Buttery Chocolate Brownie Recipe + Video

By Lisa Maliga copyright 2014-2017

chocolatebutterbrownieschocbrowniesstack2From the book THE GREAT BROWNIE TASTE-OFF (THE YOLANDA’S YUMMERY SERIES, BOOK 1).

I haven’t made these brownies in a couple of years, so when I followed the recipe, I rediscovered the joy of a very rich and decadent buttery brownie. I took a lot of photos of the process and have turned them into a cool video that shows you the various steps.

Even if you’ve only made brownies from a mix, this is an easy recipe to make.

Here are some tips to make your buttery brownies taste even better!

♥ Your butter should be a good quality and unsalted is recommended. For the record, I used Plugra.

♥ Use eggs from chickens that are free to roam around, as they taste better.

♥ I used an 8″ x 8″ glass baking dish. You can use a 9″ x 9″ glass or metal baking dish if you prefer but the brownies will be slightly flatter. Instead of using cooking spray, just use the butter wrapper to grease your baking dish.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup [1 stick] butter, melted and cooled

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs [room temperature]

1/4 cup [2 ounces] dark chocolate, melted, cooled slightly

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Grease your pan with either cooking spray or butter.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until combined.

Add an egg, mix in well, then add the second egg and mix well.

Stir in melted chocolate and vanilla.

Gently fold in flour, until combined.

Pour mixture into pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the brownies cool completely. Cut into squares. Enjoy.

great brownie taste-off yolanda's yummery series book 1 free ebookYou can get a copy of THE GREAT BROWNIE TASTE-OFF (THE YOLANDA’S YUMMERY SERIES, BOOK 1). Best of all, the eBook version is FREE!

Book Links:

Paperback Edition: The Great Brownie Taste-off

Amazon: The Great Brownie Taste-off
Amazon UK: The Great Brownie Taste-off
B&N Nook: The Great Brownie Taste-off
iTunes: The Great Brownie Taste-off
Kobo: The Great Brownie Taste-off
Scribd: The Great Brownie Taste-off
Smashwords: The Great Brownie Taste-off

Video:

 

 

 

I WANT YOU: Seduction Emails from a Narcissist ~ New Cover & Excerpt

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2016

iwantyou (1)Before I became a fan of THE WALKING DEAD, I wrote about a character named Arlen J. Stevenson who was the author of zombie fiction. I chose that genre because it seemed a little different—edgier—than thrillers or science fiction.

Originally, this manuscript got some interest from an editor at a small literary press. “It sounds serious and worthy, and I appreciated the description and know exactly what you’re talking about from hard experience. I do wish you luck with it though because…it has to be said!”

When I first uploaded I WANT YOU: Seduction Emails from a Narcissist, along with my companion title, Love Me, Need Me: A Narcissist’s Tale, I designed my own cover. I’ve since stopped doing this as I prefer not fussing around with fonts. I finally got around to having the cover redesigned after combing through some stock photos and finding one of a man who resembled the Arlen I’d imagined. Art and reality merged.

Since publishing this book, I’ve learned a lot about formatting. While awaiting the cover to be designed, I had a look at the sample, noting some the spacing issues. I went through line by line and fixed the problems. By doing this, I reread the story and was struck by the online psychological game playing that abounded within the book. 

This is unlike any other book I’ve written. It took years of research before I wrote my first draft. I did encounter several versions of Arlen online and in real life. At the time, it was very difficult to be around those types of uncaring and self-centered people. But what I learned filled more than one book. 

EXCERPT:

Here’s Arlen’s email to LeeAnn [Southern Pecan is her MySpace name] after “meeting” her on September 28.

Date: September 30

LeeAnn,

You’re wise, insightful, and loving. On top of that, you radiate both a wonderful sexuality combined with a heaping dose of loyalty. All mixed together, it’s potent.

Why do I want you with all these other people around? Frankly, there’s not even a choice involved, you are simply on a different level.

I’ll make this short and sweet. I want to get to know you more, the sooner the better. If all you want is an internet friendship, fine, just tell me. But if you want the chance for more, tell me that, because that’s exactly what I want. The reason you and I both are doing this is because we both sense we’ve gotten ahold of what potentially could be the real thing for us both.

Let me know, darlin,
AJS

P.S. My marriage is not what it should be, dear, and has been for awhile. This doesn’t flatter me in the least, but even if it wasn’t, I don’t know that I could resist you.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

The author of three zombie books uses his literary accomplishments to entice his online victims. Arlen J. Stevenson flirts heavily with several women via raw and steamy emails in order to lure them to his lake house. His MySpace site has amassed thousands of potential victims. “I WANT YOU: Seduction Emails from a Narcissist” shows Arlen’s arc of seduction with eighteen different women. You’ll meet poetic Southern Pecan, desperate Betsy, flirty Debra, and lonely Ginger.

