LIKE and comment on the book’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MadeByRaffi

I am so proud of my dear, longtime friend, Craig Pomranz! Spread the word! Visit his new blog!
http://craigpomranz.com/made-by-raffi/

Bonuses!

Craig sent me some snippets from readers all over the globe who have already shared and appreciated Made by Raffi. Here are a couple of those.

From a man in Istanbul:
Today I enjoyed to preorder your beautiful and meaningful children book for my cousin. Especially here in Turkey we need to learn respect to the one who is different than us. Thanks for your effort to make the world a better place to live.

Another fan wrote and sent Craig a photo:
I just wanted to send you this lovely picture of Isak, 7 years old, who has been inspired by Made by Raffi (Norwegian edition) to knit a scarf for his younger cousin (maybe as a Christmas gift). His mother tells me that they have been reading the book several times now, and that he’s trying to read it by himself, too. Greetings from Norway!

Isak

5-Star #Review of #THISCHANGESMYFAMILYANDMYLIFEFOREVER, Vol II, #THESPANNERSSERIES

TITLE HERE

June 4, 2014

“Clara Ackerman Branon is back, and Earth’s Transition continues.

final cover - digital and web
cover art by Aidana Willowraven

“I actually read Vol I and Vol II back to back, so for me it was like I’m reading one continuous book. I think though that one would need to read Vol I really to fully understand what is going to happen.

“In this volume, we get introduced more to Clara’s family (they are a large family!) who all get interviewed about how they experienced Clara’s first contact with the aliens and earth’s transition (when the news first broke, what changed for them, any difficulties, what are they planning for the future). One of the main narrators is Clara’s nephew, Moran, a Rabbi before Transition, who will now become the Chief in the fight against those who resist and fight the transition. There is also more info about Clara, snippets about her life from young woman to past transition, we learn about her jobs, relationships with both man and woman and in communes, what does she listen to, read etc. Though I’m still confused about her relationship with her lover / not lover, Epifanio – but hey, more volumes are to come.

“One thing I like very much about The Spanners Series is the message that we can all live together in peace, learn from each other, be there for each other. All differences (religious, racial, gender, and even between species and inhabitants of other planets) are overcome. I mean, how cool would that be to be able to communicate with animals – and not in a jokey, Eddie Murphy Dr Dolitle kind of way, but accept them and their needs / interests as equal to humans. And those people who resist change (yes, there will always be those, even if it is clear that the change is for the better) will not be eliminated, but gently persuaded to recognise at what is best for them.

“Another thing I really like is the cover artwork and I hope the author doesn’t change the cover art throughout the series, that would be a shame. It’s pretty , imaginative. once you read the first few chapters and about the first encounter with ‘The Band’, have a look at the cover again and you will go ‘ahhhh’.

“I very much enjoyed this series and the somewhat unusual structure of the book with interview. It is blurring the lines between fiction and non-fiction. One of the great pluses for me was that abbreviations or foreign language used (one of the main characters is Hispanic) are always explained in brackets straight away. Because of the non-fiction style, it does not halt the flow of the story at all, but is in fact very helpful. On the minus side, as there are several of Clara’s relatives are interviewed, it can sometimes be a bit ‘samey’ at some stage. But the writing is easy to read, so it is not a big deal and I found myself skipping over a few pages.

“A satisfying continuation from Volume I – let’s see what’s coming up in the next volume.”

[NOTE: Please forgive her English mistakes: English is not her first language.]

Visit Peggy Farooqi’s Reviews and blog: http://thepegsterreads.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/review-this-changes-my-family-and-my.html
and on Amazon.com

Her review of Vol I, This Changes Everything, appeared last month (May, 2014)!

TCE is PERMAFREE everywhere; TCMF&MLF is in Pre-Orders through 6/8/9 @$1.99 and releases @$3.99 6/9/14. Links, excerpts, more reviews and info: http://www.sallyember.com/spanners

4-Star #Review for #THISCHANGESVERYTHING, Vol I, #THESPANNERSSERIES

Sci Fi which challenges your ideas

May 26, 2014

“Finally, a Sci-Fi Series that is not exclusively aimed at teenager. Don’t get me wrong, there is a market and this book can be read by everyone. But it does challenge you mentally. What I like is that the main characters are not teenagers caught in some intergalactic wars.

This Changes Everything cover
cover art by Aidana Willowraven

“Dr. Clara Ackerman Branon, a middle-aged, Ph.D., school teacher, narrates the book (in most parts). She gets contacted by aliens from the MWC = Many World Collective. Led, Mick, Ringo and Janis – Diana (as Clara names them *geddit?*) appear to Clara in her bedroom as holograms and tell her that she is chosen to be earth’s first Chief Communicator with the MWC. They have come to prepare earth for membership of the MWC. Clara is not too spooked by their appearance, as she had visions since childhood. For me, she is a very likeable character and I took to her straight away – she has a great sense of humour.

“These aliens are actually friendly, and want to help earth and all its inhabitants (and that incl human and all other life) to live peacefully together. Reference John Lennon and “Image” here! Being aware of everything that went on at earth, they feel now the time is right to come forward and help earth with its transition to a more peaceful future.

“While the book in most parts is narrated by Clara, the chapters are also interlace with interviews, press conferences and diary entries written by others. This may sound confusing and it was at first when I read the contents pages. But the title of each chapter, whilst long, explains exactly what it is, so you will always now where and when you are. And there are a lot of ideas to take in, so a very helpful section at the end explains main phrases / concepts / abbreviations. But while it challenges your reading experience, it is not difficult to get your head around the ideas presented here.

“I found the idea that the MWC have been watching earth and are responsible for some of the disasters on earth (when things have gone wrong…) thought-provoking and absorbing. The concept of ‘timulting’ was more difficult for me to take in – Clara (and others) can see different timelines at any one stage. And than there is Clara’s love interest Epifanio whom she is / isn’t married to depending what timeline she is in and I struggled a bit with it. But I think I ‘got’ it at the end.

“I loved the idea of a ‘re-set’ on your life where you can change an event once. For Clara, that was the fact that she had a car accident as a teenager which left her with a degree of disability, which than ruled her life. When she can ‘re-set’ this event and watches how her life plays out without this disability in a different timeline, she realises that she would certainly be more outgoing, but the life of those around her (mostly her son) would also change significantly – at a price.

“Loved that. So, would you ‘re-set’ if you could?

“This book is the foundation for The Spanners Series, and while I understand that the following books can be read independently, I really think one ought to read Vol I to get the main ideas and concepts on which the author can now build upon. There is certainly a lot of scope to develop the ideas introduced in Vol I.”

