Letters Never Meant to be Read Volume III and other Rusty Wheels Media Releases and Announcements

 

RWM and Lettersandbooks.com would like to thank all that contributed to Letters Never Meant to be Read: Volume III and announce that it is now available!
Kindle version:
https://amzn.to/2PPJYuC
Paperback version:
https://amzn.to/2T5Uqgu

We’ve also updated the covers and interior for a 2nd edition re-release of Volumes I&II which can be found here:
Volume I: https://amzn.to/2Dz3SV4
Volume II: https://amzn.to/2OGi7s2

If any of the letter writers want to be interviewed by Marc D. Crepeaux and A.M. Hounchell on our LettersandBooks channel,
Leave a Comment Below!

Stay tuned for Letters Volume IV writing contest!

As we post our publishing push for the holiday season, check out our completed and upcoming titles.
New Book by RWM! In the Mist of Fire by Nathalie Grabinski :
https://amzn.to/2FhXX8s
Contractual Obligations also has a new Audible Version:
https://amzn.to/2Fgt1W1
Stop That Wedding by Melissa Klein:
https://amzn.to/2qIM6WV

Join us, submissions are always accepted for publication!
https://lettersandbooks.com/
https://marcdcrepeaux.com/
https://amhounchell.ninja/

Follow us on Twitter!

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Book Review: “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” and Why I’ve Been Gone

I kill books on Audible. I listen, I read, I listen, I read. I am always searching for something, whether entertainment or in this case, Raw Power.

Yes indeed, Iggy Pop has his place in between chapters of this book. Better than Adderall. Deep Work: Rules for Success in a Distracted World is a firecracker to jump start your working habits.

There have been so many distractions away from my writing, editing, and publishing. We bought an old farm house, I was in uniform, work, work, and more work. I love teaching but it takes away from what I should be doing. One day soon, I will change that dynamic.

Without Deep Work to help guide my priorities, I would have been lost. There are so many great quotes from this book as these are rules to live by:

“We tend to place a lot of emphasis on our circumstances, assuming that what happens to us (or fails to happen) determines how we feel. From this perspective, the small-scale details of how you spend your day aren’t that important, because what matters are the large-scale outcomes…” ― Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

“…what we choose to focus on and what we choose to ignore—plays in defining the quality of our life.” 
― Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

“If every moment of potential boredom in your life—say, having to wait five minutes in line or sit alone in a restaurant until a friend arrives—is relieved with a quick glance at your smartphone, then your brain has likely been rewired…”

― Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

A bit of the Book Description:

In DEEP WORK, author and professor Cal Newport flips the narrative on impact in a connected age. Instead of arguing distraction is bad, he instead celebrates the power of its opposite. Dividing this book into two parts, he first makes the case that in almost any profession, cultivating a deep work ethic will produce massive benefits. He then presents a rigorous training regimen, presented as a series of four “rules,” for transforming your mind and habits to support this skill.
A mix of cultural criticism and actionable advice, DEEP WORK takes the reader on a journey through memorable stories — from Carl Jung building a stone tower in the woods to focus his mind, to a social media pioneer buying a round-trip business class ticket to Tokyo to write a book free from distraction in the air — and no-nonsense advice, such as the claim that most serious professionals should quit social media and that you should practice being bored. DEEP WORK is an indispensable guide to anyone seeking focused success in a distracted world.
What I Liked About this Book:
 
During a recent project which I will highlight in a later post, I was forced OUT of my comfort zone in order to do what I love: the creation of a book from manuscript to market. I was responsible for the editing, layout, and final version of a great project- The Forge: Certified Six Sigma Green Belt Certification Program Workbook. I say out of my comfort zone because a textbook about Six Sigma wasn’t in my repertoire but when an old friend calls, you jump. I am also committed to publishing anything that is good. Most people who know me can tell that I’m game for anything.

 

At the height of the project, we moved, I was called to uniformed service, taught, and of course…there were challenges with the project. Deep Work gave me the focus that I needed to complete tasks in a meaningful way and avoid distraction.

Without this book and intended focus, I would not have been able to finish this textbook that needed to be in the world.

Of course, this meant shying away from social media, focused writing only on personal time, and a delay in the next Letters Never Meant to be Read book. These are sacrifices that we all make as writers/editors/publishers when there are things called priorities and that evil called time.

