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The Oakland Press wants to share book-related news with you, including updates on events and reviews. We want to talk books with you, so feel free to contribute.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Michigan author tells her frosty life story

How do you do laundry when you have no electricity and the only source of water is the river at the bottom of the hill, which is under three feet of ice for at least half of the year?
Rural Livingston County resident Linda Mae Usher has written her autobiography - A Shiver of Memories: My Life in the Slow Lane. Born in Houghton Lake, Michigan, she lived in four states (Michigan, Arizona, Oregon, and Alaska) by the time she finished first grade. She later moved back to each of those states again (Arizona, Oregon, Alaska, and Michigan).
"I wrote my book because people always seemed to be fascinated with my life and how we managed, especially in Alaska, and because I always wanted to tell the whole story, how we got from here to there to there, all the background information."
Usher spent more than 27 years in Alaska, "so far from the beaten path, we weren't even sure there was one." She lived for a time without electricity, indoor plumbing, telephones, and television, and had minimal contact with anyone outside her family.
In her book, she details home schooling, making root beer and ice cream, getting water from the river when it would be -50 degrees or colder for weeks at a time, cutting down trees and building a log home with her husband, raising three children, etc.
"The title - A Shiver of Memories - just popped into my head one night as I tried to get to sleep. The more I considered it, the more it seemed to fit. I looked for a definition of 'shiver' to explain it but couldn't find one that worked, so I wrote my own, to introduce the book: 'A shiver can be an all-consuming, teeth-rattling shaking, when you're thoroughly chilled, or a sudden inelegant spasm caused by a wayward cool breeze. Or it can be that little electrical tingle that courses unseen along your spine - a shiver of dread or joy, premonition or happiness. It can be caused by the touch of a loved one, or by the absence of a loved one. A whisper in your ear . . . a memory . . . "
To purchase A Shiver of Memories: My Life in the Slow Lane, search by title or author at, or you may order it directly at

Julie Jacobson Hines
Local News Editor
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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Awards contest for newly published titles

Greetings from Jim Barnes, Awards Director at Jenkins Group, presenter of these four book Awards contests.

I'm excited to report that all FOUR of my awards contests are currently open and accepting entries. Moonbeam Awards are about to wrap up, Living Now Awards have just opened, and the IPPYs and Axioms are well underway. I send these Book Awards News Updates out periodically to all of you who've entered before or shown interest, and try and keep you informed about the latest developments.

Do you have an Award-worthy book that deserves more attention? Book Awards are an efficient, affordable marketing tool that can make a huge impact on your marketing campaign. Our longest running contest, the Independent Publisher Book Awards (aka the IPPYs), has become the world's largest book awards contest, presenting more than 3,300 medals to the year's best indie-published books since 1997. Our newer contests recognize the best in business books and the best lifestyle/homestyle books. The Moonbeam Children's Awards celebrate their 5th anniversary this year, and last year we launched a children's book festival here in our hometown of Traverse City, Michigan to showcase the Moonbeam winners.

Our contests now accept e-books in digital format if you don't print paper copies. We've added five specialized e-book categories to the IPPY Awards, covering adult fiction and non-fiction, children's and regional subjects.

More than ever, our contests reward those who exhibit the courage, innovation, and creativity to bring about change in the world of publishing. This spirit and expertise comes from publishers of all sizes and budgets, and books are judged with that in mind. Each year, medals go to both established university publishers and first-time self-published authors.

Here's what some past winners are saying:

"It's made a huge difference in my sales, and was the key factor in convincing me to go to a second printing. The IPPY gold seal looks great on the new cover, and I think it's opening some doors to publication reviews." - Ed Spivey, author of A Hamster is Missing in Washington D.C., 2010 IPPY Awards Humor category Gold Medalist.

"I can't tell you how much I value my initial Bronze IPPY award (2008), and I know it's been instrumental in drawing attention to the The Tao of Rudy! Chronicle Books just made an offer for The Tao of Rudy, and of course I accepted the initial terms a couple of weeks ago, and am currently reviewing the rest of the contract. A lot has happened in the last year, and I appreciate your efforts in making my first book a success!" – Corrine Humphreys, Publisher/Author/Illustrator
"Our winning of a gold medal in the 2008 competition has greatly helped book sales. We sold nearly 2500 copies of Wild Alberta at the Crossroads last year and had to order a reprint of 1500. When we show retailers the gold medal they are always impressed and invariably order some books." - Robin White, NatureWatch Partners

Check out information about all four contests below, along with links to guidelines and entry forms.

