The Effective Author and Friends: More Gifts for Authors

The Effective Author and Friends: More Gifts for Authors

© 2016 Kebba Buckley Button, MS, OM. World Rights Reserved.

Are you stuck when it comes to gifts for authors you love? Do you always think of a thought-that-countsgorgeous, expensive pen? But your friends each have 27 of them. Then what to do for thoughtful gifts?  You came to the right place for ideas.

First, remember that it’s really your caring that comes across when you give someone a gift. The smallest thing, handed over in kindness and love, can be so important. For an author who loves tea, how about a box of foil-wrapped teabags (around $3.50 for 20)? They don’t go stale, and they fit in any purse or conference bag. If you’re on an extreme budget, how about little stacks of 4-5 foil-wrapped teabags, held together with a fine gold ribbon (craft store, $1 for a spool). A handwritten label will set off the cute little stack as you hand it to your friend with love in your heart.

Last year we recommended a number of gifts authors would use every day. Among these were: no-spill glasses and mugs, framed pictures, eye drops, washable keyboards, flash drives, and personalized sticky notes. We even recommended no-fuss healthy snacks, as in, drawer food to keep the writer going when s/he doesn’t want to stop writing to make/find an actual meal.

This year, we have more ideas for you. They come in a range of prices and are all easy to find.

  1. A dimmable salt lamp with extra bulb (up to $40 at Home Depot in 8” diameter globe). Modulates the energy of the author’s work area, as well as offering soft amber light.
  2. Instant hot chocolate mix w/measuring cup and mug w/lid; in decorative tin or large-mouth Kerr-type jar. (Try this recipe at home. Mix well in a gallon ziplock-type bag: 3 quart-envelopes of dry milk, 1/3 c Hershey cocoa powder, ¾ c organic cane sugar. Use 1/3 c mix in your mug and add 10 oz. hot water. Yum!)
  3. Novelty book-themed gifts. A favorite is the shirt that says, “Look out, or you could end up in my novel!” This year, I found a small pillow that says, “Cats, books. Life is sweet.” Perfect for a book lover with cats.cats-and-books-pillow
  4. Prepaid printing at Friend’s Favorite Printer. Call the printer to arrange.
  5. Gift card/s from Favorite Office Store (as little as $10), good toward name tags, banners, flyer printing, business cards, office supplies
  6. Experiential gifts. How about getting your author friend out of the office for several hours? A change of scene would do him/her good! Why not take him/her to the zoo or the botanical garden, wandering about, and having lunch there?

These gifts for authors will celebrate what your author friend loves most: writing. And now you’re no longer stuck for gift ideas. Happy Holidays!

Kebba Buckley Button is a stress management expert and author of the award-winning book, Kebba booksDiscover the Secret Energized You, as well as the 2013 book, Peace Within: Your Peaceful Inner Core, Second Edition. Her newest book, Sacred Meditation: Embracing the Divine, is available through her office. Just email for more info. Like this article? Buy Kebba’s books by clicking the links! Reach the writer at For an appointment or to ask Kebba to speak for your group:

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Dinosaurs and Mammals

Dinosaurs and Mammals

by Rita Goldner

I’m writing/illustrating a new book, Making Marks on the World, with black and white drawings for the reader to color. The theme is time travel through history. The young dinosprotagonist zooms through a centuries-long timeline, and to geographical spots all over the world and beyond. The fun part for me is illustrating the coloring pages: King Tut’s tomb, the Great Wall of China, etc.

As usual, I’ve had to do a lot of research, but that’s fun, too, or at least interesting. I had originally started the journey with a visit to the cave people. Then my son-in-law, Brian, told me I couldn’t possibly create a coloring book without dinosaurs. Everyone loves dinosaur scenes, especially if they get to color them. I agreed, and tackled the logistics of fitting the dinosaur pages into my story line.

The good news is that I’m using the literary tool of “wormholes” – imaginary portals through space and time. This tool is fabulous! My protagonist can blithely defy logic and go anywhere and visit any time. I use my wormholes rather loosely, but for serious science-fiction authors, there are rules. Even astrophysicists have weighed in on the concept, adding the physics of light speed and relativity. I’ve read that commentary, too, and if you’re interested, you can find it in this National Geographic article.