When I would have been Tweeting, Blogging, Posting, and making clever memes, I was packing boxes and taking the necessary steps toward the finished product: a book.

Deep Work is a recipe for success but it does not come without sacrifice or consequences. Interestingly, this blog only continued to grow readers in my absence on social media due to my back catalog. My books continued to sell, and the world still turned without checking my phone all the time. That is part of what the book is all about.

I still went on Twitter, I still checked on things from time to time, but I did not focus my attention on these efforts as I had in the past. This desperation and yearning will get you nowhere when there is real work to do. I have to thank the author for the focused attention and emphasis on downtime that the book suggests.

“Your goal is not to stick to a given schedule at all costs; it’s instead to maintain, at all times, a thoughtful say in what you’re doing with your time going forward…” 
― Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World 

“Less mental clutter means more mental resources available for deep thinking.” 
― Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

 

What I didn’t like about this book:

Deep Work is hard (whine) so be careful what you wish for. This is not a ding on the book but more of a concern for what we as a society consider Working. If you hold a mirror in front your day and find half filled with answering email and pointless meetings, watch out.

I could have used a few more tangible activities but I was able to read between the lines and accomplish what needed to be done by the concepts arrayed in the book. We can all say that about this type of book because people looking for something to help typically like to be force-fed.

I would love to have a writer’s version of this book as I think it would be extremely helpful (and it would sell).

 

What this Book Does for My Writing:

I tend to work on too many projects at once. In the past, I have been able to focus on some “low hanging fruit” and accomplish book projects that I knew could be a finished product in the allotted time.

Deep Work made me realize that when I write, I just need to write. Phone off, distractions gone, just me and the page. I knew this before but I have a hard time remembering that this peculiar activity makes me very happy and fulfilled. When I can be in the moment, spinning yarn, I am at my best and happiest. I also get better at my chosen craft. Deep Work is about that concentrated focus that will turn you into a master instead of a forever apprentice.

The book warns against telling people that you are headed for Deep Work. I made the mistake of announcing my awesome plans on Twitter half way through the book, not that anyone was paying attention. The point is that it doesn’t matter.

What does matter is The Forge textbook, Letters Never Meant to be Read II, the book I am writing with A.M. Hounchell, and his other manuscript that RWM will be putting out this fall.

If you are looking for a decent read to adjust your working habits and productivity, I certainly recommend the Audible Version of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

5-Stars

 

Gender Disparity on ACX and Audible for Audiobook Producers- More Women Needed

With the Audiobook production of Worked Stiff: Short Stories to Tell Your Boss and Letters Never Meant to be Read underway, I noticed that I did not receive as many auditions as I had on my previous Audiobook projects on ACX.

For these projects, I was calling for female voice actors to perform these books. In the past, the projects called for male voices. I was able to get enough auditions on my previous book projects to pick and choose a little and really find the right male voice.

Modern Waste received 26 auditions for royalty split, and nonfiction offering Where Did You Go?: A 20th Century Guide to Finding Yourself Again by Andrew Brechko got 40 plus. Worked Stiff: Short Stories to Tell Your Boss and Letters Never Meant to be Read got only 1 (WS still open) and 6, respectively. Still, with the 6 for Letters, I was still able to find one great audition from Pamela Hershey, who seems to be new to the platform. The book is in production as I speak and will be ready for sale on Audible in a month or two.

This made me wonder just how many women verses men their are producing Audiobooks on ACX? Turns out, my observation was correct.

Male Producers (English)- 30881

Female Producers (English)- 24648

That is only a 56% to 44% difference you say? Well, with thousands of titles going into production every day, along with some lengthy production times, 6000+ more males than female actors can certainly mean less female auditions for your projects.

For the indie writer and publisher, this can mean less choice in who does your book.

Know a gal with a sweet voice that could melt the top of a whiskey glass? Go ahead, buy her Pro Tools, a soundproof room, and a decent microphone, I dare you…

 

 

 

Audible Version Now Available for Where Did You Go?: A 21st Century Guide to Finding Yourself Again by Andrew Brechko

I recently edited, produced, and published Andrew Brechko’s Where Did You Go?: A 21st Century Guide to Finding Yourself Again. What started as an enthusiastic discussion in the middle of a night maneuver, we two soldiers decided to produce a book together. Then, after bouts of sweaty misery in the Louisiana swamps, contacts were exchanged and promises were made.

Hard to believe, but 7 months later, we had a finished product that I believe to be a great starter book for my Army buddy Andrew, which also carries a good message to the reader. Given some coaching and time behind the keys, Andrew can be a prolific non-fiction author with excellent subject matter. On the whole, the book serves as a new path to take and has reportedly caused entire sections of the workforce to call it quits and follow their dreams.

After things settled a bit, I put the book up for audition on ACX. I couldn’t believe my eyes when we received over 40 auditions. I suppose that self- help or time management style books that are short are the bread and butter for some producers.

What an amazing platform and God Bless America because I found Barry Dean Evans.

Barry’s Bio:

Barry entered the voice over world at radio station KANS in Larned, Kansas. After a degree in Radio/TV Journalism from Kansas State University (EMAW!) he continued at NPR affiliate KSAC in Manhattan, then with radio station KFDI in Wichita, KS and KRMG in Tulsa, OK. Barry then became chief recording engineer and voice talent at Irving Productions in Tulsa for more than 30 years before starting Irving Sound, LLC in 2012.

Barry has voiced, appeared on-camera, edited, produced and written radio and television commercials from coast to coast and around the world. His projects include, the BASSMasters, ESPN, the Kentucky Derby/NBC, the University of Tulsa football and basketball, the Outdoor Channel, White Tail Country, Under Wild Skies, 6 Flags over Texas, Sonic, Arby’s, Thrifty Car Sales, Phillips 66, Garmin, Dowell Schulmberger and he was the voice of ESPN Classic for 10 years. His most recent work has been for CitiBank and GTA Telecommunications in Guam.

 

ESPN classic? Really? Such luck that Barry took kindly to our little project and produced an awesome Audiobook. Here was his audition and sample of the work:

 

Editing is hard. Editing a first-time author? Dangerous. I teach English, I should know where commas go, right? Wrong!

Barry did such a great job at reading through minor errors that I did not see with my eyes peeled, and run-on sentence structure. I plan to use his recording when I edit the book (again) and release the 2nd edition.

Turns out, both Andrew and I have an unusual attraction to the same plague: long-winded sentence structure.

I spent many cold mornings between 5am-7am writing and rewriting his work. I even sent it off for proofreading to my “go to guy” just in case. I feared the danger.

The danger that Andrew and I both fear is periods.

All is well that ends well though and I can do better, WILL do better. I have learned a great deal. With solid voice artists like Barry, we can all see our dreams come alive with sound.

I urge anyone with a book out there on Amazon or other platform to consider publishing their title with ACX. With more Audible customers every day and less competition overall, it certainly doesn’t hurt to try.

If you are wondering how to produce your audiobook for free with ACX, check out my previous post on “Why Audible and ACX are a MUST for Indie Authors.”

If you have any questions on producing your own Audible and iTunes versions, feel free to ask.

Now, go click a few dozen times, find your actor, and produce the Audio. I dare you…

Check out Andrew at http://abrechkooutdoors.com/

 

Book Review: Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo

As part of my Summer Reading List, this book breezed by as I clocked the hours in my car. My mom recommends books all the time and I do try and make a mental note whenever she tells of a good read. Often, with all the robberies, holdups, cases, and school fights I get involved in, I hardly get a chance to squeak a main-stream book in that her lady friends are reading for book club.

I do wish this particular group of ladies would sit with their glasses of wine and discuss one of my gems. I’ll keep trying.

In this case, I listened to the Audible edition because, well, I likely wouldn’t have read it any other way.

I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the book more than I thought I would as I hit the road right along with the protagonist.

 

 

 

Book Description:

When his sister tricks him into taking her guru on a trip to their childhood home, Otto Ringling, a confirmed skeptic, is not amused. Six days on the road with an enigmatic holy man who answers every question with a riddle is not what he’d planned. But in an effort to westernize his passenger–and amuse himself–he decides to show the monk some “American fun” along the way. From a chocolate factory in Hershey to a bowling alley in South Bend, from a Cubs game at Wrigley field to his family farm near Bismarck, Otto is given the remarkable opportunity to see his world–and more important, his life–through someone else’s eyes. Gradually, skepticism yields to amazement as he realizes that his companion might just be the real thing.

