Brooke Shaffer

Author, Gamer, and Cat-Collector Extraordinaire

Frequently Asked Questions

The Website

What is a Safebooks rating?

So, a long time ago, a few friends and I worked on this website called Safebooks.  The idea was to have a reference site for every book ever, giving a rating on the book's language, violence, and sexual content.  Unfortunately, with only four of us, it was hard to get through every book ever.  Plus it was unpaid and life happened and, as you may have guessed, the site kind of died.

However, I still appreciate the idea.  Personally, I generally don't have a problem with language, graphic violence in a novel can't scare me, and I find narrated sexual content to be more amusing than anything.  But I know some people flip out at the smallest thing.  In order to help people avoid books they might find objectionable, I figured to save them the time and surprise and just tell them that no, your church book group probably won't be reading this any time soon.  It's how it goes.

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How is a Safebooks rating calculated?

It's subjective, but I try to be fair about it.  Christian curse words (gosh, darn, shoot, etc.) do not register at all except frequency, and even then, it takes a lot to make even a blip.  This is your green section.  What I consider to be "moderate" cursing (damn, sh*t, *ss, etc.) can still fall in the safe zone if they occur once or twice.  Whatever.  Regular usage will push it to yellow.  "High" cursing (f*ck) is almost always an automatic yellow, with frequency pushing it higher.  "Much higher" cursing (GD, JC) is an automatic red, and I can tell you that I don't use them.  If those are your only concerns, rest easy.

Violence can vary.  Is a kid pulling a girl's pigtails violence?  Maybe.  Not much of it.  Someone being ripped in half and explaining the whole thing in gory detail?  That's a different story.  Green zone violence is typically going to be "blackout" violence, referred violence, those sorts of things.  Yellow zone might be fact-only action with no expounding (though that could be green, too), or any violence with no excessive detail.  Red zone violence is going to be prolonged violence, graphic detail, that sort of thing.

Sexual content is fairly straightforward, but there is a little variance.  One person saying another person is cute or hot or what-have-you is not even going to register.  Get over it.  Green zone sexual content is your PDA stuff, holding hands, kissing, not-too-weird touching.  And some of these things might not even make it on the radar.  Yellow zone might include brief fantasies or daydreams, weird touching, detailed but not explicit conversations, and implied sexual activity with no detail.  Nudity may or may not be yellow depending on context (a gag versus an advance).  Red zone sexual content is going to be any sexual activity with any detail, even daydreams.  Even if the acts are not written out play by play, foreplay and assorted activities are red.  Other red zone contenders are going to be anything outside traditional encounters, which includes homosexuality, bestiality, necrophilia, inter-species, and so on. (And as a side note, nothing is written out play by play.  Don't go looking for it because you won't find it.)

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You think your book playlists might be a little oversaturated with Demon Hunter?

Oh, absolutely not. There is a Demon Hunter song for every occasion and every mood. Angry? Got songs for that. Happy? Got one for that, too. Funeral? Plenty to choose from. Wedding? Sure, got you covered. I always make sure every playlist has at least one DH song. I try to keep it to a maximum of four, though, just to give a chance for different artists to have a chance.

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Why don't you have any official reviews for your books?

Quite frankly, because I don't see the point. Now, I know some marketing experts out there say that it lends validity to your title and it helps your audience find you. That's great, but doesn't basic advertising do the same thing, and wouldn't you rather look up a review on Amazon versus a paid blurb on the cover of the book?

For me, a review of a book is a lot like a review of a movie. In the movie's trailer, they use words like "phenomenal" or "breath-taking" or "non-stop thrill ride" and so on. You get the picture. Well, that's nice and all, you think, but I'm going to check Internet reviews. And holy cats, how many movies out there have such disparity between critic reviews and audience reviews that you wonder whether they even watched the same movie?

I once opened up a book, just browsing, thought the cover looked interesting, the premise was fascinating, but the first fourteen pages were nothing but "rave" reviews and "Praise for [Author]'s other novels!" A page, maybe two, three if they have dozens of other books, but fourteen pages? I put it down. Personally, it felt like they were riding too much on past success in order to win new readers or keep old ones. I've seen great authors get worse over time, and I've seen terrible authors have a sudden breakthrough and flash of genius and they're fantastic. I've seen authors with multiple series, some are great, some not so much. I've also been recommended books that I came to hate, despite whatever the recommender gushes about it. I've also liked books that others hated.

The point I'm trying to make is that it's about taste. Preference. Don't ignore a book just because some faceless person on a huge review site isn't gushing over it. They get paid to read books and write things about it. Nice things, mean things, whatever, it still may not reflect what you could think of the book if you read it. If you want reviews, check Amazon. Don't want to make a huge commitment by buying blind? Check your local library or get a cheaper eBook. You have options.

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Why do you have these questions on the back of your books?

Well, first of all, not all the books have a question. As of right now, only Of Saints and Sinners does not have a question, but others will be question-free as well and have other cool things.

And, really, initially it was just a cool premise idea for Time to Kill. The hook, draw them in, amaze them with the rest. Then, as I got puttering along, I decided to keep going with the questions, at least for the rest of The Chivalrous Welshman. They were interesting, and a whole lot more fun to read than reviews because they were responses that got you thinking, brought you into the book, wondering how things might work differently if you were in Tommen's position, or if you just had Time abilities in general, or whatever the question is referencing.

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Why do you narrate your own audiobooks? Are you seriously that cheap?

I won't deny that I can be a cheapskate, however, the reason for narrating my own audiobooks has as much to do with talent as cost. I'm not even saying I'm talented. I'm told I have a very low, very...odd voice. However, I do like to play around a bit, and I kind of boxed myself into a corner when basically every single character has a particular accent (Tommen Welsh, Twins Irish, Rifun Malagasy, etc.). So my options were to either ignore those entirely, in which case commissioning a professional would have been warranted. Or I could have paid buku bucks to find a professional who could do those accents, which was hardly what you might call cost effective. Or I could do it myself and make a damn good attempt at each accent. (And let me just say that maintaining accents for that long is a vocal workout.)

I know some people absolutely shun books narrated by the author. I can respect that, because we can be a little overzealous. I guess it's a good thing that all of my books are made available in print first.

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The Shop and Merchandise

What is the Shop?

The Shop is where you can buy stuff, including books and merchandise, straight from the author without having to go through a middle man like Amazon.

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How long will the Shop be available?

For right now, there is no anticipated closing date. You can buy now or buy later as it becomes convenient.

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Do I have to buy the books from you or can I still go to Amazon?

You can continue to buy from your preferred retailer or outlet. However, buying here cuts out the middle man.

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What is the shipping cost and when can I expect to receive my stuff?

Domestic shipping (all states and territories in the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii) is calculated by the number of items purchased, and runs as follows:
1 - 2: $5.00
3 - 5: $10.00
6 - 9: $15.00
10+: Free

Shipping time depends on volume, but as a general rule, merchandise you can expect in about a week, maybe 2 during peak times (Christmas, etc.). Books, please allow for two weeks or so. Also, expect books to be shipped together, but merchandise will be shipped separately as they are manufactured.

Canadian shipping runs as follows (prices in CAD):
1 - 2: $10.00
3 - 5: $20.00
6 - 10: $30.00
11 - 14: $40.00
15+: $50

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Something's wrong! I want a refund/exchange!

Sorry about that! Send me an email using the contact form and we'll figure something out.

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Is my payment and billing information secure?

All payment is done through PayPal and relies on their security methods. If you have any concerns over security and privacy, you can contact PayPal at any time.

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