But that’s too much info for me, as I’m just having fun. Besides, I digress. Back to the dinosaurs. My son-in-law was right: the illustrating is fun, and the research is absorbing. I’m trying to stick with reality in the drawings, even though the time travel is fantasy. So I’ve had to resist the temptation to throw in a few orangutans swinging from the trees over the dinosaurs’ heads.

I originally thought I couldn’t show any mammals at all, since the dinosaurs arrived about 250 million years ago, and went extinct 65 million years ago. Until recently, archeologists thought that the only mammals living during that age were tiny shrew-like rodents that hid in trees or underground to avoid becoming lunch for bigger animals. They thought that any larger, illustration-worthy mammals didn’t evolve until after the dinosaurs were gone.

A recent discovery in China contradicts this theory, and adds to the drama of my dinosaur coloring page! Scientists have unearthed fossilized remains of a dog-sized mammal (Repenomamus) with a dinosaur baby in its stomach. They think it lived about 130 million years ago. So apparently the lunching and becoming lunch went both ways.

“This new evidence gives us a drastically new picture,” said paleontologist Meng Jin, of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The dinosaur-hunting mammal was powerful, with sharp teeth, somewhat like a large Tasmanian devil or a honey badger. We’re all aware of those reputations. Paleontologist Anne Weil of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina said, “I wouldn’t want it coming after me.”

The Repenomamus species has no living descendants for reference photos, so I am somewhat on my own for the drawing. I am an avid fan of James Gurney, the author/illustrator of Dinotopia. He was asked by Scientific American to do a cover illustration of the Repenomamus eating a baby dinosaur. His illustration (see it here)  is fascinating, but he was using his imagination, too – no photo references. Of course I’d never copy another’s work, but I’m influenced and intrigued. This is a very small part of my book, so I’m trying to keep it from eclipsing the other pages, which I’ll unveil in future posts.

You can print out a free full-sized dinosaur page to color by signing up for my kids’newsletter.

Rita Goldner is the author and illustrator of the children’s picture book,
Orangutan: A Rita Goldner2Day in the Rainforest Canopy. Rita has also written and illustrated two eBooks, Jackson’s History Adventure and Jackson’s Aviation Adventure, in the Jackson’s Adventure series. For orangutan facts and images and to purchase the book (also available as an ebook), visit Or by the Kindle version here. See her new work at Anthill Books. To view additional illustrations and other books in progress, visit Rita’s website. Contact Rita here. Follow Rita on Facebook.

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Skipping Ahead … a Setback?

Skipping Ahead … a Setback?

by Joe Torres


We are told of the awful reality about shortcuts, that they actually set you back. When it came to my novel, I decided to try and skip ahead. I was stuck – floundering, even, looking at that damned accusatory cursor. So I thought, Maybe if I just skip ahead and come back, then I can fill in the middle. Makes sense, right? Just get the ending down and the middle will become clearer.

But, oh NO! That was not the case. Skipping ahead to the end only made the middle more muddled. I had an ending, but I had no idea how I’d gotten there. All was not lost, though.

The good news is that I did start to see the questions I needed to answer in order to figure out how I’d arrived at the ending. I at least had a better picture of where I need to go next. So there was a small revelation spawned by my wandering down the rabbit hole of a shortcut. I now have hundreds of new questions to answer, which seem even more exciting.

I’ll admit it is a little daunting, because now it seems I’m that much further from being done.

I’m now standing on the edge of a high cliff, the clouds below me so I can’t anything beneath them. But there is so much exhilaration, knowing that below the clouds are answers. I can hear the whispers of answers, but I can’t quite make out the words.

I lean closer over the edge, but I still can’t make out the words.

I take a few steps back, try to talk myself into it. I do a little nervous pacing to the edge and back. I take a few more steps back.

“Come on, you can do it!” I yell to encourage myself.

I take a few more steps back. “Don’t be scared!”

A few more steps back, and a deep breath.

I exhale loudly. “OMG – here I go!” I run at the cliff, too fast to stop now. Here it comes. I close my eyes and my feet leave contact with the ground.

I feel the wind rushing past my face, the noise so loud I can’t hear anything. The clouds are coming up fast; I sink below them.

I blink as everything comes into focus. And I’m filled with such joy and excitement. It all makes sense now. I see all the missing pieces and parts. Now I just have to put them together.

Who knew a shortcut would work? Weird, huh?

