The Storyteller: Tad Hills

Charming, charming, charming. This video features author/illustrator Tad Hills, his dog Rocket, and his characters–Duck & Goose–who seem to be with him wherever he goes. Hills explains the lessons in perspective learned from his artistic grandmother and shares many of the costumes he’s made for his own children.

Alphabet book R is for Rocket hits shelves next Tuesday, July 7, 2015.

Hills is on Twitter @tadhills, Instagram @tadhills1, and has a great website that not only features his books, but also his handmade costumes.

Review: “Swerve” by Vicki Pettersson

Review: “Swerve” by Vicki Pettersson

Swerve_9781476798578_7a5b6Vicki Pettersson wastes no time getting into the thick of the plot with her new book, Swerve. Within the first dozen pages, I knew I was hooked. My nights grew longer as the book got better and I was unable to adhere to my self-administered lights-out policy.

Swerve begins with Kristine Rush and her fiancee, Daniel, driving from their home in Las Vegas across the Mojave desert to visit Daniel’s mother, Imogene, at her high-end home at Lake Arrowhead in California. The couple is forced to pull into a closed rest area along the highway after Daniel nearly crashes the car. As Kristine changes in the women’s restroom, she hears strange noises and calls for Daniel, but he doesn’t answer. Instead, she sees a pair of work boots outside her stall. She tries to fight her attacker, but is knocked out. When she awakens, she stumbles to the car to find that Daniel is gone but his cellphone was left behind. The attacker contacts Kristine through this phone to say that he has Daniel and if she wants him back, she must prove herself.

What Kristine thinks of as a “treasure hunt” begins and she is forced to face her fears along the way. Malthus, the kidnapper, makes it clear to Kristine that this is his game and the rules will be followed. Anyone who gets in the way will be killed. She must complete five stops in 24 hours or she will lose Daniel forever.

It quickly becomes obvious that the “treasure hunt” is really just a sick game of cat-and-mouse when what began as a fight to save the love of her life turns into a fight to save her own life and the life of her 10-year-old daughter.

For readers looking for a thrill, this page turner will have you on the edge of your seat and will keep you up far past your bedtime.


Swerve by Vicki Pettersson (Gallery Books | 9781476798578 | July 7, 2015)

301 Seconds: Media Lists

We just received our first leap second in three years. At midnight an extra second was added to the official time set by atomic clocks, so I’m taking full advantage of it.

If you have only 301 Seconds to devote to marketing today, it’s time to update your media lists for publicists, including radio and television stations, and all of the weekly, daily, and specialty newspapers in your area. Give your list a quick glance to see if anyone retired or moved on to a different market. Then take just a few minutes to call those on your list to verify that the contacts you have are still appropriate. If the newspaper is large enough to have a book page and a children/family writer, be sure to include names for these individual specialties. And news directors at radio and television stations tend to change often, so be sure to call them. For each individual listed, include the name, title, e-mail address, phone and fax numbers, and mailing address.

Once you’re finished, add an “Updated 07/01/15″ footnote, then save it as a PDF. Now the list ready to send to any publicist who might be sending an author your way. When you send it to the publicist, remind them that this is to replace the previous list. Otherwise multiple books might be sent to one media outlet.

This is also a good time to look at your own press release email list. Errors can leave a long-lasting digital trail, so look at the reports from the latest releases you’ve sent, especially the bounce report. Some emails bounce because a mailbox might be full, or the recipient’s email service might have some other temporary glitch. But if an email address consistently shows up in the bounced field, the media person has probably moved on or you have a bad address. A quick web search or a phone call will yield the correct address for press releases.

If you haven’t created a press release email list, it’s not difficult to do. Consider the “reach” of your store and determine daily and weekly newspapers that fall in that area. Press associations often provide a list of newspapers with contact information on their websites. Here is a directory of state, regional and national press associations from the Newspaper Associations of America.

Q & D Results: Fiscal vs. Calendar

A recent Quick & Dirty Survey asked: Do you use a calendar year or fiscal year in your accounting? If fiscal, when does your year begin?

  • 63% of respondents use a calendar year
  • 37% of respondents use a fiscal year

Respondents using a fiscal year begin the year on a variety of dates: March 1, June 1, August 1, October 1, and December 1.

Trailer: “Ghost Fleet”

Many book trailers make me lose sleep. This one actually tells me to count on it.

Ghost Fleet was released yesterday. It’s a thriller by August Cole and P.W. Singer that considers what the next global conflict might look like.

The authors are on Twitter @august_cole and @peterwsinger.