How to Use Influencer Marketing to Increase Book Sales

The number of people searching Google for the phrase influencer marketing has more than tripled over the last year. Many companies (and authors) have discovered that influencer marketing can be a cost-effective way to build brand awareness, drive online conversions, and increase sales. 
If you want to increase your book sales through influencer marketing, here are five tips to help you get better results.
1. Set a Clear Goal
Although there are some unique aspects to working with influencers, this strategy is still a marketing activity. Getting the best return on your investment from this marketing channel requires having a clear goal. Before you start reaching out to influencers, decide if your goal is to build awareness, promote a specific book, drive people to Amazon, increase your followers, grow your email list or something else.
2. Start with One Platform
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the different options for collaborating with influencers. Instead of trying to do everything at once, choose one platform and start with it.
Instagram is a popular choice. Snapchat can work great if you’re targeting younger potential customers. There are also tons of bloggers out there that can have a big impact on your influencer marketing efforts. From motherhood bloggers, to health and fitness Instagram Influencers, there’s an endless world of bloggers and social media influencers that you can collaborate with to promote your book. Research and find the influencers that would be the best fit to reach your target audience. Send them an email and ask if they would be interested in reading your book, offer to send them a complimentary review copy. Once they’ve had a chance to read it, follow up and ask if they enjoyed it to post about it on their social networking platforms. The photo above is an example of Instagram Influencer Nicole Cogan. She posted about a book on her Instagram feed – resulting in 4K likes in just 2 days. That’s 4,000 potential readers. You can see how having an Instagram Influencer post about your book could be a great way to get the word out and increase sales. Having several influencers post about your book all at once can help provide instant credibility (and sales) for your book.
3. Look Beyond Follower Counts
The most significant mistake authors make with this type of marketing is only looking at people with big follower counts. 
Instead of follower counts, your evaluation of potential influencers should focus on how much engagement they create and whether they reach your target audience. That can help you identify “micro-influencers.” These influencers are highly engaged with their smaller audiences and tend to charge very reasonable rates, or are willing to help promote your book for free (if they like it).
Most prominent influencers may charge more than you are willing to spend. Do the math. Calculate how many books you would need to sell – and base that on what you are willing to spend for influencer marketing. Start with smaller influencers and go from there.
4. Give Influencers Freedom
Micromanaging is another mistake authors often make when working with influencers. Providing brand guidelines for influencer partners is fine. What you don’t want are strict rules that prevent an influencer from being authentic.
Influencers understand their audiences better than anyone else. Giving them the freedom to choose how they share your product with their followers will yield the best results.
5. Build Long-Term Relationships
It’s essential to invest time in finding the right influencers. Once you do see an influencer who is an excellent fit for your book, it’s worth building a long-term relationship with them. By finding multiple opportunities to collaborate, you will be able to maximize the amount of value you get from their audience.
When done correctly, influencer marketing can be a potent channel. By setting a clear goal, starting with one platform, looking beyond follower counts, giving influencers freedom and building long-term relationships, you’ll be able to grow your followers and sales through influencer marketing successfully.

Real Food for Pregnancy

Lily Nichols is a Registered Dietitian, specialist in prenatal nutrition, and best-selling author.
In her latest book Real Food for Pregnancy, Lily Nichols, takes prenatal nutrition advice out of the dark ages and provides an easy-to-follow guide for making the best food and lifestyle choices during pregnancy.
Short version of what is covered in the book:
-Most prenatal nutrition advice is either outdated or not evidenced-based. InRealFood for Pregnancy, Lily Nichol’s debunks a LOT of prenatal nutrition myths. Misconceptions of conventional prenatal nutrition: macronutrients, salt, “foods to avoid,” fish, etc.
-Foods to emphasize, lab tests, supplements
-Testing for gestational diabetes—pros/cons of all the methods
-Nutritional management of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, nausea, heartburn & more
-Mindfulness, stress management, exercise, avoidance of toxins
-Traditional postpartum care, impact of nutrients on breast milk quality, etc.
In Real Food for Pregnancy, you’ll get clear answers on what to eat and why, with research to back up every recommendation. Lily Nichols has taken a long and hard look at the science and lays out the evidence—930 citations and counting—on the benefits of real food, why certain foods are essential (and others are detrimental), and countless lifestyle tweaks you can make to have a smooth, healthy pregnancy. There has never been a more comprehensive and well-referenced resource on prenatal nutrition. With Real Food for Pregnancy as your guide, you can be confident that your food and lifestyle choices support a smooth, healthy pregnancy.
“I’m so thrilled to read Real Food for Pregnancy. I absolutely love Lily’s work. Her evidence-based approach to nutrition is not only relevant during pregnancy, but for the rest of your life! I think every birth professional (midwife, doula, etc.) should have a copy in their lending library for clients.” –Rebecca Dekker, PhD, RN, Founder of Evidence Based Birth®
To learn more, go to http://realfoodforpregnancy.com/