[NOTE: Please forgive her English mistakes: English is not her first language.]

Visit Peggy Farooqi’s Reviews and blog: http://thepegsterreads.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/review-this-changes-everything-by-sally.html
and on Amazon.com

Her review of Vol II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, appears later this week!

TCE is PERMAFREE everywhere; TCMF&MLF is in Pre-Orders through 6/8/9 @$1.99 and releases @$3.99 6/9/14. Links, excerpts, more reviews and info: http://www.sallyember.com/spanners

Important Perspectives on #Book #Reviews for #Authors

Let me say first how grateful I am to each of the mostly self-selected, unsolicited and all UNPAID reviewers, most of whom I never met or heard of prior to their reviewing my book. Each of them gave a lot of their time and consideration and most read (or said they read) the whole book. THANK YOU, Book Reviewers!

I especially thank those who review indie, first-time, ebook authors of sci-fi (hardly any do!).

bookreviews_logo

I am a newly self-published, indie author of mixed genre ebooks. Right there, that puts my book into five categories that disfavor me in the reviews department.

Then, add that my genres are

science-fiction/romance/paranormal/multiverse/utopian/speculative fiction

and that my audience is also mixed:

adults, new and young adults

and we begin to understand how my first ebook, This Changes Everything, Volume I of The Spanners Series, could get a variety of responses and reviews.

To date (about 6 months after publication), TCE has 13 reviews on Amazon and a few elsewhere. These reviews break down roughly like this:

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

5-Stars: 25%

4-Stars: 25%

3-Stars: 25%

2-Stars: 0%

1-Star: 25%
Did Not Finish (also gave it 1-star or 3-stars, by the way): 2%, which adds up to 102%, since these are duplicates

My summary: About one-quarter of these reviewers loved my book (5 Stars); about one-quarter hated it (1 Star). Most reviewers were mixed, with the predominant attitude’s being positive (50% gave it 3 or 4 Stars) rather than negative (no 2-Stars and 25% 1 Star).

What could any author conclude from this? NOT MUCH!

Just to get some perspective, check out some well-known authors’ book review stats, for first volumes or breakout books, on Amazon: Robert Heinlein, J.K. Rowling, and Hugh Howey.

Robert Heinlein‘s Stranger in A Strange Land (his “breakout” and most popular full-length, sci-fi novel, and one of my all-time favorites/inspirations), has about 870 reviews on Amazon for this book.

Stranger cover

5 Stars: 57%

4 Stars: 14%

3 Stars: 13%

2 Stars: 9%

1 Star: 8%

My summary: More than half loved it (5 Stars). About half were less than enthusiastic, with about one-quarter liking it (3 and 4 Stars), and almost one-fifth disliking it (2 and 1 Stars).

What did one of Heinlein’s 1-Star reviewers have to say about this much-revered book? “I know it’s one of the classics, and supposedly one of the best sci-fi novels of all time, but I actually got so bored at parts of this book that I started skimming somewhere in the middle it.

How about J.K. Rowling‘s first volume of the renowned Harry Potter series, The Sorcerer’s Stone? How is this book doing? It has about 8500 reviews. Unsurprisingly, this book has garnered about 10 times the number of reviews as Heinlein’s (published in 1968).

Harry Potter vol I

5 Stars: 85%

4 Stars: 10%

3 Stars: 3%

2 Stars: 1%

1 Star: 1%

My summary: Overwhelmingly adored (95% gave it 4 or 5 Stars), this book still has detractors. Even J.K. Rowling, one of the most successful and beloved authors of all time, can’t please about 3% – 5% of these reviewers (1, 2 and 3 Stars).

One of Rowling’s first volume’s 1-Star reviewers who actually reviewed the book after seeing the movies (and was not caught up in slamming its purchase, which apparently was a problem with the Kindle and print versions), wrote: “How did this *ever* become such a phenomenon? I mean, if I think it through I can see why it became what it became but it was definitely not for the writing! The writing was soooooooo pedestrian I found myself embarrassed while reading it!

What about an Amazon’s “top 10 Best-Selling Author,” Hugh Howey‘s Wool? It has about 1750 reviews.

Wool part 1

5 Stars: 64%

4 Stars: 21%

3 Stars: 8%

2 Stars: 4%

1 Star: 3%

My summary:Well, these stats start to look more like a mid-way place between my first ebook’s review stats and Robert Heinlein’s, above, don’t they? Howey’s first volume garnered almost two-thirds of adoring (5 Stars) reviewers, but still has about 15% who disliked or are lukewarm about it (1, 2 and 3 Stars), with about one-fifth liking it but not loving it (4 Stars).

One of Howey’s 1-Star reviewers echoed my sentiments about his book (which I couldn’t even finish because I disliked it so much): “Another depressing ‘humans living underground following apocalypse / collapse of society / alien invasion / zombie epidemic, but with a really cruel. nasty plot twist right at the end.’ I had to eat a lot of chocolate to get over it.

Moral of my post? Appreciate ALL reviews, thank the reviewers, post your own reviews and don’t take any of them too seriously.

Best to you all, authors and reviewers!

Another 4-Star Review for #ThisChangesEverything, Vol. I, #TheSpannersSeries

4-Star Review of
This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

“As I started reading this book I was extremely confused. The initial writing style is uniquely jumbled and somewhat difficult to follow. However, I believe that this is somewhat intentional based on the first concept initiated within the story—everything happens all at once. Time is not linear, but expansive. Once I understood that this was one of the major messages being shared within the book (note, I do not believe that sharing this will be giving a spoiler as it’s pretty clear within the first 25 pages) the strange manner in which the story, itself, as written, makes perfect sense.

“Although I do not predict this story will become a mainstream success, it will definitely appear to a certain subset who have an interest in discussing the possibilities of linear time and alien interaction with what Sally Ember has labeled as ‘Earthers.’

“The concepts that the author discusses certainly align with some of my own beliefs and, perhaps, this is what kept me turning the page to see the direction in which the story would lead. By page 36, I was glad that I did. It was around this time that I started to enjoy the spin the author put on past events, giving them flavor that played well into her vision of the purposes of past alien encounters.

“I will say that what I enjoyed the most about the book was the main character’s interaction with both ‘The Band’ and her fellow humans. The interactions gave ground to the underlying plot, taking it from something akin to a research paper and back to the world of storytelling. I especially liked the fact that not all of her family is receptive to the sudden announcement of the other world visitors and her realization that, perhaps, she’d best prepare some of these people for the publication of her visits to the world at large.

