When Do You Dump a Bad Book?

They say breaking up is hard to do, and I know I’ve suffered many a bad relationship with books and movies. Rarely, if ever, do I quit before I’m finished. Because of that I try to be more discerning before I dig in. What about you?

Over at book-rating site Goodreads, they did a user poll and came up with some fun data. Check it out:


I honestly can’t think of the last book I quit. Actually, wait, I can. It was a self-published Iraq war memoir that shall remain nameless and was a chore to read. Movies, I’m getting better at dumping. I’ll sheepishly admit the last I turned off was Zombie Strippers. I was looking for camp well done and didn’t find it.

What about you? What books or movies have you abandoned? Why? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

PS — If you haven’t used Goodreads, it’s pretty useful and a fun way to find new books. I’m on there as an author, if you want to connect.

Penny for Your Thoughts

Why YOU Should Care About Amazon Book Reviews

Please, leave me an Amazon review! It’s the best way you can help a writer succeed!”

See that? It’s the new battle cry of many an author, myself included. Amazon keeps its internal marketing algorithms a closely guarded secret, and thus many authors have tried cracking the code over the years. Somewhat of a ‘no-brainer’ has always been “The More Reviews The Better.” Well, there’s more to it than that, and I think I may have just figured part of it out.

And the primary beneficiary of this new knowledge is you, the reader.

What’s the breakthrough? What do you get by leaving Amazon reviews? Cheaper books. I believe that the more reviews a book has, the more Amazon discounts the price. And–this next part is huge–they’re only diluting their own cut. As in, the author keeps the same royalty and the savings are directly passed onto the reader.

Where’s the proof?

Here’s my book, which Amazon offers at a 10% cut. They only started doing so somewhere around the 30 review mark.


Here’s another self-published book written by a friend. You can see, more reviews, bigger discount.


This is a traditionally published book, but you can see that it follows the same pattern.


And lastly, a mega-hit book. Tons of reviews, tons of savings.


Note: This is merely a trend I have noticed. I do not have an inside connection at Amazon. But if you love books, leave a review.

Second Note: For whatever reason, this only applies to paperback editions.

So, how about it, penny for your thoughts? If you haven’t left a review yet, please do! It will discount the book for other buyers without hurting the author’s cut. It should go without saying, but I want nothing less than your honest opinion. If you thought the book was a 3-star book, tell me why. If you think it’s 5-stars, I’d love to hear what you loved about it too!

Click Here to leave a review for INFECTED and then go spread the word! More reviews; cheaper books.

Oscar Excitement

In case you missed it, I’m hosting an Online Oscar Pool. You should get in on that.

The Big Day is this Sunday, and I’m excited. I’d like to share a little bit of that excitement with you.

First off, this is probably the funniest (and most adorable) Les Mis parody ever. Check it out:


Then we have some incredibly well done fan-art of the best picture noms by Jason Adams.

Beast of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

So… What’s your favorite poster? I love the way the title in Django is a chain being “unchained”and how the Life of Pi title hides seamlessly in the tiger’s stripes.

Anyone else out there excited for the “Superbowl of the Cinephiles”?

Don’t forget to submit your picks before 5:30 pacific time on Sunday, Feb 24th!

What’s Happening?

Introducing the “Events” tab! See it up there? At the top; next to “Blog.” Go ahead, click it.https://i0.wp.com/www.birthdaydirect.com/images/36603-zombie-birthday-sign600x600.jpg

Now, whenever there’s a writerly event, you won’t have to miss out. Also, if you have an event and want me there, let me know. I’ll bring the party:


Mind-blowing Fiction

Looking for something to blow your mind? Look no further.

Reading the new INFECTED paperback has been known to kill boredom.
Use at your own discretion.

Only 3.5 days left in the giveaway. In case you missed yesterday’s announcement: INFECTED will be out in paperback just in time for Thanksgiving, and to give “Thanks!” to all my readers, I’m hosting a giveaway. And in the Holiday spirit, share share share this link: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter to win at Rafflecopter or on Facebook.

A 5k in 4 Countries and 9 States

Springing off the great suggestion of the  Automattic Worldwide WP 5k, I decided to extend the offer to my network and bait the trap with a $10 amazon giftcard for top male and female finishers.  The Asynchronous Team was comprised of friends, family, colleagues, and followers.  I asked for a picture, race time (to determine the winner), location, and something stating why they ran.  Many rallied to the call of walking or running a 5k, and those who volunteered to send me a bit about their race are featured below.

Looking good, girl!

Congrats to our female winner, Michaela G. in Montgomery, AL!

Michaela G.

3.2 in 23:59
Montgomery, AL

Despite the fact that I split the categories into male and female, Michaela was the our overall winner.  She’s awesome, and my fiance.

She’s only in Alabama for training, but she’s been working out a lot and it’s paid off!



Apparently he's so fast you can't see him!

