Fee-For-Review vrs Vanity Review Overview

fee for review

Probably one of the most controversial topics still in the book publishing industry is the idea of an author (or publicist) paying for a review of their book. It’s an offshoot of the self-publishing versus publishing industry argument that comes from the old vanity presses of the past.

A vanity press, for the younger readers, was a publishing company that would charge an author for the entire print run of a book. The publisher might make attempts to sell the book, but their profit had already been taken in the print run of the book (and sometimes ongoing storage fees of the unsold books). The publisher often kept rights to the book, provided little to no support (cover design, marketing, etc.), or charged excessive fees for those services. The books usually didn’t go through an approval or editing process, the only things required being a manuscript and the money to pay the publisher.

So, the stigma of the vanity press was a hold-over into the era of self-publishing. While many of the vanity press companies morphed into self-publishers, other companies truly did provide a cheap, effective way for an author to get a book into print and platforms to sell it to an audience apart from the traditional publishing route. And even with many self-publishing authors reaching best-seller status with their books, there still is, in the book industry, that same lingering stigma of the self-publisher.

Leading from that is the issue of paying for reviews. As more print publications reduced or eliminated their book sections, the competition for authors and publishers to get attention for books escalated. So, in 2001, ForeWord Reviews launched Clarion Reviews, which charged a fee to provide a review for a book. From there, fee-for-review services popped up, and with the rise of Amazon, services that would provide as many 5-star reviews for your book or product as you could afford.

Over the years, paid review services have become more acceptable, though still controversial to some. Even Kirkus Reviews, the oldest book review service in the U.S., has a paid version for authors or publishers that can’t be reviewed through general submission. But the sigma of the vanity press has also rolled over into the fee-for-review programs. And in some cases, for good reason.

For every professional review company offering a review for a fee, there is another company offering a glowing 5-star review for a fee. While they couch their program in vague generalities about placing a book with the perfect reader or that they only release 4- and 5-star reviews, they’re really just going to write up a review guaranteed to make the author happy. Kirkus reviewers have always been anonymous, so they have the freedom to say what they think without potential retribution, and because fee-for-reviews isn’t the primary income stream for Kirkus, they also don’t need an author to be happy with a glowing review so they’ll come back with the next book the author writes.

City Book Review started in 2008 with a policy that they only reviewed books that had been released in the last 90 days. That kept the focus on new releases, but authors looking for a review from the Sacramento or San Francisco Book Reviews started asking for their book to be reviewed from outside of that period. That was the initial impetus to start charging, first for books outside the review window, and then authors who just wanted to make sure they received a review from us and didn’t want to go through the general submission process for free.

One good sign if a review program is more “vanity” than “fee:” does the company review any other books or only books they’re paid to review? Much like the vanity publishers whose only business model was being paid by authors to publish their book, not sell the book to bookstores or the public for the author, vanity review services only review books they’ve been paid to review. That creates both the impression that they’re only in the business of providing “feel good” reviews for authors and getting them to come back book after book, but also reduces the credibility of the review to bookstores, libraries, and other readers.

Reasons to pay for a review:

  1. It can get you that first review to kick-start your marketing and to give you something to include on your book cover and media kit (if you get the review done pre-publication).

  2. You’re looking for an independent, critical look at your book, outside of your friends and family who have read it so far.

  3. Your local newspaper or media outlets don’t do local book reviews (or any book reviews).

  4. You need a professional book review (or several) to get your local bookstores or libraries to carry the book or set up a local author appearance for you.

Things to watch out for:

  1. The fee-for-review service only reviews books they’ve been paid to review, or the majority of the books they review are paid reviews.
  2. They don’t review books and authors you don’t recognize (all of the books reviewed are self-published or very small press).
  3. Industry professionals recognize and recommend the service and don’t get a referral fee for sending business to them (not something easy to discover, but an important issue).

Where to get a good professional review if/when you need to pay for it:

  1. City Book Review (starts at $199)
  2. Kirkus Indie (starts at $499)
  3. Clarion Reviews (starts at $450)
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Couple Shares Why They Cant Leave Their Home And Everyone Is Telling Them To Burn Their House

Queensland, Australia resident Lauren Ansell was cooking dinner with her boyfriend the other night when an unexpected visitor turned their quiet evening into a night of terror. It was a huntsman spider, a horrifying dinner plate-sized beast, and he wasn’t in the mood for any funny business.

Though not extremely dangerous to humans, huntsman spiders will bite if aggravated – and you better believe the bad boy holding this couple hostage was unhappy when they tried to move him. Even their poor cat was too afraid of the demonic creature to make a move. Would they be doomed to forever cower inside their home at the behest of a menacing arachnid?

After the bitter stand-off culminated in Ansell’s partner attempting to crush the eight-legged aggressor using the glass door, the enemy retreated with minor wounds. “We nicknamed the spider ‘Aragog’ from Harry Potter, and feel the spider has run into the forbidden forest,” Ansell told local media in conclusion. Though it’s unclear whether Aragog is gone for good, or simply lying in wait until his next attack, at least everyone involved in this harrowing drama came out alive.

An Australian couple was recently making dinner when an uninvited guest turned up at their door

It was a giant huntsman spider, and he wasn’t in the mood for any funny business

Lauren Ansell and her boyfriend, the homeowners, were locked in a vicious stand-off

“We nicknamed the spider ‘Aragog’ from Harry Potter… “

The name is surely well fitting, just look at his huge long legs!

See footage of the terrifying encounter for yourself below, though be prepared to squirm

People were shocked to say the least

What would you do if you encountered such a spider yourself? Tell us in the comments below!