Joe TorresJoe Torres writes sci-fi adventure with heart. He is currently working on his first novel, Force of Nature. Joe lives in Gilbert, Ariz., with his wife and either the most amazing child on the planet or a demon from the depths of hell, depending on which side of nap time you find yourself.

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Nancy Wake: WWII Woman, Socialite, French Resistance Leader, Spy, British Special Ops Officer

Nancy Wake: WWII Woman, Socialite, French Resistance Leader, Spy, British Special Ops Officer

by C.K. Thomas


When the Nazis invaded France in WWII, Nancy Wake and her husband, wealthy French Industrialist Henri Fiocca, lived in Marseille. Actor Cate Blanchett played the lead character inspired by Nancy Wake in the film Charlotte Gray, based on the novel by Sebastian Faulks. The Gestapo called Nancy Wake “The White Mouse,” based on her ability to avoid the traps they constantly set for her.

Born in New Zealand in 1912 and raised in Australia, Nancy Wake made her own way at an early age, traveling to London at 16 on a small inheritance from an aunt. She studied journalism and moved to Paris where she convinced a Hearst editor she could read and write Egyptian, using shorthand characters as her proof. Subsequently married to Fiocca and living as a wealthy socialite, she could easily have avoided the ravages of WWII. However, she chose to be a courier for the French resistance. The Gestapo set out to capture her, so she fled across the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain and returned to Britain where she trained with the British Special Operations Executive.

Armed with guerilla warfare tactics, including the ability to kill with her bare hands, she parachuted into France to lead a resistance team 7,000 strong. When Resistance communications codes were destroyed to keep them out of German hands, she bicycled 43.5 miles (500 km) in 71 hours through many German checkpoints to deliver the new codes so weapons drops and orders could be restored. Her exploits were well known and the Gestapo continued to be close on her heels, but she survived the war and returned to her home in Marseille. There she discovered her husband had been tortured and killed by the Gestapo when he refused to give up her location.

In 1957 she married John Melvin Forward, a former RAF fighter pilot and in her later years lived in a British retirement home for veterans. She spent most of her time drinking gin and tonic in a bar across the street where she had her first “bloody good drink” following the war.

Her daring and heroism have been the subject of several books and many articles. I encourage you to read more about this exceptional woman, who managed to save hundreds of allied soldiers by helping them escape from France over the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain. She reportedly continued to nurture her glamour girl image, while carrying out the most dangerous and deadly operations of war. Her stories make for fascinating reading. Nancy Wake died in London, safe in her bed, at the age of 98.


The Washington Post:Nancy Wake, famed World War II agent – Obituary” by Adam Bernstein – August 9, 2011. Guardian – Monday, August 8, 2011 Guardian – Monday, August 8, 2011

C.K. ThomasC.K. Thomas lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Before retiring, she worked for Phoenix Newspapers while raising three children and later as communications editor for a large United Methodist Church. The Storm Women is her fourth novel and the third in the Arrowstar series about adventurous women of the desert Southwest. Follow her blog: We-Tired and Writing Blog.

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An Historic Time for ALL!

An Historic Time for ALL!

by Joe Carroccio

The Chicago Cubs win the World Series, and it only takes 107 years!

Donald Trump will become the 45th President of the United States –
an Outsider for “Change!”

Even with these events, we continue to Market 16 in ’64: The Beatles and the Baby Boomers.


I had a great meeting with Joe, from the Beatles tribute band, Apple, and in 2017 we will be working with his band. The plan is to market and schedule a concert and presentation. Starting in January, I will be working on identifying potential venues and laying out the plan of action.

We thank Nicole Michael, of 910 public relations, who continues to help us make connections to the Beatles world, send news releases to the media, and do a great deal of social media marketing.

  • On Saturday, October 22, we did our first book signing for Zia Records at their Mesa, zia-recordsAriz. store, located at 1302 S. Gilbert Road. It was a great
  • On Saturday, December 3, we will be doing our second book signing for Zia Records at their Chandler, Ariz. store, located at 3029 N. Alma School Road.
  • In 2017, we will be doing book signings at Zia’s other Phoenix Metro stores, as well as in Tucson, and perhaps even their Las Vegas stores.

As always, we continue to add to and make revisions to our website. We also continue our work contacting local morning TV shows, podcasters, and newspapers for interviews. Also anyone in any way associated with The Beatles.

