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Reviews are GOLD

Today is the third and final day to pick up your copy of my new children’s ebook, Coyotes and Wolves at Pyramid Lake. This is the third book in the series, Riley’s Adventures with Granny in the Mountains.

In this edition Riley visits Granny through his dreams as he naps in the car on the way to visit his “PapaBanana” and play with their sweet fur baby, Mia. Granny, of course, spoils him with one of her favourites, roasted marshmallows, and when they go to wash the sticky evidence from his face, Riley is startled by the reflection of another canine friend.

Granny teaches him about the coyotes and wolves that live in Jasper National Park then sends him home along a rainbow slide to PapaBanana’s house to play with Mia.

Christmas is coming

As I type that, I hear in my head “winter is coming” LOL – those of you who are Game of Thrones fans will get a chuckle. Well, winter is already here in Jasper, though I know that my Ontario friends are still enjoying some sunshine and warmth. As of today, there are 40 days until Christmas. Perhaps someone on your list will enjoy Riley’s Adventures! Why not pick up up all 3 paperback copies for someone on your shopping list? This is a great gift for under $40 and helps to support your local entrepreneur!

Here is a fun little Christmas Countdown that you may enjoy. You can even write letters to Santa or figure out your elf name – https://yourchristmascountdown.com/

Apparently my elf name is CandyCane Dustytoes!

Tips for Writing a Helpful Review

Reviews are so important to me as an author! I personally don’t buy anything online unless it has a good number of reviews and those reviews are 4 or better. When you can’t physically hold something to make a buying decision – reviews are your BEST friend. Both as a purchaser and as a seller.

Here are some tips that you may want to consider when writing a review:

  • State the name of the book in your write-up – keywords are important for rankings
  • Tell a bit about the book – a one line synopsis of what it was about
  • What did you particularly like about it
  • Was there something you hoped you would see or questions for the author
  • If you feel the product is sub-par – contact the seller/author directly to give them a chance to make it right before publishing a poor review.
  • Who would enjoy the book?
  • Would you purchase it again?

What are YOUR top tips for writing a review?

Do you write reviews? How do you write them? Do you only write one if you’ve had a terrible experience and you are mad as hornets? or Do you take the time to write only about a particularly great experience?

I would love to hear from you

When you are blogging/posting, it can sometimes feel that you are writing to the great abyss. Perhaps I am only amusing myself with my witty comments and observations. Please feel free to like, share, post comments and feedback, email me or message me with any constructive advice. I am constantly learning and evolving as a writer and your feedback is invaluable to me.

Thank you – thank you – thank you!

I can’t say it enough – thank you to everyone who has downloaded the free ebook, purchased the paperback copies, liked, commented or shared my posts, or even just sent me some positive vibes for success. I’m truly grateful and love you all.

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Free eBook Nov 12, 13, 14

FREE FOR 3 DAYS ONLY – Nov 12, 13, 14, 2022

This is just a quick reminder to all my wonderful supporters that my new children’s ebook, Coyotes and Wolves at Pyramid Lake is available for free on Amazon. I have also made book 2, Old Fort Point and Big Horn Sheep available for free.

Please forgive my newbie-ness!

I’m an independent publisher so I’ve been taking courses, reading everything I can get my eyes on to learn about how to format, publish and promote my books as I don’t have a professional team of designers, editors, publishers and marketers behind me. Please bear with me as I tiptoe through the process.

Book 1 – Pyramid Mountain and Mule Deer – Free Nov. 14

As it happens, my renewal date for the KDP Select enrolment landed smack in the middle of my 3-day free ebook launch. (insert facepalm here) Soooo… I am able to offer it at this time for one day only – FREE on November 14th.

No Strings Attached

Oftentimes when items are offered for free, people are looking for the catch. There is no catch. I want as many people as possible to have a free copy of all 3 books. I really do!

My hope is that you will enjoy them so much that you will tell your friends, and they’ll tell their friends and so on.

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Coyotes and Wolves at Pyramid Lake

Where does inspiration come from?

To Andrew.
He takes me on the best adventures and thinks everything I do is amazing.

The dedications at the front of a book are often skimmed over and I’ve done so myself many times. But when you publish a book, this entry is one of the most important pages.

There are many people involved in the process, even when you are self-publishing.

Who do you choose to recognize? Who had a potentially profound impact on the book actually coming into existence? Who has put up with your zoned-outness as you agonize about the wording, placing, spacing or font? Who has patted you on the back countless times when your file was rejected again and again for the tiniest alignment error? Who has cheered you on and put your project at the top of their list whenever you needed help? Who takes you on the best adventures?

Thank you, Andrew

I couldn’t wait to sign the dedication for Coyotes and Wolves at Pyramid Lake because of the many adventures that Andrew and I have enjoyed there. It’s our favourite birthday, holiday or any day spot to have a bonfire and some camp food while we take photos and time lapse sunrise/sunset shots. He is even included in Jennifer’s paintings to pay homage to his never-ending love and support for all my creative projects.

We’ve actually seen wolves at the location depicted in the book and recorded them howling at night. What an exhilarating experience that was! I don’t yet have any great shots of wolves of my own, so Andrew was kind enough to allow me to use one of his. (Shown at the back of the book)

Coyotes are abundant and we often see them trotting along the roadsides or in the field outside our back window. On one occasion we watched one attempt to sneak up on a few elk grazing in the field. Being a smart creature, it scampered off when the elk took a couple steps and gave a stomp.

Thank you – again!

Thank you for going on this adventure with me. I’m thrilled to have released the third book in Riley’s Adventures with Granny in the Mountains – Coyotes and Wolves at Pyramid Lake.

Don’t forget to pick up your FREE copy starting today

FREE FOR 3 DAYS ONLY – Nov 12, 13, 14, 2022

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~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Now Live on Amazon! ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Book 3 – Coyotes and Wolves at Pyramid Lake

Coyote at the edge of the forest looking back

Join Riley and Granny at Pyramid Lake where they have a sticky fireside treat and catch glimpses of some furry forest friends that remind him of his friend, Mia.

I am tickled to share that my new children’s book is now live on Amazon! It seems such a simple task when following the courses and tutorials…but as you may recall from my musings about Book 2, it is far from simple!

Keywords, Categories and Phrases, oh my!

It often feels like the enchanted forest with a thick, intricate web of roots and branches and the occasional apple knocking me on the noggin, but alas! The KDP wizards have given me my wish and my beautiful book is out there for all the world to enjoy. *A curious question – What words did or would you search when looking for this book?

Your feedback on this is more helpful than you can imagine because I want to make sure that my book gets in front of the right people. The kids, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, etc. who will appreciate the beautiful images that Jennifer created and the story that incorporates a little bit of learning about Jasper National Park and a LOT of love.

Before I attempt any marketing, I am keeping it low key for THREE DAYS ONLY and offering the ebook for FREE. Who doesn’t love free stuff, right?

FREE FOR 3 DAYS ONLY – Nov 12, 13, 14, 2022

No, I’m not soft in the brain and yes, I do want to actually sell my books to generate income. To boil down everything that I’ve learned through courses, research and trial and error – in order to become noticed, it is important to build a repertoire of reviews. I don’t buy anything without checking independent reviews.

The more reviews, the better AND a “verified review” makes the Amazon algorithms notice me more, which in turn, puts my books in front of more potential buyers.

When you purchase it, even for zero dollars and post a review, you are now a verified reviewer. It doesn’t provide as much leverage as a regular sale, but it’s an excellent start for ‘lil ole me as an independent publisher.

Do you know that you have a Super Power?

You do. Your opinion matters. Your honest review of my book, which I’m offering for free, is invaluable. Just find my book here on Amazon, purchase the ebook for FREE. Of course, I am hoping that you will love it so much that you want to share it with everyone that you think would also love it. And before you ask, YES you can even share it while it is free for purchase! Please share it with anyone that you think may enjoy it and ask them to write a review.

My books are available on Amazon in several countries. If you have friends anywhere in the world, be sure to share with them, too!

Riley’s Adventures with Granny in the Mountains – Coyotes and Wolves at Pyramid Lake is the third book in my series. Available in ebook format for FREE on November 12, 13 and 14.

What about the paperback?

Of course the paperback version is available for purchase. My hope is that you will love the ebook so much that you will want to purchase it for your own children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews etc.

UK Storyteller Contest – fun fact!

KDP has this amazing opportunity for authors to enter the UK Storyteller contest simply by including them in my keywords. The Kindle Storyteller Award is a £20,000 literary prize recognizing outstanding writing. It is open to writers publishing in English in any genre, who publish their work through Kindle Direct Publishing. Readers play a significant role in selecting the winner, helped by a panel of judges including various book industry experts. Thus your Super Powers could really make a difference here.

Thank You

From the bottom of my heart – if you’ve made it this far – thank you. In a world of 1 minute videos, thank you for taking the time to get to know me and have a look at my books.

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#2 Best Seller!

Big Horn Sheep lamb laying on cliff

Well, for a moment it was! It has since slipped to #3 according to the actual page for that category.

Your Super Powers are working!

See how much of a Super Power you have? I’ve had only a handful of people take me up on the FREE ebook so far and yet that handful was enough to have the book rank #2 in a category.

There is still one more day to pick up your free ebook copy of Riley’s Adventures with Granny in the Mountains – Old Fort Point and Big Horn Sheep. To sweeten the deal, I’ve put a free ebook promotion for 24 hours for Book 1 – Pyramid Mountain and Mule Deer.

TWO free ebooks! August 26 ONLY

I have to say, I was surprised and happy to see the #2 ranking. So close to #1 ! So I figured I would offer both of the books at $0.00 for one day to see if we can’t hit that #1 spot.

I know you are busy and perhaps didn’t see my first post or maybe you just stumbled on my blog.

That’s ok. You still have one more day to get BOTH of the ebooks for free. All I am asking in exchange is for an honest review. I appreciate that time is precious and I know that I am competing for your valuable attention with things like…oh let me see…family responsibilities, work, downtime, vacations etc.

Time is precious

Every little bit helps! Whether it is a quick share, a share with an introduction, purchasing the ebooks and/or writing reviews. My first line of support are my friends and family. My next adventure will be learning and using the paid promotions available through various websites.

Thank you so much! Wish me luck!

Thank you. I can’t say it enough. Thank you for your support. It really does mean the world to me. I was going to say wish me luck, but I think I know how lucky I already am with the amazing support I have from all of you!

New content coming up!

I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of asking of late, so I promise – my next post will have some nature content. Fact is, I’ve been out and about with my camera and I have some really cute Big Horn Sheep lamb photos and video to share. Prepare for some super cuteness!

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Book 2 Now Available – Free!

I am excited to share the good news with you!

After all of the prepping, planning, learning, tweaking, learning some more and having my files rejected more times that I would like to remember, the second book in the Riley’s Adventures series is now available on Amazon!

Even better is that, before I go in for an all-out marketing launch, I am keeping it low key for THREE DAYS ONLY and offering the ebook for FREE.

Why would one do such a silly thing, you ask?

No, I’m not soft in the brain and yes, I do want to actually sell my books to generate income. To boil down the complex courses, blogs, help text and webinars that I’ve been taking over the past year or so – in order to become noticed, it is important to build a repertoire of reviews.

The more reviews, the better AND a “verified review” makes the Amazon algorithms notice me more, which in turn, puts my books in front of more potential buyers.

