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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Google+ 101: What is +1 doing anyway? Vol. #7

Why +1?

The valuable benefits of +1: Find and get found. Think about the immediate goal of why you are on Google+. #1) You want to find cool things or people #2) you want people to find you. One way to "get found" is to use #1 to achieve #2.


Search for people, pages and subjects that you are interested in and that people you would like to have follow you are likely to be interested in.  


If you have a Google+ page that offers recipes, join communities about cooking, desserts  or baking. Look up your favorite chefs to see if they have a Google+ page and follow them. This will allow their posts to show up on your home page. When they post things that are interesting, give them a +1. You can also find the list of their followers and add them to your circles. 


When you +1 a post made from someone else, the creator of the post will receive a notification that you have +1'd their post. So, the first thing you are doing is saying "Hey, I like what you just did." Google+ is even so kind to send them a nice notification that you have liked them. If they are curious, they can click on the "activity on their posts" and a list will come up with everyone that has +1'd that post. You can't see it in this image, but if you hover over any of these contacts, the box to add them to your circles will come up, or it will tell you what circles you already have them in. If you have +1'd them, they will find you in this list.

 +1 also allows you to find members of your target audience in the same way. When you make an original post and other people +1 you, you can also pull the list and follow those people who you know are interested in the subject matter of the original post you made.



You don't have to be the creator of the post to pull up the activity list. You can find a popular post that has 100 or more +1s and click on their "activity on post" as well, bringing up, yes, this same list of contacts. Using the example above, this is significant for finding readers for my Dark Days series, which is a loosely based prequel to The Hunger Games. I can go into a Hunger Games related community, find a popular post with loads of +1s, pull that list up, and easily click them into my reader circle (unless they have privacy set up, which most people don't yet because Google+ isn't overloaded). I add them with my Dark Days page, so it is the cover they see when they look to see who added them. 

It's really that easy guys!


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Monday, May 26, 2014

Book Review Timelapse

Flavored Reviews 
by Ginger Gelsheimer

by Lorrie Farrelly

Click to buy Timelapse or read other reviews!

5 stars!

Clever and original!

Brief synopsis: Alex Morgan's world is turned upside down when his office is broken into, and he stumbles upon a strange device that looks like a cell phone. Not knowing how to use the device, Alex accidentally triggers the commands that will transport him into another dimension of time where things are under complete control of the government and Nazi Britain exists.

When Alex leaves his real world, he also leaves his little boy Jack behind, so desperation sets in from the very beginning. Alex must discover why this world, set in the same time period, is different. What happened that caused things to change? Along the way, Alex meets Jessica O'Neil, a freedom fighter, who stands up against the government control. Together, they set off on a journey to discover what happened in 1902 and travel back in history to try to stop it.

Originality: I absolutely loved Timelapse for its originality! Ms. Farrelly wove a wonderful story that traveled into history and included figures from the time, including Theodore Roosevelt. I enjoyed the threat of the alternative history and her creation of how the future could have been changed. The new world she created, though dictatorship and horrible, was well developed and she brought me into the scene with Alex and Jessica with her "just right amount" of description-the musty jail cell and prison, the general store cellar, and the fire in lab. I felt like I was right there with them.

Characters: I cared about Alex right from the get go and he drew me into the story quickly. He's a widower with a small child whom he loves more than anything in the world. He loved his wife deeply but lost her to a drunk driver after she delivered the baby. When Alex is suddenly transported out of his world and his son is somewhere left behind, or come to find out, won't exist at all if history is altered, I felt all the desperation that I imagine Alex was feeling. He had to get back, but how? He didn't know how to use this device in the first place. I enjoyed Jessica's character as well and the chemistry between her and Alex, although it did move extremely fast for them to fall in love. But in times of traumatic situations, it can happen!

Recommendation: This goes well with a cold bottle of water and a power bar because you'll be running the whole time and anything else will weigh you down. I highly recommend Timelapse for those that enjoy time travel, alternative history or even a good romance. It's easily a one sitting read if you have the time.