365 Days of Happiness: Because happiness is a piece of cake!

365 days of happinessIn 365 Days of Happiness, author, energy healer, and mindfulness teacher Jacqueline Pirtle has created a step-by-step guide to being happy. The book contains 365 short and sweet daily readings to inspire you live a happier life, one day at a time. Showing that you can put in work to change your life while also having fun, the practices are full of whimsy and delight.
Jacqueline spent every day of 2017 devoted to her own happiness. She wrote every single day about the things she did to honor her joy and used those writings to create this 365 day step-by-step guide. With this book, she aims to teach you how to shift your mindset to happy — no matter where you are at in life. She hopes these readings will touch your heart and change your life by initiating new learning, understanding, knowledge, and wisdom to get closer to your true, authentic happy self.
Through light, bubbly, cheerful passages, each day teaches you to find happiness. Use those sour lemons and shift yourself into a “high for life” frequency where you can reach happiness anywhere and at any time.
Excerpt:
DAY 3
The best cookie recipe makes delicious and enjoyable cookies! The best happiness recipe makes a delicious and enjoyable life
– Acknowledge everything and everyone without judgment.
– Accept everything and everyone.
– Respect everything and everyone.
Appreciate everything and everyone.
Thank everything and everyone.
– Love everything and everyone.
With everything and everyone, I mean all, without exceptions! Because everything and every and everyone is in your life for a reason.
Acknowledging all in this way, releases resistance; and without your resistance you can shift smoothly with all that is happening for you. Who knows, you might even love it!
Life is an ever changing and constant moving experience: it is naturally so. Every split second is new, different, and fresh. That means every split second you get new opportunities and chances for a change to happen.
Use those split seconds, and make your delicious and enjoyable new day!
That IS happiness!
To learn more, go to http://www.freakyhealer.com/ 

Why You Need a Publicist to Help Promote Your Cookbook

Don’t underestimate the power of PR. A publicist can bring a lot to the table.
Perhaps you don’t expect to be the next Melissa Hartwig, but you are most likely working tirelessly to get noticed. You want to build your following and see your readers excited about your latest recipe. If you have a cookbook coming out, you should consider hiring a publicist to help promote it. Sending an email blast out to your subscribers (who already know about you), isn’t enough, and don’t just upload your book to Amazon and hope for the best, or try to do it all yourself. You may have some great connections in the health + wellness industry, but a few podcast interviews isn’t enough. The world is too big and you have too much competition. A publicist will help make your book stand out.
You probably already have a good handle on some of the parts of your cookbook promotion (like managing your Instagram or Facebook pages), but a publicist can make a big difference in building your brand even further.
A good publicist will create a PR campaign tailored to meet your specific needs. Let them know what areas you have covered and they’ll tell you what they can do to help. Teamwork makes the dream work. By all means, reach out to your connections, send out your email blast, and let your publicist do the same with their contacts.
PR STRATEGIES & TACTICS:
MEDIA OUTREACH
A publicist will spend a majority of your PR campaign on media outreach. They will research and pitch you to the media outlets that would be the best fit to reach your target audience. This includes magazines, newspapers, TV & radio shows, websites, and more. Your publicist will pitch to get articles written about your book in the media (from small blogs to major news outlets). Each placement (no matter how big or small) is an opportunity to reach new followers. Some examples include: Self, Women’s Health, Shape, Mind Body Green, the Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, Cooking Light, Food & Wine Magazine. The health + wellness industry is huge and the list of writers, reporters, bloggers, and social media influencers is endless, which means lots of opportunities for exposure. If there are any specific outlets that you would like your publicist to target, just let them know. Media exposure will help get your book noticed not just locally, but nationally, and even internationally.
SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCERS
A publicist will also help get the word out about your cookbook by placing it directly in the hands of social media influencers. They will reach out to popular bloggers, Instagrammers, and YouTubers to ask if they would be interested in reading your book (and sharing it with their followers).  If you have a gluten-free cookbook, your publicist will research and pitch you to Instagrammers that are Gluten-Free. The idea is that by sending them a complimentary copy of your cookbook, they will share it on their Instagram Stories or post about it on their feed for their followers to see (and buy). Each placement, no matter how big or small, is an opportunity to build your fan base and reach more potential customers. Your publicist can help coordinate sponsored posts, giveaways, blog posts, feature articles, and more. They can also get bloggers to share a recipe from your cookbook on their blog (with a link in their post to buy your book).
BOOK REVIEWS
A publicist can also help coordinate reviews for your book. By sending out complimentary review copies, your publicist will ask each person to publish a review for the book on Amazon and/or Goodreads (in addition to their website or channel). As your book reviews increase, so will your sales.
PODCAST INTERVIEWS
Your publicist can help coordinate podcast interviews for you. Some examples include: Food Psych, Balanced Bites, Nutrition Diva, iTunes Fitness + Nutrition Podcasts, The Balanced Blonde, Well-Fed Women, The Nourished Podcast, Food Heaven Podcast, Recipes for Life, The Ultimate Health Podcast. There are so many podcasts out there that your publicist could pitch. Podcast interviews are a great way to promote your book.
EVENTS & SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS
A publicist can help coordinate book signings and speaking engagements for you. They could contact your local bookstores, libraries, book clubs, and other types of organizations to see if they would be interested in having you come speak and sign copies of your book. They may also be able to reach out to conferences to pitch you as a speaker.
These are just a few of the ways that a publicist can help promote your cookbook. Take your PR as seriously as you take your food and you will see an increase in your followers, fan base, and book sales.
At Book Publicity Services, we love promoting books, so if you need help promoting yours, let us know!