Need entry information about all four book awards contests? Click here to receive guidelines by email.

Need entry information about all three adult awards contests? Click here to receive guidelines by email.

Email me with any questions or comments: Jim Barnes, Awards Director -

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Here are the basics about the book awards contests conducted by Jenkins Group:


"Recognizing Excellence in Independent Publishing"

World's Largest Book Awards contest, for indies only
72 National Categories - 22 Regional Categories, now including Australia/New Zealand

Great Publicity & Great Awards party at BEA

Early-bird Entry Fee Deadline is October 15, 2011 - save $20 per entry.

Entry info and guidelines:


Calling all independent authors and publishers!

The 16th Independent Publisher Book Awards, conducted annually to honor the year's best independently published titles, are now accepting entries for books with 2011 or 2012 copyrights or released between November 1, 2010 and March 15, 2012. The contest is presented by Jenkins Group and our book marketing website,, headquartered in Traverse City, Michigan.

Entry fee is just $75 to enter a National category and another $45 if you choose to enter the Regional or E-Book contests. All entrants are considered for the Outstanding Books of the Year Awards at no extra charge.

Launched in 1996, the Independent Publisher Book Awards are designed to bring increased recognition to the deserving but often unsung titles published by independent authors and publishers. Established as the first unaffiliated awards program (no membership fee required) open exclusively to independents, the "IPPYs" recognize hundreds of the year's best books, bringing them to the attention of booksellers, buyers, librarians, and book lovers. The IPPY Awards contest is among the largest and most recognized book awards events in the world, and all independent, university, small press, and self-publishers who produce books intended for the North American market are eligible to enter.

Click here for the complete list of categories:

Visit the IPPY Awards online entry page:

Download a PDF with IPPY Awards guidelines and entry form:

Click here to receive 2012 IPPY Awards guidelines by email.

Follow the IPPY Awards on Facebook.
Become a fan, and tag photos of yourself at awards ceremonies.


4th Annual Living Now Book Awards - "Books for Better Living" -

"Honoring books that help readers attain healthier, more fulfilling and productive lives."

First call for entries! Early-bird entry deadline is December 17, 2011.

People all over the planet are sensing the ever-quickening pace of technology and consumerism, and realizing the need to slow down, see and feel the natural world around them, and to find balance in their lives. We need to work, play, and spend time with family and friends. We need good nutrition, exercise, and relaxation. We need to keep ourselves healthy, and need to keep the Earth healthy – today, and for future generations. The Living Now Book Awards recognize books that help readers help themselves, to learn about enriching their lives in wholesome, Earth-friendly ways.

Lifestyle publishing categories such as home, health, family and personal development are the fastest-growing segments of book publishing today, and the Living Now Book Awards help demonstrate the importance of these books to readers and their vitality in the marketplace. The Living Now Award seal on a book's cover is a symbol that says, "This book will improve and enrich your life!"

Entry fee is $75 per category until the early-bird deadline of December 17, 2011.

Visit the Living Now Awards online entry page:
Download a PDF with Living Now Awards guidelines and entry form:

Click here to receive the Living Now Awards guidelines and entry form by email.

Visit the Living Now 2011 Award results page:

Follow the Living Now Awards on Facebook:


2011 AXIOM BUSINESS BOOK AWARDS - "Success Through Knowledge" -

Now in their 5th year, the Axiom Business Book Awards are designed to celebrate excellence in business book writing and publishing by presenting gold, silver and bronze medals in 21 business categories. Business people are always looking for new ideas and solutions to their problems, and award-winning business book authors and publishers fill a niche with their informative and innovative books.

An early-bird entry fee of $85 per category is good through October 15, 2011.


The Axiom Business Book Awards are intended to bring increased recognition to exemplary business books and their creators, with the understanding that business people are a very well-read and informed segment of the population, eager to improve their careers and businesses. Newly published business books contain the newest, most innovative, and creative ideas that can make us think and act differently -- they probably even hold the keys to our economic recovery.