When you purchase it, even for zero dollars and post a review, you are now a verified reviewer. It doesn’t provide as much leverage as a regular sale, but it’s an excellent start for ‘lil ole me as an independent publisher.

How you can make a difference

You have power. I would even call it Super Powers. Just find my book here on Amazon, purchase the ebook for FREE and write an honest review. Of course, I am hoping that you will love it so much that you want to share it with everyone that you think would also love it. And before you ask, YES you can even share it while it is free for purchase!

My books are available on Amazon in several countries, so if you have friends anywhere in the world, be sure to share with them, too!

Riley’s Adventures with Granny in the Mountains – Old Fort Point and Big Horn Sheep is the second book in my series. It will be available in ebook format for FREE on August 24, 25 and 26 only.

What about the paperback?

Of course the paperback version is available for purchase. My hope is that you will love the ebook so much that you will want to purchase it for your own children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews etc.

UK Storyteller Contest

KDP has this amazing opportunity for authors to enter the UK Storyteller contest simply by including them in my keywords. The Kindle Storyteller Award is a £20,000 literary prize recognizing outstanding writing. It is open to writers publishing in English in any genre, who publish their work through Kindle Direct Publishing. Readers play a significant role in selecting the winner, helped by a panel of judges including various book industry experts. Thus your Super Powers could really make a difference here.

Coming soon…

Book 3 is well under way in the hands of my dear friend, Jennifer Ottaway, as she brings to life our next adventure: Pyramid Lake – Coyotes and Wolves. I expect to have it published in late October – just in time for your Holiday shopping.

Thank you!

I can’t thank you enough for all of your support. Do you have questions, comments or suggestions? What are you looking forward to in the next books?

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How Do You Review?

Reviews are gold!

I used to delete the requests for reviews from my inbox, honestly, I still often do, but more so with a “sorry, bud, I just don’t have time” perspective. However, since putting in months of education and research into publishing my books, I’ve definitely put more effort into writing reviews for products or services that I purchase.

Reviews are the backbone of anyone that is selling a product or service in our modern world. I rarely purchase anything without checking out the overall rating and reviews. I won’t even consider anything less than a 4 point something star rating and will go straight for the top ranked items first.

On occasion, I’ll receive a sub-par product and before posting a poor review, I will contact the seller for resolution. This is usually the most effective route. Most sellers honestly do want their customers to be happy with their product so that they tell all their friends and family and they sell more.

I never thought too much about the content of my reviews in the past and just wrote whatever quick thought I could put down to get it done. I’ve learned the best or most helpful reviews include some thoughtful details. I found recent reviews quite helpful in ordering clothing because a handful of them actually included photos and their height, weight and usual size to compare the fit.

Enjoying the Journey

I’m very close to launching the second book in the series for Riley’s Adventures with Granny in the Mountains – Old Fort Point and Big Horn Sheep. If you’ve been following me you already know it’s been quite the process to say the least. I’m close. I had hoped to have the paperback live already but I keep getting different tweaks that KDP wants me to make before they will publish so I’m working my way through.

When I was deciding on a photo for this post, I thought of a rainbow and the proverbial pot of gold and searched my photos. This was taken on September 5, 2016. I had only been in Jasper a few weeks and was checking out the attractions on my day off. It was overcast and raining lightly all morning. I was watching the weather, hoping it would clear up. I wandered in and out of some of the stores, getting to know the town and even went through an interesting little wildlife museum. But the rain wasn’t clearing. I decided to go up the Skytram anyway. About halfway up, it started snowing heavily. I was only wearing a light jacket, so I bought a cozy sweater from the gift shop and hiked to the summit. Even though I couldn’t see the valley below, the white abyss was eerily beautiful.

I enjoyed the journey for what it was and when I got back to the upper station, soaked from the wet snow, the sun came out and a beautiful rainbow emerged.