The Science of Sleep: What It Is, How It Works, and Why It Matters

Science of sleepWe often hear that humans spend one third of their lives sleeping—and most of us would up that fraction if we could. Whether we’re curling up for a brief lunchtime catnap, catching a doze on a sunny afternoon, or clocking our solid eight hours at night, sleeping is normally a reliable way to rest our heads and recharge our minds. And our bodies demand it: without sufficient sleep, we experience changes in mood, memory loss, and difficulty concentrating. Symptoms of sleep deprivation can be severe, and we know that sleep is essential for restoring and rejuvenating muscles, tissue, and energy. And yet, although science is making remarkable inroads into the workings and functions of sleep, many aspects still remain a mystery.
In The Science of Sleep, sleep expert Wallace B. Mendelson explains the elements of human sleep states and explores the variety of sleep disorders afflicting thousands of people worldwide. Mendelson lays out the various treatments that are available today and provides a helpful guide for one of life’s most important activities. By offering the first scientific yet accessible account of sleep science, Mendelson allows readers to assess their personal relationships with sleep and craft their own individual approaches to a comfortable and effective night’s rest.
Addressing one of the major public health issues of the day with cutting-edge research and empathetic understanding, The Science of Sleep is the definitive illustrated reference guide to sleep science.

Praise for The Science of Sleep:
“Not only does this book remind us why we need sleep but it also tells us what happens if we don’t get enough of it.” – Euro Scientist
“Dr Mendelson provides a readable, engaging, and clearly written work concerning sleep science and medicine. His ability to explain complexities in a manner that communicates essential characteristics is truly artful. And speaking of art, the illustrations and layout make this book a joy to open and begin reading or skimming on any page. For anyone serious about sleep science, this book should sit prominently on a nearby bookshelf, assuming it ever gets off your desk.” – Max Hirshkowitz, PhD, Sleep Specialist 

Excerpt from The Science of Sleep:
Sleep means different things to different people, and indeed its meaning differs in the same person at various times. I remember, for instance, as a little boy, going to bed anticipating the presents awaiting me on Christmas morning, and thinking that since I would soon be asleep, the time would seem to pass in an instant. Then the presents would be mine. Not surprisingly, that sort of thinking led to the opposite, a long period of unhappy wakefulness. The opposite can occur as well, as in the song “The Green Green Grass of Home”, in which sleep is a time of escape into happy memories, in contrast to the very unfortunate events awaiting the sleeper in the morning. For others, sleep can become a kind of testing ground: a person who prides herself on always being the best at whatever she does can view good sleep as a challenge, something she has to work at—the result, paradoxically, being poor sleep. It can also be a time of anxiety. People for whom it is important to feel in control of things can find it worrisome to have a period each night in which they seem more vulnerable and not in charge.  For others, sleep can be a time of getting a glimpse of the “real” world; I have had patients who say that their dream experiences during sleep seem so much more real and meaningful than what they awaken to in the morning.
Sleep is also inextricably tied to the notion of restoration. After a good night’s sleep a healthy person awakens with a sense of vitality, of readiness to face the new day. As we will discuss later, no one is certain what this entails physiologically—it is not just a simple matter of increasing metabolic energy stores—but its presence (or absence) plays a role in what we think about sleep.  Related to this is the notion of sleep as a pleasurable experience, something to look forward to. Sadly, for many people the opposite is true. The genesis of this is not always clear. Some think that a lifelong feeling that sleep is an unhappy time is a derivative of childhood experiences, in which the more typical learning association of sleeping with pleasure did not take place. Others view this as a disorder of the amount of l brain chemicals that normally bring on sleep. Another view is that it may result from habits in which bedtime is used for behaviors incompatible with sleep, such as worrying and planning tomorrow’s battles.
Sleep is also inextricably tied to the environment in which we live, in a world of alternating day and night. Our bodies have developed elaborate mechanisms to help time our waking and sleep to be in conjunction with light and darkness. Sometimes this timing can go astray, either due to behaviors such as engaging in shift work or flying long distances, or due to inherent problems of the body clock. These in turn can lead to difficulties with sleeping, or at least with sleeping during the traditional hours allocated for it.
Sleep can also be a kind of social behavior, inside the species, or across species (for instance when sleeping with a pet). We often use the euphemism of sleeping together to refer to another kind of activity that can take place in bed, but this kind of delicate phraseology can obscure another aspect, which is that repetitive sharing of the sleep experience may play a role in a couple bonding together.
There is also a sense that sleep is important to health, both physical and mental. Sleep which is curtailed or disrupted can lead, for instance, to a predilection to diabetes and related disorders. It seems to be important for the formation of long-term memories. This suggests, for instance, the futility of students doing “all nighters” of studying. It turns out that getting a good night’s sleep may be the most helpful thing in preparation for  an exam in the morning.  One of the great believers in a good night’s sleep, incidentally, was Alexander the Great.  In 331 BC, before the crucial battle in which he overwhelmed a vastly larger Persian army on their own territory, he slept so deeply that his officers became worried and had to awaken him.  He got up, put on his armor, and went on to an outstanding victory which set the stage for conquering an empire.
In this book we will present the scientific understanding of sleep, beginning by describing its basic processes and how to measure them. It will be seen that sleep results from the careful orchestration of a variety of physiologic processes. As in any complex mechanism, sometimes things go awry, in this case resulting in clinical sleep disorders which are experienced as insomnia, excessive sleepiness or undesirable behaviors during sleep. We will describe some of these disorders, and some of the treatments that are available. This information is not a substitute for medical evaluation. If you think you may have a sleep disorder, you should consult your doctor for evaluation and possible referral to a sleep disorders center. It is hoped that armed with the information provided here, you will be better able to understand and discuss what is happening, and to make more informed choices in conjunction with your doctor.
Just as sleep is a universal human behavior, so is human curiosity and the desire to know more about ourselves. A number of men and women devoted themselves to learn more about sleep, long before sleep studies became an established scientific discipline. They came from a variety of unlikely backgrounds—a WW I cavalryman, and a fighter pilot, for example. One was looking for something entirely else, the basis of a supposed “psychic energy” which might let people communicate across long distances, and ended instead with the groundbreaking discovery of the human electroencephalogram. Another was a doctor faced with treating patients in a worldwide epidemic of encephalitis, who recognized a pattern to the parts of the affected brains—and learned from it the basic structures making it possible for us to be awake or asleep. Another had made his fame developing a method to precisely measure the speed of projectiles for the Army, but his curiosity led him to measurements of many other kinds of things, including electrical waveforms during the human sleep stages. If you, the reader, have picked up this book, it sounds like you, too, have curiosity about how things work, and it is my hope that here you will learn more about how we wake and sleep.