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Monday, May 19, 2014

Book Review Insurgent

Flavored Reviews 
by Ginger Gelsheimer

by Veronica Roth

Click to buy Insurgent or read other reviews!

4 stars!

Good, but think Tris should have had more control...

Brief synopsis: We pick up with Tris, Tobias and the other survivors right where we left them at the end of Divergent-on a train. Now homeless, all they have is each other. They end up quickly at the mercy of Amity and have to find a way to stop Jeanine and the Erudite before they use a lethal simulation to exterminate all of the Divergent. I had to laugh when Tobias hurls the butter knife-Roth must have a butter knife fetish.

What I enjoyed most about this second book in the trilogy was getting to explore the other factions' headquarters and even more, the factionless. As with Divergent, you are always only seconds away from another edge-of-your-seat bad situation for Tris...SPOILER!!! ...of course she creates everyone of them for herself. This girl survives in spite of herself! More on that in a minute.

Originality: I was pleased to see Insurgent exhibit more originality than Divergent, as there are so many YA books with strong females and kids being trained for violent times at the moment, and Insurgent does a great job of taking us beyond that. We are thrown into a war that could lead to the complete destruction of all of the factions through a massive simulation attack. The thought of an evil power that has the ability to take complete control of your mind and actions is horrifying. Even your friends and family aren't safe.

Characters: So, I do love Tris from the beginning of the series, but I do have to say that I had a few quirks with her in this one. I wonder if any of you feel the same? Tris was tough in Divergent, sometimes too quick to be happy someone might die...too quick to envision herself with her hands around their throat, strangling the life out of them-when she had come from Abnegation background. I know her shooting Will was traumatic, and she can't imagine holding a gun again...the entire book, even though she is faster than a bullet to put herself in immediate certainty of death. I felt like this was drawn out too much. We should have let her cry it out real good and then put her back into more of a control seat. Then, she always forgets her weapon. ALWAYS. She freezes at the most important moments, causing danger for others to get her out. I thought she was smart, a leader and I felt at times, she was made out to be a coward, forgetful and careless which didn't feel quite right from how I felt about her in Divergent.

I really enjoyed the interaction between Tris and Jeanine. Tris did come out with her confidence in these moments, which was good to see. SPOILER... I wish Tris had been the one to off Jeanine. I felt the same way when President Snow was shot by a stray arrow-that should have been Katniss.

I was glad Tobias finally stood up for himself and put Marcus in his place. I like Tobias and hope to see more of him in Allegiant. He and Tris were sort of off in this one with everything that happened.

Recommendation: Insurgent goes well with a bowl of chex mix because there is stuff scattered everywhere, like I felt Tris was in this one. I just wanted to get her to stand up tall... I love her still. I enjoyed the book and look forward to reading Allegiant!


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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Google+ 101: Google+ Connects to Google Drive? Vol. #6

Yes! Google+ is connected to Google Drive, 
which offers the following free tools.

You mean I get all this stuff for free?