The holiday season is upon us, and it’s my favorite time of the year. Thanksgiving and Christmas are my favorite holidays. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Marti’s husband, Mike, for his great support, as well as my significant other, Helma Fisher, and all of our friends and family.

As I have previously stated, and continue to live by, you need to embrace your passion and always move forward with a positive attitude. Don’t dwell on the past; learn from it. Most of all, enjoy what you are doing, or find something else to do.

Finally, for now, I have had a vision from the conception of this book to make this wonderful true story into a movie. We need a producer, and it will be my 2017 quest to find one.

______________________Joe Carroccio
Joe Carroccio is the coauthor of 16 in ’64: The Beatles and the Baby Boomers. Learn more at:

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Are You a Chevrolet or a Ferrari?

Are You a Chevrolet or a Ferrari?

by Mary Ellen Stepanich, Ph.D.


Thirty-four years ago I was studying for my Ph.D. at Purdue University, learning more than I wanted to know about management, marketing, human behavior, and how to improve work performance in people and organizations. The field was called “Organizational Behavior,” but those of us in the program called it “the applied psychology of management,” or “how to get people to do what you want…and love it.”

We also learned something about marketing and strategic management, or how to assess your organization’s competitive position in the market, and then figure out how to improve it. One of the marketing analysis models I particularly liked was an assessment of the generic strategies of (1) low-cost leadership, (2) differentiation strategy, and (3) niche marketing. Those approaches are more easily understood by using the following model:


How does this relate to marketing your books? Well, compare your product(s) to this model of automobiles. For example, have you written a Ferrari of a book for a market of readers that is narrowly focused, such as a glossy picture book for children aged five to eight? If so, you need to follow a niche marketing strategy. Or have you written a variety of General Motors style books – memoirs, romances, or cozy mysteries? Then, you might want to think in terms of a differentiation strategy, positioning yourself in multiple genres. If you plan to crank out KIA-style ebooks at 99¢ each, you’ve probably chosen a low-cost leadership strategy.

There are risks for each competitive strategy, of course. Low-cost may mean success can only come with high sales volume, and that can increase cost-of-sales (marketing) and ultimately lead to loss of profit. If the pursuit of low cost also results in reducing product quality, the strategy is self-defeating.

One of the hazards connected with differentiation, especially in the field of book writing, is that it may result in early burnout, or a possible difficulty in maintaining quality while writing in different genres. Such a writer may lose touch with the various markets and misjudge what the reading public really wants.

Focus and specialization is the natural pursuit for most writers. We tend to do what we do best – i.e., specialize in the area that matches our interests and talents. The risk, of course, is that the demand for our specialization may erode, or even disappear. In today’s book markets, the focus on genre is becoming complicated, as more and more sub-genres are created. For instance, I think of my novel as a romantic-comedy-mystery-travelogue (with a touch of “cozy” thrown in.) Such a cross-genre product makes it especially difficult to attract an agent.

My advice – for what it’s worth – is to know yourself and the type of product you want to produce, and to know your market and the type of product they want to buy. As I once read somewhere:

Be who you are as loud as you can,
and those who value what you are
will beat a path to your door.

Dr. Mary Ellen Stepanich is a retired professor of organizational behavior who always
Mary Ellen Stepanichtold her students at Purdue, “I’m very organized, but my behavior is a bit wonky.” She has published articles in academic journals (boring), show scripts for barbershop choruses and quartets (funny), and an award-winning radio play, “Voices from the Front,” for Sun Sounds of Arizona (heartrending). Mary Ellen lives in Peoria, Arizona, with her cat, Cookie, and blogs on her website,

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The Power of the Group: THANKSGIVING Traits to Look for in a Book Marketing Partner

The Power of the Group: THANKSGIVING Traits to Look for in a Book Marketing Partner

I recently completed the 2016 NO EXCUSES 3-Week Author Blog Challenge. As its title suggests, it was a 21-day challenge, and I was the host. Which means I came up with each day’s writing prompts. Although this was my fourth go-round with the Author Blog Challenge, it was the first time I really got an extreme amount of value out of considering the marketing for my forthcoming novel, Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World, in a new way.


One of the prompts that really got my creative juices boiling:

Who would be the perfect person/company/organization to partner with to sell your book? It might be another author, a performer, a shop owner, a seminar facilitator, a teacher, etc. Pretty much, the answer to this question is limited only by your imagination. How will you reach out to that person/company/organization? What’s the hook for your pitch?