In Roland Merullo’s masterful hands, Otto tells his story with all the wonder, bemusement, and wry humor of a man who unwittingly finds what he’s missing in the most unexpected place.

A sequel, entitled Lunch with Buddha, is now available.  In a starred review, Kirkus magazine called this novel which continues the journey of Otto and Rinpoche, “a beautifully written and compelling story about a man’s search for meaning that earnestly and accessibly tackles some well-trodden but universal questions” and a “quiet meditation on life, death, darkness and spirituality, sprinkled with humor, tenderness and stunning landscapes.” 

 

What I Liked about this Book:

Ok, so this book was released about ten years ago but still maintains a timeless vibe that could easily go on for another thirty years, or whenever the Americana that the book describes no longer makes sense for comparison. The narrator and protagonist is an editor of largely Cookbooks who sets out on a painful road trip with a man he was not expecting. Together they tour the northern tier of America and the narrative serves as a reflection of our shimmering reality.

I must note that I am a sucker for a road-trip or quests of any kind. I love books and movies that span a fair amount of time and physical location.

The author offers solid transitions between the internal struggles of a middle-aged man who seems to have everything, and the outward appearance of our era.

This book is a fun, candid story about growth. It offers a novel approach to understanding human nature and the capacity to learn even after you seem to know everything. The author conveys this theme well by using a clever narrative where small squabbles and large conflict are paramount.

Both the internal and external struggle of the protagonist, named Otto, lead to a revelation within the story of two very different people on a road trip. I also appreciate the glance at Buddhism, among many other religions, as I am in study. I daresay that I learned more from this book regarding my mental state than I have at some of those Beginner’s Guide to Buddhism books that are out there.

 

What I Didn’t Like About this Book:

Pacing. Some sections I felt were too long, while others, too short. There were some parts that could have been cut to leave room for more sights, more experiences for the pair to enjoy, fight, and reflect over. I wanted to see more of America.

I also think some of the struggles the main character goes through may fall on deaf ears. He has everything, or seems to. I do not share this comfortable reality with the protagonist: his steady job as an editor of food publications, or his wondering whether his life has meaning despite the success he has achieved.

The protagonist is pondering, against his will, whether or not there is meaning behind his comfortable life and thus, the inner struggle ensues with the help of a spiritual guide.

Difficult to relate to because so many people, myself included, are struggling for real with overdo bills, credit reports, underemployment, etc. We already know the big prize is at the end is jaded and not working. We already suspect there is more to life than one job in one career=success and happiness via a big house and 2.5 new cars. We suspect this because we have to and the target is moving.

How nice for a middle-aged man to be able to take weeks off and find himself in the rubble of America that the author seems to only want to hint at, but never dive into.

 

What this Does for My Writing:

Branding much? Yeah, author Roland Merullo has quite the following, along with sequels Lunch With Buddha, Dinner With Buddha, and Rinpoche’s Remarkable Ten-Week Weight Loss Clinic, among other works that defy genre. All of his work seems to have great reviews and in high numbers.

Also, if you want to write a road-trip or physical and spiritual quest style book, this would be good to read and would help serve as something of a template.

4-Stars

If you are in need of a pick-me-up or just feeling down, I recommend this book for at least a different perspective.

Please, Feel Free to Comment below.

 

Book Review- Why Women Buy: How to Sell to the World’s Largest Market

 

 

This book was actually suggested to me on Audible. I am sure that I am confusing the robots in the sky by my varied purchases. I saw it then, with credits burning in my pocket, but discovered that the book was on pre-order and I added it to my wishlist long ago.

I thought because my Letters Never Meant to be Read was being largely bought by women, to my delight, that this book would give me some insight into that and help me with my Facebook and Amazon Ad copy.

Description:

Women drive 80% of consumer spending. The most powerful determining factor of how we see the world is GENDER. In today’s business market, women hold buying power of $4.4 trillion dollars, in the U.S. alone.

Mastering the skill to tap into the world’s largest buying segment will give you the competitive advantage you need. Dawn Jones shares 7 techniques for bridging the gap and capturing more business.

  1. Through scientific research, learn how women differ from men in the buying process.
  2. Overcome the fear of sales.
  3. Learn to operate with integrity.
  4. Learn to ask great questions.
  5. Integrate 4 communication styles.
  6. Learn to sell to 7 personality types.
  7. Master the four stages of competency.

