Search This Blog

Friday, October 21, 2016

Goodreads Goodness: Sharing Books & Reviews

This post is the second in a series on how using your Goodreads account can benefit readers and authors. To read Part 1 published on this blog last month, please CLICK HERE.

First, an explanation. Zina Abbott is my pen name, but I make no secret that I am really Robyn Echols. It is just I want my readers to know that when they read a Zina Abbott book, it is different kind of story than what I write under my own name. 

I do have a Goodreads account for both names. However, since I buy my books under Robyn Echols (the credit card companies are happier that way), most of my activity is there. Still, I do have followers on my Zina Abbott Goodreads account. I do post some reviews and choose books I want to read on both accounts. Which is why I know what is going on. I get email notifications from both Goodreads accounts, and I see how much my Goodreads activity is shared with followers.

Here are these two books on my Robyn Echols Goodreads list that I marked as "Currently Reading":

Going to my Zina Abbott Goodreads account, here is a notification of what my Goodreads follower Robyn Echols is now reading.

I am not limited to going to my Goodreads accounts to see what is happening with friends sharing their current reading list with me. I get emails from both accounts. I get updates about what books my Goodreads friends have added as "Want to Read" and what books they are currently reading. This Goodreads-generated email to Zina Abbott shows updates on the account for Robyn Echols:

Below are some notifications from some of my other Goodreads friends:

Here is a Goodreads-generated email to Robyn Echols showing what books Robyn has marked as "Currently Reading" reminding me when I finish the book I need to mark it as having been read and submit my review. It also shows updates from my Goodreads friends about their book and reading activity.

Remember that book Robyn Echols marked as "Currently Reading"? Here that same book showed up on my Zina Abbott Goodreads email after Robyn Echols wrote a  book review on her Kindle once she finished the book. I also could have gone into my Goodreads account, brought up the book I marked as "Want to Read" or "Currently Reading" and uploaded a review there. Instead, I did it the quick and easy way on my Kindle as soon as I finished reading the book. The important thing is, my book review went out by email to all my Goodreads followers, including Zina Abbott:

How do I find time to write all those book reviews? On my Kindle Fire it is QUICK AND EASY. That is the message of this blog post for readers and writers alike. For Amazon and Goodreads, you don't need to go to separate sites, log in and jump through a bunch of hoops before you even get down to writing a review. Just take that few minutes on your Kindle to update your progress -- including writing a short review -- once you have finished reading the book. Your activity will then be shared with others.

As for those book reviews shared on Goodreads and Amazon, most readers have no idea how valuable they are to writers. Trust me, taking the time to share your review of a book is an act of Goodreads Goodness. 

Please visit and follow Zina Abbott on Goodreads by CLICKING HERE.
Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical novels. My novel, Family Secrets, was published by Fire Star Press.

Please visit and follow the Zina Abbott’s Amazon Author Page by

Sunday, October 16, 2016

10 WORDS FOR MYSTERY, by Mollie Hunt

“It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key.” Winston Churchill, radio broadcast in October 1939 

I write mysteries, yet one word we shy away from in a mystery story is the word, mystery, itself. The genre has kidnapped that term. It’s primary definition of being something that is difficult or impossible to explain has been hijacked by the secondary meaning: a novel, play, or movie dealing with a puzzling crime, especially murder.

When I write “It’s a mystery”, am I saying something is a puzzle or conundrum, or do I refer to the book lying on the table? Best to avoid the confusion altogether, especially since there are so many alternatives to play with instead.

1. Riddle: Who doesn’t think of Batman’s Riddler when this word comes up? Either that or your Uncle Henry telling jokes at the family Christmas party.

“Riddle me this, riddle me that, who's afraid of the big, black bat?” —The Riddler, Batman Forever (1995)

 2. Charade: Like masquerade, charade evokes thoughts of masks, then masked balls, then crazy partys in the 18th century.

“I think the worst time to have a heart attack is during a game of charades.” ― Demetri Martin

 3. Anomaly: I like the word, anomaly. It makes me think of Star Trek and all the anomalies that keep our imagination brimming with aliens and things that go bump in space, but that’s only part of the story.

