Sunday, February 19, 2017

Authors Giving Other Authors Bad Reviews? by Alicia Dean

I have never posted a negative book review, and I never plan to. But, I will admit that I'm sometimes tempted. I am strongly against authors slamming other authors, so again, I won't, but I just finished a book that has left me really frustrated. I long to state my feelings and opinions, see if others felt the same. Actually, I suppose that's more of a 'book club' thing than a review. :)

Anyway...I'm really ticked about this book. I know it's fiction, so why is it bugging me? Here's the gist: A female detective has reached rock bottom because she's lost everything after blowing the whistle on her partner/lover because he faked a confession from a suspect in the murder of a little girl, and the wrongly accused man kills himself. The mother of the child acted very suspiciously at the time. The detective, and the woman's husband, suspect she might have ben involved. Time goes by and the detective is literally homeless when the child's father locates her and begs her to help find the real killer. She moves in with him, begins searching for the truth, and finds it. She and the father of the little girl become lovers.

The issues...

Almost everyone in the story was involved in the little girl's death; the former partner/lover, the mother of the child, the FATHER of the child, AND the protagonist's SISTER and, indirectly, the protagonist's brother-in-law. The book never explained why the child's father would take the detective off the streets, give her a home, and convince her to investigate his daughter's death, since he was behind it. And, rather than redeeming herself at the end, the protagonist, after learning her sister was involved, blackmails her sister and says if she will give her $50,000 dollars to start a new life, and let her take her niece (criminal sister's daughter), she'll disappear. That's the way it ends. So...the sister, the child's mother, and the child's father get away scot free after being involved in the murder of a child. (The mother has another child at home, but she 'likes' this one, so he's probably safe) The former partner/lover is in prison already for his part in the fake confession, but he won't serve as much time as he would have if he were found guilty of the little girl's death. The brother-in-law was killed by detective's sister. Oh yes, and detective's sister and father of dead child were lovers. Which also makes no sense. The detective could have blown the lid off their crime/operation and redeemed herself and gotten her job back. The whole crime was perpetrated for money. The father took out a $5,000,000 life insurance policy on his child. Which, in itself, is a huge red flag, and would never fly. There were some other things, like how the evidence was uncovered, which had me rolling my eyes, but I won't bore you further with all of that. :)

I am never tempted to give a bad review if a book is simply boring or poorly written. But, this book was good, and I was invested and engaged, and the end totally screwed it up for me. Maybe the author thought he was being clever in having so many twists, but they were unbelievable twists, and they only served to ruin the novel.

Hmmm...I suppose now I HAVE shared my feelings, and maybe I can move on. :)

What about you? Do you ever post negative book reviews?

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Fluff vs. Substance? by Jannine Gallant

So, I may have mentioned a time or two that I have a new release coming out at the end of the month. WILDE THING is book three in my BORN TO BE WILDE series. This series is fun, romantic, and adventure packed with a side of suspense. My readers seem to like all these qualities. However, I did something a little different with this book. Sure, it has all of the above, but I also introduced the controversial topic of child abuse. Not in a huge, take-over-the-story sort of way. But the more I asked myself why my heroine had certain problems, the more I knew I needed to give her a backstory with a darker underbelly. Reviews on Goodreads have been trickling in from ARCs received through NetGalley, and the results are mixed.

Don't get me wrong. In general, I've had a lot of "another great book in this series" reviews. But I've noticed a scattering of three and four stars mixed with the fives, and the complaints seem to have a common theme. I made readers uncomfortable. They said I could have wrapped up the book without introducing that particular topic. One went so far as to mention she understood why I did it, but she still wished it hadn't been included. I've got to tell you, I like reviewers who are so honest and detailed about their problems with a book. This particular reviewer had given WILDE ONE and WILDE SIDE both five star reviews. She gave WILDE THING four stars and said she couldn't wait for WILDE HORSES to release. So, I learned something.

Uncomfortable topics may turn off some readers. Is this just because they didn't expect it after reading the first two books in the series? Or, do some readers just want a world where ugliness doesn't exist and where the hero and heroine are perfect. I also got a few complaints that my hero was a player (even though he redeems himself in the end), and they didn't like that. That particular criticism also leads me to believe flawed characters aren't always appreciated. Based on the reviewer who is eagerly anticipating WILDE HORSES, my transgressions aren't going to alienate devoted followers. But, I am wondering about my next series which delves into some pretty dark suspense. I guess we'll wait and see.

So, my question to you: As a reader, do you prefer to enjoy light romance untarnished by uncomfortable reality? Honestly, there's not a thing wrong with that. I'll admit I won't read a book where I know someone I've invested hours of my time getting to know is going to die. So, yeah, I fall in the don't-disturb-me-with-reality camp on that topic. In addition, do you appreciate characters who have flaws, or do you love perfect heroes? Inquiring minds want to know!

If I've tweaked your curiosity and you can't wait to see what WILDE THING is all about, pre-order it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, or KOBO. It releases on February 28th. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, February 17, 2017

What the Heck Was I Thinking? by Betsy Ashton

A bit of background before I get into how I shot myself in the foot. Which I did last year. When I volunteered for a monumental task.

For the past four years, I've been the president of a state-wide writers club. I was term-limited when I stepped down last November. I shed massive amounts of crocodile tears. I was free of the responsibility for moving the club ahead. I looked forward to spending more time and gray cells on my books. I promised to support the new president. And then she asked if I'd head up the centennial planning and celebration. I said yes.

What was I thinking?

For any organization to turn 100 is a huge accomplishment and should be celebrated far and wide, well, at least state-wide. That means special speakers. That means special events. That means -- wait for it. AN ANTHOLOGY.

I not only built the plan for the centennial, I'm knee deep in executing it. I have a lot of help from volunteers throughout the club. I ask for volunteers for a specific event or task. I haven't asked people to sit on the committee full-time. We're writers, for heaven's sake. If we have "full-time," it's for writing, not for meetings.

Last year I put out a call for submissions in three categories: poetry, short stories, and essays. I gave everyone three months to submit "their best work" in any category. I didn't set parameters for topics, for example, although I did have limits on the number of contributions each writer could submit.

The stack, printed out with two pages per sheet, is three inches tall. You read that right. Three inches tall. I have two editors for each section reading for selection purposes. I have also read each entry and made my suggestions. As the executive editor, I have the final say, although I can be bribed. Think triple-black Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet.

I can't believe how many of our members write at a professional level. Since I encouraged selections from previously published works, I have so many that are outstanding. Make that Out.Stand.Ing. The selection process is going to be difficult. Sometime in the next few weeks, I will have to tell some writers they didn't make it. And I'll have to tell some that they did. Those that don't make it deserve to know why.

Some are easy to pass up, namely those with crazy ideas of verb tense that would require more time than I have to edit into an acceptable format. Four stories and one essay are "almost there." If these make the cut, I'll ask for the author to edit them with suggestions for where the work should be changed. I'm less certain about the poems, but two poets who have published widely themselves read the entries and made the first cuts.

We agreed at the board of governors meeting when we started this process that the Chicago Manual of Style would have the final word. It lives on my desk. Some prose writers may not like it, but if they don't use the SERIAL COMMA, either they accept my edits or I thank them very much and drop them.

And once the anthology is done and at the printers, I have a 300-item task list of things I have to do this year to bring the centennial to life.

So, what was I thinking? If you see me raise my hand for ANYTHING, please feel free to put me in a straight jacket.


Betsy Ashton is the author of the Mad Max mystery series, Mad Max Unintended Consequences and Uncharted Territory. Her work has appeared in several anthologies including Reflections  on Smith Mountain Lake, Voices from Smith Mountain Lake, and Candles of Hope. Some of her essays have been featured on NPR.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Too Old For Long Hair? by Donna Michaels