The love and long-term relationships he proposes to the women lasts long enough to satisfy his ego and sexual cravings.

This unique volume can be read as either a sequel or a prequel to “Love Me Need Me: A Narcissist’s Tale.”

WARNING! “I WANT YOU: Seduction Emails from a Narcissist” may be offensive to those who dislike graphic language and sexual content.

Amazon: I WANT YOU: Seduction Emails from a Narcissist
B&N NOOK: I WANT YOU: Seduction Emails from a Narcissist
iTunes: I WANT YOU: Seduction Emails from a Narcissist
Kobo: I WANT YOU: Seduction Emails from a Narcissist
Scribd: I WANT YOU: Seduction Emails from a Narcissist
Smashwords: I WANT YOU: Seduction Emails from a Narcissist

 

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NOTE: Next week there will be a new French macaron blog with lots of pictures!

 

Ripping Readers Off: Kindle Unlimited Scam eBooks

Copyright 2016 by Lisa Maliga

Kindle-Unlimited-logo-220x86

Last April, I wrote this article: Don’t Buy or Borrow Kindle Unlimited Rip-off eBooks. 

What’s changed since then?

In July 2015, Amazon launched KU2, which pays authors by pages read. KU1 was a fluctuating amount of at least $1 per eBook borrow. The Amazonians have altered the system for their benefit and the amount per page is less than a penny –.0049 per page or less. If an author wants to make any money, they need to write longer books. And those books need to get read.

Or do they?

Nope, the author offers a free book or gift card or something for nothing and has that clickable link take the reader to the back of the book. Like magic, all the pages are read!

With the KU program, Amazon is like long defunct author’s sites Themestream and the Vines – pay per click companies that went belly up. While some legitimate authors are doing quite well, others are faring far worse than they were in KU1.

One of the main problems I’ve seen in the KU program, and this is in the nonfiction area, are foreign plagiarists stuffing books full of repetitive “information.” Or they upload their entire catalogue into one title. I’ve also seen books where the contents are available in a dozen different languages. Can you guess that the translation is run through an online translator resulting in hilarious errors?

What inspired this article was a review request from an author: someone who had been “University” educated, and an expert in various fields dating back to the early 90’s. A quick search revealed nothing except the author’s books in various Amazon stores. Here’s the email:

As an avid buyer and author on Amazon, I want readers to feel they are getting value for money and would recommend to their friends and family. I feel this book meets that requirement.

 I was hoping you could review a books and leave an honest review.

If you are interested I can send you the book as a gift free of charge.

 I saw that the title wasn’t unique and when looking at the author page I noticed:

“She has a passion for sharing his experience…”

Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner? Nope, someone who just didn’t care about proofreading their bio or who wasn’t too fluent in English.

There are many excellent titles in the KU program. But I’m going to point out potential rip-off titles that are often plagiarized from websites, blogs and Pinterest. By reading this article, you’ll learn how to avoid downloading or wasting your time and money on rip-offs and supporting scammers.

If you’re a reader who wants to learn how to bake cupcakes, wouldn’t you want to read a book by someone who has baked the recipes and can provide photos along with helpful tips? I want that! A few weeks ago, I mistakenly downloaded a scam book. At first I thought, oh goodie, 600 pages of cupcake recipes and information—all for 0.00. Wrong! 600 pages of drivel, NO pictures, and recipe after recipe of things I didn’t want to bake. The few cupcake recipes were so generic that one of them listed cake mix. I deleted that eBook.

Spot Those Scammy eBooks

Here are some things to look for when shopping at Amazon.

kindle unlimited logo * No author biography

If there’s no bio, there’s no way of knowing how much knowledge they have pertaining to the subject they’ve written about. There won’t be an email address, website, Etsy page or social media information such as Twitter, Pinterest or Face Book. They have no blog or newsletter.

kindle unlimited logo * Fake Author Biography

Some of the scammers have gotten smarter and include biographies and even pictures or illustrations of themselves. Read it carefully and you’ll see it’s false if no professional training is indicated. Or they might mention a school or university. How is the bio worded—in proper English or does it read as if it was translated from another language?

kindle unlimited logo * Common American Names

This is another way to lure borrowers and buyers—by using familiar surnames like Thomas, Brown, Mitchell, White, etc. It’s also how those from other countries make names seem more acceptable than their own. Authors who use several pseudonyms may do so to avoid detection. It’s also a way of using a name like a keyword – to attract more borrows and sales.