Congrats to our male winner, Nate D. from Easthampton, MA!

Nate D.

3.1 “pretty flat miles”
Easthampton, MA.

Why Nate’s running?  He’s an avid runner, but the last month he’s been swamped with work and hasn’t gotten out.  This challenge provided the motivation to get out and clear his head.



The long hair is temporary, but I'm diggin' it.

James Schannep (your author!)

3.15 in 25:00

I grew up in Texas (mostly) and my parents still live here.  Whenever I visit, my dad and I walk a 5k every morning joined by his golden retriever, Trooper.

This visit, I’m taking care of my dad while he recovers from foot surgery.

Down, but not out.

He was heartbroken he couldn’t participate in my big 5k day, so I made a plan to keep him involved.  He became my official lap counter and photographer.  Trooper watched while I ran with my lab puppy, Buttercup.



Derek's midnight raid

Derek W.

Singapore, Singapore

Official start time: 2310 Singapore time zone 29APR2012

“I ran for about 6.1k then walked another 3.5k. I did not finish until roughly 0015. Have some amazing friends in Singapore and they invited me to live out here which is why I will likely not be able to attend the wedding… :(”


This is Tony's happy face.

Tony M.

30 minutes 20 seconds (start time was 1300 EST)
Fort Washington, Maryland (4 miles outside of Washington DC)

“I’m running because I think Facebook users usually emphasize useless things in order to make someone else feel that their life is somehow lacking. This activity doesn’t require money or extensive equipment/planning and it’s built around unification of effort despite distance or dissimilar localities. I think it’s cool and positive.”

Oh, Stephen...

Stephen S.

Killeen, TX
3.1 in 28:27

Stephen did THREE 5ks this weekend with his new bride, Amy.  They enjoy being active together.

No, these are not raceday pictures.

Amy S.

Killeen, TX
3.11 in 37:07

My lovely sister!  She likes to do races, but she ran today solely because of the Asynchronous team.  It was run #3 after all…



Point to the man in the picture having a good day.

Chris B.

Ponce inlet beach, FL

Why’d you run, Chris?  “Because I wanted to support a friend’s idea. And for a great view of the…uh… ocean”


Not much, Mike. Not much.

Mike B.

Los Angeles, CA

“I have no idea how far it was, but it took me about 24 minutes.  Should be around 5k, considering it was pretty hilly and I was going at jog pace.  What else do you need from me?”



Good to see great friends!

KacyJane & Mike G.

“Time: ME: 37 minutes (I walked) Mike: 27 Minutes
Location: River’s Edge Trail, Great Falls, MT
Me: Trying to get back into shape after a stroke.
Mike: Trying to get back into shape. Thanks for the Idea, it was fun.”

Just another day in paradise.

Richard Y.


Why did you run, Rich?  “PT huah, also I did it to make sure Michaela didn’t get to uppity thinking she was faster than me.”



Do you see the Irish wolfhound?

Hans C.

Wildcat Hills, just inside The Ghost wilderness area, Alberta.
5.7 km
265 m elevation gain
1620 meter elevation
220 M&M’s
1 hour 37 minutes

I hesitate to call Hans’ hike a “walk”, but if ever there were a badass walk, this is it.  And thanks for the candy stat!

"Going my way?"

Bart and Marcella S.

5k run (walk!)
on the beach in Carlsbad, CA
Start 10:04am, finished in 45 minutes.





45mins is a pretty fast walk, eh?


This couple is one of the more fun I’ve had the  pleasure of meeting.  Lucky me, we’re related.  They ran today because Marcella loves two things: facebook and a challenge!




If they did it...what's your exuse?

Samantha, Brian, Liam, Stella & Chief D.

Queidersbach, Germany
1 hour (we would have run but the stroller weighs 50 lb!)

“We participated so that we could have some family fun walking in the Germany countryside.

Thanks for the idea!”

Sister walk!

Sarah D. and Alison B.

3.15 in 1:04:00

These are a couple of my sisters, and yes, I walked it with them too 🙂 And then I took a nap.  They’re busy working moms striving to make fitness a priority.




I only had to give a few piggyback rides.



The kiddos followed us the whole time!  First 5k race–29 April 2012.

That's a "go" sign, people.




Hal W. & Janet S.

Osmanthus Trail, VA
6+ miles, with a 3.1 loop
Loop in 48:12

“It was a great day for a hike/walk here…It was partly cloudy and a tad chilly, in the low 50s. We walked in on a multi-use path called the Cape Henry Bike Path (the photo is from that part of the hike). My wife and I hike/walk (sometimes jog) for exercise, but also as a way to spend time together. We always have fun conversations about art and life and day-dreaming.”

*     *     *     *     *     *    *    *    *

Thanks to everybody who participated, and to our honorary members as well.  Great job everybody!  Winners can expect their prizes soon.  Let’s not wait a year to do it again…