Click here to visit the entry page:

Download a PDF with Axiom Awards guidelines and entry form:

Click here to visit the Amazon Axiom Award Winners page:

Click here to visit the Axiom 2011 Award results page:

Follow the Axiom Awards on Facebook:



"Celebrating youthful curiosity and discovery through books and reading"

5th Annual Contest - Honoring the Year's Best Children's Books

25 Days Left to Enter - Deadline is September 17th

Enter the world's most comprehensive children's book contest:


38 categories, including Spanish Language

12 Fiction categories/age groups

Book with Music and Book with Merchandise categories

Best Illustrator and Best First Book categories

Health and Environmental issues categories

Now is the time to enter your award-worthy children's books into the fifth annual Moonbeam Children's Book Awards honoring the year's best children's books, authors, and illustrators. The program accepts entries with 2010 or 2011 copyrights or release dates in 2010 or 2011. Entry is open to authors, illustrators, and publishers of children's books written in English or Spanish and intended for the North American market. These awards bring an opportunity for recognition to deserving authors and publishers who have a hard time breaking through to win library association awards like the Newbery and Caldecott.

Entry fee is $95 per title, per category. The final entry deadline is September 17, 2011. Gold, silver and bronze medals are presented in each category. Medalists will be named on about October 15th and the awards ceremony will take place during the Traverse City Children's Book Festival on November 12, 2011.


To learn more about the awards, visit these links:

Categories and eligibility requirements:

Online entry form:

Print out guidelines and entry PDF:

See last year's Moonbeam Awards results and photos:

Follow the Moonbeam Awards on Facebook:

Questions? Contact Jim Barnes, Awards Director,


The information contained in or attached to this e-mail contains confidential or privileged information. If you are not the intended recipient, be aware that any disclosure, copying, distribution or use of the contents of this e-mail is PROHIBITED. If you have received this e-mail in error, please notify the sender and delete the e-mail immediately. Thank you.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Brighton author pens "Sign Language" about family dynamics

Barnes & Noble at Green Oak Village Place will host a signing event from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 25, for Brighton resident Amy Ackley's debut young adult novel, Sign Language, released by Viking Juvenile (Penguin USA).
Sign Language, winner of the first Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award for Young Adult Fiction, is drawn from the loss of Ackley's father to kidney cancer when she was a young teenager. Sign Language explores the changing family dynamics that occur when a family member is terminally ill, and how each person deals with loss in his or her own way. The novel follows the main character, a young teenaged girl, through the stages of grief, a path that runs through three years of her life and leads her to understand the unbreakable bonds of family.
Sign Language has received early praise from literary critics, including a highlighted review by VOYA (Voice for Youth Advocates), the library magazine serving those who serve young adults: "This is an amazing debut novel … it is both moving and realistic, a result of well-crafted family relationships."
From Booklist: "Ackley ably balances Abby's everyday teen dilemmas with the impossible heartache of a parent's illness and death, and the hopeful ending concludes a tale that is somber but never depressing.
"Bridging a nice gap between Lurlene McDaniel and Sarah Dessen novels, this should appeal to fans of both."
Bestselling author Sarah Dessen says, "Ackley brings Abby's voice to life, capturing all the fear, hope and confusion involved in trying to cope with the most grown-up of issues while still only a teen.
"You can't help but want Abby to finally discover her own kind of peace, and readers will be pulling for her throughout her journey."
Bestselling author Nancy Werlin wrote, "[Sign Language] tells its story beautifully and movingly, and it earns its hopeful ending. Ackley is without question a talented writer."
Amy Ackley lives in Brighton with her husband and three daughters, and is hard at work on her next novel.
For more information about Sign Language or to contact author Amy Ackley, please visit


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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Bloomfield Hills native writes book about handling hospitals


