Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Bookish Tuesday | Where Have All the eBooks Gone?

By Iola Goulton @iolagoulton

If you're an international reader (i.e. not from the US), then you might have noticed something strange about the Amazon.com website over the last couple of days.

The books are disappearing.

Not all the books—only the Kindle versions. The paperbacks are still there (although if there isn't a paperback version, there is no book). A bit of investigation shows the ebooks are still there—it's just that international customers can't see them. Instead, we can only see them on our "local" Amazon site—for me, that's Amazon Australia.

This could be a result of Amazon trying to implement their new databases (they're apparently getting rid of Oracle). It could be part of Amazon's ongoing efforts to try and get customers to shop at their local site. It could be both.

But Amazon have botched the implementation. Customers haven't been emailed to say we are being moved to the "local" site. Instead, we're simply not seeing the books for sale. This contrasts with, say, Amazon UK. I can see Kindle books for sale on Amazon UK. I'm just given the message that they're not available to purchase, and directed to my "local" store.

What Should Readers Do?

At this stage, readers appear to have four options:
  1. Switch to the local Amazon store for Kindle purchases.
  2. Switch their default address to a US address (e.g. Amazon HQ).
  3. Do nothing.
  4. Buy from Kobo or iBooks.
None of these options are ideal, as I explain below:

Switch to the local Amazon store for Kindle purchases

My "local" store is Amazon Australia. There is no financial advantage to me in switching—my bank is still going to charge me an international currency fee whether I buy using USD on the US site, or AUD on the Australian site.

I can't even tell if Amazon Australia is giving me the AUD price or the NZD price—the exchange rates are currently similar, and there is no way to tell without buying.

I've heard many reasons why people shouldn't switch, and no good reason to switch.

Switch their default address to a US address (e.g. Amazon HQ)

This is the advice many authors have been given by Amazon customer service (once the CS reps understand the problem—it's hard to explain a problem when the CS rep is seeing something different than you on the exact same web address).

I tried this, but either I didn't do it properly, or Amazon is smart enough to know I don't live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC 20500. Anyway, it didn't work for me.

However, it has worked for many fellow Kiwis (although one appears to now be living in Panama, not the US). And it did work for Irish author David Gaughran (like New Zealand, Ireland doesn't have their own Amazon store, so he also shops at Amazon.com).

But Gaughran highlights a major flaw in this recommendation.

By switching his location from Ireland to Seattle (Amazon HQ), he only had to pay 6.5% Washington state tax on his purchase, not Ireland's 23% sales tax. I can't imagine the Irish (or New Zealand) tax department being happy about Amazon getting out of paying sales tax by encouraging customers to lie about where they live. On this basis, we should all claim to live in Alaska or one of the other four US states that have no sales tax.

Do nothing

Do nothing is always an option. But doing nothing means international readers can't buy any Kindle books except those which mysteriously still show as for sale on the US store.

Of course, I could read some of the 1500+ books I already have on my Kindle instead of stalking the Kindle store for something new ...

Buy from Kobo or iBooks

There are places to buy ebooks other than Amazon. Kobo is big in Canada, and iBooks has a strong market prescence in Australia. Both sell epub books, which can be read on many apps and most ereaders other than the Kindle.

The disadvantage of this option is that many of the books which have disappeared from Amazon.com are Kindle books enrolled in KDP Select, which means they are exclusive to Amazon.

Are you affected by Amazon's new geoblocking? 

What's your  plan for dealing with it as a reader?

About Iola Goulton

Iola Goulton is a New Zealand book reviewer, freelance editor, and author, writing contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Unpronounceable Names (Iola is pronounced yo-la, not eye-ola and definitely not Lola).
Iola holds a degree in marketing, has a background in human resource consulting, works as a freelance editor, and has recently introduced an Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

Friday, November 9, 2018

Rainbow equals an everlasting covenant

Keona Tann | @ICFWriters

I’ve always felt there is something special about rainbows. I’m excited every time I see one in the sky. As a child I loved running through the sprinkler, especially if I caught a glimpse of a rainbow! I’d imagine myself getting caught up in the colours and becoming a beautiful mix of colour. I’d try and get my wet skin to shimmer and shine like the rainbow which I found I could sometimes achieve if I added some detergent.