“Because I did have some problems following the timeline off and on throughout the book, I’m unable to give it a solid five-star rating. However, I will say that very rarely do I finish a 248-page novel in the course of two days and that, even more importantly, I’m curious to see where the author takes this series in the next installment. This speaks volumes as to Ms. Ember’s writing skills and ability to keep her readers interested in her content.”

posted by: riyanj | Jan 23, 2014 | LIBRARY THING

http://www.librarything.com/work/14662907/book/106564730

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks
Cover and logo art by Willowraven.

Available wherever ebooks are sold. Buy links, more reviews, interviews and excerpts from Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, starting March 16, on http://www.sallyember.com
Volume II is in pre-orders via Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo and nook for 50% off @$1.99, 4/18/14 – 6/8/14 and releases 6/9/14 @$3.99 on those sites plus Amazon and everywhere.

4 stars! #BookReview #THISCHANGESEVERYTHING by Nick LeVar, Free World Authors

4-STAR Review of
This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.
from Nick LeVar, Founder, Free World Authors, HIGHLIGHTS here (full review link, below)

“Being a sci-fi fan, I look forward to, and enjoy, fictional worlds that are not real, but are real, and events that have not happened, but could happen, and maybe they have happened, and we just don’t know it, yet. Confused enough? Good, because This Changes Everything is not for the fan of simplistic work. And I mean that as a compliment to the author.”

This Changes Everything challenged my sense of convention.”

“In the first paragraph, Sally immediately piqued my interest by enticing questions. Who is visiting Clara? Are they dangerous? Are they even human? Why don’t they speak when she asks questions? Getting the reader to wonder what they hell is going on is a good way to keep the pages turning. Score.”

“I got the sense that I was in the world as an Earther, feeling what Clara felt, seeing what she saw, and hearing what she heard. The world itself should become another character, and when I can experience the story rather than read it, the author will draw smiles from me.”

“Somewhere in the past, authors have gotten the bright idea to rehash other authors’ stories that have already found success. While borrowing is, in itself, a form of art, I appreciate creativity. This Changes Everything fits the bill. In it, Sally references major events in human history. But that’s not the creative part… I’ll put it this way, you will finish the book wondering what part aliens may have played in the Challenger explosion or the NSA’s invasion of our rights to privacy!”

“If you’re looking for a book that you can skim, then stick to Twilight. If you appreciate a story that reads like the author took her time and was unafraid to challenge what you think you know about story structure, then give This Changes Everything a go. I think you’ll be impressed!”

4 Stars

http://freeworldauthors.com/this-changes-everything/.html

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks
Cover and logo art by Willowraven.

Available wherever ebooks are sold. Buy links, more reviews, interviews and excerpts from Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, starting March 16, on http://www.sallyember.com
Volume II is in pre-orders via Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo and nook for 50% off @$1.99, 4/18/14 – 6/8/14 and releases 6/9/14 @$3.99 on those sites plus Amazon and everywhere.

Author Seeks Reviews! Please Share!

Author Seeks Reviews! Please Share!

bookreviews_logo

I seek reviews for either or both of the first two Volumes of “The Spanners Series,” which is sci-fi/ romance/ multiverse/ utopian/ paranormal for adults/new and young adults, in ebook format only.

Vol I, “This Changes Everything,” is free to reviewers via coupon through April 17 on Smashwords; and, free to the public, everywhere, after 4/18/14, when Volume II goes into pre-orders.

Vol. I, TCE BLURB: Dr. Clara Ackerman Branon, Ph.D., 58, is having the first of many home visits from holographic representations of five beings from the Many Worlds Collective (MWC), a consortium of planet and star systems all around the multiverse, over a thirty-year, increasingly Utopian period. Earth is being invited to join, formally, and the December, 2012, visit is the first one allowed to be made public. Making the existence of the MWC public means many Earthers have to adjust our beliefs and ideas about life, religion, culture, identity and, well, everything we think and are. Clara becomes the liaison for Earth, the Chief Communicator, between Earth and the MWC.

“This Changes Everything” relates the events partly from her point of view, partly from records of meetings of varying groups of the MWC governing bodies, and partly from her Media Contact, Esperanza Enlaces, employing humor, poignancy, a love story, family issues, MWC’s mistakes and blunders, history, politics, paranormalcy and hope.

logoAuthorsDen
Cover and logo art by Willowraven: willowraven-illustration.blogspot.com/

Vol II, “This Changes My Family and My Life Forever,” seeks pre-pub reviewers who have read (but do not have to have reviewed) Volume I, first (using coupon, below) and then access Volume II by request.

I have it available via Google Drive. Access is granted to your email address (you email me and I’ll have yours: sallyember@yahoo.com or ssfember@gmail.com) March 15 – April 18, 2014, and reviewers are welcomed after that as well, either Volume, via Smashwords (directly from me until June 8, then via coupon).

If you want to review Vol. I, coupon works at Smashwords, any format you choose: email me for the code. sallyember@yahoo.com Coupon is solely for reviewers and NOT for public use.

Volume II, “This Changes My Family and My Life Forever,” of “The Spanners Series,” begins pre-orders via Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks, nook, April 18 or thereabouts and releases June 9 on those and Amazon and all Smashwords affiliate sites.

Vol. II BLURB: “This Changes My Family and My Life Forever” is the story of the first five years After Public Contact with the Many Worlds Collective (2013-2018), “The Transition” to full membership for Earth. Many of the changes, reactions, struggles and circumstances accompanying these years are related from the points of view of the main character, Dr. Clara Branon’s, adult son and his cousins as well as some of those cousins’ children.

One of Clara’s nephews in particular, Moran Ackerman, who becomes Chief of the Psi-Warriors and all OverSeers, tells of his experiences and training in assuming those roles for Earth after having been a Rabbi and teacher of middle school. TCMF&MLF’s content is edited/curated and also partly narrated by Esperanza Enlaces, Clara’s Chief Media Contact, a contemporary of her son’s, so some of her story and many parts of Clara’s are included as well.

Pre-order period for Vol. II, 4/18 – 6/8/14, offers the special discounted price of $1.99 for Volume II on all sites. Starting 6/9/14, Volume II will sell for $3.99.

If you do decide to review Vol. II and get your review to me prior to June 1, a snippet from and credit for your review could appear in Vol. II’s front matter.

This Changes Everything cover

Thanks for your consideration and best to you all!

Sally Ember, Ed.D.

High Praise from Rebecca T for “#ThisChangesEverything”!

