Friday, April 24, 2015

Is a Bad Review Better Than None?

Unfortunately, this review was the very first for my Sabrina Strong book #4, Caprice. Yup. E.Foley ("lizard 1969") hits again. And it's like a train wreck. But I'm not here to whine. Nope. I'm gonna answer this "review" right here.

Maybe people would think me nuts for posting this and answering it here. I mean, do any of you other writers get a bad review and just want to strangle that person for posting it? Or better yet, answer it? See, I can't answer her at the review site (you need to have bought something on Amazon. I haven't, so...)

She gave "Caprice" 2 stars. But I'm peeved because she's into the series, I know, because she has bought each book in turn and put her review up right away. She sort of reminds me of Charley Harper's mother who can't say "Atta boy." No nice thing to say. Ever.

Here's her first line:

"I hate being the first one to rate this and it not being more than two stars."

No. I quite think you wanted to be the very first one to plunge the dagger (or stake?) into it, my dear.

"The story was convoluted; was confusing with too many POVs; was too long and filled with errors (needed editing for length, clarity and grammar); and was without a satisfying ending."

Well that was a mouthful. She could have ended the tirade right there, but I'm afraid it gets worse.

Let's get down to it it. Too many POV's? Has she never read other authors who write with more than three or four POVs? I mean, I've read Mary Higgins Clark, Tammi Hoag, and others who use as many as five or six POVs. I changed my writing style from strictly first person to first person and third in order to bring the story together. I felt the story needed more depth at this point. I wanted to get into the heads of all my main characters in this book, to let the reader know what each and every one of them were doing. Also, because if I didn't, the story would have been about 100 pages. Personally, I like a long read. I love the adventure, and if the MC is fun to read, I definitely want to be entertained by her and her friends. I've read long books like JK Rowling's Goblet of Fire, which is 735 pages long. I loved it. Or Kim Harrison's novels which go on for at least 400 pages. The length of Caprice was as long as I needed it to be. Sure. Editing would have been nice. I have no editor to correct things for me. I'm what you'd call a "starving artist". Prey for wolves to pounce upon when they see weak writing, or problems in grammar. Whatever.

What about "A satisfying ending" ? We'll get to that part later on in this post.

Here's the middle part...

As the Sibyl, Sabrina now has a bounty on her head and all sorts of supernatural creatures want to mate with her. So far, it's Vasyl, Dante, Tremayne, Bill, Hobart (although we see very little of him in this book), and a new Ware named Chris (who sounds like a hottie). And I'm sure I'm missing something.

It's pretty clear that NO ONE IS WHO THEY SEEM and I walked away from the book feeling sad for our Sibyl who is pretty much alone. Vasyl may love her, but I don't think he gets her. Dante's dead/undead, Tremayne is essentially a rapist/opportunist, Bill, who I thought was evil the whole time, may not really be and in the end can never be with her. [attempting to avoid spoilers here] And poor Chris keeps sniffing around, but he's far back in line.

Obviously, she's into the series. She's worried about "our sibyl", ("sad", even) who keeps on getting men in her life who either use or leave her one way or another. And, ha-ha-ha! I've done my job. Bill is someone I painted to be evil--I kept him as a person who seemed shady, and in the periphery on purpose. Getting into his head, and watching what he is doing, understanding the reason he's doing it, all coming together. I have my reasons, like all authors do, to write this the way I did. 

"And if it's the last in the series (which is not clear), we're left hanging with questions: Will she fulfill the prophecy? Will her eggs really work for the Nephilim? What's going on with Tremayne (will he live or die, and if he lives, will he regain control of his business and NAVA)? WHO WILL SABRINA END UP WITH?"

A-hah! Yes, my dear, that is the big question! Who will Sabrina end up with? Well, I'll answer your first question first. The series has at least 4 more books coming (8 in total to date). The next book (#5) will answer nearly all the rest of those question you have. (See? I know you really are hooked on this series, even though you have a bunch of problems with my grammar and spelling-which is why you gave this such a poor rating, isn't it? Not that the story was so awful, or you couldn't give a rat's ass what happened to Sabrina.) Who Sabrina ends up with... The answer is in #8. And I'm not telling.

E.Foley's last bit really needled me. She had to poke fun at the fact that I made a mistake with some large bills (as in $$) in a briefcase. I thought I had changed that, but apparently I didn't. Oops. Forgot. Thanks for letting me know. I hope my publisher can go in and change that.

Her last question about the title "And what's with the title? The title did not jibe with the story." Really? Do you know what Caprice really means? 
CAPRICE: A sudden, impulsive change in thinking or acting; 2 a capricious quality.

It's exactly what it did. It goes off tangent. Making crazy turns, and you didn't get it (like Vasyl doesn't get Sabrina). But that's okay.

Because I knew that the book was going to go off like a whirling dervish--I didn't want to call it that, of course. I took the chance in calling it Caprice, and since I was going with musical titles, this fit perfectly. Yes. There's a reason for the things I do. It's not up to me to explain, nor will I apologize for your confusion. That's really par for the course.