Why Women Buy will equip you to stay ahead of your competition and master the art of selling to half the population.

 

What I Liked About this Book:

The first three chapters or so were great, exactly what I was looking for. It gave me some insight into retail buying behaviors of women and the idea that relationships and communication can have an impact on women’s’ purchases. I wanted some insight so that I could come up with better ad copy. This sort of helped, but with no real result.

There were some great discussions on social norms, biology, sociology, and psychology that could potentially help a marketeer in their pursuit of a target audience. In order to use this to your advantage, you must weed through the garden to find the gems of info.

The performance of the Audio book was awkward in parts but overall a great reading by author, coach, and entrepreneur Dawn Jones. I could listen to her voice for a long time. She does a great job at making a dry subject entertaining.

 

What I Didn’t Like About this Book:

By Chapter 4, this book drives toward direct sales or business to business marketing. I had flashbacks of my old roommate cold calling in the other room as he tried to sell magazine ads. Not really my cup of tea, and NOT what I was looking for in the slightest.

Indie booksellers ARE retailers. We often do this from a distance and our tactics are very different than that of a direct salesperson. An author must develop an elevator pitch but a lot of what is required involves copy: cover, back cover, book description, ads, promotional, etc. We try NOT to be pushy upfront with “Buy My Book!” and all that.

 

How This Effects My Writing:

I believe that I could listen to the first three chapters to give me at least a boost of confidence before writing copy which targets women readers on Facebook.

As for my fiction, not much. Reading is good for the soul in any manner. Listening to someone express their ideas with clear focus and direction is beneficial even if I don’t really dig the content.

 

3-Stars

 

If you are interested in direct sales and boardrooms, I recommend this book. This book is a little misleading in the ad copy, go figure.

I normally don’t review books that I don’t love, but it is on my summer list and I blew through this thing (only 3hrs and 53min) within a couple of days of driving. The overall performance and some information contained really saved this book.

 

Can you recommend any books to help with writing ad copy?

Please Comment Below.

Why Audible and ACX are a MUST for Indie Authors

With Audible pushing advertising and more people reading on the go, it just makes sense for Indie Authors to add the Audio book to their means of reaching readers.

It used to be that Audio books were limited to CD’s that got lost or scratched in the car. Now, people are consuming books via Bluetooth on their handheld supercomputers  at rapid rates on iTunes and Audible. With membership programs on Audible and decent pricing, the consumer only need to push a few buttons and be entertained during that long commute to nowhere.

For Indie Authors who want an edge as well as another revenue stream, ACX, owned by Amazon, is the best there is. Using their royalty system, an author can sample, audition, and hire professional voice actors without spending any money upfront. Funds, after ACX gets their cut, are split between the author and voice actor, known as the producer. You can hire the producer via royalty or pay their hourly rate. ACX has strict standards, so one does not have to worry about quality control. You can also go out on a limb and produce the work yourself with ACX.

For my first book Modern Waste, I was propositioned by Scott Pollak after hanging my 50/50 royalty split audition out there. The voice of NPR Atlanta, Scott wanted to do my book because it had the North Georgia flavor he knew well and I needed several Southern accents due to my unique and long character list. He did a great job and I was able to ask Scott to edit a few parts after the final product was delivered. The experience was great, easy, and exciting.

Having an audio version of your book for sale on Amazon can help with your professional status. When customers see you have an eBook, print, and audio, it gives a sense of the complete package. One of the challenges I see going forward with Letters Never Meant to be Read is just how to get several voices for an anthology? While this may not be possible in the current configuration, I can rest easy knowing my short-story collection Worked Stiff: Short Stories to Tell Your Boss will one day be read by a professional.

As a rabid consumer of Audio books, I have found another way to consume books while driving and I am able to hone my craft of writing in ways I never thought possible. While writing my next short-story collection, I tore through anthologies and collections to keep myself in the zone and my mind open to the possibilities of the form.

There is so much to choose from on Audible too, from 30 minute erotica for 48 cents to history books that will take you a whole month to listen to on your morning commute. When I get in the car, I can’t wait to push play, especially now, as I am listening to Edgar Allan Poe – The Complete Short Stories.

Read and Write on, Dear Reader, in any way you choose. Do so often, I dare you…