For quite a few months I’ve been researching and contemplating the true meaning of a rainbow, I desperately want to know the hidden mystery that God has placed within the rainbow.

The Biblical origin of the rainbow is found in Genesis‬ ‭9:11-16 (‭NLT): “Yes, I am confirming my covenant with you. Never again will floodwaters kill all living creatures; never again will a flood destroy the earth.” Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life. When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.”‬‬‬‬‬‬

As I read I was reminded that the sign of the rainbow is a reminder for us and for God. The rainbow equals an everlasting covenant between God and humanity. It is a visible reminder that God is faithful to keep the promises that He has made.

As I researched more I came across a verse which gives us a wonderful glimpse into heaven: “The one sitting on the throne was as brilliant as gemstones — like jasper and carnelian. And the glow of an emerald circled his throne like a rainbow.” ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭4:3‬ ‭(NLT)‬‬‬‬‬‬

As I reflected upon that verse rainbows took on another dimension, they are a glimpse into the heavenly realm. I am fascinated by the colours of the rainbow and desired to know the meanings behind each one. It has been hard to research but this is what I’ve found so far:‬‬‬‬
Red: represents the blood of Jesus; power and love; and the Spirit of Revelation
Orange: fire of God; and the Spirit of wisdom
Yellow: God’s glory; and the Spirit of understanding
Green: new life; and the Spirit of Counsel
Blue: Holy Spirit; holiness; the heavenlies; and the Spirit of might
Indigo: covered by God; and the Spirit of knowledge
Purple: royalty; and the Spirit of the fear of the Lord (that is awe and adoration over His wonder and majesty)

As I faced more challenges, and feelings overwhelmed me, I sat down and poured my heart out to God:
Lord as I sit here struggling to take the next breath
As I sit here and wrestle with these feelings
A rainbow breaks in the sky, right in front of my eyes!
A rainbow, the oldest visible reminder around that Your promises are steadfast and true
A rainbow reminding me of Your unending grace; mercy; love; and redemption
A rainbow, the oldest covenant made
the rainbow equals an everlasting covenant
Lord, all of creation is sealed with Your covenant
The rainbow appears to remind all that Your glorious reign is set in place
A rainbow reminds me of Your throne in the heavenly realms
God, You do not lie for it's impossible for You to do so!
Therefore the promised breakthrough will come
Just as the rainbow shines to declare Your promise, I will shine bright and new
Your saving grace will be outworked in my life
You will not abandon me to this cloud of despair
You will not leave me wandering in this wasteland
You will not allow the storm to blow me off course
I declare afresh that I’m in Your hands
I declare afresh God is with me!

I pray that today you’re encouraged to hold fast to the promises God has given you and inspired to declare that His promises are steadfast and true.

“So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.” ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:35-36‬ (‭NLT)‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬
Many blessings, Keona

About Keona:

I’ve lived most of my life in Tasmania, which is one of the beautiful Australian states. Deliriously happily married to my college sweetheart for over 20 years, we consider ourselves extremely blessed to be raising 2 wonderful teenagers. Hubby and I have also been long time child sponsors with Compassion so we have overseas kids!

I struggled with illness and disease for most of my life. The biggest battles were: endometriosis for 28 years and adrenal/chronic fatigue which was severe for 28 months. In September 2016 healing was declared over my life, praise God, this set me on a path of deep inner healing, restoration and transformation. My passion to write was reignited and I wrote out a mission statement:

“He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD.” Psalm 40:3 (NLT)

I desire to impact the world through the words I share. I long to enrich, empower and encourage others whilst delivering my stories with empathy and understanding.