You can read the post in which I answered this question on my blog,

Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I thought I’d combine the idea of a great book marketing partner with this traditional holiday for today’s Power of the Group post. The following are the character traits I think any good book marketing partner should have – one for each letter in the word THANKSGIVING.

TRUST. You want a partner you can trust – and who can trust you. Perform your due diligence first – make sure you want to be associated with this person, going forward, as you may be heading into a long-term relationship with them.

HELPFULNESS. One of the worst feelings in the world is counting on someone who can’t or won’t pull their weight – especially in a partnership. Your book marketing partner doesn’t have to be a mind-reader, but they should be helpful when it’s practical or essential.

ATTITUDE. You don’t need to find someone who thinks just like you, but you definitely want to partner with someone whose attitude complements yours. Preferably a positive outlook – things are possible, regardless of what’s happened in the past.

NETWORK. Ideally, you will partner with someone who brings a decent-sized network to your book marketing endeavors. Whether that’s a big email list, a large social media following, or loads of blog subscribers – they already have a head-start, so when you pair your network with theirs, sparks will sizzle.

KNOWLEDGE. No author – regardless of how successful they may be – is ever likely to know everything there is to know about book marketing, if for no other reason than that the landscape is always changing. Yet there are some marketing constants, and it’s good to work with someone who knows a thing or two about it. In the best-case scenario, your partner will be strong in the areas where you have weaknesses, and vice-versa.

SUCCESS (OR A SUCCESS MINDSET). We hit on this a little bit in the section on ATTITUDE, but a success mindset is crucial. You’ll hit the jackpot if you find a marketing partner who’s already has a measure of success, because like attracts like (law of attraction) and success tends to breed more success. But even if they haven’t hit the Amazon bestseller list yet, if they have a success mindset, anything remains possible.

GENUINENESS. This may be my own preference, but it seems to me that being yourself will always carry you a lot further than pretending to be (a) something you’re not and/or (b) something you think other people want you to be. Great marketing is the process of putting a product in front of someone at the precise moment they want to buy it. It’s not about conning them into a sale using tricks and gimmicks. The truer you – and your partner – are to your real values, the more likely you are to connect with the readers who are waiting for your books.

INTELLIGENCE. It’s not always the smartest person who wins the game (or the best product that succeeds). And yet a certain amount of know-how is imperative for marketing success. The great thing is that your partner may be able to fill the gaps where you lack particular knowledge or skill – or together you can hire out the stuff that takes you away from the things you are good at.

VERVE. Book marketing is a long process. It’s not an overnight, one-and-done step to success. So you’ll need a partner with loads of energy and enthusiasm. Beware the person you need to cajole or convince to try a new tactic because they’re just too lethargic to put any effort into it. Practical concerns are one thing – and worthy of consideration – but an attitude of “Eh…” is a red flag.

IMAGINATION. Book marketing is not rocket science. No marketing is. Some concepts hit and some miss, but the important thing the ability to come up with new ideas to try. Consistency is definitely a cornerstone of marketing success, but new places to sell your book, new speaking engagements, new contest ideas and social media tactics are equally important.

NERVE. Yep – it rhymes with verve. But it’s a radically different element – in that you’ve got to be willing to take some risks. As the famous Will Rogers quote puts it, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” You’ve got have the nerve to put those new ideas into action, pick up the phone and call that shop, reach out to ask for that review, etc.

GRATITUDE. Well, it is Thanksgiving, after all. And one thing I’ve found is that the more gratitude I feel, the more I have to be grateful for. So look for a partner who comes from a place of gratitude. Do they ask the waiter’s name and thank them? Do they tell you how grateful they are for the people and experiences in their life? Or do they complain, blame, or shame? If it’s the latter, run! If they have an attitude of gratitude, they may make the perfect partner.

Wishing a blessed and bountiful holiday to you, your friends, and your family.


is a self-publishing consultant who works with authors who want to LO picchange the world. From concept to publication to the first-time author’s book launch, her expertise will help you make a better book and find more readers. Laura is the organizer of the Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion Meetup, creator of the Author Blog Challenge, and conjuror of many other author opportunities. She will explore the power of the group in her posts for this group blog. In the meantime, read her regular posts at Marcie Brock – Book Marketing Maven. Friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and check out her pins on Pinterest.

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