Wallace MendelsonAbout the Author:
Wallace B. Mendelson, M.D., has more than forty years of experience in sleep research and clinical care – as a Professor of Psychiatry and Clinical Pharmacology (ret), former director of the Sleep Research Laboratory at the University of Chicago, and past president of the Sleep Research Society. He has written five books and numerous scientific papers on sleep disorders. He has also been the recipient of various honors including a special award for excellence in sleep and psychiatry from the National Sleep Foundation in 2010. To learn more, go to https://www.zhibit.org/WallaceMendelson

 

 

Understanding Antidepressants by Wallace B. Mendelson

Understanding AntidepressantsAbout 16 million Americans experience a major depression each year, and at any given time about one in ten adults is taking antidepressants.  There are many different ones available, in what can seem like a bewildering variety. In this book, Dr. Mendelson makes sense of the many treatments for depression, and shows that understanding how antidepressants work can help in making better decisions.
This book begins with a non-technical, lavishly illustrated introduction to how antidepressants affect the brain, and a more general presentation of how drugs are absorbed and processed by the body. The second section describes the various classes of antidepressants, including how they work, how long they stay in the body, their interactions with other medicines, side effects, and things to consider when choosing a particular one. The third section provides guidance if things are not improving, such as changing or adding medicines, as well as non-medication alternatives including psychotherapy and transcranial magnetic stimulation. Finally, there is a presentation of related depressive disorders such as seasonal affective disorder, dysthymia, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
Written with both scientific rigor and compassion, Understanding Antidepressants is a useful guide for anyone suffering from depression, as well as their families. It is written broadly enough to be a helpful introduction for students and trainees, and mental health workers with non-technical backgrounds who wish to learn more about these commonly used medications.
What Readers Are Saying:
“I am a practicing psychiatrist and am pleased that this book has been written and is available to the patient audience. In this publication, an important gap in knowledge between the prescribing physician and the patient struggling with depression is masterfully addressed. Knowledge by the patient about what antidepressants are and how these important medications work is a necessary step to successful treatment.
Rudyard Kipling once wrote “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind”. Unfortunately, in the time-limited sessions between patients and psychiatrists today there is little opportunity for words and understanding between the patient and doctor. What was once a therapeutic relationship has become a 15 minute (or less) encounter. I am hopeful that this excellent book might improve this situation and lead to better health. If it were possible, I would hope every patient prescribed an antidepressant for whatever reason would have the opportunity to read Dr. Mendelson’s book.” – Steven P James, MD
“Dr. Mendelson rightly points out that millions of Americans regularly take antidepressants, some for years or even decades. Sadly, the majority of consumers and probably many prescribers have minimal knowledge about these drugs. This book is for anyone who has been prescribed a drug for depression. It’s written so patients can understand the reasons antidepressants work and what to do if the response not optimal. While the book is not specifically targeted at healthcare providers it contains information that nurses, physician assistants and primary care physicians will find useful.” – Russell, Amazon Reviewer

Wallace MendelsonAbout the Author:
Wallace B. Mendelson MD is a Professor of Psychiatry and Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Chicago (ret), and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He has written several books and numerous scientific papers, primarily in the fields of psychopharmacology and sleep medicine. To learn more, go to  https://www.zhibit.org/WallaceMendelson

Those Three Words by Christine Bauer

those three words‘Those Three Words: A birthmother’s story of choice, chance, and motherhood’ by Christine Bauer will be released in May 2018 – for Mother’s Day.
There are three words that, when uttered together, make dreams come true for millions of women. For millions more, those same words can shatter their dreams.  “You are pregnant.”
Almost half of all pregnancies in the United States — some 3.1 million each year —are unintended. Among unmarried women in their 20s, seven out of 10 pregnancies are unplanned.
Author Christine Bauer’s memoir Those Three Words: A birthmother’s story of choice, chance and motherhood takes a deep dive into the emotions of facing an unplanned pregnancy at the tender age of 18.
Those Three Words takes readers along on the journey of weighing options, agonizing over a decision, and ultimately deciding to let another family adopt and raise her baby.  This story also looks at how placing a child for adoption affected the rest of her life, especially when she became the mother of two boys.  Those Three Words touches on the controversial topics of abortion and adoption, birth control, and women’s rights.
This story will resonate with millions of readers because women know and understand the joy and pain of pregnancy and motherhood, love and loss, and the power of family and parental love.