 

kindle unlimited logo * Poor Translating

Foreign authors may have run the manuscript through an online translator resulting in unintentionally hilarious reading. My favorite was the one about heating your soap over a “weak fire.” Some of the faux fiction scam books have incredibly bad titles.

kindle unlimited logo * Offer FREE Bonus/Gift at the BACK of the eBook

This encourages you to click the link and get the page reads. You won’t be able to miss this offer as it’ll be shown in very large and colorful fonts. It may appear more than once.

kindle unlimited logo * Very LONG eBooks

KU1 featured scamlets of 50 pages or less. Now the less is more motto has been replaced with the more [pages] the merrier! One trick I discovered is seeing lengthy books enhanced by offering the book in a dozen different languages. You can also bet that a professional human translator doesn’t translate, as that would be very expensive and time consuming. Ultimately, no one benefits.

Another method is for the scamming “author” to take several books and rearrange the order so the book becomes bloated with excess pages. You get a bundle of books you [probably] don’t care to read.

kindle unlimited logo * LONG Titles Stuffed with Keywords

Example: Homemade Body Butter: 25 Natural Body Butter And Lotion Recipes To Keep Your Skin Smooth And Feeling Moisturized! (How To Body Butter, DIY Body Butter, Natural Body Butter And Lotion Recipes).

kindle unlimited logo * Enticing Cover Photo of the Product[s]

A rip-off will be revealed if the featured product[s] recipe and photo aren’t included inside the eBook. For example, a stack of oatmeal soap on the cover, yet there is no oatmeal soap recipe in the rip-off title. Also, most rip-off eBooks won’t contain any photos.

kindle unlimited logo * If recipes are included, they may be in a mixture of ounces, grams, tablespoons and teaspoons, which is very confusing for the reader.

kindle unlimited logo * No medical or legal disclaimer. No safety precautions.

kindle unlimited logo * The name on the cover may be spelled differently than the name on the book’s Amazon page.

In order to avoid being ripped off, please use this article as a checklist.

Also, read what author Ann Christy has written about this topic. She includes in-depth analysis along with screenshots of some flagrant examples. http://www.annchristy.com/anatomy-of-ku-scams

 

Out of the Blue: A Novel ~ Meet Sylvia’s Mother

By Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2014-2015

out of the blue a novel by lisa maliga

It all began in the summer of 1979 …

Sylvia Gardner is a naïve library clerk who lives with her dysfunctional mother in Richport, Illinois. Vivian tells her daughter not to trust men because they only want to use her. After being dumped by her first boyfriend, Sylvia falls in love with an English actor after watching him on a PBS drama. Researching Alexander Thorpe’s life and career for two years, she saves her money so she can visit him in his Cotswolds village. She stays at the Windrush Arms Hotel, soon discovering they share a secret connection.

Complications ensue when Harry Livingstone, the hotel’s drunken proprietor, takes a fancy to the young American. As in her dreams, Sylvia and Alexander get together – but with unexpected results.

In this flashback scene we learn more about Sylvia’s mother.

Her mother would’ve disliked Alexander, even though he was a well-known actor. She would have referred to him as a dissipated old lecher for he was a man. An older man. And of course since he was a man, he wanted to get his rocks off. Vivian feared her daughter would wind up as unhappy as she had been once she got married.

After all, her mother had married an older man—Fred Gardner was almost a dozen years older than Vivian. But after the divorce and the move into the apartment complex, Sylvia found a small beige photo album when moving boxes in the garage. She sat down on a lawn chair and opened it up. A smiling Vivian looked at the camera. It was taken from the waist up and she recognized the canary yellow polyester minidress that her mother had bought back in 1969. It was always worn with white vinyl go go boots. Her dark hair was center parted and hung in loose curls just past her narrow shoulders. Her mom looked a lot younger in that picture. She turned the page and saw a bearded man standing next to Vivian. His long hair was thick and curly. A folded red bandana was wrapped around his head. Who was that man?

If you’d like to read more, OUT OF THE BLUE: A NOVEL is available at the following online bookstores:

Paperback: Out of the Blue: A Novel
Paperback UK: Out of the Blue: A Novel

Amazon Kindle: Out of the Blue: A Novel
Amazon Kindle UK: Out of the Blue: A Novel
B&N [Nook]: Out of the Blue: A Novel
iTunes: Out of the Blue: A Novel
Smashwords: Out of the Blue: A Novel
Kobo: Out of the Blue: A Novel

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70% of Nothing: The Reality of Indie Publishing

By Lisa Maliga, Copyright 2015

computerscreenI barely passed basic math in seventh grade, but I’ve learned a lot about numbers, percentages and book rankings since 2010.

On October 21, I released my $2.99 novel, Notes from Nadir, which I had serialized via my blog of the same title. The price was chosen because I would earn a 70% royalty rate. I sold four copies the first month, the same number in November, and soon the book was ignored.

By February 2011, I had five novels on Amazon and a few other stores. The titles were previously published online and I had regained my full rights. Sales in the dawn of e-publishing [2000-2004] were minimal and I noticed nothing had changed, except that I was now doing all the work.

I self-published my nonfiction titles as I had extensive experience making soap and bath and body products. Over time, my eBooks were available on 12 other Amazon marketplaces like the UK, Canada, Australia, Italy, Germany, etc. I uploaded titles to B&N, Smashwords, Kobo, CreateSpace [paperbacks], iTunes, and Draft2Digital. I joined AuthorsDen, Manic Readers, Twitter, Face Book and WordPress. I’ve had my own website since 2001 and this year I launched a newsletter and offered free eBooks. I have two instructional videos and two book trailers on YouTube, and I joined Pinterest because I like photography.

When it comes to nonfiction books, I’ve discovered that it’s exceedingly difficult to get linkbacks/mentions from companies/sources that are listed. I revised one of my titles to include several photos and interview some suppliers. While I provide their links and contact information, they won’t add a link to my eBook on their website, nor mention it in a newsletter/blog.

Why are those listed suppliers unable to provide a link? I’m asking for no money and in many cases have even spent money on their product[s]! I offered them a free copy of my eBook in their preferred format.

Don’t these suppliers realize that they can make money from eBooks? Should a consumer read it and want to buy supplies, that supplier has just picked up some biz? Also, if a supplier has an Amazon or B&N affiliate link, they’ll get money for each copy sold from their website. [I realize that not all websites sell via Amazon/B&N].

Indie writers are easy to ignore. They have no agents, managers or publicists to get the word of their eBooks out there. Ironically, while many of the bath and body suppliers are fond of the term FAIR TRADE, they won’t do a simple link exchange which would actually benefit their own company!

But I kept writing until my titles increased from 1 to 32, almost evenly divided between fiction and nonfiction. Contrary to the myth that more books equal more sales, I’ve found the opposite to be true. As of August 2015, I have 7 more titles yet I’ve earned 30% less than I did in June 2014 on Amazon.

Approximately 90,000 eBooks are released on Amazon every month. The chances of any book being seen are in the league of unlikely to very unlikely.

How does a writer earn a decent living by writing eBooks? Four years ago, I saw a pattern. They wrote an eBook or two, especially a series or serial, blogged, went to other authors’ blogs and left comments. Those other authors had a larger following, so the neophyte eBook author sucked up to the “bigger authors” and dished out excellent book reviews, hoping to get the same treatment for their books. Even after that exhausting circle of writing, praising other writers, and occasionally having other writers praise you, they still hadn’t seen an increase in book sales. Others have speculated that at the start of the self-pubbing boom, some authors bought dozens of good reviews on Fiverr, thus launching their careers.  A self-published author/blogger exhorted their followers to write a book, write a second book, a third, and repeat indefinitely. Unsurprisingly, that author wrote a book about how to write and market books.

After releasing my twentieth title, I thought there would be more sales. I uploaded a horror novella that had small blocks of white spaces appearing randomly throughout the book. No one contacted me about it because I never sold a single copy of the aptly titled An Author’s Nightmare.

Since then, I’ve changed how I perceive indie publishing. Whenever I upload an eBook, or even a paperback edition, it’s not publishing, it’s uploading a manuscript. I also uploaded three freebies; hoping readers would discover my other titles. Occasionally, they did.

So, how does an “indie” author get noticed? By advertising?

Advertisers are popping up all over the place like psychedelic mushrooms. They’ll send your book’s links to the best potential customers — readers. Sometimes grand promises are made of thousands of readers willing to download or buy your book. I tried getting a $2.99 novel out to 106,000 Face Book fans. The result? Zip. I could have done that myself, as I’m a member of more than 50 book-related groups. In fact, I have. The result has been similar. With some advertisers, you’ll get a few sales or a few hundred downloads for a freebie. Then what? Not much. Your book plummets in rank, maybe you get a review or two, and the title rests in obscurity with hundreds of thousands of unread eBooks on Amazon, B&N and other online bookstores.

Getting lots of downloads of freebies is meaningless if no one buys your other titles. There’s another myth about more reviews attracting more sales. Sometimes it’s true, especially if they’re legitimate reviews by readers. Yet how many people actually read and review those freebies?

After my years in indie publishing, I’ve learned that only a few authors can make a lot of money. I’ve earned far less than I did when I was temping.

Being an author isn’t unique any more. Self-publishing is for anyone who can process some words, design a book cover or have one made for a few dollars. Many books aren’t even proofread, let alone edited. With the glut of available reading material, it’s almost impossible for an author’s book[s] to stand out. Most eBooks will plunge to the murky depths of internet bookstores far, far away from the best sellers. They’ll wind up with six or seven-digit rankings, doomed to obscurity.

Most people don’t read. Most people don’t buy eBooks or prefer downloading freebies. And most readers don’t review books.

And that’s what I’ve learned about selling eBooks [and paperbacks] for almost half a decade.

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Boxed Set Friday – The Yolanda’s Yummery Series, Books 1 – 3 by Lisa Maliga

By Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2015

Boxed Set: The Yolanda’s Yummery Series, Books 1 – 3 lisa maliga ebooksI’ll admit I’m partial to boxed sets, a/k/a box sets. This is beneficial for the reader, as they can have access to a series or serial. Boxed sets are usually more cost efficient and space efficient, as you don’t have to flip from one eBook to another since they’re conveniently bundled into one file.

Before publishing my boxed set, I learned that I needed two different covers due to some online bookstores not wanting the standard three-dimensional type of cover. A non 3-D cover was the norm for some stores so that customers wouldn’t get confused into thinking they were buying actual paperback books housed in a box. Once I learned that the reason behind iTunes and Smashwords preferring a standard “flat” type of cover, I found another cover artist to design the second type of cover. Here it is:

yolanda's yummery series boxed set books 1-3 lisa maliga

I was pleased with this flat type of cover design and like it as much as the 3-D version.

I’ve noticed more boxed sets being published and I think that’s a wonderful idea. So, each Friday I’d like to highlight a boxed set whether by one author or a group of authors. Your boxed set can be on sale, free or whatever price you choose.

Want to have a special blog post dedicated to your boxed set? Send me an email and include the buy links. Once the blog has been posted on Friday, you’ll have your own boxed set page and can promote it anywhere you’d like. Your name and the title of your boxed set will be in the subject heading, making it keyword-friendly.

Just send an email to: lisa_maliga@msn.com Please use “Boxed Set Friday” in the subject heading.

Below is an example of how your page will look. If you have two different covers, I can include both of them. You can send me a longer book description. Also, if you have any fun facts about the boxed set that you’d like to share, please include them in your introductory paragraph.

Title: Boxed Set: The Yolanda’s Yummery Series, Books 1 -3 

Author: Lisa Maliga

Brief Description: This collection of sweet romance/cozy mystery eBooks contains 3 full-length novels plus a chapter to the novella that started it all: Sweet Dreams. Best of all, it’s value priced! 

Genre: Sweet Romance/Cozy Mystery

Amazon US link: http://www.amazon.com/Boxed-Set-Yolandas-Yummery-Series-ebook/dp/B00T8JKSMO

All other links: http://www.lisamaliga.com/boxedsetyolandasyummeryseries.htm

  WIN A VARIETY OF BOOKS! Sign up for The Discerning Readers’ Newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/UZbE9

I Almost Married a Narcissist + Excerpt

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2015. 2016

i almost married a narcissist novella lisa maligaI Almost Married a Narcissist is a new and updated story about a woman who learns the man she’s dating is more than conceited and hung up on his body image – he’s a narcissist.

When I was going through some notes about a short story I’d written “Flipping Over Grigori,” I thought that exploring his personality disorder would make this a more moving story. From 12,000 words to nearly 23,000, the expanded version reveals more about both main characters and how they get to know each other. I also changed his name from Grigori to Andrei. His last name is still Antonescu, but A.A. are now his initials; it’s symbolic of him being a source of addiction to Charlotte White, the woman who falls in love with the gymnastics coach.

Briefly, here’s what I Almost Married a Narcissist is about:

Charlotte White falls in love with a younger Romanian gymnastics coach.

Andrei Antonescu is a sexy and handsome foreigner who loves to have fun and flirt with the ladies.

The more she gets to know him, the more red flags are unfurled. Once she’s able to see past his good looks and muscular body, Charlotte is unprepared for some shocking revelations.

Excerpt from Chapter Two

Three of the coaches introduced themselves to me. I liked them right away. But there was this one, a real serious looking guy, who completely ignored me. Maybe it was his dark blond curly hair and the fact that he was so tanned and muscular. His T-shirt’s sleeves were rolled up, showing off his strong arms. He was so self absorbed that he didn’t even notice me.

Later, I got to go out into the gym, and didn’t have to remove my shoes because I was a staff member. I had to give a message to Andrei, that serious coach. That was how I finally met the younger man – right next to the parallel bars. He had just dismounted from them after showing an element to his private student, a wiry adolescent boy. After handing him the message, he grabbed it with chalky hands and thanked me quickly, not even looking at me. But I was used to being treated like that.

A few days later, I was in the coach’s lounge for my afternoon break. It was a dark, depressing day and it seemed like nothing was ever going to go right. Svetlana had yelled at me that morning for taking too long to do the reports and I wondered if I’d even last the week at the job. Andrei rushed upstairs, and I thought of how young and energetic he was. He didn’t smile at me, but he lowered his sunglasses as he asked about his schedule. All I saw were his Mediterranean blue eyes.