That’s the question I struggle to answer every time I head to the hair salon.
Hello, everyone. Do you have that problem?
Because of my crazier than crazy deadlines of late, I haven’t gone there in almost a year, though. My hair has now reached the middle of my back. I just pull it back in a ponytail and write on. Easy peasy. Over the holidays, though, my daughter did chop some bangs on my forehead. We thought it’d be neat to see. I kind of like them. And I absolutely love long hair. Always did, always will. But, I am now safely (if there is such a thing) in my middle age. Is it okay for a 51 year old woman to have hair down the middle of her back…and bangs?
A question I’ll need to decide by next week. I am heading on a much needed vacation/cruise with a few author friends, readers, and even one of my editors. While on the high seas, I will also be getting promotional author photos done.
So, what do you think? Next week, while I am covering my grays at my hair appointment, do I have my hair dresser, Mike, cut the length and blend the bangs? Or just even out the ends and move on?
If it wasn’t for the photos, I’d probably do the latter. But, I don’t want to look like an old lady with young hair in all of my promos that request an author photo. lol
Have you faced a similar dilemma? What did you do?
I haven’t just been busy growing my hair. Those crazy months have also been used to create books. Four novellas and three novels. Now you see why I had no time to get a haircut. One of those novels was my first book with Entangled, IN A RANGER’S ARMS, and this week, not only has it received a brand new cover (which I love), it is also on Sale for only .99 cents!! The reviews for Stone, Jovy, and the lovesick cow, Lula Belle have been humbling, and I thank you all who posted them. <3
Find all the Buy Links HERE for only .99 cents!

  No amount of training could've prepared him for her.
Former Army Ranger Stone Mitchum’s libido is MIA. Since starting a company with his brother and two buddies, he’s had more important things on his mind than sex. Like transitioning veterans. But when his curvy new tenant falls into his arms—literally—his libido snaps to attention. 
Jovy Larson has four weeks to prove she’s worthy of taking over the family business. Her challenge? Sell gluten-free, vegan food—in the middle of cattle country, Texas. It’s a tough task, but not half as tough as selling snowmobiles in Hawaii…or fighting her attraction to her sexy landlord.  
Soon, she’s tangling sheets with the hot cowboy, stalked by a jealous cow, and falling head over boots for the soldiers Stone’s trying to save. But by the time her lease runs out and the test is over, she’s faced with a new challenge: competing against duty for the Ranger’s heart. 

I also finished writing book 2,
HER SECRET RANGER, which releases March 6th!!
So excited to have my second release with Entangled. Love this cover, too!! And I am also finishing up book 3 this weekend. No cover yet, since we don't have a title. We're working on it. They do have the photo picked out, though I can't wait to see it!! 

And on the self-publishing front, I had a release 2 days ago in Sable Hunter’s Hell Yeah Kindle World!
I’m thrilled to finally release HER HELL NO COWBOY, which is a crossover into my Harland County Series. This is book 10. Only two more left. Sniff. It’s going to be tough to end, but I have some exciting new ventures on the horizon. But in the meantime, please enjoy my brand new McCall cowboy. Lincoln’s was a lot of fun to write. I hope you’ll check him out. He's sitting at #1 in Western Kindle World!!

Keeping it light has never involved more heart 
Ever since his first deployment, Lincoln McCall came home a changed man, swapping life philosophies with his twin brother. No more playing it safe, or by the rules, or looking for “Miss Right”. Hell no. But holding onto that concept is hard after Linc fell into a pool with his arms full of the one that got away. 

Coming out of the fog from her husband’s death, Ashely Patterson wants to live a little, have fun…feel alive. So when the sexy cowboy she crushed on in her youth hires her to work on his house, she gives herself permission to enjoy the attraction sizzling between them…after all, she’s only there temporarily, and he doesn’t do relationships. 

But when their feelings turn serious, she’s in a heap of trouble. Linc is in the military. So was her husband and that got him killed. She can’t risk her heart to another man who could deploy and never return. Hell no. It was better to leave and take her heart with her.  

Now, if only she could figure out how to get the cowboy to give it back.  

Cover photo by Cover Me Photography with Orestis Papapetrou 

 There were 6 other novellas in the Hell Yeah KW Valentine’s Day launch. You can check them all out HERE
So, I guess we learned that writing cowboy after cowboy after cowboy and so on, has led to my hair growth. lol Now, the question is, what do I do about it?
Hope you all have a great week!
Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Joys of Small Town Newspapers by Alison Henderson

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a small town by any count. It covers a little more than one square mile and boasts 3,722 full time residents. Of course, the number of people in town on any given day is many times that, due to the busloads of tourists who flock to to the area to enjoy the quaint town and astounding natural scenery.