In my new-found boldness I’ve started a weekly blog which you can find at: https://keonajtann.wordpress.com/

Many Blessings, Keona

Thursday, November 8, 2018

How Journaling Helps Me Jump-Start My Imagination

By Elizabeth Musser @EMusserAuthor 



A few years ago, I was asked by my Dutch publisher to write a novella for the Dutch ‘Week of the Christian Book’. (I wrote it in English—someone else translated it=). Christian bookstores throughout Holland put on this annual event where, for a week, any customer who purchases over 10 euros of merchandise in the store receives a free novella. The theme of animals was chosen for the year I was asked to write the novella.

I had never written a novella before and, being a rather long-winded novelist, felt the task a little daunting.

But as soon as I learned of the theme, I knew my story. It had been hidden in my journals for years, just waiting to find the light. 

I would write about our wonderful, neurotic mutt, Beau.

And so I did.

I told the story of an emotionally and physically scarred teen, Peter, who finds healing through his relationship with a rescue dog. Although the story was about Peter, I decided to tell it from both the mother’s and dog’s points of view.

In many ways, that story, Waiting for Peter, ‘wrote itself’ as I simply turned to the many journal entries I had penned throughout the years about our lovable mutt 

and all the lessons I had learned from life with Beau, especially lessons about how I should view my Master with the same love and devotion as Beau viewed me.


Keeping a journal is a great way to find inspiration for future stories. 

With Waiting for Peter, some of my journal entries found their way almost verbatim into the novella. Beau helped me through many hard times, and especially empty-nesting. So of course, the mother in Waiting for Peter finds solace during that season of her life too.

When writing The Dwelling Place, part of which takes place in Scotland, I reread all that I had written in my journal years earlier about the bustling, energetic city of Edinburgh and the rolling hills around Sir Walter Scott’s birthplace. As I reread my words, the emotions I felt while traveling through “the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Loman” came back in all their beauty.


Most recently, I returned from walking the first few legs of The Way, what’s known in French as Le Chemin de Saint Jacques de Compostelle. It’s a centuries-old pilgrimage that runs through France and Spain, ending in the city of Santiago in northwest Spain.

I hiked about thirty kilometers of hills and valleys all alone, partly as a spiritual journey, and partly as research for a new novel. Even though I was bone-tired after each day's hike, I faithfully recorded my experiences in the evenings. Now I am going back to those journal entries daily as I create scenes in the novel. You can be sure that some will reflect what I actually encountered along The Way.

On days like today, my journal helps me jump-start my imagination. 

It is also the place where my soul spills out, a recording of my personal psalms to the Lord with my joys and fears, my frustrations, and the excitement of something in Scripture jumping off the page and into my heart. I journal about life. Events, circumstances, soul talk. It’s all there.

So the next time you need a little nudge of inspiration, turn to your trusty journal. You do keep one, don’t you? 

PS As a bonus to the joys of writing Waiting for Peter, Beau’s photo appeared on the front cover (yep, that’s him above). And when I went to Holland for book signings, we took a hundred of Beau’s paw prints, stamped by Beau (with much difficulty) onto little stickers. Beau 'signed' his story which, by the way, is now available in English, too. I can almost hear his ‘woof’ of approval from where he is frolicking in doggie heaven.

About Elizabeth: 

ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. For over twenty-five years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions work with One Collective, formerly International Teams. The Mussers have two sons, a daughter-in-law and three grandchildren.


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Bookish Tuesday: Being Too Bookish can be Dangerous

posted by Donna Fletcher Crow
Book lover, avid reader and literature professor Elizabeth Allerton wouldn’t think there was any such thing as being “too bookish.” Reading is her hobby, her profession and her passion. That means a week at a resort high in the Rockies, enacting and solving a Dorothy L. Sayers-style mystery will be the perfect spring break.

