Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Buy a Book for Christmas – #NonFiction – Denise O’Hagan, Terri Webster Schrandt, Dolly Aizenman and Sacha Black.

There are a number of non-fiction books in the Cafe and Bookstore that are written to improve elements in our lives, from health, blogging and our writing. Here are a selection that I think you will find useful.

The first book is by editor Denise O’Hagan. Mini Style Guide: An Introduction to Good Writing and Manuscript Presentation which will be useful for all of us who write and create our books ready to be published.

About the guide

An easy-to-use guide for writers, editors and students

The Mini Style Guide covers the fundamentals of good writing and explains how to present a manuscript for publication. It is written in a direct and accessible manner suitable for all ages and backgrounds, and assumes no prior knowledge of the writing trade or the publishing industry. Explanations are accompanied by plentiful ‘real life’ examples, and each chapter opens with a humorous quotation. The book consists of three parts.

Part 1 covers the essence of good writing, both factual and non-factual. It covers the principles of Plain English; words that are often misused or misspelled; and common grammatical and punctuation errors. Differences between Australian, British and American English are explored; inclusive writing is defined; and copyright law as it applies to writers is clarified.

Part 2 explains the technicalities of how to present a manuscript. It examines the advantages and disadvantages of working exclusively on computer and working partly on hard copy; outlines the structure of a manuscript and the order of its various components; and explains how to compile a contents page to reflect the heading hierarchy. It explains how to treat quotations, lists, abbreviations and numbers; offers advice on presenting illustrations, tables, charts and graphs; and discusses bibliographical material and indexes.

Part 3 explores possible publishing avenues; that is, commercial publishers, literary agents and self-publishing. It defines the role of each; explains which one is best suited to which type of writing; and includes advice on how to write a synopsis, select sample chapters and draft a covering letter.

The Appendix contains templates of standard forms and letters that can be photocopied and tailored to suit individual needs.
The Glossary contains commonly used terms to do with writing, publishing and printing.
The Bibliography contains sources used and recommended.
Foreword by Robert Fairhead, book reviewer at Writing NSW.

One of the reviews for the guide on Amazon Australia

This is a great resource for fiction, non fiction, professional and academic writers. Parts of this book, such as the section on Plain English, can be read with interest in one hit, while other parts dealing with punctuation, formatting, referencing etc will be used on a needs basis utilising the excellent contents and index sections. The explanations all include very clear examples. Sections on publishing, print and e-book and self publishing provide excellent advice for writers new to the game. Perhaps the most important aspect of this book is that it educates by example. The advice it gives it also models. This is a highly informative, professionally written and presented reference book for writers, educators and libraries. 

Read the reviews and buy the guide:

And on Amazon US:

Also available at other online bookstores:

Connect to Denise via her website:

The next update is for Terri Webster Schrandt and her book Better Blogging with Photography.  Adding images to a blog post adds a very useful element. Apart from breaking up long sections of text, it also brings into focus key messages.

About the Book

There is truth to the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words. As a blogger, are you weary of constantly hunting for images to illustrate the subject of your blog posts?

Perhaps you are a new blogger struggling to get more readers. Or a seasoned blogger continually seeking inspiration for quality blog posts.
This guidebook is designed to help you utilize your own images on your blog or website.

While free image sites abound, there are limitations to using so-called “free” images. Gone are the days when bloggers can innocently copy and paste an image from the web and paste it into their blog post.

What will you get out of this guide?

In each chapter I give easy but important tips for maximizing the use of images on your blog’s website and within each blog post.

Seven informative chapters walk you through–

  • the importance of using images;
  • the real dangers of using others’ copyrighted images;
  • easy ways to edit your images using free programs and apps;
  • building unending inspiration and content around your own images;
  • attracting readers with images used in quotations, blog link-ups, and other tools;
  • how social media sites link your images, and why you need them;
  • a list of image resources available.

After reading this short guidebook, you will want to grab your smart phone or inexpensive digital camera and start taking photos!

One of the top reviews for the book

Thinking of starting a blog or already writing one? Then whatever you do, buy this book, read it, and keep a copy handy.