Read more: http://www.boredpanda.com/monster-huntsman-spider-holds-terrified-couple-hostage-in-their-own-home-reacts-angrily-to-being-moved/

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Google is giving users less reason to ever leave its sprawling walled garden

Image: mashable composite

Google used to be about transporting you around the open web and connecting you with all the weird, wonderful stuff the internet has to offer.

Not anymore. If it was up to Google, you’d never need to leave its growing internet real estate. It’s a scary proposition for just about everybody but Google.

Between fast-loading AMP articles from major news brands hosted in its domain, full pages of information scraped from outside sites that don’t require you to visit them, basic shopping functions built into ads, YouTube, and a host of other features, the Google-verse is more of a digital walled garden than ever.

The most recent addition comes in the form of a report that the company is considering killing visible URLs altogether.

Google has always had these ambitions to one extent or another. Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt said way back in 2005 that the platonic ideal of a Google search should ultimately yield just one result, and that result would be the simplest answer to the query, no clicks needed.

The company has made various moves towards this idea in the years since, but it only really became aggressive about it when arch-rival Facebook’s own drive towards its own enclosed platform lit a fire.

The benefits of operating within a regulated walled garden are obvious. The open web tends a wild and messy place, whereas closed platforms allow companies to control, track, and potentially monetize every part of their user experience and behavior.

Google’s a bit different because it primarily operates in the web at large. Its core business is built around organizing and indexing the internet’s chaotic expanses. Its networks place ads on thousands of different sites, reaping billions of dollars in the process.

The company justifies its new crusade as a boon to consumers, who obviously aren’t big fans of slow-loading pages, extra navigation, and annoying ads. And six in ten Google users say they want more results they don’t have to click.

But that convenience doesn’t come without a cost. Brian Warner, founder and CEO of CelebrityWorthNet.com, understands perhaps more than anybody the power of Google’s wall-building.

Warner started to notice the content from his site appearing directly on search results pages in 2012. Two years later, he got an email from Google asking to scrape all of his data, which he turned down. Another two years after that, Google did it anyway, and the impact was catastrophic.

“It was extremely painful, it was extremely devastating,” Warner said. “We got to a point where our traffic was down 85 percent from a year or two earlier.”

Search for the net worth of any celebrity at random todaylet’s say, James Earl Jonesand you’ll get the number ($45 million) and a short biographical blurb pulled from CelebrityNetWorth.com with credit and a link. Below that is a panel of questions commonly asked about the Star Wars actor (“Is James Earl Jones alive or dead?” reads one) and dropdown answers pulled from sources ranging big news sites to personal blogs (“James Earl Jones is alive!” E!’s excerpted headline rejoices.)

More questions load every time you click, and it’s easy to stray from related topic to topic without ever leaving Google.

Google will load endless related questions.

Image: screenshot

The growth in the use of these sorts of built-in tools in the past few years has been dramatic. A recent report from marketing agency Stone Temple found that half of all Google search results now come with some form of information hosted within the siteand three in ten with so-called “snippets” in particular. As of January, these excerpts appeared more than 50 percent more often than they did just a year and a half earlier.

The use of embedded excerpts has grown at a crazy rate.

Image: stone temple

Google’s mobile experience has become even more insulated from the rest of the web. Some secondary results pages are now entirely self-contained; they list relevant information directly on the page and link only to AMP articles, YouTube videos, and other results pages in the same format. It’s not hard to imagine how this set-up might be fleshed out into an entirely closed information network one day.

Only one link on this page will take you outside a Google property.

Image: screenshot

There’s also a steady stream of more subtle indications of Google’s inward pull appearing every dayfeatures like on-site hotel booking, restaurant menus, spa appointment tools, and dropdown recipes to name just a few.

These tweaks might sound minor, but Google’s position as the web’s central nervous system means they can have big impact on smaller businesses that orbit it.

In the long run, there seems to be a pretty glaring hole in this plan. That is, as Google likes to reassure wary publishers, it’s not in the content business.

The company ultimately relies on reference sites like Wikipedia, IMDB, Fandango, and the CIA World Fact Book to compile and update the information it uses.

If Google continues to choke these sites out, what incentive will there be for new ones to come along?

“CelebrityNetWorth is a website I created because I thought it needed to exist and I liked it,” Warner said. “There’s no way I would go about that today.”

The information Google plasters on results pages isn’t immune to mistakes, whether because of the quality of the site from which it was pulled or a data misalignment on Google’s part.

These sorts of functions fall under the province of Google’s much-touted “Knowledge Graph,” a program it built in 2012 to populate its results pages with aggregated content. The system has shifted search’s focus from just words to more complex concepts that text represents. The engine powering it is constantly vacuuming up new data from all over the web.

It’s an impressive tool, but the quality of the information it stores is ultimately only as good as that of the web around it.

And as Google puts the squeeze on publishers, it risks deteriorating it.

For now, though, that concern doesn’t seem to be at the top of Google’s priority list as it works on swallowing more and more of the internet.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/08/13/google-eating-the-web/

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30 Little Things Ive Learned About Life And Love During My First 6 Months Of Marriage

Callie Morgan

Everyone tells you that marriage is hard, and in many ways it truly isit tests you and sometimes it breaks you downbut guess what? Marriage is also SUPER RAD, and I think more married people need to go around telling that truth.

Being married means you get to spend every day with your best friend. You get to learn more about that person and grow with and from them. You get to become a better human being, and you get to experience life with your partner right there by your side.

Even though I’ve only been married for 6 months, I think my husband and I have been dealt a crazy hand, which has taught us a lot, so here are some of the awesome (and not so awesome) things I’ve learned about marriage this far.

1. You always have someone to binge-watch shows with.

2. But consequently you always have someone to argue about what show you both are going to binge-watch.

3. Having good communication truly works wonders when you get into arguments.

4. Being intentional with your time is extremely important.

5. Scheduling dates is a must!

6. Sometimes you’ll get into pretty mundane routines, so changing things up every once in awhile helps.

7. Talking openly to other married friends about your problems is extremely beneficial. It’s nice to hear that they have similar problems, and then you can get advice about what they do to solve things.

8. Having money talks regularly is pretty dreadful, but it helps to be on the same page.

9. You have your own personal masseuse.

10. But marriage is about give and take, so be prepared for your spouse to ask for a massage too.

11. Being married makes you realize how selfish and stubborn you are. Marriage doesn’t allow any room for those kinds of qualities.

12. Saving money is difficult and taxing, but it’s nice to have a cushion.

13. Being married really does change you for the better, but you have to be willing to actually work on changing.

14. Reading about and understanding the five love languages really helps – especially because most couples give and receive love in different ways.

15. Sometimes you’ll schedule sex. And that’s okay.

16. Every so often you’ll be tight on money and that means staying home. Not always fun, but necessary.

17. Finding time to schedule a meet-up with friends once you’re married might be difficult, but it’s beneficial for both of you.

18. Preparing meals ahead of time makes life easier. Microwaves are seriously a godsend. Just heat it up and you’re ready to go!

19. Budget. Budget. Budget.

20. Make sure you have at least a few designated chores. It makes house cleanup and maintenance a breeze.

21. Cleaning and doing laundry suck, so remember to take turns.

22. You’re going to argue about stupid, little things, but just remember that it’s not you and your spouse against each other. It’s you and your spouse against the argument. Work together to figure out how to mend the situation.

23. Once you’re married, you will get baby fever, and you will be asked at least once a week by someone when you’ll be having a baby.

24. Have a money jar or separate bank account for adventures. Getting away every now and then is refreshing.

25. Eating out is easy and fun, but cooking food at home together is way cheaper and more rewarding.

26. Collect coupons. Groceries get expensive.

27. Money becomes sparse around the holidays, buying presents for both sides of the family, so make a list of what you want to get everyone and start your shopping a few months ahead.

28. Going to bed angry isn’t always the worst thing in the world. Sometimes it works better to have a clear head in the morning.

29. Continue to do things you do while you were dating. Love notes, flowers, etc. They keep the passion alive.

30. Say “I love you” every day. And mean it.

Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/elizabeth-anne-weinberger/2017/08/30-little-things-ive-learned-about-life-and-love-during-my-first-6-months-of-marriage/

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Rule #1 Don’t Be #2 by Daniel Milstein

Book Summary

Want to be in the world’s top 3% of achievers?

Would you like a road map to get there?

In his fourth book, RULE #1 DON’T BE #2,bestselling author, CEO, and NHL Hockey Agent

Daniel Milstein inspires like never before, challenging us to dream BIG with his charismatic candor, giving us each a compelling glimpse into our own limitless potential.

Read Dan’s riveting account of overcoming adversity to reach the top and countless

stories of others who’ve dominated their respective fields against seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Framed in Dan’s fast-paced, conversational style and his best-loved, thought-provoking quotes,

we’re gifted the life-changing lessons of the world’s greatest achievers.

http://amzn.to/2vafzgl

Here’s what Top Achievers say about RULE #1 DON’T BE #2 – You Get What You Work For Not What You Wish For.

“This book is hard-hitting, straightforward and life-changing. It teaches you how to join the “big league” in your work and personal life.”
Brian Tracy

“Dan Milstein is a living testament to the indomitable American spirit and showing how hard work, positive thinking and a laser focus can drive accomplishment and success.”
Carol Cain
Emmy Award Winning Journalist
CBS-TV & The Detroit Free Press

“The skills he teaches can be used by anyone to develop their own business and sales efforts.”
Ross Rojek, San Francisco Book Review

“Reading this book not only is an engrossing experience – it is an uplifting one.”
Grady Harp, Top 100 Amazon Reviewer

“This book is a true gem, it is empowering, inspirational, ruthlessly honest, but most importantly it is probably the most outstandingly motivational book you will ever read, if you REALLY want your dreams to come true.”
Susan Keefe
Midwest Book Review

“His compact book is eye-catching, utilizing a variety of font sizes and styles and mixing colorful text and graphic backgrounds. Each chapter title spurs the reader to think and act.”
Recommended.
The U.S. REVIEW of BOOKS

Rule #1 Don’t Be #2 is a life-altering, life-enhancing, life-embracing read that offers a practical and thoroughly ‘user friendly’ instructional guide that is impressively well written, organized and presented. While very highly recommended, especially for community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections.”
Midwest Book Review

“If the ideas aren’t unique to this work, the packaging itself exhibits a great deal of flair. The book is small and compact, smartly uses lots of large type and a second color for emphasis, and employs a graphically engaging format that makes skimming a snap. Give Rule #1 Don’t Be #2 an A-plus for style.”
Foreword Clarion Reviews

Manhattan Book Review 4 Stars

In this book, author Daniel Milstein provides a manual for success. The author escaped the former Soviet Union as a teenager, coming to the United States almost literally penniless. He has since built a business empire with interests in finance, sports management, publishing, and film. The book is laid out in 25 short chapters with pithy titles such as “Go Big or Go Home,” “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize,” and “Stand Up and Be Counted.”

The book is structured something like a manual, with its short chapters and large print for key points. It is easy to read, targeting the busy reader interested in putting ideas into action. Principles of hard work, clarifying goals, and improving individual performance prevail throughout. The book offers examples of success stories such as Ben Carson, a brain surgeon and member of the Trump administration, who rose from poverty through his dedication to education. The book also has exercises such as focusing on and writing down goals. It is well written, has a strong writing style, and is professionally packaged by the author’s publishing company. The most impressive part of the overall book is the author himself, who is a role model for his advice, an important feature of the motivational/self-help genre. Without such success, an author is not credible. Another important part of this work is that “success” is self-defined, hence the focus on personal goals, but the author’s techniques for reaching those goals seem applicable across a range of areas. The individual reader might regard Milstein’s personal success story of managing an international corporation as a nightmare when applied to herself, but she may have a dream of achieving success in the arts. The author’s strategies of defining this goal and of maintaining focus on and working toward it are still applicable to that reader. My one criticism of the work is it tends to be repetitive. The theme of setting goals, for example, is repeated throughout. But any solid work, fiction or nonfiction, has a theme. The author has in this work achieved the goal of reaching “number one.”

Reviewed by Stacia Levy
https://manhattanbookreview.com/product/rule-1-dont-be-2-you-get-what-you-work-for-not-what-you-wish-for/

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Confessions of an American Doctor by Max Kepler

Book Summary

In 2005, I was arrested by agents from both the US Postal Service and the Food and Drug Administration for the importation of illegal human growth hormone and botulinum toxin (Botox) from China.

At the time of my arrest, I was a thirty-seven year old Harvard graduate with medical and post-doctoral degrees. I attended one of the finest residency and fellowship training programs in the world at the University of California, San Francisco. I played two sports in college, earned awards at every level of education and training, had wonderful friends and a beautiful three-year-old daughter. Having grown up the son of a restaurant manager and a housewife, I had transcended the humble beginnings of a small Midwestern town to become the quintessential American Dream.

Or so I thought.

But with my arrest on felony importation charges, everything I had worked so hard for was swept away and the entire trajectory of my life was indelibly altered. I would embark on a three year battle not only for my medical license, but also for my freedom. This journey would lead to intense personal introspection, and in that process, I would discover with ugliness, there was also beauty, and with punishment, mercy.

There are many reasons I have written this manuscript, with one of the most important being that I hoped my story would resonate with others who have gone through difficult circumstances as a consequence of a dark side of their personality. With this book, I hope to inspire others to accept and embrace the good and bad, while continually striving for improved self-understanding and acceptance.

I have changed names primarily for legal purposes, but the facts are unchanged. Although the events described in the book occurred more than ten years ago, I think about them nearly every day. The shame and humiliation are ever-present. Any simple Google search of my name reveals the truth, and that truth has affected me over and over, despite the years, as it probably should. As the judge told me that day in a federal courtroom, “You have betrayed the public’s trust.”

This is my confessional.

Buy on Amazon – http://amzn.to/2tcoKre

San Francisco Book Review – 4 Stars

Confessions of an American Doctor is a true account of a doctor in the United States. The author has used different names to respect of the privacy of his patients and peers.

The novel opens with the arrest of Dr. Max Kepler, a rheumatologist by profession. As he is being handcuffed, the events of the previous few months flash before his eyes. He then writes a detailed account of his past, leading up to his venture into cosmetology and anti-aging clinics.

Divorced and bored with his job at Cade County Hospital, he partners up with Lance, who promises him a partnership in a startup, and together they work on medicine aimed for hair growth. Starting with that, they then foray into hormone supplementation as well as Botox and Mesotherapy. Using loopholes in the medical system of the US and the FDA, they manage to bypass standard checks as well as to use substandard compounds imported from China. Lance leads him to meet a range of businessmen interested in financing their projects. Dr. Kepler is too excited at the prospect of incoming money, and he doesn’t bother doing background checks on the sources of funds. He opens a wellness clinic by the name of Forever Lithe, which branches out to multiple locations across the country. He administers Botox, Mesotherapy, and other anti-aging and cosmetology treatments, eventually resulting in a healthy number of patients.

He has an idea that Lance supplies hormones and anabolic steroids to professional athletes, but he feels unconcerned as he is not directly supplying them. They become cautious when their supplies of human growth hormone from China are intercepted at US Customs.

Dr. Kepler didn’t bother doing a background check on Lance, and eventually, Lance’s shady past catches up with him. Lance is subsequently arrested on account of his import and illegal use of human growth hormone for anti-aging purposes on his patients, and his court proceedings are recounted as well. Read on to find out if he feels he is guilty of his crime and what will be the future of his venture with Lance.

The author has given a detailed account of his childhood, relationships, and his struggles through medical education. He also explains the uses of all the hormones they created in labs, which shows his thorough knowledge of pharmacology. His detailed understanding of the medical system of the United States and the loopholes which led to them getting away with using substandard medicines on patients have been described really well. This novel is a treat to read for medical students and current physicians of any country.

Reviewed By: Rabiya Jawed

https://sanfranciscobookreview.com/product/confessions-of-an-american-doctor/

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Clockwork Strange: Into The Whirlwind by Dale McInnes

Clockwork Strange: Into The Whirlwind by Dale McInnes

Story Summary:

A North American novel inspired by Karel Zeman’s 1955 children’s classic tale Cesta Do Praveku Our first novel begins in 1943 with the disappearance of nine children and their three puppies on a prairie farm when they discover a door to long extinct alien worlds. Their story is one of awe and exploration. It is told as two simultaneous stories, one of the repercussions on the family farm community 25 years later, and the other of how the children struggle to survive their first alien environmental ice age encounter. It is the very first time that the concept of ‘deep time’ will be told through the eyes of children [for both the children and the young adults] and kept as scientifically accurate as a good story can be told. This is the North American Debut of a prehistoric ALICE IN WONDERLAND chronicle of deep time, wherein WONDERLAND is as real as the children who tumble into it.

http://amzn.to/2tGExCj

San Francisco Book Review:

From an author who had experienced the open space needed for a child’s imagination to truly blossom while growing up on a farm in Manitoba, Canada, Clockwork Strange: Into the Whirlwind by Dale McInnes is the first of a series of science fiction books that children will, no doubt, enjoy. Adults, meanwhile, shouldn’t hesitate to read this book at all. It brings back long-slumbering memories of a time when magic was indeed a possibility.

Albert Morley, a man of the early-to-middle twentieth century, is a crazy man, according to some. His sister-in-law isn’t overly fond of him, but really the only thing that’s wrong with him is that he had experienced something extraordinary as a child thanks to a mysterious caboose. For twenty years, Albert had been gone. Nothing had changed upon his return. Now, years later, the caboose has done it’s magic again. Nine kids and three little dogs vanish, never to be seen again.

What happened to these kids and their three little dogs reaches many ears, but what many don’t know is that these kids have been taken to a world and time where everything is big and dangerous. Cats, wolves, mammoths–everything’s big. Armed with writings that can be found in Albert’s diary, the kids have to figure out a way to survive.

Of the nine kids, Daniel assumes the leadership role. When important decisions have to be made, his voice is the one that will most likely be heard. The puppies are out of harm’s way most of the time. The kids use the knowledge from what they see as an added tool to survive. They learn to adapt to their surroundings and do what it takes to survive even when the decisions they have to make become as tough as the mammoth hides they have to cut from mammoth carcasses. Children will love the characters in this book for their bravery in the face of terrifying circumstances and will learn a thing or two about teamwork and smart strategies to fend of predators of the wild.

I did like what the author primarily tried to do and that was to write a story so that readers could experience the less technologically-ridden world of the 1930s to 1950s through the eyes of a child. Childhood is filled with magic. McInnes scatters it about freely in this book. My wish is that McInnes made the absence of the kids more emotionally relatable as we do get to follow the Morley clan back in the real world in the years after the incident with the caboose.

Reviewed By: Benjamin Ookami

https://sanfranciscobookreview.com/product/clockwork-strange-into-the-whirlwind/

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Business witches of Instagram take sorcery to a new level

Image: ambar del moral/mashable

Katie Karpetz is a business witch.

No, really. Karpetz, a Canadian who identifies as a bog witch because of her unruly hair, is literally in the business of selling products marketed specifically for other witches.

She sells everything from vintage amethyst tower wands designed to soothe insomnia, to custom-made “witch bottles” whose recipes are top secret. For the uninitiated, a witch bottle acts as a “recharging” agent for different parts of the psyche.

Her preferred medium for displaying and advertising her inventory? Her Instagram account, @WitcheryWay.

A post shared by The Witch (@witcheryway) on

Karpetz is not alone. A quick Instagram search for the hashtag #WitchesofInstagram will garner you over 700,000 results, and many of them are selling witchy wares.

There is no one particular path of witchcraft all of these business witches follow. Some identify as Wiccan, while others ascribe to Paganism, and others still prefer the term secular witchcraft. A lot of witches dont like to label their beliefs, and instead say what sort of traditions influence them the most, such as Germanic paganism, Hoodoo, root work (folk-based witchcraft), or Brujeria (Hispanic-based witchcraft).

The products the Instagram witches sell are as vast and diverse as their spiritual paths. There are magazines curated especially for witches, tarot cards with original illustrations, herbs and oils with various protection and healing properties, amulets and pendants, and, of course, an abundance of crystals.

Whats more, there exists a community among these Instagram business witches, in which the account owners often personally know and support each other with promotions, free of charge.

Everyones pretty supportive, radical feminists, building each other up, and giving shout outs to each other, said Christy Patton, founder of the New Orleans School for Esoteric Arts and operator of the witchy-lifestyle Instagram account, @NolaEsoteric.

We buy each others products, and we put them on our own Instagram stories.

A post shared by Nola Esoteric (@nolaesoteric) on

Christie Patton and Josie Campos of Nola Esoteric (left to right)

However, many of these self-made business witches did not start their Instagram accounts with the intention of building occult business empires. Karpetz began her account five years ago as a private space where she could post all the witchy stuff [she] was into, as well as items she was making for herself.

In the beginning it was just for me, Karpetz said of her Instagram account, which now has over 50,000 followers, in an email to Mashable. What started [the business] was a witch bottle I had created; after I posted it on Instagram people were asking where they could buy it.

A community of online activists

The Instagram witches are mostly self-taught through books, art, and the internet; Patton was actually inspired to start her school because of the lack of esoteric art teachers in New Orleans. However, most witches agree that witchcraft is, by nature and history, a solitary venture. That is why having the Instagram community is so unique.

We have become really close friends with some really amazing witches on Instagram, Patton said. We have friends all over the world.

Instagram is also used for promotions and feedback; most business witches actually sell their products on an accompanying website or Etsy store. Mashable reached out to Instagram for comment regarding its policy on promotion.

The promised benefits of the products range from personal improvement, such as making oneself more focused, to widespread good, like destroying fascism. Instagrams interface also allows customers to post a review as a comment right on the photo of whichever product is being advertised.

We all make very natural products for spiritual people because were ethically radical, said Josie Campos, Patton’s esoteric apprentice. We want change.

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Campos said she noticed this radical shift in the Instagram business witch community following the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The organization W.I.T.C.H. has seen a resurgence, a sizable number are signing up to hex the patriarchy, and, as an act of protest, Patton and Campos sold a special tea they created to honor the election results.

We collaborated with another Instagram witch, @cattailapothacary, and created this tea blend called This Tea Grabs Back, Patton said. It was made of cat herbs. (Don’t worry, the tea didn’t involve actual cats, just feline-named herbs and plants like pussy willow).

Its about how we as witches and as women could resist together, Campos added. And that even though we currently have to exist within a capitalist system, we can do it ethically.

Patton believes the political climate following the election has led to a surge in witchcrafts popularity as a whole, which she says she has seen, albeit anecdotally, reflected in her own business.

Witchcraft has been a big thing because of that feeling of hopelessness, Patton said. Especially right now, now that hopelessness is more accentuated. Most people are looking for answers and looking for change, and theyll keep practicing witchcraft if it helps them feel better.

Commercialization: for better or worse

Its hard to miss the recent commercialization and popularization of witchcraft in mainstream culture. Lana Del Rey has tweeted out the best dates for spell-casting and Urban Outfitters now sells crystals (and perfume with crystals in it), spell books, and tarot cards.

Many of the Instagram witches dont take issue with magic becoming more mainstream. They do, however, have a problem with the methods mainstream retailers use. Campos and Patton wanted to stress that their products are created differently from those of a big-box chain.

All our herbs are organic and fair trade; we grow them ourselves,” Patton said.

Patton, Campos and the other business witches of Instagram are aware that many people who buy their products and witchy products from other stores are not interested in becoming practicing pagans. The idea of a witchy aesthetic has become something cultivated by many millennials, and they know it.

It doesnt bother us if theyre just interested in that. If youre interested in the aesthetic, I hope you stay for the products, Patton said.

Patton and Campos call these people dabblers, and warned that dabbling in witchcraft is not advisable.

When youre dabbling youre not taking yourself seriously, Campos said. Its dangerous and something people shouldnt try; its not just fun, muggles, Harry Potter its a spiritual belief.

Some members of the community disagree; they do not see a danger in people trying on witchcraft for size. Sarah Telaar (Gwen Hawk on social media) who is from Germany and runs the popular Instagram account @ancient_hearts, said one of her products in particular is aimed at newcomers.

I feel like a certain range of products, like my Herb Witch Boxes that are really popular, go out to people that are new to witchcraft or want to start learning more, Telaar said via email to Mashable. Which is absolutely perfect because these products are designed as starter kits for beginners.

Not all Instagram witches, however, are okay with the appropriation of the occult as an aesthetic. Olivia McMaster, a practicing Wiccan who is active in the Instagram witch community, said she finds the idea of a witchy aesthetic irksome.

I find it disrespectful to an extent, she said in an email to Mashable. While being interested in a faith or culture is great, using our symbols and traditions for your aesthetic isnt ok. Its a culture and a tradition and something that I and other witches take seriously, and commercializing our religion is hurtful.

McMaster did contend, however, that the commercialization did have some benefits.
It gets the publics attention to the truth about witchcraft, she said. Its not like American Horror Story: Coven. Were real people with an amazing and unique and diverse religion, and I wish people saw the real us, not the make-believe, Hollywood depiction of witches.

Moving forward: the future of the business witch

The movement of magic into mainstream culture, Patton said, has allowed many older witches to come out of the broom closet, and be open and proud of their spirituality.

McMaster agreed that the publics fear of witches and witchcraft has begun to dim in recent years. We can be more vocal about our beliefs nowadays, and on social media, people are seemingly more accepting, she said.

As for the future, the witches believe that, despite the current state of affairs in the world, the future is bright. Patton and Campos are even planning to open a physical store to sell their products and, presumably, advertise their wares on Instagram. They view their enterprise as more than just a store they see it, and their social media presence, as a way to shape the future.

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Its about re-educating the next generation, Patton said. All these old, white dudes will be dead in 15 to 20 years, and we have to be able to shape how the world will change. Instagram is just one tool to do that.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/07/22/witches-instagram-business/

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Lucia Zarate By Cecilia Velastegui

Lucia Zarate Cover

Story summary:

Lucia Zárate is based on the poignant, real-life odyssey of the world’s smallest woman. Pretty and gregarious, Lucia Zárate was just twenty inches tall. A celebrity after her ‘display’ at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial International Exhibition, Lucia’s extraordinary, heartbreaking story is one of exploitation by greedy sideshow hucksters and a fishbowl existence on the road, from New York to Victorian London. We follow the adventures of diminutive Lucia Zárate and her devoted governess as they grapple with life and death, finding joy and adventure in their bumpy sideshow journey of more than fourteen years. This is an artfully balanced novel that is a mesmerizing tale of survival, resilience, and the uplifting force of friendship.

Forward Review:

The sad life story of the diminutive Lucia Zárate is intriguing and informative.

Cecilia Velástegui’s historical novel, Lucia Zárate, chronicles the extraordinary life of the tiniest person who ever lived. The opening pages, lyrical and riveting, paint Mexico with vivid brushstrokes, bringing the sights, sounds, and smells of Veracruz and its vanilla bean industry to life.

Like all historical fiction, Lucia Zárate plaits fact and fancy. Lucia Zárate (January 2, 1864–January 15, 1890) holds the Guinness World Record as the smallest human, measuring twenty-one inches tall and weighing less than five pounds at seventeen years of age. Velástegui describes her as “a wisp of a girl, a perfect and miniature thing, whose singular appearance and sparkling personality were as unique as the cherished fragrance of Veracruz vanilla.” Despite her diminutive size, she “spread the velvet folds and lace frills of her gowns in such a way that she extended her personal space in a wide circle all around her.”

Incorporated into the fictitious elements are actual newspaper accounts of Lucia’s nineteenth-century tour of America and Europe. Sometimes these factual reports are artfully woven into the tale; other times, not. As a result, the book wavers between pure history and historical fiction, never landing squarely on either one.

Lucia’s story is told primarily from the vantage point of her governess, Zoila. When Zoila realizes she must extricate herself from her village’s internecine vanilla bean trade skirmishes, as well as from the rumors swirling around her own perhaps-nefarious actions, she tucks a vial of her beloved Felipe’s salvaged blood between her ample breasts and heads out. She secures a position as governess for the improbably tiny Lucia, whose parents have contracted for their daughter to perform in human curiosity sideshows. Zoila accompanies the Lilliputian girl on the decade-long tour, with visits to domestic and foreign heads of state, as well as considerable time spent among seedy denizens and gawking voyeurs.

Lucia and Zoila are well-drawn and complex figures; their emotions ebb and flow according to the particular circumstances they encounter, making them believable characters. Other individuals, however, are less fully developed; they include slimy carnival hucksters, cruel freak-show managers, and greedy parents who want to live in luxury, financed on the back of their tiny treasure of a daughter. Aside from Zoila and Lucia, not one compassionate or multifaceted individual appears in the story. Well-rounded supporting characters would have made the fictive elements more credible.

This sad life story is intriguing and informative. Velástegui’s sensitive descriptions of humans with a variety of deformities and odd conditions is commendable, as is her condemnation of their abominable treatment in nineteenth-century sideshows. Lucia Zárate should appeal to people interested in the human psyche, and those drawn to history should appreciate the author’s adherence to carefully researched historical details. Also, young adults with sophisticated vocabularies should enjoy this book.

Available on Amazon – http://amzn.to/2suSKPT

Author Bio:

Cecilia Velástegui’s historical novels have received international awards: LUCIA ZARATE (2017) is a finalist for Best Historical Fiction and is in competition with an international, literary giant: Arturo Pérez Reverte. Her novel PARISIAN PROMISES won the Paris Book Award (2015), MISSING IN MACHU PICCHU (2014) won first place in the International Latino Book Awards, the nation’s oldest Hispanic literary awards, TRACES OF BLISS (2013) was selected by the Association of American Publishers to the National Book Club, and GATHERING THE INDIGO MAIDENS (2012) was a runner up for the Mariposa Prize. Her children’s bilingual fables were endorsed by the SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION, and were finalists for the Foreword Reviews Book of the Year.

Cecilia has a graduate degree from the University of Southern California, is a former Marriage and Family Therapist, has traveled to more than 100 countries and speaks four languages. She serves on the board of directors of several cultural and educational institutions.

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Why Mika and Joe Fell for the Magic of Nantucket

Before the rich and perennially preppy make their ceremonial, beginning-of-summer voyage to Nantucket next Memorial Day weekend; before the islands downtown cobblestone streets are clogged with fancy SUVs, popped collars and rampaging tourists in high-season, visitors and residents may catch a glimpse of Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough in newlywed blush.

The Morning Joe co-anchors were at the Harvard Institute of Politics in D.C. on Wednesday night when Scarborough told the crowd that he and Brzezinski might get married in Nantucket next spring.

The island nuptials arent set in stone (Brzezinski said they dont know because we have people to talk to; Scarborough said they have to make sure our kids are okay with it), but the two have reportedly been establishing roots in the cosseted New England enclave in the months since Scarborough proposed to Brzezinski during a late-May trip to Frances Antibes, another fancy coastal retreat.

The two spent the 4th of July holiday there, according to the Boston Globe, after responding on Morning Joe to President Trumps Twitter snit attacking the poorly rated show and claiming he refused to spend time with the morning hosts (low I.Q. Crazy Mika and Psycho Joe) during a New Years Eve trip to Mar-a-Lago because Brzezinski was bleeding badly from a face-lift.

They reportedly spent some of the weekend house shopping, though no word yet on where theyre looking to nest on the crescent-shaped island. And Nantuckets real estate agents are keeping mum on the subject.

I make my living off of selling properties to very important people–some celebrities, some TV and movie people, some Wall Street people, Michael OMara, principal broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Island Properties, declared wryly in a phone conversation with The Daily Beast. And the reason I get to sell them to the big celebs is because I dont talk about it.

Indeed, Nantucket has long been a vacation destination for the famous and fantastically rich, from Hollywood stars to political power players and Wall Street heavyweights. Drew Barrymore escapes to the island with her husband Will Kopelman, whose family owns a house there.

Ben Stiller is a longtime resident; likewise Tommy Hilfiger, whose 10-bedroom estate went on sale for $27 million in 2013. Former Secretary of State John Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, have a waterfront home on the tony Hulbert Avenue, which is also on the market for $25 million (their 76-foot sailboat, Isabel, is going for $4 million).

Other big-name homeowners include General Electric chief executive Jack Welch, Google exec Eric Schmidt, Barclays chief Bob Diamond, and Tim Broas who served as ambassador to the Netherlands under the Obama administration.

Theres also a large contingent of current and former NBC execs and media personalities on the island, which may be part of the appeal for Scarborough and Brzezinski. Bob Wright, chairman of NBC Universal, has a house there, as do Greta Van Susteren, Chris Matthews, David Gregory, who was ousted as host of NBCs Meet the Press last year and is now a political analyst at CNN, and the family of late Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert (his wife Maureen Orth and son Luke Russert).

Scarborough has been vacationing on Nantucket for years, and has occasionally tuned in to Morning Joe remotely from a public-access station on the island. But he was first introduced to Nantucket through Bob Wright in 2004, who invited Scarborough and his former wife to the Nantucket Film Festival.

Nothing draws you to an island like your boss telling you to go, Scarborough told Nantucket magazine in a 2010 cover feature. Within five minutes after getting off the plane, my wife Susan turned to me and said this place is special and we fell in love with it immediately.

Asked about Nantuckets magnetic appeal to NBC execs and staffers, Scarborough replied: I think it all started with Jack Welch and Bob Wright but there are very few places that have me thinking, Oh, Ive got to come back here with my family as soon as possible. It was just one of those places where we went for business and stayed for love.

OMara said that confidentiality agreements are almost always involved in sales to the famous and powerful. But he allowed that Polpis, a village on the north east side of the island, has become a real estate hot spot in recent years for those in search of seclusion and sprawling acreage.

You get privacy, forest, topographyits not the sand dune up there, he said.

Roughly five miles to town, five miles to Nantuckets renowned Sankaty Head Golf Club, and a stones throw from the luxury Wauwinet hotel and its swanky Toppers restaurant, Polpis is fetching some of the biggest prices on the island.

One Polpis estate, a 64-acre compound on a private peninsula known as Swains Neck, is on the market for $35 milliondown from $59 million in 2012 (at the time, it was the priciest publicly listed home for sale in New England, and among the 20 most expensive publicly listed properties across the country).

But OMara, who has lived on Nantucket year-round for more than forty years, said high-profile people who come to the island generally dont have to worry about fans incessantly asking for autographs.

The only famous guest who I can remember being harassed was Richard Nixon on Main Street in September 1980, said OMara. He wasnt president anymore but he still had secret service with him.

Celebrities like Kevin Spacey, Leonardo DiCaprio, James Franco, Kourtney Kardashian, and Woody Allen have all visited the island in recent years. Last summer, Woody Allen and his wife Soon-Yi were seen having dinner at Cru, one of Nantuckets more chi-chi restaurants. Kourtney Kardashian was spotted last summer at the Chicken Box, a nightclub and island institution.

The Box is both the diviest of dive bars and the sceniest of clubs, said Tamara Greenman, who founded La Rock Events, an event planning business on the island, and also works as a real estate agent at J Pepper Frazier Co., one of Nantuckets better known family-operated real estate firms. The Box has managed to stay relevant with a mix of fresh new bands and classics every night of the week, she said, noting that its gritty charm makes the interminably long lines worth waiting in for patrons.

A former Democratic operative who lives on the island and spoke on condition of anonymity said more people from Washington are summering in Nantucket because its become easier to get to in recent years, with direct flights from D.C. National Airport.

Its definitely more discovered now than it was five years ago because there are so many more ways to get here now, said Dalton Frazier, principal broker at J Pepper Frazier Co., adding that easier access to the islands charms correlates to a surge in real estate market value. At the same time, he said, supply is going down because every real estate transaction comes with a 2 percent land bank tax. There are also a bunch of other conservation groups buying up open land, which is protected and wont go back into the market.

2005 remains the most lucrative year for Nantucket real estate (with total sales of $1.2 billion), though Frazier notes that the $1 billion threshold has been crossed during three other years since thenand expects the market to do so again in 2017.

Indeed, decades-old salty restaurants are being replaced by hip ones or, in the case of The Club Caran upscale restaurant famous for its old-school piano bargetting a hip makeover.

The chefs of the celebrated, 42-year-old Straight Wharf restaurant, which overlooks the harbor, bought the Club Car last year and re-opened it over Memorial Day weekend.

They kept the name but it has a totally different vibe now, said Holly Finigan, founder of the Nantucket blACKbook, a fashion and lifestyle blog based on the island. Its becoming more of a melting pot: the really cool global people and thought leaders who are discovering the island mixed with the locals.

Despite all of the development, almost half of Nantuckets is under conservation, including the breathtaking bluff (and its sleeve of white beach) in the town of Siasconset on the east side of the island. Its 10 miles of public beach are all the more appealing in the off-season, when the odds of being alone on the coastlinejust you, a few piping plovers, and, perhaps, a private plane carrying Brzezinski and Scarborough overheadare rather high.

Read more: http://www.thedailybeast.com/why-mika-and-joe-fell-for-the-magic-of-nantucket

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The Rock is very happy Elizabeth Warren is a huge ‘Ballers’ fan

Image: Getty Images for Paramount Pictu

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson can smell what Elizabeth Warren is cooking … and he likes it.

On Friday afternoon, the movie star tweeted this after it was revealed that the Democratic senator from Massachusetts was a big fan of the HBO show Ballers, which is basically Entourage but with sports agents:

In a segment for Full Frontal, Warren sat down with host Samantha Bee, where it was revealed the senator had a huge crush on The Rockwhich, I mean, who doesn’t.

But stranger was her apparent love of Ballers, a show in which Johnson and Rob Corddry, um, do agent things? Imagine a Lil Wayne video with some SportsCenter clips thrown in.

Corddry even popped up with a cardboard cutout of The Rock to surprise a delighted Warren.

Its actually a story about hard work, Warren said. Its a story about perseverance, its a story about reaching within yourself for something youre not 100 percent sure is there.”

Looks like someone just locked up the jacked bros vote.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/06/30/elizabeth-warren-dwayne–johnson-ballers/

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