What Readers Are Saying:
“Bauer deftly addresses one of the most wrenching and emotional decisions one might confront: how to respond to an unexpected pregnancy. With candor and grace she leads readers on a thought-provoking journey filled with unexpected twists and turns. I couldn’t put it down.” – Caryn M. Sullivan, Author of “Bitter or Better: Grappling With Life on the Op-Ed Page,” winner of the 2015 Midwest Book Award for Inspiration.
“On its surface, Christine Bauer’s Those Three Words is an engrossing memoir detailing a young birthmother’s hard path toward fulfillment and happiness. But even stronger currents race deeper down, about the difficulty of acceptance, the power of family, and the nature of love. Reading it is a moving and unforgettable experience.” – Jack El-Hai, Author and past President of the American Society of Journalists and Authors
“As a young girl, I was proud to be adopted. I was chosen. Then, after giving birth to my first child, I paused and was overcome with grief. How could any loving woman give up a baby? Chrisy’s book helped me understand the love, agony, and courage needed to be a birth mother, to do what’s right for yourself, and for the helpless human you’ve brought into the world.” – Lory Sutton, Chief Marketing Officer, Minnesota Historical Society

Excerpt from Chapter 1:                     
Late September 1984
Overdose Warning. My index finger landed on these two words. I tilted the box to reduce the fluorescent lights’ glare as it flickered across the small typeface.
Once the words came into focus, I scanned them quickly:
TYLENOL® PM relieves your pain fast so you can sleep and feel refreshed after a good night’s rest.
I didn’t want an overdose warning; I wanted overdose advice. I wanted to know what to take so I would a sleep for an eternity.
I would need to take more than just the Tylenol to be sure it worked, so I decided I should combine the pills with Nyquil. Yes, together, these would create my own little annihilation cocktail.
But would buying these two products together look suspect at the checkout counter? The cashier could ask, “Hey, girl, are you planning to kill yourself?
And then I could say: “Yes, you asshole, I am. I’m pregnant and I’m desperate and this is the solution that causes the least pain for everyone in the long run.
And it’s none of your fucking business,” I’d add.
One by one, I took the packages off the shelf—two of each—and placed them gently in the red plastic shopping basket draped across my left arm.
“Excuse me,” a middle-aged lady said suddenly, startling me. She smiled and nodded at me. I stepped aside so she could reach out and take her own box of sleep aids from the shelf. I was sure she was really going to use hers to sleep and not to kill herself, but I guess you never know.
As I moved over for her, I reached deep down inside my soul and pulled out a smile in return. I hadn’t smiled for days, but this woman made me think of my mom, whose gentle face entered my mind like an uninvited but welcome guest.
I meandered through the drugstore aisles. Before now I’d never thought much about the number of products that were available to solve your problems. There were products to take away body odor, products to make your skin soft, products to get rid of zits and stop bleeding. There were tablets to freshen your breath and capsules to make your headache go away. There were pills to make you sleep, and even kill yourself if you wanted.
But there was nothing to make a pregnancy disappear.
As I passed the plethora of feminine hygiene supplies, I thought of the pretty pink box of Playtex tampons that sat unopened in my dorm-room closet. It had taunted me over the past few weeks, especially this morning. I’d thought of the many times over the years that I’d hated having to open those boxes, having to deal with the inconvenience and hassle of a period. Now opening that box would seem like opening a very special gift.
I moved on from tampons to chips. I stood in a daze in front of the Doritos, Fritos, Old Dutch potato chips, and other unhealthy snacks. The bags lounged in their steel racks, just waiting to be picked up. The Fritos looked good—they always looked good—so I grabbed a bag, placing it strategically into my basket to cover the boxes of Tylenol and Nyquil. I also grabbed some Doritos. What the hell? I may as well eat all I want. I’d been dieting for years—most of my life, really. Another curse of being a girl, and a childhood gymnast at that.
As I approached the checkout counter, the collage of women’s magazines reinforced the ideal body image that had bombarded me most of my life. Headlines blared: “Lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks!” “Get a flat tummy fast!” “Thinner thighs in 30 days!” None of that mattered anymore.
The guy at the counter was about my age, and I was relieved that he didn’t seem fazed by my strange combination of items—I threw in a Toblerone chocolate bar at the last minute to add to the mix as he rang up the sale.
“Thanks,” I said, avoiding his eyes. I didn’t want this guy to feel bad later on when the authorities figured out he was the one who sold me the ingredients for my permanent nightcap.
Plastic bag clutched tightly in my hand, I headed back out to the outdoor mall area of downtown Mankato, Minnesota. I took a seat on one of the wooden benches that dotted the sidewalk and dug my Marlboro Lights out of my backpack. It was about my tenth cigarette for the day, and it wasn’t even noon. I lit up and took a deep, long drag.
God, I hoped this was the right way to do this. This is not something I can screw up; I don’t want to screw up again. But I was damned either way. “Thou shalt not kill,” the commandment said. Nowhere did it specify, “Thou shalt not kill yourself,” but the nuns had made it clear: you do that and you’ll burn in hell. But what made them know everything? Hell, the church didn’t even respect them, so why should I?
Maybe a gun would be a better choice than pills. There were plenty at home, as I came from a family of hunters. I pictured myself back at home, unlocking the gun cabinet and taking a shotgun from the rack. I’d sneak back to my bedroom, position myself on the bed with the yellow-and-green daisy-print bedspread. Then I’d pull the trigger. It would be fast. And it was more of a sure thing.
But it would be so awful for whoever would find me—and unfortunately, that person would most likely be my mom. She was always home. Always there for us.
I put my head in my hands and rubbed my temples, careful not to burn my hair with my cigarette. No, I couldn’t do that. My mom was just too nice and too sweet for me to do that to her. To find her baby like that would be awful—red blood and grey matter with bits of blonde hair splattered against the beautiful daisy bedspread.
I took another deep drag and looked up. The sign “Someplace Else” hung there, laughing at me.
Just last week, my new friends and I had been in Someplace Else, one of the more happening bars downtown. Laughing, dancing, talking, flirting—we’d been on top of the world that night, the same as every night since school had began. It was a dream come true, being at college and on my own.
Now here I was at the same spot, this time at bottom. In just a few weeks I had tumbled from straddling the high board of life to lying at the bottom of the pool. Just last week I was a freshman in love with my friends and my new life. Now, I sat here wondering how many sleeping pills I should take to end my life.
I’d already sorted through my options:
Option 1: Give up college. Get married. Live in Mitchell. Be a mom.
Option 2: Have the baby. Be a single parent. Live with my parents in the town I had so desperately wanted to leave.
Option 3: Have an abortion. Don’t tell anyone. Ever. Go on with life.
Option 4: Grow the baby. Have the baby. Give it to some strangers to raise.
But none of these seemed right. It also didn’t even seem right that I was having to make this decision at all. I had used birth control. I had only slept with Jim, my boyfriend from back home, about five times—that wasn’t much! Especially not compared to all my friends. But here I was. Which is how I ended up at Option 5.