First-time author Mary Peabody-Soper has released "The Hospital Handbook: Strategies For Surviving Your Hospital Stay" and the companion book, "The Patient Journal."
These books were written to provide empowerment to hospital patients and patient advocates.
Widowed at age 24, Peabody-Soper has two children and three grandchildren. She has been through a variety of hospital experiences with family members and friends as well as her own hospitalizations for lower back injuries and heart by-pass surgery.
From each of her hospital encounters, various lessons have emerged regarding how to do it better.
"My children, sisters, and I have had many conversations and informally pooled our experiences into a 'way' we do hospital care. Whether it is an emergency or planned, you need to be prepared," said Peabody-Soper.
Using these personal stories as well as coaching techniques, Peabody-Soper wrote the books for the hospital patient, patient advocate and the patient's family members and friends.
Twenty-nine tactics are given to assist readers in maneuvering the often unknown and sometimes confusing hospital environment. Peabody-Soper provides lessons learned in each chapter that she passes on to reduce the hospital learning curve so the reader will find the hospital visit easy and more comfortable.
Tactics in "The Hospital Handbook" include self-care for the patient advocate, hospital resources and how to use them, the "Family Plan," how to conduct the hospital stay and how to trust your own instincts.
"The Patient Journal" provides a place to keep notes regarding the patent's hospitalization and recovery. A journal to keep observations, thoughts and follow-up actions will assist in keeping the patient advocate and family members up to date on all procedures and any changes in the patient's care. Six directed questions are scattered throughout "The Patient Journal" to guide the writer through the note-taking process.
Kirkus Discoveries gave "The Hospital Handbook" a very solid review stating, "After being in a couple scary medical situations and caring for friends and family with serious illnesses, Soper knows how hospitals work and how to best utilize their services. Not only does she offer advice, but also she gives readers practical steps on how to be an advocate for a patient, how to understand what is going on medically and how to talk about a pending hospitalization beforehand."
Both books have large type for easy reading and all pages lay flat for easy note taking. Books are available at Fenton's Open Book on West Shiawassee or to order these books online, go to
Mary Peabody-Soper grew up on her family's fruit farm on Gilbert Lake in Bloomfield Hills. During the summer, she helped with the various aspects of growing and harvesting apples, most of them going on to Detroit's Eastern Market. At the corner of Hunter and Maple in Downtown Birmingham was the Peabody Grain Mill. After World War II, the Peabody brothers, Jim and Bob, began to sell fruit from the fruit orchard at that grain mill and eventually turned that building into a grocery store. It was a local favorite delivering groceries to the area households.
As the economy and the area grew that service ended and eventually little Peabody's could not compete with the larger grocery chain stores. The Peabody Family closed the grocery store and soon after opened a full service restaurant on that very same corner of Hunter and Maple, which is still open today.
During this time, Mary attended Holy Name Elementary School and she was in the first class of the new Marian High School. After ninth grade, her family moved to another farm in Fenton and graduated from Fenton High School in 1963. She is a cum laude graduate from Northern Michigan University in social work where she served as campus chaplain. Peabody-Soper held a number of public policy positions in the Michigan Department of Commerce including the "Yes Michigan" program and promotion of Michigan as a travel destination. She splits her time between Fenton and Marquette on the south shore of Lake Superior.


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Friday, August 5, 2011

Defending animals author

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States and New York Times best-selling author of "The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them," will speak and sign his book at the Detroit Zoo's Ford Education Center at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6. Pacelle will be in Detroit to participate in the Detroit Zoological Society's Center for Zoo Animal Welfare international symposium Saturday and Sunday Aug. 6 and 7 at the Detroit Zoo. More than 100 animal welfare professionals are expected to attend "From Good Care to Great Welfare — Advancing Zoo Animal Welfare Science and Policy". The event is free on a first-come, first-served basis. To RSVP, contact Christine Kenny at Copies of Pacelle's book will be available for sale at the event. For more information, call 248-541-5717 or visit
— Special writer Kathy Blake


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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Learn about publishing with local authors

A panel discussion "Secrets of Publishing" will be held from 7 to 9 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 11, at Roeper's Ascheson Theatre, 1051 Oakland Ave., Birmingham.
The discussion will be moderated by author Susan Shapiro, a West Bloomfield native who attended Roeper and the University of Michigan. She is a journalism professor and author of eight books "Five Men Who Broke My Heart," which is optioned for a movie, and "Only As Good as Your Word: Writing Lessons From My Favorite Literary Gurus" which includes Roeper English teacher and mentor Jack Zucker.
Panelists include Detroit News editor Brian O'Connor, author Kristin Taylor Clark, Detroit News columnist Laura Berman, Detroit Free Press editor Brian Dickerson, Wayne State University Press editor Annie Martin and TV/film writer Charlie Rubin.
The session is free and open to the public.
For more info, email Susan Shapiro at Visit her website at


The information contained in or attached to this e-mail contains confidential or privileged information. If you are not the intended recipient, be aware that any disclosure, copying, distribution or use of the contents of this e-mail is PROHIBITED. If you have received this e-mail in error, please notify the sender and delete the e-mail immediately. Thank you.