As head of the English department at Rocky Mountain College, Elizabeth badgers the newly hired professor Richard Spencer to accompany her for this living-inside-a-book experience—the perfect event to add breadth to Richard’s reading background and depth to the course in The English Mystery Novel Elizabeth teaches.

And it becomes all the more perfect for Elizabeth when the man of her dreams enters the scene.
                                                                             (credit: Lucy Worsley “Why I Love DorothyL. Sayers”)

Until the play-acting embroils them in a real-life murder and the lines between reality and fiction blur dangerously. 

TheShadow of Reality, book 2 in my Elizabeth and Richard Literary Suspense series, has recently been re-released in an all-new edition.

The story is based on a murder weekend my husband and I attended at MohonkMountain House in the Hudson River Valley many years ago, although I have moved the setting to the Rocky Mountains.

For my fictional Eyrie House I used Glen Eyrie, home of Navigators InternationalStudent Ministry, where my husband and I also attended a conference. Glen Eyrie is tucked in the Garden of the Gods, near of the foot of the mountain; I merely moved it to the top for my story.
Although Elizabeth’s experience is a figment of my imagination, since I did experience the mystery week which serves as the background of my story, I can attest that there were moments in our role-played adventure when I felt the lines of fiction and reality blurring:

The old hotel was quiet, and the uneven floorboards creaked under her feet as Elizabeth climbed the stairs, her hand running lightly up the oak banister. On the fourth floor the hall was softly lighted, and the mellow wainscoting was warm and welcoming. Elizabeth’s mind was full of images from the movie and the roleplaying of the past days… and suddenly she was walking down the hall in a Yorkshire country house in the thirties.
The sensation lasted only a few seconds before reality intervened and shattered the illusion, but for that moment it had been so absolutely real, so totally authentic, that it left Elizabeth shaken and strangely buoyed. It was as if all the books she had read and the movies she had seen about time travel and visiting other dimensions were possible.

The above scene is written in my heroine’s consciousness, but it was my experience. Even as I write this I can see the old, deep red carpet and feel it under my feet.

This you-are-there experience is something I hope for in all the books I read and strive for in all that I write. But at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that literature can reflect life and teach us about life by expanding experiences beyond our own, but, as Elizabeth learned, it isn’t real life.

Have you had experiences where reality and fiction blurred for you?

Donna has loved interacting with the backgrounds of all of her books. She currently authors 3 mystery series. you can read about all of them and see photos from her research trips at DonnaFletcherCrow.com

Friday, November 2, 2018

Devotion: The Pause: Silence before the Next Step Up

Rusty A Lang (Pseusonym for Marlene Anne Morphew@AnneMorphew)

Mark 8:31, ‘And He (Jesus) began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.’ NASB

If transitions are like hitting the white water of life then seasonal changes can affront our senses.

They move us from what is comfortable, known and packed full of memories to what is new, unknown, uncertain and often fraught with anxiety and insecurity. They are the inevitable sometimes unscheduled leaps from one season to another.

This is when we come face to face with what I call, THE PAUSE. Oh, how we wrestle with the pause. We fight it, we try to avoid it by filling our time with trivial things. We fret and worry to no avail. We wonder about all the “what ifs”.

Is God still speaking to me? Why is he silent concerning his future plans for us?  We become challenged as to our purpose in life, and hunger for the next step as though our worth depends upon what we are doing.

The pause is a no man’s land. We know we are moving forward but we lose sight of the shore and are unable to see the next landing spot. It is the time in between the old and stepping into the new. We have a sense of being unarmed.


A season of the heart.

Pauses are for the internal adjustment; a season of the heart. The pause always brings focus; a time for reflection as metamorphosis is taking place.

During a pause it is not time to try to make plans for the next move but time to go deeper into the Word, strengthening our intimacy with our Saviour and speaking with honour to the Holy Spirit. The Father has the next plan well in hand.