Christine BauerAbout the Author:
Christine (Chris) Bauer was born and raised in the big small town of Mitchell, South Dakota. She feels blessed to have grown up in a place and time when childhood was carefree, when kids left the house in morning and returned in the evening, and in between rode bikes, built forts, and played baseball and Barbies. While she loved her hometown, Chris was eager to move on to new adventures after graduating high school.
Chris attended Mankato State University in Minnesota, majoring in Mass Communications. Her dream was to one day be part of a Woodward and Bernstein-type team who saved the world through ground-breaking journalism.  Soul searching and need for employment led her to a gratifying career in corporate communications, public relations and marketing. Chris has loved reading and writing for as long as she can remember.
Her greatest achievement and most profound joy is being the mother of three kind-hearted children and one beautiful and spirited grandchild. In addition to being a mom and grandma of humans, Chris is also the proud mom to one very spoiled dog and two equally spoiled granddogs. She admits there were moments in the motherhood journey where she preferred the canines.
She resides in the Minneapolis area. While her nest is nearly empty now, she loves that the flock returns regularly for food and shelter. Those Three Words is her first book. It is currently available for pre-sale. To learn more, go to https://www.authorcbauer.com/

Master Blacke: Tales of the Great Wood

On the heels of his five-book fantasy series, The Chronicles of Dorro, author Pete Prown brings us a new tale that returns readers to the magical world of Thimble Down—but with a twist!
In Master Blacke, we journey to the other side of the Great Wood and meet exciting new characters from the village of Wattle’s Way. Among the players in this saga are Rue and Doily, as well as a strange and deadly kestrel named Jesper Stormcloud, who becomes their friend. There’s also the wise schoolmaster, Master Blacke, and the wicked, but beautiful Minerva Silvercoat and her equally blackhearted accomplice, Mr. Slinks.
The story unfolds with the arrival of Rue, a shy girl lost in the Great Wood. Master Blacke settles Rue into the home of Mrs. Locke, a cold shopkeeper, and her mean-spirited daughter, Meera. There’s something else, too—Doily overhears villagers talking about The Vine, something which will change the way the village is run and who’s in charge. The mystery deepens as townsfolk begin to disappear one by one. Even Master Blacke is baffled by these dark, ominous events.
There’s danger in the heart of the Great Wood. After centuries of peace and tranquility, there’s a plot by the bigger creatures — who call themselves The Vine — to seize power and take control of the meek.
Soon, the fast-paced saga begins, as Rue, Doily, and Jesper find themselves battling for their very lives and fighting back with the help of their tutor, Master Blacke. But will it be enough to defeat The Vine and its forces of evil?
Welcome to the Great Wood, friends ….
Master Blacke: Tales of the Great Wood takes readers on an epic fantasy adventure. Young readers, aged 9 to 13 – as well as not-so young ones—will have trouble putting it down. It is available for sale on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