Here are some excerpts from the latest glowing #review, written by Rebecca T, “The Literary Connoisseur,” for Sally Ember’s original, sci-fi, romance, paranormal, multiverse, utopian ebook, This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series.

“If you’re a fan of Sci-Fi, this book was written for you!”

“If there’s one thing I can say for sure about Sally Ember’s writing, it’s that she knows what she’s writing about. She’s very, very intelligent, and so is her story. (With occasional witty humor that had me chuckling.)”

“Clara’s love life is not easy whatsoever, being the CC and all, but even though it killed me when she would pour out her emotions and heartbreak, that was my favorite part of the book. It gave a human touch to a book about aliens!”

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

Link to full review here: http://theliteraryconnoisseur.blogspot.com/2014/02/this-changes-everything-by-sally-ember.html

All buy links, more reviews, Pinterest Board and other links: http://www.sallyember.com Look right and scroll! Available for $3.99 wherever ebooks are sold. Share!

4 Stars from “April” for “This Changes Everything” on Amazon and elsewhere

“April,” an author who prefers to remain anonymous when posting online, reviewed This Changes Everything (The Spanners Series), calling it “An Intelligent, Funny, Multi-Generational, Multi-Timeline, Multi-Story.” Here is her review:

“Author, Dr. Sally Ember, Ed.D., has utilized every book formatting element recommended by successful authors. She includes: an attractive cover [cover art by Willowraven], a detailed TOC, and front flap reviewers’ remarks.

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

This Changes Everything is a science-fiction story about a woman who is chosen to be the main contact for ‘The Many Worlds Collective’ (MWC). The aliens she meets will provide information to her to give to Earthers in order for Earthers to become members of the MWC.

“Ember does grab my attention in the first pages with the opening scene where Clara, the protagonist, invites aliens, who have come into her home, to a late night tea.

“While I want to know more, as the story unfolds into a grand multi-story, multi-senses, multi-timeline story within a story, I get exhausted.

“As I age, I cannot read long fiction stories in one sitting, I have to read them in chunks. When I was younger, I could get lost in worlds created by others.

“Ember has a seamless writing style that flows as she goes from event to event, experience to experience, and interaction to interaction. She uses energetic, positive, imaginative, intelligent language and humor. The aliens are ‘cute,’ telepathic and funny.

“The main story is broken up by real time events and diary entries by the author covering the not just the author’s life but all of historic time.

“Ember introduces the concept of ‘simultaneous time.’ For lovers of time travel stories you will enjoy this multi-universe present time.

“I love learning new things, the author injects biological, psychological and Buddhism, technological and historical facts into the story. There is even a reference to marginalia and a discussion of the Sandwich Generation.

“Then there are the Spanners, who exist as one giant dysfunctional family. Spanners live in the best and worst of years of the modern era.

“Ember’s stories are like a brain dump of all her education, knowledge, experiences, philosophies, hopes and dreams, and observations.

“Ember is the Alice Walker of the Spanner Generation.”

Thank you, April! Glad you enjoyed TCE!

This ebook is available on Smashwords, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks and nook for $3.99. Buy links, more information and review links on http://www.sallyember.com

“Complex, Creative, and Compelling – 4 Stars” from B.C. Brown for “This Changes Everything”!

B.C. Brown’s review of This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D., is quite positive! Here are some quotes from and a link to the full review, below. Thanks, B.C.!

“Sally Ember has created a humorous science-fiction tale with This Changes Everything. Initially woven loosely, the style is a little confusing but seems to be what the writer had in mind to introduce the fact that everything in life, and the story, happens simultaneously and it rarely makes sense from the onset. The point of time being more expansive and less linear is clearly defined by this opening.”

This Changes Everything has great wit. Its writing is simple and dignified with complex ideas and theorizes on politics, science, religion, and socio-economics. While it may not be the next ‘Oprah’s Book Club’ nominee, the book certainly encompasses a wide topical range and has something for any audience. It will resonate well with thinkers.”

“4 stars = Quite Enjoyable”…”This book was solidly in the 4-star range; a recommended read.”

Link to full review: http://bcbrownbooks.blogspot.com/2014/02/review-this-changes-everything-by-sally.html

All buy links for this sci-fi ebook are on http://www.sallyember.com. Look to the right and scroll down! Spread the word!

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3 Stars for “This Changes Everything” from Alexander Crommich: Book Review

Three Stars from Alexander Crommich because he didn’t like the multiverse/ holographic structure of the novel (one star?) and didn’t appreciate the “spanning” nature of Volume I of the 10-Volume series (the other star?), not wanting to wait (I guess) for the details and stories coming in subsequent volumes. Oh, well, can’t be everything to everyone.

He made some great, insightful comments and put in a lot of time, so I am grateful for his review. Link is below some excerpts, here. First, from his email to me:

“I really liked the ideas you played around with in your book, but it would have worked better for me if you had picked one very small part of how the world changes that Clara gets involved with and followed just that vein. I think you tried to cover too much ground, in too many different formats and styles, to effectively do what you wanted to. Again, though, I really did find the ideas you discussed in the book quite interesting.”

-A. Crommich

from his review:
“This is one of those strange books that was, on the one hand, difficult to read, but on the other, fascinating….”

“The book deals with interesting subjects ranging from alternate realities, reincarnation, some fairly trippy interpretations of science, and alien life that’s truly alien.”

“First, the whole idea of aliens constantly resetting small chunks of the universe to try and get the best outcomes for everyone involved is downright cool. This book treats parallel universes as a given and goes to great lengths explaining the different ways the MWC plays around with them to create a greater galactic society. It’s always interesting when a book decides that alien life is not only friendly, but has a utopian agenda.”

“Second, when the presentation of the material works, it’s a very unusual take on things that I found enjoyable. My favorite part is still a council meeting in which MEMBERS of the MWC discuss how they intend to handle the advent of nuclear power on earth. That, as well as how they handle religion, involves sleeper agents, reality resets, calculating probabilities, and a whole host of funky stuff that’s quite interest.”

“In summary, this book never flows together into a focused novel, which is unfortunate given how interesting the subject matter is. It does, however, present enough fascinating ideas and viewpoints to partially redeem its shortcomings. I’d almost recommend treating it like a scrap book and picking out the various chapters that seem to interest you, rather than reading it cover to cover straight off the bat. All told, I give it a 3/5.”

http://alexandercrommich.com/2014/01/25/this-changes-everything-by-sally-ember-review/

Stellar Review by David ben Efraim for “This Changes Everything,” Volume I, “The Spanners Series”: The End of Humankind’s Loneliness

Stellar Review by David ben Efraim for This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series: “The End of Humankind’s Loneliness”

Excerpts and link to full review, below.