What we do during this stage will affect our next step up. Cherish the pauses. Look beyond the silence of ministry activities and begin to pray for the vistas afar off. Take a step up into new territories of trust and faith.

Jesus had his pauses tool but for different reasons. The most significant is between his death and resurrection (Mark 8:31).

Lean into the pauses. Thank God for each day he is preparing you for something greater.

 About the Author -
Rusty A Lang is author pseudonym for Marlene Anne Morphew. Schooled in brokenness, Marlene has served the Christian Church internationally for over 40 years. With a heart for the nations, her passion is for people to be released into the Kingdom of God, living a natural supernatural life for Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Living in Australia she can be followed on Facebook and through a regular blog on her website rustyalang.com. Her autobiography, Good Things Take Time: Metamorphosis of a Damaged Soul and subsequent non-fiction publications Timeless Treasures: Digging for Gold Daily, Hour of the Owl: Living Life with Wisdom and Warrior Bride: Building Women of Strength are laced with the spirit of prophecy. Details found on her website. They can be ordered through her website in Australia and booklocker.com internationally.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Wandering Wednesday: Halloween Around the World

Posted by Donna Fletcher Crow

How will your family be celebrating Halloween today? In North America most children have a grand time dressing up as their favorite super hero or Disney princess and going around the neighborhood Trick-or-treating. I’ve laid in store of small candy bars to greet our young visitors and decorated my doorstep with pumpkins and gourds.

In Ireland, where many believe Halloween originated from a Celtic festival, they enjoy barmbrack, a kind of fruitcake. A muslin-wrapped treat is baked inside the cake that, it is said, can foretell the eater’s future. If a ring is found, it means that the person will soon be wed; a piece of straw means that a prosperous year is on its way. Children are also known to play tricks on their neighbors, such as “knock-a-dolly,” a prank in which children knock on the doors of their neighbors, but run away before the door is opened.

In Mexico The Day of the Dead is a national holiday. Families remember their departed with processions and with picnics in cemeteries, usually eating a favorite dish of the departed. Celebrations often include the strains of a mariachi band.

My adopted grandson who grew up as an orphan in Russia has vivid memories of running through the cemetery, eating candy from the graves left by the families of the departed.

In Italy a special bread called Pan co’ Santi, “Bread with Saints” is the seasonal treat prepared in honor of All Saint’s Day, the 1st of November. In Tuscan dialect the saints are walnuts and raisins that you can find inside this fluffy and sweet bread.

In the Church of England All Saints’ Day, November 1, is a celebratory feast marked with white and gold vestments and incense in memory of the saints. The next day, All Souls’ of the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed is dedicated to remembering all our departed loved ones. This day is marked with a somber service of black vestments, ochre colored candles and tolling for the dead, sometimes with muffled bells.

However the season is kept, it shows the fascination and deep concern that human beings have always had regarding death and what happens to the dead. This is especially appropriate to Christianity because death and questions of the world to come stand at the very heart of our faith. After all, the death of one man and his resurrection are the centerpiece of Christianity and inform our beliefs about the state of the dead and the future of all mortals.

It can also be a time to contemplate—a time to deal with the reality of death—our own, as well as the death of others. In these days we bring death and the dead into the light; to mourn, but not to despair; even more, to celebrate what needs to be celebrated. Most of all we are to see life as a gift and death as a new beginning.

For more information on the spiritual significance of All Saints’ and All Souls’Donna Fletcher Crow’s ANewly Crimsoned Reliquary draws the All Saints’ and All Souls’ observances in vivid detail. It will remain on .99 special through Nov 2.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Bookish Tuesday & Giveaway: Delving Deep

by Jeanette O'Hagan

Delving Deep

Heart of the Mountain, the first novella in the Under the Mountain series started out as a short story exploring the ideas of an underground realm deep beneath the mountains. It was a realm that had shut itself off from the outside world for over two hundred years. Over time, things begin failing, but the people have all but forgotten that there is life beyond their tunnels - until a young stranger, a shapeshifter,  arrives and begins stirring things up. 