I wanted to take the Tuesday or Thursday night adult gymnastics class he taught. I wondered how to go about asking Svetlana about it. I knew that Eastern European coaches were able to get excellent results from their students, and by taking the class, I’d get back into shape. That afternoon, I stood near the filing cabinet when Andrei walked in, went past me, and pinched my hip! There was no one else nearby. The gesture was something most American men wouldn’t do because they’d probably end up being sued for sexual harassment.

Amazon: I Almost Married a Narcissist
Amazon UK: I Almost Married a Narcissist
B&N NOOK: I Almost Married a Narcissist
iTunes: I Almost Married a Narcissist
Kobo: I Almost Married a Narcissist
Scribd: I Almost Married a Narcissist
Smashwords: I Almost Married a Narcissist

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1992 Los Angeles Riots Excerpt from ‘Diary of a Hollywood Nobody’

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2015

This is an edited excerpt from my novel, Diary of a Hollywood Nobody.

Wednesday, April 29, 1992

diary of a hollywood nobody lisa maligaOn Monday, I began a new assignment in the basement of the Union Pacific Bank. There were several departments in the sprawling basement and I got lucky as the lawyer I worked for took every Wednesday afternoon off in order to perfect his golf game at the Wilshire Country Club.

George, the guy in charge of the mailroom, came over to the desk where I sat. My work consisted of alphabetizing loan applications for another secretary. I noticed his serious expression as he told me that the four cops who’d beaten Rodney King had been acquitted out in Simi Valley. The look on his broad Samoan face told me that he didn’t agree with the decision. Neither did I. “People are outside the court house yelling guilty, guilty.” He shook his head. “They’re saying it could get ugly…”

Quitting time was five o’clock and I drove home the usual way and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. Until I got home and turned on the TV. I still didn’t have cable but that didn’t matter as every channel was broadcasting the events. Fires were set, looters invaded stores, and my adopted city was in a state of chaos. The only noise I heard was that of sirens screaming down Melrose and helicopters overhead.

Thursday, April 30

Early that morning I called Alltemps and asked if I should go in to work. The answer was yes. I guess being located in the middle of Beverly Hills changed their perspective.

I took Sunset to downtown and parked at the usual lot east of the business district on 6th and Bixel. There weren’t many cars. In the distance, I saw plumes of smoke. L.A. was on fire and I had to report to work in the basement of a bank.

The bank office was abuzz with static-filled radios. Iesha, a South Central resident, spoke of a night of terror. Luckily, her house remained intact and her kids were unharmed. Her husband was out of town so she and her three grade-school aged children endured a night of fires and looting and helicopters buzzing overhead. The nearby mini-mall was looted and burned. No more convenience store, video shop, or Chinese takeout remained.

Sybil was another black woman who had a firecracker of a night. She resided in Koreatown, a hard-hit area near 8th and Vermont. Her apartment was unscathed, but she received a free fire show. Windows broke. Gunshots rang out.

Every so often, someone would remember the employees below street level and announce another mishap. Looting on 6th Street. Fires burned everywhere. No work was done.

By noon, we were dismissed due to the ‘civil disturbance.’ Nerves were wrought. Various forms of panic seized the employees. George was accompanying Rosalinda to her bus stop near Skid Row.

I was driven to the outdoor lot across the Harbor Freeway. Two other cars remained in the $3 per day lot. Behind me, the smoke was billowing higher and darker. I locked my car doors. I was leaving work at lunchtime and wasn’t pretending I was sick; there was a legitimate excuse for going home early.

It started gradually. I noticed more pedestrians on the sidewalks than usual. Teens. Little kids. Mothers.  They headed westwards, about a half mile from Vermont Avenue. People trotting, some running. Uphill, at the intersection of Beverly and Vermont, traffic stopped at a green light.

Read more about the riots as well as the excesses of the 1990’s as a nobody tries to become a somebody in Hollywood. This unique diary is available here:
Amazon link: Diary of a Hollywood Nobody

B&N Nook link: Diary of a Hollywood Nobody

iTunes link: Diary of a Hollywood Nobody

Kobo link: Diary of a Hollywood Nobody

Scribd link: Diary of a Hollywood Nobody

Smashwords link: Diary of a Hollywood Nobody

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Don’t Buy or Borrow Kindle Unlimited Rip-off eBooks

Copyright 2015 by Lisa Maliga

 bookscomputerJust after the July launch of the Kindle Unlimited program an author of a soap making eBook emailed me asking for a review. After reading it, I got the impression that everything within the 50 pages was regurgitated information. There weren’t any resource links. The recipes weren’t coherent—add some of this oil with some of this water and this amount of lye. Instead of getting a review, the author received an email asking about her soap making experience. Unsurprisingly, there was no response.

That was my introduction to a Kindle Unlimited eBook.

Books in Kindle Unlimited, KU for short, are only found on Amazon’s website. None of the titles are available at Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Oyster, Scribd, Smashwords or other online bookstores.

While free for authors, readers pay $9.99 per month for the service that “…allows you to read as much as you want, choosing from over 700,000 titles and thousands of audiobooks. Freely explore new authors, books, and genres from mysteries and romance to sci-fi and more. You can read on any device.”

kindle unlimited logo Read this title for free and get unlimited access to over 700,000 titles.

Authors with books in the KU program generally price their titles from $0.99 to $9.99. They can also give a title away for up to 5 days during each 90-day period their title is enrolled in the KU program. If free, anyone can download the book whether they are KU members or not. Another huge benefit for the KU author is the borrowing part of the program. Whenever a KU member borrows a title, the author receives up to $1.40. The amount varies every month but it’s always more than one dollar. Even if the book is priced at 0.99, the author still gets $1.40 [or whatever the amount is that month] PER BORROW. That’s why every single rip-off title is enrolled in this program.

There are many excellent titles in the KU program. But I’m going to concentrate on the rip-off titles that are often plagiarized from websites, blogs and Pinterest. By reading this article, you’ll learn how to avoid downloading rip-offs.

[For the record: I won’t tackle fiction because that’s a lot different, especially with series, serials, billionaire romances, erotica, and alphas, etc.]

A rip-off title is usually less than 50 pages in length. Of course, regular nonfiction titles may also be brief, so I’ll point out the many red flags that boldly signal a rip-off. Again, this is only for nonfiction books, as that’s where I have the most experience as I write about soap crafting. I’m going to expand it to include all bath and body/bath and beauty books. However, even if you read and write about real estate or farming, you still should find this article helpful.

 redflagThe Formula

Soap making books begin with the history of soap making. For other bath and beauty books, the opening pages will let you know how toxic commercial lotions, lip balms, sugar and salt scrubs, bath bombs, etc. actually are.

redflag LONG titles with up to 30 words. This is called keyword stuffing.

Example title: Homemade Body Butter: 25 Natural Body Butter And Lotion Recipes To Keep Your Skin Smooth And Feeling Moisturized! (How To Body Butter, DIY Body Butter, Natural Body Butter And Lotion Recipes).

I’ve only changed a few words, but this is how some rip-off books are marketed. It’s not necessarily wrong but it’s clumsy!

redflag Nonexistent book contributors

Every author credits him or herself, but there are also other contributors that can be added like editor, foreword, photographer, illustrator, introduction, preface, translator and narrator. I’ve found books that have ‘body butter’ as an editor, ‘lotion’ as a foreword, and ‘soapmaking’ as an illustrator. Doing this exploits the entire Kindle publishing program and if found should be reported.

redflag Not crediting stock images.

redflag No author biography

Interested in learning about the author? If there’s no bio, there’s no way of knowing how much knowledge they have pertaining to the subject they’ve written about. There won’t be any sort of email address, website, Etsy page or social media information such as Twitter or Face Book. They have no blog or newsletter.

The lack of an author bio may indicate a new to KU author who is unaware that Amazon offers this free promotional tool. Alternatively, it might be a deliberate omission.

An author bio should indicate the author’s experience in making the products they are writing about, as they should be an expert in the field. Do they include their company name and contact information? Whether or not they own a business, or have owned a business in the past? How long have they been making B&B products? If they don’t make and sell their products, what qualifications do they have to write their book?

redflag Common American surnames

This is another way to lure borrowers and buyers—by using familiar surnames like Thomas, Brown, Mitchell, White, etc. It’s also how those from other countries make names seem more acceptable than their own. Authors who use several pseudonyms may do so to avoid detection. It’s also a way of using a name like a keyword – to attract more borrows and sales.

redflag Reviews

If a book has dozens of reviews, that might mean it’s often borrowed/sold. All of the reviews may be legitimate ones, especially if the reviewer indicates that they received a free review copy. To find a rip-off title, look beyond lots of 5-stars or 1-stars, or even no reviews.

eBooks may contain numerous 5-star reviews with only a smattering of bad reviews. Suggestion: read the bad ones. For example, a one star review written by a soap maker noted the amount of lye in a recipe in one of the rip-off titles was incorrect and the author had confused percentages and ounces. In other words, some “author” with no knowledge of soap making is presenting potentially harmful information. If a reader follows the instructions, that soap would burn their skin. Additionally, they would have wasted their time in reading the book and trying to apply the instructions, and money on buying ingredients and equipment. The responsibility of the author of any type of DIY book is to offer correct and accurate information. Sadly, the author of the questionable amounts has also written a dozen other titles in related fields.

A rip-off title may have garnered many positive reviews based on review swaps. I’ll go on record and state that I did a few of them from September to December 2014. Since then, I have completely stopped reviewing books due to the numerous rip-off titles I was getting.

redflag Proofreading problems

If the author is someone who is fluent in English as a first language, the quality of authorship ranges from excellent to riddled with grammar and “spell checkitis.”

redflag Poor translating

Foreign authors may have run the manuscript through an online translator resulting in unintentionally hilarious reading. My favorite was the one about heating your soap over a “weak fire.”

redflag Offer FREE bonus or gift in the beginning of the book.

redflag Enticing cover photo of the product[s]

All book covers should be enticing, of course. However, a rip-off will be revealed if the featured product[s] recipe and photo aren’t included inside the eBook. For example, a stack of oatmeal soap on the cover, yet there is no oatmeal soap recipe in the rip-off title.

redflag NO sample other than a table of contents or a legal disclaimer. The reader has to purchase or borrow the book in order to read more because there’s no actual writing sample.

redflag If recipes are included, they may be in a mixture of ounces, grams, tablespoons and teaspoons, which is very confusing for the reader.

redflag No medical or legal disclaimer. No safety precautions.

redflag The name on the cover may be spelled differently than the name on the book’s Amazon page.

redflag Rip-off titles can be heavily promoted and reviewed by bloggers. Unlike non-KU titles that only earn 4% commission on each title sold, bloggers may get up to 8.5 % on KU titles sold and/or borrowed.

In order to avoid being ripped off, please use this article as a checklist.

Memories of Bakery Bleu

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2015

bakery bleu pie notes from nadir lisa maligaConsolidating my archived emails, I came across some that were labeled Bakery Bleu. Ah yes, the first bakery I ever worked at, the one described in my novel, Notes from Nadir. The one where I met Gordon, the owner and baker. A quick Google search revealed that things had changed since that interview back on a beautiful warm and sunny April day. No longer was the bakery there—it had vanished. 

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 19 ~ The Boss of Bakery Bleu

Upon entering the bakery, I noticed a bin of unwrapped baguettes on the counter. I saw a variety of rolls and sweet rolls on the shelves, and behind the man who stood at the counter, were rows of different kinds of breads.

I met Gordon, a tall auburn haired man bordering on pudginess. He wore a navy polo shirt with the golden-brown Bakery Bleu logo [a pair of crossed breadsticks] above one of his manboobs. He shook my hand and sat down across from me so he could see both me and all the baked goodies to the north.

“Do tell me about yourself,” he said in a hearty voice. His accent wasn’t local, that’s for sure. He sounded English. Of course, I didn’t think he wanted to know about my personal history but about how valuable I’d be as a minimum wage slave, I mean, employee. I smiled, and for once, I wasn’t unhappy about sitting across from the man even though he could only offer a part time job. I pulled out a pale blue resume and handed it to him. He nodded and looked at it. I knew he was probably surprised when he saw the word Dreamweaver on the bottom where I listed a few web related things.

“You had your own business,” he studied that piece of paper atop the black table. “You lived in Los Angeles…what’re you doing here?”

Much as I want to, I couldn’t avoid that question. The man was scrutinizing me now. I looked at his dark eyes, then down at the table. “Cheap rent. I live with my mom.”

He had a genuine, hearty laugh. It sounded so wonderful after not hearing much of it that year. And I laughed out loud myself. It was true, that cliché about laughter being healthy.

“I did too when I first moved here from London.”

“Not London, Kentucky?”

He smiled broadly and I was feeling more comfortable with this man I had just met. “England.” He replied, though I knew the answer and he knew I knew that he was from across the pond.

“The people are so boring here,” I said. Oops, not the kind of thing to say in a job interview, especially as I was applying for a job where I’d be waiting on those boring people. But this didn’t really feel like one. “I didn’t say that,” I said.

He leaned forward a bit, covered his ears and replied, “I didn’t hear that!”

God, we were like teenagers on a first date.

He began speaking of the duties. The first date was over; it was a real job interview. He went over them: waiting on customers, taking calls, helping out with orders, mopping up… “It’s not General Motors,” he said. “We’ve all got to pull together.”

Like team spirit? I thought, but left that unsaid.

He complained about how slow business was. And the customers’ taste in bread. “The baguettes are too hard!” he mocked, using a higher pitched voice. He shook his head and in his sexily deep voice said, “I lived in France for eight years. A baguette is CRISP. Here they think it’s burned. I offered to sell them dough if they want soft baguettes.”

I chuckled at that image.

“Look, I only have one important question for you…” he paused with the drama of a stage actor.

Hmm, this was getting interesting. 

To read more, click NOTES FROM NADIR.

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notes from nadir lisa maliga ebook cover