EXCERPT from CHAPTER 1:
Almost Supper
“Drat!”
Rue stubbed her toed and screeched in pain—she was lost and knew it. The small, brownish pocket-mouse hadn’t seen her parents for weeks, and left their comfy mouse-hole in the Great Wood to search for them, even though her mother said her shouldn’t ever do so. They’d never been gone this long before.
Young and naïve might Rue be, but not entirely foolish. As the afternoon grew long and began throwing shadows, she flitted from leaf cover to tussock, remaining exposed in the open as little as possible. She dug up a few mouthfuls of nuts, roots, and berries as she explored—Rue had never been alone in the forest before, but on the whole, rather enjoyed it.
“I could survive out here, I know it,” boasted the mouse. “I’m Rue the Brave and all shall tremble before me!”
She laughed out loud, but tripped over something hard while crossing a mossy pad.
Whump.
“Ouch, that hurt! Who left a big log on the forest floor for nice mice pups to fall upon?”
Rue was perturbed and didn’t mind who knew it. Then she sneezed.
Ach-choo!
And she sneezed again. Ach-choo!
Curiously, she became aware of something moving in the periphery and all her hairs stood on end. It didn’t feel right.
“Dear me, I’m sorry, young lady—how rude of me to leave my tail lying about.”
“Who are you? I can’t see you,” snipped Rue, transfixed by the deep, mellifluous voice.
She heard something sniffing over yonder, under the fronds of an ostrich fern swaying gently in the breeze.
“Mmmmm, delicious! I mean, it’s delicious to meet you. I don’t think you’ve been this way before. We don’t get many field mice here in the deep wood. The occasional vole, but not one of your distinguished species.”
“I’m just a pocket-mouse. Nothing special about that.”
The disembodied voice replied, “I beg to differ. You see, voles are tough and wily, and moles too earthy. And rats—well, I shan’t even deign to make a comparison. Ooooh, but a tender young mouse. Now that’s enough to make up for my abbreviated nap. The pocket-mouse is something I’ve always heard about, but never enjoyed … its company before.”
Rue was suspicious. “You don’t know me, sir. And perhaps you shan’t!”
“On the contrary, my superior sense of smell tells me much. Why, you dine on dandelion petals and thyme leaves, morning dew, and nuts of all types. But I think walnuts are your favorite, correct?”
“That’s true, Mr. Voice-Without-a-Face. I do love walnuts and nuts of all sorts. How did you know?”
“My nose tells me everything, friend. I can even sense the sun-baked warmth of your fur, as well as the rich loamy soil of your mouse-hole. Say, you don’t live near a stand of rye grass, do you? What is that strange scent—summer barley?”
“That’s remarkable, sir! You must be a great detective? Or a magician!”
Rue was suddenly fascinated. “That must be how you can speak without possessing a body.”
“Oh, I have a body and a face and a mouth and a snout. Would you like to see me? I am quite grand, I really am.”
Ach-choo!
Rue sneezed and became wary again. Something in her veins and blood told her Beware!, but she couldn’t put a finger on it. She’d never really been afraid before, as her parents were always nearby and calmed her when a thunderstorm struck and the rain pelted about the door to their mouse-house.
What is that strange tingling in my paws and legs? thought the mouse girl. My senses are trying to warn me of something, but I don’t what it is.
Suddenly, Rue knew exactly what the tingling was, just as the ferns began to shiver and move. Something was moving in those fronds, inching closer by the second, and it meant her harm.
Then Rue saw it—a black snout pushing through a few fronds. The snout grew longer and impossibly longer, until a face peered out. A sharp face with reddish fur, two pointy ears, and a pair of glowing orange eyes. And its mouth was smiling, but not a friendly smile. It was more of a leer, displaying quite a rack of dazzling teeth. The pocket-mouse knew she was in trouble, as this was surely a red fox seeking its supper.
“I demand to know your intentions, sir,” barked Rue, though quivering and trying to put on a brave face. “I don’t know your name, but I know your heart. You mean to eat me.”
“You are an astute young lady—quite intelligent! My name is Mr. Slinks, though I’m not such a bad fellow,” said the red fox with his usual grace and savoir-faire. He kept talking.
“My job in this part of the Great Wood is to bring balance and order. When something is out of place, I fix it. If Genevieve Possum has too many babes one spring, I help her return her litter to a reasonable number. And should the robin or wren population explode for unknown reasons, just call on Mr. Slinks to scale a nice low tree, find the nest, and bring the number back to earth —quite literally! Logically then, should a tasty mouse get lost and wander into my dell, as a concerned citizen I feel I should do my part to rectify the issue—quickly and with the utmost skill.
There’s no need for endless suffering, I always say. Fast ‘n’ precise, that’s my motto.”
“I may be a pup, Mr. Slinks, but I don’t want to be eaten today. I like seeing the sunshine every morning and I like my walnuts. And I don’t like … you!”
At that, Rue shot from her moss pad like a rocket, so fast that even a deadly predator like Mr. Slinks was taken aback. He figured the lass would make a fine nuncheon and be perfectly civilized about it. Perhaps even lie down and expose her neck in a cordial way, in order to make the fox’s job easier. But no, this brat wanted to put Slinks to the test.
And this is what happened.
Rue had been pent up in her mouse-hole for so long that all her bound-up energy exploded at that very moment. Even she was amazed at how fast she could run, especially when there was a Fox giving chase.“
Catch me if you can, Big Nose!” laughed the girl as she shot under a thicket of rambling roses and in and out tufts of grass.
It would have been a wonderful game if the mouse didn’t hear a Snap! and feel the wind-gust as a pair of jaws narrowly missed her tail.
This spurred Rue on faster, but she knew she couldn’t run forever and that about twenty of her steps equaled only two of Mr. Slinks’. Mathematically, the fox would catch up to her in about five seconds. Fortunately for Rue, fate was on her side, as a new commotion exploded to her left.
“Weeee-haaaaaa! Out of my way, Slinker. Stinker is on the move!”