“From the moment I opened the book I felt that it was indeed a pure science-fiction novel; the author hits the nail on the head with the atmosphere she created, blending elements of comedy, mystery and surrealism together to give you, the reader, an unshakable desire to learn more about the aliens and the worlds they come from.”

“I found the story itself to be one of the most immersive and original ones I have read recently. Amongst the sea of science fiction novel clones, there is This Changes Everything, a book in which old ideas are taken in completely new directions (such as the whole intergalactic committee actually trying to help the humans), and new ideas are spawned by the dozens.”

This Changes Everything is certainly much more than what I expected from it, presenting us an enthralling and original storyline set in a majestic and extremely-detailed world, populated by many characters that will stay with you once the last pages are closed. I wholeheartedly recommend the book to science-fiction fans, especially the ones who prefer their literature to explore ideas and concepts through words rather than actions.”

This Changes Everything cover

http://quick-book-review.blogspot.com/2014/01/this-changes-everything-volume-one-by-sally-ember.html

Stellar Review by David ben Efraim for “This Changes Everything,” Volume I, “The Spanners Series”: The End of Humankind’s Loneliness

Stellar Review by David ben Efraim for This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series: “The End of Humankind’s Loneliness”

Excerpts and link to full review, below.

“From the moment I opened the book I felt that it was indeed a pure science-fiction novel; the author hits the nail on the head with the atmosphere she created, blending elements of comedy, mystery and surrealism together to give you, the reader, an unshakable desire to learn more about the aliens and the worlds they come from.”

“I found the story itself to be one of the most immersive and original ones I have read recently. Amongst the sea of science fiction novel clones, there is This Changes Everything, a book in which old ideas are taken in completely new directions (such as the whole intergalactic committee actually trying to help the humans), and new ideas are spawned by the dozens.”

This Changes Everything is certainly much more than what I expected from it, presenting us an enthralling and original storyline set in a majestic and extremely-detailed world, populated by many characters that will stay with you once the last pages are closed. I wholeheartedly recommend the book to science-fiction fans, especially the ones who prefer their literature to explore ideas and concepts through words rather than actions.”

This Changes Everything cover

http://quick-book-review.blogspot.com/2014/01/this-changes-everything-volume-one-by-sally-ember.html

Surprisingly Glowing #Review by Carrie Shepherd of “This Changes Everything”

Surprisingly glowing review by Carrie Shepherd for This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series, who commented: “To be honest, I didn’t like it at first but kept on reading and then got that ‘Aha!’ moment and the next thing I knew I was on the final page. I very definitely am interested to see how the second in the series plays out.”

Excerpts and link to full review, below.

“The concepts that the author discusses certainly align with some of my own beliefs and, perhaps, this is what kept me turning the pages to see the direction in which the story would lead. By page 36, I was glad that I did. It was around this time that I started enjoying the spin the author put on past events, giving them flavor that played well into her version of the purposes behind past alien encounters.”

“I will say that very rarely do I finish a 248 page novel in the course of two days and that, even more importantly, I’m curious to see where the author takes this series in the next installment. This speaks volumes as to Ms. Ember’s writing skills and ability to keep her readers interested in her content.”

This Changes Everything cover

http://authortoauthorbookreviews.blogspot.com/

#DNF Review for #THISCHANGESEVERYTHING still shines!

Thanks, Samuel Alexander, for a thoughtful peek into This Changes Everything, even though you only read 100 pages (so far)! (DNF = Did Not Finish, so no rating)

http://readingismydrug.blogspot.com/2014/01/this-changes-everything-volume-1.html

This Changes Everything cover

“5 Wonderful Stars” for #THISCHANGESEVERYTHING!

Another 5-Star Review! for This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series.

This Changes Everything cover

Review and comments from Sandra Love, https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7339622.Sandra_Love:

“Hello I really love this book. It was intriguing and well-written.”

She gives it “5 Wonderful Stars” and writes:

“First, I received a copy of this book exchange for an honest review.

“I really did enjoy this book I thought it was intriguing, brilliant and it held my interest from page 1 until the last word. I love reading about Clara Branon, who was visited by aliens one night, and wow it got very exciting. I truly believe in aliens and other worlds so this book was a book I would have read anyways. The details that Sally put into this book were amazing, and if I could have given her more stars, I would have.

“If you like sci-fi, fantasy and or aliens this is the book for you. I do recommend this book and I hope you try it because you won’t be disappointed.

“Well done, Sally! I look forward to your future books!!”

Buy links, excerpts and more: http://www.sallyember.com

“The Bluestocking Review” gives 3 stars to “This Changes Everything”

This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series, has arrived! TCE has received its first “negative” review by someone who did not allow me to read it first and with whom I have no other relationship.

Since some of you aren’t on Facebook (where it is posted), I’ve copied it here in its entirety, mistakes and all.

I do appreciate whenever anyone takes the time to read and review a book of mine, so: Since thanks, Amanda Blankfield-Koseff. Best to you.

Book Review – This Changes Everything
December 24, 2013 at 5:32am
by Sally Ember (Smashwords) ISBN: 9781310232428

Dr Clara Branon is visited by alien holograms one night. Although this is not shocking to her because she has been visited by extra-terrestrials since childhood, this is the first time the beings communicate with her. They call her by her full name and inform her that she is to be their chief communication officer between Earth and the MWC (Many Worlds Collective).

Clara has to appoint a media contact to help her disseminate the information for the next few decades. At the same time, she has to explain to her son and other family members what she has undertaken to do. The book mixes world history and sociology together with extra-terrestrial occurrences. It uses comic relief and shows Clara to be a really eccentric person through the story.

Ember has structured the book into chapters, and chapter interludes. It becomes unclear whether this is a work of fiction or non-fiction at times due to the structure and academic style used in the interludes. There is only a loose plot and no villain as yet, which can make a reader lose interest. Ember has appendices where she lays out the ideas for a series of ten of these books under the banner of The Spanner Series.

You may like this book if you enjoy humorous Sci-Fi such as The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Amanda Blankfield-Koseff
2/5 HERE but she gives it 3 stars on Amazon Reviews!
@Amands5

https://www.facebook.com/notes/the-bluestocking-review/book-review-this-changes-everything/597463646994087

“This Changes Everything” is in the NEWS!

Life on Other Planets Confirmed!

This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D., is in the NEWS…sort of…Check it out!