Packed full of information (instead of having to hunt it down all over the internet), this handy book is jammed packed full of information not only for bloggers but for writers and budding photographers.

Chapter two had me scrambling into action for a whole day to ensure both my blog and I were safe. We’re talking downloading images or photos that don’t belong to us and using them without any permission on our blogs. We’re talking copyright infringement and the possibility of being sued by the legal owner of that image or photo. There are links to some rather scary true copyright infringement stories contained in the book. If they don’t get you to take action in checking and ensuring you’ve no copyright infringements on your blog, then probably only being sued will do the trick.

I ended up deleting lots of images from blog posts because I really had no idea if they were free to use or if they were only free for a limited period of time. Typing ‘Free Images’ into Google is no guarantee that you will be presented with images and photos that are actually free to use. It’s mentioned in the book that robots are checking the internet for copyright infringement 24 hours a day, seven days a week! It was like reading something from a science-fiction story. However, this happens to be fact, not fiction.

Terri Webster Schrandt has not only written this book extremely well but, better still, it’s in plain English and won’t have you wondering what on earth she is saying. The book contains lots of information on various internet sites where free images and photos for using on your blog can be found. She also explains where you can find various sites to create your own images as well as giving the reader excellent information about taking their own photos to use on blog posts. There are also some valuable blogging hints and tips which every blogger should take onboard.

I’ve heard the author is going to write a series of these books. I’m extremely happy to hear the news and can only highly recommend that you buy this book and take in every bit of information she has written. She could end up saving you a lot of money!

 Read all the reviews and buy the book:

And on Amazon UK:

Find more reviews and follow Terri on Goodreads:

Connect to Terri via her blog:

Next is a book that will certainly expand our waistline.. and our knowledge of cookery and would make a great gift for Christmas – Dolly Aizenman with her cookbook – Kool Kosher Kitchen. Many of you may be familiar with Dolly’s blog where she not only shares amazing recipes but the fascinating history attached to them.

About the cookbook

From the four corners of the world – international fusion cuisine the kosher way! Cook Indian, cook Italian, cook Chinese and Japanese, or cook traditional Jewish; make it vegetarian, pescatarean, or vegan, make it festive and nutritious, always easy to make and delicious, for holiday and every day, but above all, have fun in your kitchen and make your kitchen a fun place to be!

One of the recent reviews for the book 

Linda H. Gershater5.0 out of 5 stars MORE THAN A COOKBOOK, FOOD FOR YOUR SOUL!  June 10, 2018

So much more than a cookbook. This is a book to warm your heart and soul! I have been privileged to know Mrs. Aizenman for a number of years. Her stories are so warm, heartfelt and sincere. I sat down to look it over, and ended up reading it from cover to cover, enjoying her wonderful stories and anecdotes. I hope that you will add this very special book to your collection of cookbooks, but remember to sit, make a cup of tea (or two, or three) and just enjoy the read. Her recipes are terrific and very true to the way that she cooks. You won’t be disappointed. 

Read the reviews and buy the book:

and Amazon UK:

Connect to Dolly via her website:

And to finish today’s selection.. a guide to creating your nasty characters, often hard to accomplish. Sacha Black’s book How to Craft Superbad Villains13 Steps to Evil published in 2017. Since then Sacha has put this into practice with her series The East Eden YA Fantasy Novels

About the book

Your hero is not the most important character in your book. Your villain is.

Are you fed up of drowning in two-dimensional villains? Frustrated with creating clichés? And failing to get your reader to root for your villain?

In 13 Steps to Evil, you’ll discover:

+ How to develop a villain’s mindset
+ A step-by-step guide to creating your villain from the ground up
+ Why getting to the core of a villain’s personality is essential to make them credible
+ What pitfalls and clichés to avoid as well as the tropes your story needs

Finally, there is a comprehensive writing guide to help you create superbad villains. Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned writer, this book will help power up your bad guy and give them that extra edge.

These lessons will help you master and control your villainous minions, navigate and gain the perfect balance of good and evil, as well as strengthening your villain to give your story the tension and punch it needs.