Oh. And as to the satisfying ending (spoiler here), Sabrina does kill the bad guy, and has a chat with her neighbor who was Bill's grandmother, about his death. That's a satisfying ending, I do believe. What did you want? Her to walk off into the sunset with Vasyl? Or someone else?
Well, that's my answer to this bad review. 

Speaking of reviews... Good news! Tonight, I suddenly found that all of the reviews that Amazon took away from Ascension, are back. Wow. Thank you whoever! I now have 10 reviews--as it should be on my first book! Yay! There are now 4 5-star reviews on it, now. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Of Tornadoes, Yard Work, Athlete's Foot, and other maladies

Hi, everyone. How's your weekend so far? 
I usually post something on the weekend. And normally I do my Sunday post on my other blog, but I think I'll do it here. 'Kay?

Well, I've a laundry list here, so maybe I should do the most devastating one first.

Fairdale, Illinois is possibly 15-20 miles from us. I remember that day vividly. We were expecting storms, but to be honest, it didn't feel that humid, like something so powerful would develop, but it did. And we had more than one tornado in Illinois. However, this one that hit the small community of Fairdale was an EF-4 with winds as high as 200 mph. The town took a direct hit. People in a nearby restaurant--one we have passed many a times on Route 64, was hit, and 12 people were trapped in a cellar where they went right before it hit them.
photo by Anghard Urch

This is an actual photo of the tornado. Really, if something like this was heading my way, I would not--I repeat I WOULD NOT STOP TO TAKE A PHOTO!

2 people did lose their lives in this. I recall when we had our weather radio on, and the description of the tornado (rotation), and where it was headed, the mechanical voice said things that made my blood chill. "total destruction" was something I'd never heard said about any tornado that came near us. It came true.

Well, here is what is left of that small town that is barely five or six blocks--or was at one time.
courtesy of DeKalb Co. Sheriff's Dept.
If you want to follow this thread from a news station, feel free. Some of the accuracy with the stories varies as it always changes as they get their stories straight.

The people are now trying to get themselves back to some normalcy. Of course the Governor has declared the aria a disaster, and they'll eventually get relief. What they need now is cash. A lot of donations of everything from water, to canned goods to clothing came in from generous people, but they've got enough of that. 

In the past week we've had wonderful temperatures--had 70's all week. I got out and worked my a$$ off, as though I could work off my winter fat in a few short hours. Not happening. As a result I got the worse case of Athlete's foot. Not sure that this is what it is, because it's not like anything I've ever had. There was a blister between my small and next toe (which I drained), and this rash on top of my foot that seemed feverish, and it's been marching slowly across my foot. The itch has been minimized by the use of a spray that has the same ingredient as Tenactin. I'm not 100% sure that I didn't get some sort of bite, or something else. I mean I wore shoes, how the heck would I'd been bitten? 
An interesting side-note, one woman I spoke to said her feet sweat too, and she uses deodorant on them. I thought that was a good idea, but would want to get a separate deodorant on my feet. Hmmm.

And after having purchased a new mattress, it's kinder to my back, but I know I just can't do the things I used to do and it's frustrating! Getting old is overrated! I'm turning 61 this year. Boo on birthdays, unless it involves a vat of chocolate I can bathe in.

In my writing, I've been working on my mystery. I didn't rush into it, as this is different from anything I've ever tried. It's good to try something different. Give myself a challenge. Maybe find a different brand of people who want to read mysteries instead of urban fantasy.

And, for the first time ever 50 ebooks sold in 2 weeks! It may not have put any one of my titles in the top 100 seller's list, but I don't care. Now, if only I can get more sales, and shave off the debt of what is owed to my publisher who made this possible. Then, maybe I'll see a royalty payment.

Here is the two top sellers Ascension and Trill over at Novel Rank. This is how you find out how many books you've sold, in case you've never heard of this.

That's all my news for now. Forgive me if I haven't been around. I've been having a creep hounding me on facebook. I need to do something about him. Soon. Any suggestions?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Reviewing the Reviewer

You know how it is with reviews. If you write, or do anything in the public eye you'll get some sort of review, or write-up about how you did.

With four of my vampire series (and btw these books are NOT paranormal romance, they are urban fantasy, but publisher went with paranormal romance, and I really really wish he hadn't), out and under Creativia's helm, I've got two that have gone on sale for $0.99. Ascension and Trill.

Lately I've had two reviews by reviewer who goes by the name of E. Foly I got a 3-star review on Ascension, and got a 4-star one for Trill. From her profile I'm easily to determine this is a woman. And if you care to check out her profile which I've provided, she's never given anyone a 5-star review. Even those books she really likes. She's a stickler for punctuation, and spelling, and possibly other issues. After reading a number of her other reviews, I'm happy with a three. Believe me. I dread to see what she might say of number three, but here is her review of Trill. Since her highest rating is a 4, I think I did pretty good in her reading eyes.

In this one, Sabrina learns that she will indeed turn at the full moon. At least Dante is there to help her... and their relationship is interesting and complicated.