Read full article HERE at The Looking Glass.

holos 3 w logo

Buy This Changes Everything now wherever ebooks are sold and all formats available, including free excerpts, from original distributor, Smashwords. All buy links LIVE at: http://www.sallyember.com look to the right and scroll down. THANKS!

Thanks, Jeff Smith and The Looking Glass
art by Willowraven

Gratitude Day!

Today marks the completion of my first ebook’s official first Launch into retail sales. I have many to thank for helping this happen. Here is my SPEECH in written form.

thank-you_gratitude_maui

First, I want to tell my son, Merlyn Ember, how much I respect, love, and appreciate him. His insights, lexicography, tech assistance, re-posting on Facebook and support have been invaluable to me as an author and as a mom. THANK YOU, Merlyn! And, THANK YOU to his partner, Lauren Harrison, my newest family member and friend, for her support and wonderful warmth.

Then, my second-oldest niece, Sarah Miranda, deserves her own special mention. Sarah is my first and most reliable Beta reader, my website developer and maven, on-tap tech help and Facebook quality control “friend” who re-posts on Facebook and corrects my mistakes. Sarah has inspired, supported, amused and informed me continually. THANK YOU, SARAH!

Next, my sister, Ellen Fleischmann. Without her generosity and support, there would not be such an amazing book cover. She has also supported, encouraged, re-posted on Facebook, and inspired me and my writing in numerous ways, including being THE instigator and prime mover of this entire push to publication and marketing since I was laid off from a trad job this summer. THANK YOU, ELLEN!

Special thanks to my cover artist, Willowraven, for helping me understand and develop my cover design with feasible and affordable guidelines without losing my vision or missing my deadline by too much! Visit her site! Give her your business (but not when I need her!): willowraven-illustration.blogspot.com

Next, my youngest sibling, Lauri Fleischmann Stern, for her ongoing support, re-posting on Facebook, and encouragement, ideas, and laughter. She is currently reading my book and I eagerly await her comments. THANK YOU, LAURI!

My mom, Carole Harris, in spite of technical hurdles, continues to leap over them (or knock them down) to support and encourage my authorship. She has also been a great friend, on and off Facebook. THANK YOU, MOM!

My sister-in-law, Laura Weis Fleischmann, even more hampered yet determined to overcome technical obstacles, remains a staunch supporter and is about to be a new reader of my ebook. THANK YOU, LAURA!

My brother, Jonathan Fleischmann, while mostly quiet about it, has nevertheless been a support and help to me and I THANK YOU, JON!

My long-time friend (since 1978!), Mario Cossa, has been a supporter and cheerleader for my efforts. I expect his enjoyment and critique of my ebook to start floating over the oceans and airwaves via SKYPE from Bali any day, now. THANK YOU, MARIO!

My newer friend (since 2011), Diana Ruiz, who drove all the way from Sonoma to Hayward yesterday, my ebook launch day, just to celebrate, encourage and support me, also treated me to lunch and then proceeded to post on Facebook and her own org page to support my ebook’s visibility. THANK YOU, DIANA! Send support to Women’s Global Leadership Initiative, her org: http://www.wgli.org

My recently departed but never-forgotten, long-time friend, Jaye Alper, figures into this ebook and series as the inspiration for one of the characters. She was too ill when I was drafting this to read any versions of it, but we did talk about it before she passed and I know she’s laughing and critiquing away and sharing it with her librarian contacts from wherever she is now. THANK YOU, JAYE!

Thanks also to many other friends, family members and supporters, including but not limited to: Christopher Ember Briggs, David Garelick, Pema Lama, Jim Shucart, Edward Elbers, Pamela Faith Lerman Gluck, Katie Schwerin, Bill White, Sandra Mellander, Heidi Henkel, Diane Stolar, Edina Adler, Helen Perdue, Suzanne Yeomans, Jennifer Foltz, Jennifer O’Donnell, Wendy Boldizar, Bill Weiss, Randi Weiss, Leo Weissman, Jody Serkes, Pat Lenobel, Bonnie Mulliken; Jeff Kravin and Julia Wersema; Debbie and John Paggi; Don and Fatima Frazier; Jeremiah and Elijah Kneeland; Emily, Noah, Amanda and Jamie Stern; Malka, Yakov, Akiva and Shaya Fleischmann as well as Adina, Talia and Estey Fleischmann; Ron and Scott Cytron; David, Michael and Kathy Rosen; Hillary, David and Adrienne Levin; all my colleagues and friends on Goodreads, #ASMSG and other FB, LinkedIn and Google+ groups’ members.

Thanks to those on Twitter whom I follow and who follow me. Especially grateful for the Retweets! #FF @sallyemberedd

Very important thanks to those who offered and then posted Author Interviews and read pre-pub editions/wrote and posted reviews: Pippa Green and others at the Science-Fiction Romance Brigade; Andrea Barbosa; Debbie Brown/Amethyst Eyes; Skye Callahan; New Book Journal; Shah Wharton; Bits, Bytes and Books “owner” and new author-friend, Ria Stone, author of Gina’s Dream; Zach Tyo; Lynda Dietz; Janice G. Ross. Links to all of these are on this website: http://www.sallyember.com Look to the right and SCROLL!

Thanks to Will Wilson for inviting me to his radio interview show which will air live on BlogTalk Radio, 11 AM EST, Friday, December 27: http://blogtalkradio.com/indiebooks

Special thanks to my first pre-pub reader and reviewer, fellow sci-fi author, Mary Josephine O’Brien, and best of wishes to her on the publication of her ebook, Shared Skies.

Thanks to all the groups, sites, book clubs, librarians, independent bookstore operators online and in person, and bloggers who post, re-blog and support indie authors and indie books. I can’t possibly name you all, but I hope you know how much your support and help with increasing visibility mean to us authors, typing all alone and creating who knows what in our little writing caves.

Special thanks to the Fremont, Redwood Empire and Hayward, CA, writers’ groups for critiques, support, inspiration and opportunities to do public readings, and encouragement.

Very special thanks to Jordan Rosenfeld, author/editor/blogger, for her professional information, inspiration and energy for improving my writing and for revision after revision.

Thanks and a tip of the hat in amazement to Mark Coker, Ted Summerfield and the entire Smashwords team for all your support, great instructional guides and videos, tech support and encouragement for my becoming and many millions of others being able to become ebook authors.