If you like dark humour, learning through examples and want to create the best villains you can, then you’ll love Sacha Black’s guide to crafting superbad villains. Read 13 Steps to Evil today and start creating kick-ass villains.

One of the recent reviews for the book

There are certain writing craft books that everyone gravitates towards, often with good reason. And while many of them are excellent, they often focus on more general subjects. I’ve read many books about creating characters, but there’s often being something missing. Sacha Black has filled in one of the most glaring gaps by focusing entirely on villains. And let’s be honest, your story is only as good as your villain (you just need to look at Dolores Umbridge to know what I’m saying). She’s covered a huge range of types of villain so you can be confident that you’re not creating a one-dimensional, cookie cutter bad guy, but a fully rounded, complex character whose story arc is just as valid as that of the hero.

I for one will be using the book to death as I work on my current novel. I don’t mind admitting that it wasn’t until I read this book that I realised how ‘flat’ my current antagonist is. Well, thanks to Sacha Black, he doesn’t need to stay that way! I genuinely cannot recommend this book enough.

Read all the reviews and buy the book:

and on Amazon US:

Also by Sacha Black

Read the reviews and buy the books

and Amazon US:

And find more reviews and follow Sacha on Goodreads:

Connect to Sacha via her blog:

I hope you will explore these authors and their books further and I am sure you will find plenty of gift ideas amongst them. Thanks Sally.





Smorgasbord End of Summer Party – #Music requests from Stevie Turner, Jaye Marie, Lisa Thomson and Dolly Aizenman.

I thought I would share this in the ‘just after midnight slot’ as Letter’s From America is now on a short break until a couple of weeks before Christmas, when my letters to my parents began again following their return to the UK at the end of November.

Unfortunately there was not the space or time to play all of the guest requests at the four meals over the weekend but I promised to do so during the week. Here were the missing tracks from Brunch.You can find more about these guests in more detail Sunday Lunch

Author Stevie Turner works part time as a medical secretary in a busy NHS hospital and writes suspense, women’s fiction, and darkly humorous novels in her spare time. You can read more at Stevie Turner  Stevie has a wonderful blog and you will find short stories, interviews, posts on writing and also ones that give you something to think about such as this one on education: Exams fiasco

Here is a selection of Stevie’s books, find them all and the reviews Amazon

Stevie mentioned Rimsky-Korsakov’sScheherazade’ as her favourite piece of music and I found part of the 2nd movement of the suite.

Jaye Marie is one-half of the writing partnership, Anita & Jaye Dawes.

Jaye will often be found around the blogging community and social media and is very generous about sharing all our posts. You can find out more about Jaye and enjoy posts and book reviews on her blog Jaye’s books and reviews can be found on Amazon


Jaye requested something from the 1980s which offered me an excuse for a walk down memory lane….so I selected Take My Breath Away by Berlin.. for lovers of Top Gun.. and to remind you that they are making a sequel.

Lisa Thomson is a recent and welcome addition to the Cafe and Bookstore.

Her two self-help books, “The great Escape; A Girl’s Guide To Leaving a Marriage” and “A divorce Companion”, help economically-dependent women going through divorce. “Hearts Unbroken-short stories”, is her first published fiction. Lisa now resides in Vancouver, British Columbia. You can find out more about Lisa on her website  You can find and read the reviews for Lisa’s books on Amazon

Lisa requested American Pie by Don McLean and explains: So much music means everything to me but the last month it’s been this song. It reminds me of my childhood, a time when my family was close.Courtesy of maildavenow

You can buy Don McLean’s music on Amazon

And my final request comes from Dolly Aizenman of Kool Kosher Kitchen blog and cookery book.

Dolly is now semi-retired, loves to cook, and has time on her hands to share recipes and exchange new food ideas. Find out more, including the fabulous recipes from around the world on Dolly’s website  You can find Kool Kosher Kitchen and reviews on Amazon

Dolly requested Yesterday by The Beatles courtesy of Various Artists – Topic

Thank you so much for tuning in and for all the comments and shares for the End of Summer Posts.

There is one final celebration and that is tomorrow morning, just after midnight, when Paul Andruss, who has been on an extended break, shares a brand new post written to bring this week long party to a close.