How to Participate in Amazon’s Discussion Forums ☆

Poster frog

Poster frog (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m very pleased to welcome novelist and blogger Jeri Walker-Bickett to my blog in this Guest Post.

Jeri’s motto “Make Every Word Count” is an apt theme for her blog ( as it never fails to engage and inform her readers and followers in a variety of interesting subject matter ranging from book reviews, art, author advice, video clip commentary on book adaptations, interviews, and notes on craft.

Jeri is working hard on her forthcoming novel, Lost Girl Road, a ghost story set in the woods of northwest Montana. A July 4th prank leads to a series of shocking and regrettable events when a 13-year-old girl goes missing and her remains are never found. Nearly 30 years later, cousins spin campfire stories about a mountain man, Bigfoot, and the girl’s charm bracelet. Her restless spirit lingers. What does she want? Who’s to blame?

At the same time that Jeri’s Guest Post is appearing here, Jeri’s review of my thriller goes up on her blog.  Thank you, Jeri.

I would like to thank Larry Crane for the chance to write a guest post for his blog. I made his acquaintance after deciding to post a review of his novel A Bridge to Treachery on my blog. He proposed the topic of Amazon Discussion Forums as an area in need of helpful information. The time it took to research and write this post certainly enlightened me and I hope it will do the same for you as well. Let’s learn together!
Numerous forums on Amazon buzz with customer discussion and feedback. Such activity presents a great way for authors to connect with potential readers and reviewers in their genre. However, access to the boards is not a straight-forward affair as Amazon’s main page does not contain a link to its forum (which lacks a homepage).
How do I find Amazon’s discussion forums?
Chances are you’ve stumbled across forums while visiting product pages where related discussion appears at the bottom. Or perhaps you’ve commented directly on a product review. In reality, most consumers would prefer to browse topic lists to find interesting threads to participate.
The original discussion board can be found at and it functions as the home page which Amazon’s current forum lacks. It provides a search box for all topics as well as a link to Amazon’s guidelines for discussion participation. The affiliated Facebook group “Amazon Reviewers” can be found here:
A Google search on “Amazon Discussion Forums” will bring up links to the most popular boards. The Kindle discussion boards are undoubtedly a solid starting place for authors and readers to connect:
How to search forums?
The default option listed on the side of the discussion screen is to search only within that forum, but the box can be unchecked to enable a search of all customer discussions. A few tips to get better search results:
·         Use double quotes around words to search for phrases: “fiction writers”
·         Place a plus sign (+) in front of words that MUST appear in your results: Top 100 Books +Steinbeck
·         Place a minus sign (-) in front of words that MUST NOT appear in your results: Top 100 Books -Free
How to follow discussions?
Discussions can be tracked through email or RSS feed. Subscribing via email to an extremely active feed will result in an overflow of email to your inbox. A better way is to subscribe via the topic’s RSS Feed. If you are unfamiliar with using RSS Readers, I’ve written a post I wrote on the topic:
Who can post?
While all visitors to Amazon can read posts in the discussion forums, only actual customers can make comments so long as their account is in good-standing.
What can and can’t be posted?
It should go without saying, but using Amazon’s discussion boards to try to sell your book or otherwise promote yourself in blatant ways goes against their guidelines. Take the opportunity to connect with others based on your common interests and expertise.
Follow this link to their Customer Discussion Guidelines:
Share the blog love and share this on your favorite social media websites!
This post is only the tip of the iceberg as far as participating in Amazon’s discussion boards is concerned.
As my knowledge grows, I might someday post a related series on my blog: JeriWB What do I know? (

Thoughts on a Murder Novel in Process ☆

An Electric Chair at the National Museum of Cr...

An Electric Chair at the National Museum of Crime & Punishment (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



`A while back I published a post on reasons why a writer should consider finding a novel in their finished full length play, but I hadn’t actually gone down the road of creating a novel that way, at least until now. I’m currently in the process of creating a novel based on the characters and situations I laid out in a play of mine entitled Transit of Venus. It’s a play in which Marcella, the lead character, decides to visit a convicted murderer in prison. The prisoner was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death in the electric chair, but over the course of many years has schooled himself in the law and has crafted over a dozen appeals which have postponed his execution. His appeals, and two books he’s written, and his friendship with a famous writer and intellectual have not only staved off his death in the chair, but created considerable doubt about his guilt, as well. Marcella has become obsessed with the case. She decides to go to the prisoner and offer to investigate, research and write about the case for local newspapers ostensibly to help him get out of jail. What have I found out about this attempt to make a novel out of a play?


Writing a novel is much longer road to travel.