Thanks to Author U, Judith Briles and the team and invited marketing mavens there, for great webinars and advice for authors/writers. Take advantage of their “Mentoring Mondays”! Free! http://authoru.org/

Last and certainly not least: my spiritual teacher and long-time (since 1983) friend, Lama Drimed (Alwyn Fischel), who is the inspiration for many themes and topics in this series and for one of the characters (guess which one?), has my heart-felt devotion and eternal gratitude for so much, including all of his teaching, support, guidance and encouragement for my spiritual and professional paths. THANK YOU, LAMA DRIMED!

May all beings benefit.

Author Q & A on Goodreads and Google On Air Hangout on Release Date of “This Changes Everything” Register!

Join ebook author, Sally Ember, Ed.D., for Q & A online chat on 12/19/13, Release Date of This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series, on Goodreads, 9 AM – 12 PM PST, FREE.

Join Goodreads (also free), then use the link, below, to post question/comments and register in advance or on the day of the event. SHARE!

ALSO, simultaneously, on Google On Air Hangout via youtube: https://plus.google.com/u/0/events/cqk9o94v7ovcdbdbq8q6mn26dns

Links to reviews, interviews, blog posts and buy links as well as excerpts on author’s website http://www.sallyember.com

This Changes Everything cover

Cover art by Willowraven.

SHARE! Thanks!

SYNOPSIS: Dr. Clara Ackerman Branon, Ph.D., 58, is having the first of many home visits from holographic representations of five beings from the Many Worlds Collective (MWC), a consortium of planet and star systems all around the multiverse, over a thirty-year, increasingly Utopian period. Earth is being invited to join, formally, and the December, 2012, visit is the first one allowed to be made public. Making the existence of the MWC public means many Earthers have to adjust our beliefs and ideas about life, religion, culture, identity and, well, everything we think and are. Clara becomes the liaison for Earth, the Chief Communicator, between Earth and the MWC. This Changes Everything relates the events partly from her point of view, partly from records of meetings of varying groups of the MWC governing bodies, and partly from her Media Contact, Esperanza Enlaces, employing humor, poignancy, a love story, family issues, MWC’s mistakes and blunders, history, politics, paranormalcy and hope.

https://www.goodreads.com/event/show/911803-chat-with-the-author-of-this-changes-everything-on-release-date

Pre-orders and Release Date for “This Changes Everything” free coupon!

Please share: Now in Pre-orders @ 50% $1.99 on Kobo, iBooks and nook, Sally Ember, Ed.D.’s first sci-fi/romance/paranormal novel, is getting 4- and 5-Star Reviews in pre-pub: see snippets from Reviews, below and full reviews on Goodreads. This Changes Everything, Volume I of <em>The Spanners Series release date is 12/19/13 via Smashwords to Amazon and all ebook retailers. Book club members, teachers and readers of THIS press release, contact Sally for coupon for free download from Smashwords to use after 12/19 – 12/31/13, sallyember@yahoo.com.
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/376197

What others are saying about This Changes Everything,
Volume I, “The Spanners Series” by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

“[This Changes Everything] is highly-imaginative, but for so many different reasons, and outside of the normal scope. There are times when I felt that I was reading an actual research report of true to life events. Honestly, I’m sitting at my laptop, questioning if Clara has provided this work to Ember, or if the two are one in the same. The experience is mind-altering, and would challenge readers to think beyond the bubble that we live in. I would surely recommend ‘This Changes Everything’ to anyone that enjoys a a well-written and researched Sci-Fi series. I will point out that it pushes the envelope, and toys with one’s perception. Well done! 5 Stars.”
–Janice G. Ross, author, 11/11/13
http://jgrwriter.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/review-this-changes-everything-by-sally-ember-3/

This Changes Everything by Sally Ember is a well-written, complex work that is going to add a strong title to a genre that can sometimes become bogged down with the same old, same old. ‘This Changes Everything’ is a book that I am very happy to have had the chance to read and I would recommend it to any sci-fi/fantasy fan.”
–Zach Tyo, Indie Reviews, 10/4/13
http://indiebookreviewer.blogspot.com/

“You have created your characters very well. I feel for Clara, I imagine her alienating a lot of people because her enthusiasm and drive and ability to push herself makes her someone who doesn’t suffer fools gladly. I would have liked more of the reporter’s life and I didn’t like Epifanio at all. He sounded arrogant and selfish. I loved that the aliens were chosen by lottery. You had so many good touches like that, which made the book a continuing surprise. I…have to say it is one of the most challenging, exciting and original books I’ve read.”
–(Mary) Josephine O’Brien, author, ‘Sharing Skies,’ 9/14/13

“You have written a wonderfully imaginative and original story with plenty of twists and turns. I really like your multiuniverse setting with different timelines and the concept of the ‘Many Worlds Collective.'”
–Sophekles, author, ‘The Serotonin Transfer,’ 10/8/13

“I love your sense of humor. I literally laughed out loud when Clara said that she had given him the name ‘Led.’ I also like that this is an alien story where the aliens are helping, rather than trying to take over the world. It’s a refreshing angle.”
–S.M. Koz, author, ‘Pangalax,’ 9/4/13

[after reading 1st 20 pages only] “…In a lot of ways I’m at a loss to critique this because it’s quite different than what I’m used to encountering. It’s a more immediate version of ‘Stranger in Strange Land’ by Heinlein. Now, what I say next is strictly speaking off the cuff at 11 PM after a couple of rum and cokes, but as it stands I’d probably rate this either three or four stars, depending on how it develops. Once I got into the ideas behind it all, I found it personally fascinating. I’m not sure how that would translate to a broader readership, but it’s nifty stuff. I like alternate timelines and the like…”
–Alexander Crommich, reviewer @ Crommich Industries

“The writing is complex and done extremely well….There were times when I almost forgot I was reading a work of fiction and not a news account of real events, and I would consider that to be skilled writing indeed….[D]id I enjoy more of it than not? Yes. Four stars. Did I like the overall content? Most of the time. Three stars. Was the writing of good quality? Oh, definitely yes. Five stars. My overall rating: four of five stars.”
–Lynda Dietz, Easy Reader, ilovetoreadyourbooks.blogspot.com, 11/4/13

About the Author
Sally Ember, Ed.D., is a published, nonfiction author and produced playwright (children’s theatre, Crystal Dreams; Grading System for adults) whose sci-fi romance/speculative fiction, YA, New Adult and adult series, The Spanners, starts with Volume I, The Changes Everything, uploaded in e-book format by Smashwords and for sale December 20, 2013. Volumes II – X are planned (see Appendix A, below). Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, is coming out in Spring, 2014, and the others are in various draft stages. Sally also has some short stories and articles published in ‘Out of the Kitchen,’ a journal available in the 1980s in print format only. She has co-written, edited, and proofread many nonfiction books and worked for a some magazines in the early 2000’s.