In Heart of the Mountain, Blood Crystal - and the prequel, Shadows of the Deep, I enjoyed exploring what it would be like to live totally underground, how it would affect the society, how they would find food, what things they would value. And when the taboo to leave the caverns is finally broken by two brave youngwuns, how things that are familiar to us would appear to them, things we might take for granted. Like the stars, moons (two in this world) and sun. Like the openness of the sky and the unpredictability of the weather. Like the swings in temperature from hot to freezing.

In Stone of the Sea, the story ranges wider and, in part, explores another 'deep' - the ocean. I'd recently written Before the Wind (in Ruhanna's Flight and Other Stories) in which the winds, the waves, the ocean are integral to the plot. When the Bible speaks of the Deep (Tehom, the abyss), it refers mostly to the deep ocean and to the waters of creation. In many ways, the ocean is the most untamed space on earth (and Nardva - the imaginary world on which my stories are set), yet even such a seemingly chaotic force is under God's control (e.g. Ex 15:8). 

The final 'deep' in the Under the Mountain series, is the human heart. The people under the mountain find themselves in a desperate circumstances. There are different ideas about how their problems may be solved and who should pay the cost. Ultimately, the stories are about who we should trust (the Maker or the Dark Ones or some other force), what (or who) we are prepared to sacrifice to cling to life, and who we become by the choices we make.  This is explored even further in the remaining two novellas - Shadow Crystals and Caverns of the Deep.

The Under the Mountain series have young protagonists - I won't say teen because they come from longer-living races and age differently - but adolescents. Yet the challenges they face, the decisions they have to make have, I think, relevance to us all. I write for the general market, yet God's love and grace and providence is like a scarlet thread woven through the pattern of everything I write.

I hope you take the opportunity to read this series. Commenting on this post and the October new releases post, gives you a chance of winning one of the books in the series.  And for the next two weeks,  Heart of the Mountain and Blood Crystal ebooks are on special at 99c USD, to give readers a chance to catch up with the latest release Stone of the Sea.

Enjoy the Read!

Stone of the Sea by Jeanette O'Hagan

A desperate journey into the unknown

Food is scarce, the Glittering realms in chaos and solutions fast disappearing. Twins Delvina and Retza have always stood shoulder to shoulder. Will new challenges pull the twins apart? Will they, and their shapeshifter friend, Zadeki, find food before the people under the mountain starve?

Join Delvina, Retza and Zadeki as once again they face their fears and rescue a realm. Stone of the Sea is the third novella in the Under the Mountain Series. 


Jeanette O'Hagan is giving away a copy of your choice of Heart of the Mountain or Blood Crystal or Stone of the Sea (the first two are available as both print and ebooks, Stone of the Sea as ebook).

To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on this post and/or October 2018 New Releases post. Receive two entries in the drawing by commenting on both posts.  Entry will open for a week (until midnight Monday, 5 November), with the winner to be announced in a comment on both blog posts.

Available at Amazon.com

Jeanette started spinning tales in the world of Nardva at the age of eight or nine. She enjoys writing secondary world fiction, poetry, blogging and editing. Her Nardvan stories span continents, time and cultures. They involve a mixture of courtly intrigue, adventure, romance and/or shapeshifters and magic users. She has published numerous short stories, poems, two novellas and her debut novel, Akrad's Children and Ruhanna's Flight and other stories.

Her latest release, Stone of the Sea, is currently on preorder for 31 October release. Also available on other retailers.

Jeanette has practised medicine, studied communication, history, theology and a Master of Arts (Writing). She loves reading, painting, travel, catching up for coffee with friends, pondering the meaning of life. She lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.

To keep up to date with latest news and blogs, sign-up to her newsletter - and receive the short story Ruhanna's Flight.

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