This is how I feel about the journey to publish my children’s book series and soon, my first fiction novel. I love the journey. It’s not exactly what I had expected, but wonderful nonetheless.

I appreciate that I have so many supporters that have followed me thus far and I hope to continue to earn that support as I share many more adventures!

Call to Action – How you can help!

I will be publishing the paperback very soon. The ebook is now live and available on Kindle. If you have a Kindle unlimited membership, you can read it for free now! If not, no problem – I will be putting it on a promo for $0 as soon as I’ve gotten the paperback file approved.

Your reviews are the most valuable thing to me as an artist trying to become established in a very competitive market. Zero cost, aside from your time to read and review. My hope is that you will love the book, rave to everyone that you think would also love it, and purchase paperback copies for your children or to give as gifts!

Here are some points to consider for writing a helpful review:

  • State the name of the book in your write-up – keywords are important for rankings
  • Tell a bit about the book – a one line synopsis of what it was about
  • What did you particularly like about it
  • Was there something you hoped you would see or questions for the author
  • If you feel the product is sub-par – contact the seller/author directly to give them a chance to make it right before publishing a poor review.
  • Who would enjoy the book?
  • Would you purchase it again?

Do you have any points to add? How do you review? I’d love to hear your comments!

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Checking In!

Lisa's desk with notebooks, test copies, coffee, gratitude journal and laptop

I cleared my desk – which is a folding table in front of the sofa that also doubles as our dinner table – so that I could focus on yet again fixing the files for publishing my books on Amazon. Book 1 is and has been live, but I had some seemingly simple corrections to make. The file was rejected and we’re back on that hamster wheel of tweaking bits and bobs until it’s finally accepted! Such is the life of a Canadian children’s books author.

“KDP, Amazon’s publishing platform, and I have not yet become best friends”

I’ve been taking courses to improve myself as a writer. Website design, WordPress courses, marketing and promotion, KDP University, educational blogs. KDP, Amazon’s publishing platform, and I have not yet become best friends, but I am a tenacious person with goals and focus. This is a learning process that will be a great benefit for later.

Upcoming Events

My target publishing date for Book 2 in the Riley’s Adventures series is August 24. I plan to enter it into the UK Storytellers contest which has a deadline of August 31.

I am excited to be a part of Jasper’s Alberta Culture Days. A group of organizations in the Library and Cultural Centre – ACFA (French association), Habitat for the Arts, Jasper Artists Guild and the library have sponsored the event for the past 5 years. This year it will be a pop up event at Robson Park on September 25 from 2 pm – 4 pm. Jennifer and I will be holding a session at 3 pm where we do a reading and a painting workshop en français.

Watch for the French version of Riley’s Adventures – coming soon!

Jennifer is busy working on the illustrations for Book 3 – Coyotes and Wolves & Pyramid Lake. Watch for this exciting adventure by the end of October. We may even have some sneak peeks at the illustrations soon!

My website and social media platforms are a work in progress – pardon the awkwardness if you’ve visited recently. I’ve finished 34 of 143 modules for the course on building my website. The stories of The Little Engine that Could and the Tortoise and the Hare come to mind quite frequently.

Looking for Reviewers

Closeup of girl with red hair and blue eyes, face is illuminated
Ice and Fire, by Lisa Nantais

I am looking to build a small group of readers who would be willing to preview, provide objective feedback and write thoughtful public reviews from final advanced copies prior to publication.

Ideally you regularly read books that are in the same genre and can answer the following questions:

  • Does it flow well? or is it choppy?
  • Does it make sense?
  • Can you picture the characters and where they are at?
  • Is it consistent with the tense it was written in? 
  • Does it keep your constant attention so you don’t want to put it down or does it drag?
  • Did you find anything long-winded or unnecessary?
  • Was there anything that you had to read twice to understand?
  • Is it believable?
  • Does the dialogue sound right?
  • Is there anything confusing about it – other than the potential plot twists?
  • Are the characters believable? 
  • Do they each have their own unique personalities – or is the writer’s personality overriding all of them?
  • What were your favourite parts? Why?