Notice I didn’t say it was a harder road. In writing a play, there are the fundamental elements of storytelling to deal with: compelling, interesting characters, vivid scenes, a story with an arc, and absolutely mandatory, killer dialogue. But, a play is shorter than a novel by a long shot. A play probably will run for an hour and a half. The script to support that length has probably 80-100 pages. In a novel today,readers are used to books with as few as 50,000 words all the way up to 140,000, which translates into 175-450 pages.Writing a novel is a long distance grind. It’s sitting down as often as you can to put down words on a page, maybe 300-1000 or more at a sitting. I don’t remember counting words writing a play. A play is composed of characters on stage imparting the story in physical action, expression and words. The dialogue needs to imply things that have happened in the past, backstory, and thoughts. In a novel, these things need to be presented in words that paint a picture of the scenes.

In future posts, I’ll go into more details about how a play becomes a novel. What are your thoughts about writing a novel or a play?

Thanks for stopping by. Please comment below or post this entry on your favorite social media website.

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Character From the Novel Interview – Sidney ☆

Character Questionnaire

Sidney Winkler – A Bridge to Treachery


Lou (Photo credit: Sylvestre001)

This interview with Sidney Winkler, the ingenue and resident flake of a Bridge to Treachery was conducted by Brittany Carrigan on her blog The Cover (and Everything in Between), one of the stops on my book tour by Innovative Online Book Tours.  Sidney found Brittany’s questions to be highly provocative, and in that spirit, put on her sassiest personna.

The first question was:  What do you consider your greatest achievement? Let’s go to The Cover to see Sidney’s reply and the rest of this kooky interview.

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How I Got My Scar Contest ☆


Every Saturday in the summer, my two older sisters and I would traipse over the tracks that ran through our hometown Westmont, Illinois to Grandma’s house. Grandpa was there too, but he just sat in his easy chair not saying a word. Grandma had the bulletin with the current attractions at the Westmont Theater hanging from a nail in the woodwork above her stove. We’d walk right in the front door without knocking or anything, say a perfunctory hi to Grandpa, and run on through the dining room to the kitchen where we’d find Grandma drinking her coffee out of the saucer. We’d grab the bulletin off the nail and sit down to study the current attractions. The Theatre had a double feature every Saturday: westerns and comedies. We all had our favorite cowboys from among Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy, Wild Bill Hickock, and Gene Autry; and best funny guys from among The Three Stooges, Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig, and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Grandma would dig in her change purse for the fifty cents that would get all three of us a seat with a box of Good and Plenty each. It started at noon, but it didn’t matter if we were late. We’d pick up the story from where we came in and stay long enough to see the beginning in the second showing.

On the day I got my scar, Abbott and Costello were playing. To my five year old sensibilities, they were hilarious. Back home after the show I had to tell Dad and Ma all about it. It seems Costello just had to see what it said on the label of a record that was on the Victrola, so he stood in front of it and twirled his head like crazy, which I demonstrated. As I said, it was hilarious…until my head met the cast iron radiator we had in the living room. Well, there were blood and tears and an emergency call to Doc Manning to come running. The girls and the folks got me into pajamas and the Doctor sewed me up with three stitches. I didn’t cry and he said I was brave, and we all got some ice cream to sooth us. The scar angles down and just touches my right eyebrow. It’s a good place to have one. If you’re going to have a scar, you might as well have it visible to everybody.

This is an example of my entry in my How I Got My Scar Contest.  To enter, you need to use 350 words or less to tell how you got your scar. Use my “contact” form to send your entry to me before the deadline of midnight September 30, 2014. I’ll publish each entry in my blog, and we’ll have a vote on the best story after the deadline. The winner will receive a free paperback copy of my thriller novel A Bridge to Treachery or an eBook copy of Baghdad on the Wabash and Other Plays and Stories.  Please avoid telling your story in a way that would offend anyone including the prudes among us. I will vet each entry before it gets published.  Good luck!



About An Artist and Activist Named Swoon ☆

Animation showing the leverage action of stand...

Animation showing the leverage action of standard bolt cutters. Moving from enwp (thumbnailable version). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sherm Sharma and Melena Ryzick of the NY Times put together a captivating video about Caledonia Curry, an artist who also goes by the name of Swoon. She started her art career as a street artist who would do things like use bolt cutters to get into a fenced-in condemned building in order to plaster one of her art works on the wall. It will just stay there and decay as the building decays, and that’s what Caldonia wants. So she’s a socially conscious activist, but that’s not all.  She also has a couple of prints in the permanent collection of MOMA.  She has expanded her work to include installation and performance art.

I like some of the things she says about her work. One would be: “The only way to move through something is to make work on the subject,” which means to me that she gets exercised on a certain subject, and she can’t rest until it gets explored in a work of art. That thought struck a cord with me because getting exercised over the murder of a teenage girl half a century ago is pretty much what launched me on my current efforts to write a novel about it. Swoon also says: “The job of the artist sometimes is to be a mental and emotional processor for some of these feelings and thoughts, the feelings and thoughts in this case being all about her mother dealing with her demons, and being Caledonia’s mother. Life of Wonderment Swoon Blurs the line between Art and Activism


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