And then lets make it more complicated by adding all the men/vampires/demons/shifters/wolves who want to sleep with her:

-- Vasyl, the sexy French master vamp who's been protecting her his entire vampire life.
-- Hobart, the dreadlocked Wolf
-- Bill, her neighbor's grandson who is not what he seems
-- Tremayne, the master vamp who can't resist her and summons her to donate blood so he can build up a tolerance
-- Jacob, an incubus she meets on the way to the Dark Realm

Good lord.

But what made this better than book 1 was the connection she forged with Dante... and the ending which was bittersweet because they love each other and can't be with each other. So I rounded up from 3.5 stars. There are still significant issues with homonyms and typos which weaken the writing rather than strengthen it.

Monday, April 6, 2015

To Write, or Not To write...

Well, that's the question posed by a few writers. I've been down that road a few times. Early on, when I was in my twenties, and later in my forties, I got away from writing, for whatever the reason. Sometimes it was frustration. Back in the day your only hope was to get a publisher or agent to take you on. Now, we have people writing books so damned fast, they put out maybe as many as twenty or thirty in a year. I'm thinking they must have a set formula, or maybe a fancy writing disk, pop in names and boom, they have a book. I don't know. But Amazon is chock full of ebooks, and some are free. (I have a problem with giving away my writing, unless it's a short story, because my time and talent as a writer I consider worth something!)

I've been writing since the beginning of time (for me that was high school in 1971). Those times I told you I quit writing, well, guess what? I went back to it. Tried a different book, like a mystery or something. I would have to say, I was practicing writing. I was learning how to write, all those years. And you still learn even after you've published.

I don't write fast, unless a book hits me, and I can write it straight through. I did that on one book, and that was the fourth of the Sabrina Strong series, Caprice. I wrote that in just over three months. Yeah, that's probably the quickest book I've ever written, but also, that was a first draft. I go over my books to edit several times, I think it took me two years before I had it ready to be published. I don't hand them to an editor--I don't have that sort of money to invest. And until I got on with my new publisher, Creativia, I was having to depend upon people to read it through for me and find mistakes I would have missed. And after that I read it through two more times to make sure I haven't missed anything.

Up until last year, I wrote whenever I had free time. Then, I had some time off in the summer. I had a lot of energy, and wanted to do some major gardening things, and do some long walks to keep my energy up. I realized I wasn't enjoying life itself. I felt that turning 60, I needed to stop and smell the roses. I needed to just enjoy other things. One of my other passions became crocheting. I also enjoy reading a book. I like to hold a book in my hand--I'm finding a lot of people who would rather read a book, not an ebook, so I'm happy to have gone with a new publisher who can deliver a paperback version of my book to anyone in the world. I simply didn't have the savvy, patience, or the $$ to do it.

When it comes down to writing, I write because I CAN'T NOT WRITE. For those who simply write thinking they can make money, well phooey on them. I'm not saying I don't have dreams beyond all reason that I could make money, but after so many decades of not really doing that, I'm at the point where I'm just writing, and if I make a little money (even only $100/year), it's at least something I can take to the bank.

When I get an idea/ideas for a book, I keep notes on it, either in a document on the computer or on paper. I like a paper trail myself. At the moment, I'm trying to work on a mystery. It's a bit different writing. Everyone I've ever heard about how to write one says you come up with the murder, and write backwards. I don't know how to do that, but I understand the concept. You have to know who/how/what and come up with your suspects, but you alone know who murdered the victim, and with what, and then you plant all these clues, throw in a Red Herring, and you've got your story.

Well, I'm writing it the way I always write. I'll know who/what/how/when, when I get to it. Once I get to that point, I'll be able to throw in all those other things. I write assbackwards, anyway.

So, I guess for me, it's impossible to not write, but I'm doing less time in the old chair, and trying to do other things, too. Sort of like semi-retired, but never retired.

How about you? Do you ever need a break? Are life's crazy events keeping you from writing, and you're wondering if you'll ever be able to continue writing? Wonder if you should just take a long break from it, but worry if you do, you'll never be able to pick up the pen again?

Here is Shelly Arkon's take on this subject at her vlog. I love her vlogs, and Hair Ball, her dog is so sweet.

Hope you have a good week!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Why a Book Review May be deleted from Amazon

Well, the weather is trying to get warmer, but we keep going backward, here.
I'm working on different things at once. That's how I am. I'm supposed to be writing a story for a sesquicentennial book about my home town. I really need to do this this weekend. I don't know where my pictures are of the old uptown, but they're probably in a closet.

But for today, I give you Shelly Arkon's explanation on what may have happened to her excellent review on Amazon for my book Ascension [Vampire Ascending]. She goes into detail on Amazon's reasons for rubbing out your review, so you might want to pay particular attention to it. She has given permission for me to share this here with you. So, go ahead and take a look, if you have not already.

Thanks for dropping in!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Winner is...


About two weeks ago I had a giveaway contest for a signed copy of my book, Ascension. Anyone who followed the instructions I put their name in the bowl.
Donna's name came out in my fingers.

Congratulations, Donna!

(I have emailed you)

Chickens lay eggs, and so do Turtles

For those of you who don't know my husband is park ranger and one of his main jobs is mowing. He has a large deck (72") Toro Zero T...