For a second, Rue couldn’t make out what was happening, but then saw flashes of white and black just off the way. She also knew it wasn’t good news for her rival, as Slinks shouted out a most unfortunate expletive—one we shan’t repeat here in the name of proper decency—and followed it up with various snarls, grunts, and barks.
The race bounded down a sharp slope, with Rue in the lead, Mr. Slinks in hot pursuit, and an unknown personage running interference. The pocket-mouse reached the bottom of the dell and found a rapidly running creek in her way. She leapt onto a flat rock in the water, and then another and another, her toes getting quite wet in the process.
On her tail, Mr. Slinks shouted, “You know this is quite inevitable, mouse. I will have my satisfaction in the end, even with Mrs. Posey being a busy-body.”
Turning his head, he hooted to his right, “I shall deal with you later, Posey. You’re not as invincible as you think—nor are your babes!”
It was at this precise moment that Rue made a grand leap for the far bank, but slipped and missed her mark by a foot. Instead, she landed in a bit of muddy muck and lay immobile on the creek’s bank. She rolled over and, just Mr. Slinks had hoped, exposed her soft belly and throat dangerously.
“A-ha! The day is mine,” gloated Slinks as he bounded across the creek for the final kill. But t’was not to be. For as our friend Rue lay prostrate in the mud, a shadow crept over her, blotting out the light and burying her in dark fur.
“One step closer, Slinksy, and I shall give you such a spray that your prey will know you’re coming two weeks ahead of time. That will give your stomach something to think about, eh?”
“Back off, Posey. I want to eat now, nor was I jesting earlier. Skunk babies are just as tasty as mice and slower off the mark than their mums. They’re sweet and don’t stink yet—I might have a few for a snack.”
Mrs. Posey growled in return and extended her claws.
“Go near my babes and I shall write a note to my cousin Pelarch and, well, even you don’t want that. Pel could rip you into pieces before you even rose to your feet.”
“Is your cousin a precious little bunny rabbit?”
“If you consider high-mountain wolverines to be little bunnies, then yes!” cackled the skunkess in return.
“Curse you, Posey! Always ruining my sport. I just wanted to have a bit of a go at the tender thing,” sneered Slinks.
“No harm was intended. You know me better.”
“Oh I know you, Slinks. Your idea of fun usually ends up with torn throats and gasping final breaths. But I shall let it pass this time.”
Mrs. Posey relaxed her posture over Rue and let a little light and air penetrate. As she moved off, the mouse-ling saw a beautiful black-and-white skunk taking shape, while Mr. Slinks glowered at them both from a rock in the middle of the creek. She took a few steps away from Rue as matters calmed, but was distracted by the Caw! of a fish-crow in a nearby sourwood tree.
That’s all it took for Mr. Slinks to make his move. Bounding the final steps between himself and young Rue in half a heartbeat, the red fox suddenly had the young pocket-mouse cradled in his jaws, even before Mrs. Posey had a chance to turn around.
“How dare you, Slinks! I thought you were going to be a good boy today,” snarled the angry skunk, once again dropping to combat posture.
Mumbling with the creature in his mouth, Mr. Slinks replied, “I’m th-orry, Mrs. Po-thee. But e’en I muss eat!”
“Then I can’t be held responsible for my actions, you rotten Fox!”
At that, Mrs. P. spun on a tuppence and, from a gland within her hind quarters, hit Mr. Slinks with a massive blast of skunk stink. With skunk juice stinging his eyes and fouling his nose and mouth, Mr. Slinks had no choice but to drop the equally befouled Rue in the creek and run screaming into the woods.
“Oh, you horrible woman—now I shall never eat again! I am the saddest and smelliest fellow in all the Great Wood!”
And it was true, Mrs. Posey had doused the fox so completely that he wasn’t able to find any tasty prey beyond beetles and worms for the next few weeks and, along the way, lost a full three pounds.
Yet as he slunk off into the underbrush, Mr. Slinks muttered something under his breath. It sounded something like this: “You think you’re so clever, Skunk. But wait until the Vine becomes law in the Great Wood. Then you’ll learn to serve your betters in silence. And that foolish pocket-mouse will be in my belly.”
With that, the black-hearted fox disappeared into the forest.
Poor Rue, meanwhile, was not only drenched in skunk stink, but was also being borne down the creek with great force. Neither could she swim, thus was gasping for air in between desperate strokes in the bubbling, frothy water.
Fortunately, Mrs. P. was on the scene in a flash and, before she knew it, Rue was gently hoisted into the air within the front teeth of her new protector and carried back to the very soft, spongy moss pad from whence her very troubles had begun.
Exhausted, wet, confused and thoroughly skunked from head to toe, Rue began to cry, yet soon drifted off to the lands of sleep and quiet. Over her, Mrs. Posey stood guard, humming a tune to herself. In that time, she knit her a blanket of sweet-smelling lavender and clover petals, which drew out the stench and coaxed sweet dreams within the girl’s heart. As the hours passed, the forest calmed more and more until this recent episode was all but a distant memory.
From somewhere above them in the Great Wood, a grey thrush hooted the “all clear” signal and life resumed as usual.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Pete Prown is a noted American writer of Young Adult fantasy books. His debut fantasy series The Chronicles of Dorro (Thimble Down, Devils & Demons, The Lost Ones, Death of a Dwarf, and Goblin War) has received rave reviews. THIMBLE DOWN, the first book in the “Chronicles of Dorro” series, tells the tale of a Halfling bookmaster named Mr. Dorro and the dark mysteries he becomes entangled with, along with young companions Wyll Underfoot and Cheeryup Tunbridge. Fans of the Dorro series can’t get enough of the classic-fantasy action and adventure, as they explore the magical world of Thimble Down and its surroundings.
Readers can connect with Pete on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. To learn more, go to http://www.peteprown.com/