Sally was raised Jewish and is a practicing Buddhist meditator. She is also an almost-daily swimmer, a mediocre singer/pianist, avid feminist, dreamer, and devoted mother/ sister/ aunt/ daughter/ cousin/ friend.
Her website includes a blog: visit and comment, follow, “like,” and share! sallyember dot com.

In her “other” professional life, Sally has worked as an educator and upper-level, nonprofit manager in colleges, universities and private nonprofits for over thirty-five years in New England (every state), New Mexico and the San Francisco Bay Area (where she now lives). Sally has a BA, a Master’s (M.Ed.) and a doctorate in education (Ed.D.).

Interacting With and Finding Sally Online
Please write a review and give This Changes Everything a rating on SMASHWORDS, iBooks, Kobo, nook, whatever retailer you use for ebooks, as well as many other sites that bring readers to this book: Authonomy, Wattpad, Indiebooks, https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7237845.Sally_Ember, her blog, http://www.sallyember.com. Help bring people to ‘The Spanners Series’ via any other website that invites readers to post comments and reviews of Sci Fi novels, especially if you LOVE it!

Sally would be delighted to visit your Book Club or class in person or via SKYPE to talk about ‘The Spanners Series.’ Ask her to co-develop curricula, projects and activities for your group/class members!

You will want to check on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheSpannersSeriesbySallyEmber or her website to find out when the next Volume will be available.

Follow Sally on Twitter @sallyemberedd and please Tweet about this book and series! She will be posting excerpts of the upcoming Volumes on the Series’ FB page. Notices of those postings will be on Twitter.

For photos, images, music, bios and other memes relevant to Sally as an author and directly to ‘The Spanner Series,’ please visit her ten boards on Pinterest: “‘The Spanners Series’ includes…”; “Inspirations for the Earth locations in The Spanners Series”; “Music of ‘The Spanners Series'”; “Space Shots I like”; “Books that changed my life”; “TV shows and movies I actually like”; “Writers I Love”;”Resonating Pins” (from others’ boards); “Blog Posts”; and, “Flora and Fauna that amaze me.” She also puts up promos for her own and other authors’ books on occasion via “Book Billboards.” Please follow her Boards on http://www.Pinterest.com/sallyember gets you to her boards.

Cover Art by Willowraven: willowraven-illustration.blogspot.com

This Changes Everything cover

Visit Bits, Bites and Books Cafe today and in a week or so for comments about “This Changes Everything” and a full review

This author makes me blush! “Dr. Ember is a delightful person, full of energy and ideas. I do recommend her book [This Changes Everything] because it is a delightful mix of fiction, fantasy, stream-of-consciousness, and humor. She is the Alice Walker of the Spanner[s] generation.”

Visit using the link, below, for more of her opinion and later this fall, a full review!

Thanks, Ria!

http://bitsbitesbooks.weebly.com/blog.html

Lynda Dietz Review of “This Changes Everything” 4 & 5 Stars

Review of This Changes Everything by Sally Ember, Ed. D.
11/4/13
Easy Reader, Lynda Dietz

I was recently given a pre-pub e-copy of This Changes Everything , Volume 1 of The Spanners Series, in exchange for an honest review.

What if the world as we know it isn’t exactly as we’d always believed? What if we’re not the only sentient beings in the universe? What if the universe were not “only” a universe, but a “multi-verse” where many timelines occurred simultaneously?

The book’s title really says it all: this changes everything. Clara Branon is visited by the holograms of alien beings one night in her home, and her life from that point on is forever changed. She’s chosen as Chief Communicator, the contact person between the Many Worlds Collective and the Earthers, as they’re known by other species; it becomes her job to tell the rest of the world about the MWC and to help them accept it in order to transform our world into a better place for future generations.

I like the way opportunities for “re-sets” are available—how many of us would go back and change certain events if we could?—but are also shown as not always being the best option. Our life experiences shape us into who we are, after all, and if one or more of those is altered, we may not get what we want in the way we think we want it. I also appreciate the nods to authors like Douglas Adams, with the language-interpreting “fish” reminiscent of the Babel fish in his Hitchhiker’s Guide books.

Because Clara is writing/telling of the events occurring in multiple timelines, all the narrative is in the present tense, even for past or future events, which, as an editor, drove me crazy at first. Eventually, I got used to it, but it was occasionally a distraction…after all, past events require past tense verbs, unless the past is happening during the present or the future, in which case…oh, forget it. You’ll get used to it too, after a few pages.

Since the book is essentially a documentation of the initial visitation and transition time, there’s a lot of narrative with little dialogue, which slows down the pace in many spots. I’m a dialogue person, so the long stretches of complex details in the form of transcripts were a lot to absorb and at times felt like too much for one book. (Note: after contacting the author about this, I was informed that the manuscript had been revised and more dialogue had been added to the version that will be published in December.)

At times felt like it had a definite political slant, with a lot of liberal push, demonizing those who are staunch in their religious or moral beliefs as inflexible and unenlightened, classifying the wealthy as greedy, etc. I have to admit, I didn’t really care for that aspect of it, but that reflects my own personal beliefs and has nothing to do with the quality of the book itself. The novel also has a lot of Buddhist practices and teachings in it, including reincarnation (or ReInvolvement, as the MWC refers to it). I feel the need to mention these things because they’re so present within the book, and many readers prefer to be made aware of any controversial topics or religious leanings prior to reading.

There were parts that really tickled me, such as the explanation of crop circles: teenage alien graffiti, not much different than Earth teens taking a joyride and spray-painting the sides of bridges or boxcars, then racing back home before the authorities catch them. A recounting of an exchange between Clara and her son, Zephyr, over speakerphone had me giggling out loud, because it reminded me so much of phone conversations with my own mother.

The writing is complex and done extremely well. I didn’t see an editor listed, and I’m happy to say that Ms. Ember is excellent at self-editing. Grammar, punctuation, and spelling were non-issues, which was very refreshing in an indie book. There were times when I almost forgot I was reading a work of fiction and not a news account of real events, and I would consider that to be skilled writing indeed.

Because different book sites have different meanings to their ratings, I think of the star system as looking at a scale: did I enjoy more of it than not? Yes. Four stars. Did I like the overall content? Most of the time. Three stars. Was the writing of good quality? Oh, definitely yes. Five stars.

My overall rating: four of five stars.

http://ilovetoreadyourbooks.blogspot.com