  • Folder - Google + provides you with 15 GB of storage for free. This includes Gmail, photos, and everything you have associated with your Google+ account. You can upgrade if you need more space for 100 GB for $1.99/month and 1 TB for $9.99/month.
  • Document - I found out how wonderful this lovely tool was when my writing partner Christina was using a MAC and I was on PC. We write our books in Google Docs first now so we can both edit and follow along, as well as be in the document at the same time. Which, speaking of following along...this is when one of us reads our "work in progress" aloud, while the other reads the text. It's amazing how much we find when we do this.  I can choose to allow anyone who has the link to be able to view the Doc, or I can select specific people to have access and the ability to edit. I have been an avid MS Word user for over 20 years and I am happy to have switched. There are super cool add-ons that you can get for free that will do pretty much everything! ProwritingAid, thesaurus, translation, diagrams, maps and all other sorts of things. You can also publish to the web with an easy click of a button. It will give you the URL to the document, the code to embed and also automatic links to Gmail, Google+, FB and Twitter.
  • Presentation - This is similar to MS Power Point where you can create nice proposals or presentations, or media kits. It will allow you to download as a MS Powerpoint, PDF, Scalable Vector Graphic, PNG, Jpeg or text file. You can also publish directly to the web as with the Docs. We've been using this to create mini-presentations for our new website, making web development easy-even for those like me that aren't saavy. Click here for an example of how we use it at Author's Cave.
  • Spreadsheets - I have also been an avid user of MS Excel for over 20 years and I love Google Spreadsheets. The most fantastic part that will come, which I have to be honest I have not fully explored yet, is that it is able to work with Google Analytics (which will probably be the last lesson for my Google+ 101 series). It also links to the Forms, which we will talk about next. As with Google Docs, there are numerous amazing add-ons that you can grab for free! Schedule generator, mail merge, twitter curator and super metrics. Click here for an example of how we use it at Author's Cave. 
  • Forms - Forms is absolutely beautiful! As Christina and I were trying to figure out how to create a database for our website, Google added Forms to the platform. We can create a form and it will automatically create a spreadsheet to track what is entered into the form via our website and in turn will also connect to Google Analytics. So now, if a new member wants to join Author's Cave, or a vendor would like to receive our marketing kit, they can enter their information via the form and everything will be tracked. You can also use Forms to have a voting poll on your site, provide a checklist, virtually anything. You may insert a video or image directly into your Form as well for a customized look. The one thing you can't do yet that we would love to ask Google to add, is the ability to upload a file to the form. Click here for an example of how we use Forms at Author's Cave.
  • Drawing - This one I don't use, but it is similar to Paint.You can create an original Jpeg, PDF, PNG or Scalable Vector Graphic and also publish directly to the web.

With Google Drive and the above resources it offers, you can connect everything in one place. Additionally, there are so many more apps you can add: photo editing, AutoCAD, Google Scripts, music, name it.

So, just another great tool in the Google+ toolbox!


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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Book Review Tredan's Bane

Flavored Reviews
by Ginger Gelsheimer

Tredan's Bane 
by Lita Burke

Click here to buy Tredan's Bane or to read additional reviews!


If you like magic and kissing...

Brief synopsis: Lanith has been thrown into turmoil when her curio shop is burned to the ground and her husband Tredan goes missing. She keeps a promise she made to him to seek out the Enchanters and ends up inside a magical world that is full of danger as someone seeks to destroy the Enchanters and their magical essence. Lanith discovers that it is Tredan's journal that is at the root of the current evil and center of attention so she must find a way to find it and protect it.

Originality: I loved this story because of its creativity, magic and originality! Magic essence and spells around every corner! Ghosts from the Fields of Yalu, who you can visit if you have a couple good enchanter friends to bring you back. Charms and amulets! Tredan's Bane is packed full of fantasy fun!

Characters: I enjoyed the variety of characters in the story and they were all well developed, even Tredan, who is lost in the Fields of Yalu. My favorite was Arnl'jhott, the adorable and so sweet dragonette-I was almost crushed. I enjoyed Sciomancer Taavi, the Ghostchanter as he struggled under the villainess Samirah's control.  

SPOILER:  Now...Lanith was quite a character. I guess magic essence can make a girl do anything, including mourn for her husband at the same time she is gallivanting all over town taking magic kisses from everyone who crosses her path and wanting to bed her enchanter. This back and forth is the one reason I gave this book a 4 instead of a 5 star. They haven't even had a funeral and she's moving onto her next great love. Granted, I don't want to spend a whole book in mourning  but this just went to fast for me to be believable. Again, magic can make a person do strange things - including professing their love of donkeys! Loved that spell. That said, I liked her character and her drive to tackle the evil that hung over all of them.

Recommendation: Tredan's Bane goes well with exquisite sushi with edible orchids and a glass of wine. This book is well polished and I highly recommend it for readers who love fantasy books filled with magic at every turn...oh and kissing.


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