"Writing is, in the end, that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger.” ― Pico Iyer

“It's in the anomalies that nature reveals its secrets.” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

4. Quandary: Your grandmother’s quandary was whether to feed the chickens or wash the pig.

“My great quandary was what coat to wear and which books to bring.” ― Patti Smith, M Train

“It appears that God has deliberately left us in a quandary about many things.” ― Elisabeth Elliot

 5. Puzzle: Puzzle, to me, is something tangible, like a jigsaw puzzle. One piece missing and you’re lost.

"Who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 6. Secret: Everybody’s got one.

“Good books don't give up all their secrets at once.” ― Stephen King

“All the secrets of the world are contained in books. Read at your own risk.” ― Lemony Snicket

7. Conundrum: “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there "is" such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

8. Enigma: “Watching a coast as it slips by the ship is like thinking about an enigma. There it is before you, smiling, frowning, inviting, grand, mean, insipid, or savage, and always mute with an air of whispering, ‘Come and find out’.” ― Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

9. Paradox: Gilbert & Sullivan wrote a song about one:

“How quaint the ways of Paradox! At common sense she gaily mocks!” — Gilbert and Sullivan, The Pirates of Penzance

Here are a few more examples:

“Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.” ― Rita Mae Brown, Alma Mater

“Procrastinate now, don't put it off.” ― Ellen DeGeneres

“In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.” ― Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan

“I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” ― Plato, The Republic

10. Arcanum: I chose this word because it sounded mysterious, and outside of the tarot, I’d never heard it before. Arcanum is defined as: 1. a secret accessible only to the few; specialized knowledge or details unknown to or misunderstood by the average person. 2. (Alchemy) a secret of nature sought by alchemists such as an essence or remedy; an elixir. It is also a role-playing game.

Check out more blogs by Mollie Hunt at:
Happy reading!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

What's in a Name?

Finding inspiration and developing a plot is just part of what is involved in writing a story. Once we have all of these characters running around, they need names. So, where do the character names come from? For me, everywhere.

I’m lucky. My day job is IT customer support so, I am exposed to a lot of different names on a daily basis. I keep a notebook in my purse so I can make a list of the names that appeal to me. So far, my list of male names is longer than my list of female names. But, that’s okay. I’ve got female names covered because I really love the old-fashioned girl’s names like Emma, Sophia, Phoebe, etc.

Family names also come into play. The heroine in Dial V for Vampire is named Maggie, which was my paternal grandmother’s name. A secondary character is named Ida, which was my maternal grandmother’s first name. (She went by her middle name, Ruth).

Early in my writing career I learned the importance of creating a master list of names that I have used. How did I learn this? I realized that I had given a secondary character in two different stories the same name. Oops. (Apparently, I really like the name Liv.) 

Image courtesy of
Another thing that I have to be careful about is using names that start with the same letter. We’ve all read those books that have characters with such similar names that it hurts the story because we spend so much time trying to remember which character is which. The editor for Dial V pointed out that I was in danger of doing this – I had three characters named Maggie, Mae, and Mac. Maggie and Mae were non-negotiable so Mac became Lou. It wasn’t until I was going through my father’s things after his death that I discovered that his mother’s middle name was Lou. (Yes, you read that right. His mother’s middle name was Lou.)  I thought that was a pretty cool coincidence. (And, had I known this when I was a child, I might have disliked my own middle name less, LOL.)

Of course, even knowing my tendency for using names beginning with the same letter, I did it again! I’m now working on revisions to the next Kudzu Korners novel, Dances with Werewolves. Maggie and Mae both make appearances but, I needed a name for the villain. So, what name did I choose? Mitch. *facepalm* I reached out to my Facebook friends and followers for suggestions and did they ever come through! I wound up getting the perfect name for my villain (Vince) and two more names that will be used in future stories.

So, do you have any favorite names? Let me know in the comments. I’m always looking for more inspiration!

Sign up for my newsletter here: