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Top 10 Books as Gifts for Curious Tastes

best book gifts

Books make a fast and fabulous gift for folks with curious tastes, but not just any book will do. You don’t want your book gift to end up on the big, dusty pile of reading material everyone one day intends to read by never does. Nope. You want a book that’s super special for the recipient. It needs to be a book that stands out, stirs the mind, and gets read so frequently it starts developing those dog-ear things. Here come 10 of them now.

Full Disclosure: Five of the 1o books are mine.

For Folks who Have a Thing about Rats

Yes, rats. Whether your pals love ’em or hate ’em, friends are sure to get a kick out of ’em with this illustrated rat dictionary. Rats Incredible features a slew of words that contain the word “rat,” along with black and white rynski illustrations depicting the definitions.

Two editions of Rats Incredible are floating around and, although both are out of print, you can still buy a copy of the second edition on the ryndustries website.

For Yoga (and Skeleton) Enthusiasts

Bony Yoga is suited for yoga enthusiasts of all ages, as well as for those who dig skeletons (not literally). This real-life yoga guide provides descriptions of 84 yoga poses, each featuring a cartoon skeleton performing the pose to the best of his or her ability. Note: The skeletons are pretty durn good!

This happy book has been gifted to yoga instructors, as well as used in classrooms and as bedtime reading for kids. One elementary school teacher sent me email attachments of the kids’ art projects, which featured skeletons doing yoga. How cool is that?

For Medieval Torture Device Fans

Whether you’ve always wondered what the heck a Pear of Anguish is, or you simply wanted a better look at the Iron Maiden, you’ll get it with Infernal Device: Machinery of Torture and Execution. This short and scintillating book gives you realistic, full-color renderings of some of the most excruciating torture devices ever created.

My beau gifted me with this one early in our relationship. That’s how I knew he was a keeper.

For Grim Fairy Tale Fans

Many fairy tales these days are lame. Everyone always la-de-dahs around and then lives happily ever after. Not only does the happily-ever-after ending make a story cliché, but it doesn’t serve to teach kids any lessons. The Boy with Moldy Cheese Pizza Under His Bed teaches a grave lesson indeed.

Enjoy a short and not-so-sweet illustrated story of what happens to kids who don’t clean up after themselves. Warning: This story is not for those spineless kids who cry if they don’t get a trophy every time they breathe.

For Grimm Fairy Tale Fans

If one little fable about the dangers of being a slob isn’t enough, go for an entire collection of the best fairy tales from the best fable authors ever. The Brothers Grimm were where it’s at for creating scary fables with horrible ending that taught magnificent lessons.

Since I don’t have a Grimm collection on hand to recommend, I’m going with the one published as part of Tolkien’s Bookshelf series. (Yes, Mr. Lord of the Rings himself enjoyed Grimm influences.) The book is Tolkien’s Bookshelf #10 Grimms’ Fairy Tales – Illustrated.

I selected this version in the hopes that the endings are true to the original stories before they were Disney-ified. Also like the idea of the stories being accompanied by old-timey illustrations rather than big, bubbly colorful cartoons.

 For Urban Legend Lovers

From alligators in the sewers to Kentucky Fried rats, urban legends leave you laughing, thinking and making sure your sewer grates are secure. I have The Big Book of Urban Legends, but I see it’s since been updated it to The Colossal Book of Urban Legends. Surely you can’t go wrong with either one.

Loads of lucrative legends are accompanied by even more loads of lovely illustrations. Super book for mining tales you can share at your next dinner party (unless, of course, you’re serving Kentucky Fried Rat). 

 For Big Dreamers

A dream dictionary wins hands down here, but not just any ole dream dictionary. Years of use have made me particularly fond of Cloud Nine: A Dreamer’s Dictionary for its variety of entries and interpretations. The explanations are thorough without being overwhelming. And it even includes kooky things like termites and bogs.

Sure, you can try to interpret your dreams with stuff you find online, but having a master reference book lets you scribble those handy notes in the margins. That way you can keep track of recurring themes, significant symbols, and continue to look things up when the internet inevitably crashes.

For Meditation Mavens

Those who meditate are going to adore this book, while those who don’t meditate might just start after absorbing all the beauty that comes pouring out of it. The book’s title is Offerings: Buddhist Wisdom for Every Day, and I received it as a gift from my mom several years back. (I see a mini version is now on the market, although I have no experience with the mini.)

With striking photos and even more striking words of wisdom, this hefty hardcover gives you 365 insightful tidbits on which to meditate. It’s gorgeous enough to keep the page open to your daily thought, propping it on the kitchen counter, coffee table, or mildly scratched podium you picked up for a song at an estate sale. 

For Folks Frazzled by Jerks

Whether it’s a coworker, neighbor or group lunch attendee, jerks tend to pop up in various areas throughout our lives. Give your pal a keen way to deal with them with the Little Book of Big Jerks.

This full-color illustrated guide not only outlines 12 of the most notorious jerk types we run across regularly, but it also gives you 12 handy solutions for dealing with them without losing your cool (or your mind).

For Fans of Fast, Hearty Laughs

Traditional bucket lists can be so bland, not to mention unattainable. C’mon, are you really going to climb Mount Everest? When you review all those ridiculously difficult goals, you can end up feeling like a total failure. Not to fear, the fix is here in the form of The Septic Bucket List.

Rather than outlining a list of things to do before you die, this full-color, illustrated book gives you a rundown of things NOT to do before you die. These things are easily attainable, can be achieved from the comfort of your own home, and are pretty dang hilarious.

Still stumped for a gift book? Don’t be. Dive into more info on Rynski books and we bet you’ll find your own keeper!

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How to Leave an Amazon Book Review

little book of big jerks

Amazon book reviews can really kick some butt for generating excitement about your latest book. But for best results, you have to make sure your readers know how to actually leave one. Check out a step-by-step guide for submitting Amazon book reviews to give books the boost they deserve.

 

amazon book review instructions

1. Head to Amazon.com

 

how to leave amazon book review

2. Enter the title of the book in the search field.

In our example here, we picked one of the rynski book titles, namely: little book of big jerks. Hit enter or click the little magnifying glass in the yellow box to search for the title you entered.

how to leave amazon book review3. Find and click the search result listing you want.

In this case, we want the first result that popped up: little book of big jerks. So we click on the title to open the book’s order page. Make sure you choose the right format and edition, as some books are available in print or Kindle, and some may have more than one edition.

how to leave amazon book review

6. Scroll down the page to the ‘Customer reviews’ section.

Here you’ll see a button that says “Write a Customer Review.” Click the button, and you get a page where you can leave your review.

how to leave amazon book review

7. Write it up.

First click on the number of stars you want to give the book, then write the text of your review in the field below that indicates: “Write your review here.” Add a headline to your review in the field below your review text that asks for your headline. Click SUBMIT.

how to leave amazon book review

8. You’re done!

Amazon will now process your review and, if it passes, your review will go live for the masses to see.

NOTE: If you are reviewing a book that’s listed on Amazon but you did not purchase it through your account on Amazon, you will be asked to supply a name and email address when submitting your review.

Hope this helps answer questions for those that have ’em – and thanks! to those who take the time to post a review for any of rynski’s books. Authors really appreciate reviews, so you’re doing a great thing (unless, of course, you trash the book and say the only thing it’s good for is toilet paper in the forest). That wouldn’t be very nice.

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Open Letter to the Old Farmer’s Almanac

UPDATE: The Almanac responded to my letter on Aug. 9, 2017. Here’s what they had to say:

Dear Mr. Gargulinski,

We apologize for the inconvenience.  You were on a continuity program. We have cancelled the billing and removed you from the program. You may keep the Almanac with our compliments.

Sincerely,

Kaye Dunn
Almanac Products, EMail Customer Service

Moral of the story: Don’t let the big guys push you around.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I used to adore the Old Farmer’s Almanac until I met with unscrupulous actions like those outlined below. This letter was emailed to the company Aug. 5, 2017 (without the Scam Alert Bug illustration).

Dear Old Farmer’s Almanac:

Thank you! for the free gift you sent my way. After all, I am assuming the hardcover 2018 Old Farmer’s Almanac you sent is a free gift since:

  • I did NOT ORDER IT.
  • I do not want it.
  • I am not paying for it.
  • I have not the time, energy or desire to deal with sending it back.

Since this is a free gift, please adjust my account balance to zero and credit out the invoice for $20.90 that accompanied my free gift. I refuse to pay an invoice for an item I did not order. I also refuse to waste my time, effort and packing tape to send it back.

Unsolicited items = free gifts.

If you do wish for me to send back the unsolicited item I neither want nor need, I would have to bill you for my services and supplies:

  • Return shipping rate: $7
  • Handling charges: $11
  • Time to pack item and ensure it is placed in location for outgoing mail: $25
    • My general hourly rate for services is $50; I would expect this hassle to take about 30 minutes, provided the packing tape dispenser doesn’t jam.

What you owe me to return item: $43

The choice is yours. You can either:

  1. Wipe out the invoice and charge for the item you sent my way WITHOUT my order or consent
  2. Mail me a check for $43 and I’ll send back your book

Any action on your part other than the two options listed above will result in a report to the Better Business Bureau.

And please don’t give me a song and dance about being on an “automatic mailing list” that gets the almanac sent every year. You tried that one on me a few years back, and I called one of your reps to be removed from this unscrupulous list.

Have a nice day,

Ryn Gargulinski

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Top 8 Reasons E-Books Will Never Fully Replace Printed Books

books

When the Kindle was initially unleashed in 2007, it sold out in about five and one-half hours. Murmurs of printed books becoming obsolete quickly filled the air, while panic filled many a room. Fast forward 10 years later, and printed books are still steady and going strong. That’s because the Kindle screen can never truly replace the printed page. Here’s why.

It’s tough to read a Kindle at the beach.

And not just because of the sun glare. If your book gets covered with splashes or sand, you just wipe it off and move on. If your Kindle gets covered with splashes or sand, you’re pretty much screwed.

Whatever would we do with our bookshelves?

True, we could stock our shelves full of knickknacks and photo frames. But books are so much easier to dust.  Continue reading Top 8 Reasons E-Books Will Never Fully Replace Printed Books

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4 Ways to Get Your Book Published

book

Just like doctors get asked by their relatives about aches, pains and boils, writers get asked about how to get stuff published. One son of a cousin of a parent recently asked my mom to ask me to send him some info on getting his just-finished novel published. I finally! wrote him a note, which I’ve turned into this blog post.

While I do have several published books on the market, I’m by no means an expert. But I can provide a bit of insight based on my own research and experience.

You basically have four main options for publishing your book, and you can mix and mingle the options as desired. I’ve been through the first three options but am inclined to skip the fourth.

4 Ways to Get Your Book Published

Self-Publishing

Pros:

  • Easiest, fastest
  • Get to keep full control and all profits

Cons:

  • Have to do own layout, editing, marketing
  • Amazon takes big chunk of sales (and other platforms not as popular)

Here you can either find a vanity press and pay to have your book published, or figure out where you want to sell your book and do all the layout yourself then upload in proper format seller requires. Amazon has a self-publishing arm called CreateSpace, which is probably the hottest online book market – although Amazon does take a hefty percentage of your sales.

You can sell books online only, made-to-order when someone orders one. Or you can get better prices with bulk printing to stock up and sell in-person or mail out yourself.  If you choose the latter, you can store your hundreds of books in your home office-gym and dust them weekly with the treadmill while saying, “You know, I should really do some marketing with these books.”

Finding a Traditional Publisher

Pros:

  • May get advance
  • Help with layout, editing, marketing (maybe)

Cons:

  • Don’t get royalties until advance is paid off
  • Royalty payment terms may have all kinds of sneaky clauses that result in royalty checks for $2.47

This route involves researching books similar to yours to determine what companies may be interested in your book. Writers Market also publishes an annual master list of publishers, agents and other outlets and resources for getting your stuff published.

Search out publishers that look promising then review their submission guidelines. Some may want full manuscript (ms), some may want proposal and others may be OK if you happen to know the CEO or have a friend of a friend who babysits for her daughter.

Every time I go through the massive boxes of files I move from house to house, I always run across a giant, bright blue folder of rejection letters from publishers. Not sure why I keep them, and also not sure where they are at the moment, but seeking out traditional publisher requires a thick skin (and plenty of colorful file folders).

Oh yeah, and the biggest-name publishers usually only accept book ideas or proposals through an agent.

Finding an Agent

Pros:

  • Guidance and support throughout the entire process
  • Editing help, tips and insider knowledge of industry

Cons:

  • They get a percentage of the cut, of course
  • They may get pregnant and abandon you at the drop of a hat

Writers Market is again the go-to for finding agents in your book’s specific genre, although you can also go with online searches to see who pops up. Make sure the person has a solid history and reputation before you tell them anything.

I had an agent once, rather briefly. She had read some of work in newspapers and contacted me to put together a book. Yippeee!! All was going swell, with her walking me through the proposal process, giving me tips and deadlines – and then she pretty much disappeared.

Got an email from her several weeks later saying she was leaving the agency to go have a baby. “And I’m sure you’re happy for me.”

At least I got a bunch of knowledge out of the deal and now know what goes into the scope of a killer book proposal.

Sitting in Bar Hoping to Get Discovered

Pros:

  • Even easier than self-publishing
  • Can make a lot of drunken friends who will promise to buy your book when published

Cons:

  • Results may not be optimum
  • Probably get a beer belly

This one worked for Mickey Rourke in “Barfly” when he was portraying poet Charles Bukowski. If the movie was indeed true to Bukowski’s life, however, the guy was a mess, wasted any money he earned on booze and got beat up a lot. You may want to avoid this option unless you’re a good fighter.

Publishing First Step

Keep in mind that getting your book published is only the first step. After that comes marketing, marketing, marketing and more marketing. But you’ll get to that one soon enough! The best marketing tip I ever received was “Get your book on Oprah.” Not sure if she’s even still around, so maybe you want to go for Howard Stern?

Good Luck!

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