Send me a note if you’d like to join my Round Table

You will be part of the elite team that gets the final copy first and free, knowing that you contributed to its success. And you will feel good about helping an independent artist compete with the publishing giants.

I have 6 seats and one has already been filled, message me soon!

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Adaptability

I’ve had plenty of time to work with my photos – though it never seems to be enough – and one of the things that makes me shake my head in wonder is Riley’s progression in the span of less than a year! Walking, talking, counting, reciting letters, objects, colours, sounds. He’s getting taller and his personality is developing. He has a sense of humour, he has preferences, an intense curiosity about the world, fearlessness, and an all out joyfulness that is contagious when you interact with him!

With all of the changes that he’s experienced, he’s adapted to learn and grow and enjoy the world around him.

How is it that he becomes the teacher?

With the delays in my ability to get my books out into the world in a world that is avoiding physical interactions, I’ve adapted as well.

I am excited to further bring my stories to life in the virtual world with help from my own personal Emmy-award winning cinematographer. Oh the perks of living with such a talented and creative mind!!

Andrew is painstakingly adding sound and animation to my reading of the book while blinking back tears because he loves it so much. He is also a perfectionist. If you listen carefully to the ambiance throughout the reading, you may recognize that all sounds are authentic including the rushing river, trickling stream, wildlife and wind. I can attest to this because we were up in the wee hours of the morning for a couple of days to find locations where there would be a lack of traffic, trains, and humans and an abundance of nature sounds.

Though many would not blink if the generic sound of a blue jay played in the background, it is like nails on a chalkboard to an excellent birder like Andrew who knows that blue jays do not visit us here in Jasper.

I would love to hear how many birds and other wildlife sounds you can identify when you listen to the story!

Stay tuned for the launch of Riley’s Adventures with Granny in the Mountains YouTube Channel – coming very soon!! You can subscribe to my blog using the link below for updates if you like.

In the meantime, Jennifer Ottaway is well into the illustrations for the second installment in the series: Old Fort Point and Big Horn Sheep. I will keep you posted on the progress for this exciting new adventure with Riley and Granny in the Mountains!

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Predictably Unpredictable

I had hoped to have a printed copy of my debut installment of Riley’s Adventures with Granny in the Mountains for Riley’s 2nd birthday, however circumstances and timing did not allow for that to happen. Fortunately I had a backup plan and a backup to the backup plan, so I did not stress in the least. Well, maybe a little, but I was able to share the book with him and my family using a modified digital version for now.

The plans were set for a soft launch at the Habitat for the Arts and Jasper Municipal Library’s Book Lover’s Weekend event, however National measures that are being taken to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus have led to cancellations and postponements of most public gatherings.

It’s all good. I am very happy to support the measures being taken by avoiding public contact. It’s the responsible thing to do. I’ve actually said this prior to the virus spreading from its origin weeks ago – they should shut down all movement from the epicenter and contain the spread of the virus before it becomes global. Be prepared.

Of course such measures have great impact on people physically, socially and financially and no-one wanted to do that if it weren’t absolutely necessary. I am one who always remains calm in the midst of chaos or fear of the unknown. It is never helpful to become panicky and irrational.

We are all waiting, with our lives virtually on hold, to see how this pandemic will alter our realities. The fact is, the world as we know it has forever changed. We have shed a layer of innocence and there is no going back.

There’s no doubt in my mind that we will overcome, learn, evolve and grow from this experience. We will settle into a new “normal”, hopefully with better habits and a better plan for responding to the inevitable next virus that challenges our resilience as a species.

In the meantime, let’s appreciate the things that bring us joy, laughter, adventure, optimism and a little escape from the constant bombardment and sensationalism of the news coverage on every channel. What is your favourite book to get lost in?