Like any other self-respecting small town, Carmel has its own newspaper. The Carmel Pine Cone has been informing residents and tourists alike of the goings on about town since 1915, a year before the city was incorporated on October 31, 1916. The paper is a free weekly, available at numerous businesses in the area, but it takes itself VERY seriously as the main source of local information.

OG and I first discovered the Pine Cone as tourists and got such a kick out of it we signed up for an online subscription. Now that we live here, I make every effort to ensure I never miss a single edition. Like most small town papers, it covers every major occurrence in the area--which includes the towns of Pebble Beach, Pacific Grove and Big Sur, as well as Carmel proper and Carmel Valley. There are regular features, such as the column entitled "Sandy Paws", which profiles one canine the reporter met at the beach during the preceding week. Because we're a tourist destination, there is ample advertising for local restaurants and entertainment venues, as well as a huge real estate section featuring color photos of many of the spectacular estate properties currently for sale in the area (because who wouldn't want to live here, right?) And the prices are always good for a laugh.

However, my favorite section of the Pine Cone by far has always been the Police Log. It's a day-by-day account of calls to the local police and county sheriff's office from each of the local communities. OG and I have always joked that our goal is to never end up in the Pine Cone, and so far, we've succeeded. 

At least 50% of the calls are a combination of tourists losing their cell phones or passports at the beach or some sort of dog incident. The rest are a mix of everything from DUI arrests to confused elderly residents who are certain someone has been in their house moving things around. (Because we are a bastion of the very old, the police here are remarkably patient and understanding.) There's even a cartoon drawn by a local artist illustrating one of the more colorful entries in the blotter.

Every now and then, however, an incident appears that catches my attention as a writer. The account might only be a sentence or two, but it sparks an idea. Take this for instance, from last week's paper:

"Four juvenile females came to the police department to speak to an officer. The females reported that a friend of their father's has been showing up at their apartment when their father is not home. They also reported that he has broken into their home two times. Father was contacted and did not feel his friend was a threat. The females were told to call 911 if the male returns."

Tell me there's not a story there.

Or what about this one?

"Report of a man walking in and out of traffic on Forest Avenue at 1138 hours. The subject was described as wearing all black and dragging one of his legs."

Zombie apocalypse, anyone?

I'm currently at work on the third, and last, book in my female bodyguard series, and I plan to set my next series in a fictional small town around here. Every week, I scan the Pine Cone for story ideas and cut out anything that sounds promising to add to my growing file. By the time I write those books, I certainly won't have to worry about writer's block. I'll have a more than ample supply of possible plot points, courtesy of the Carmel Pine Cone. When the first book comes out, I'll have to send them a press release. Who knows, maybe they'll want to profile me in the paper. Then I'll have to face one of my greatest fears--appearing in the Pine Cone. LOL


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day by Christine DePetrillo

Every year I get stuck posting on February 14th on this blog. Me. The one who doesn’t like Valentine’s Day. The romance writer who spends pages and pages establishing a cozy happily ever after who would rather be at home on her couch than on some romantic Valentine’s Day date. The woman who wants to be loved every day, not just one day in the middle of winter.

Due to the fact that I don’t want to spoil anyone’s holiday – even if it is some sadistic attempt to measure love in candy and flowers and fancy dinners – I’ll just post a romantic poem. How’s that? Okay? Good.

Chance Encounter on a Winter’s Night

Snow flutters on the icy breeze,
winter fairy dust,
white and sparkling
like an Arctic dream
in the black night.

Faces turned toward the sky,
chilled angel kisses
fall on rosy cheeks,
crystallized feathers
fall from the heavens.

All is not lost.

A fire builds
in lonely caverns,
once deserted and dead,
devoid of the rhythmic drum
of human hearts.

Warmth flares,
spills to dead zones,
awakens the primal need
for touch,
for acceptance.

For love. 

Hands reach out
as the white world whirls dizzily.
Contact is made between lonely souls
under the dim glow
of a city streetlight.

Time freezes
like water on asphalt
in the cold of a winter’s night,
But in the tight circle of electric sun,
the right words are exchanged.

Two hearts collide.

Hope your Valentine’s Day is everything you hope it to be.

SAFE, Book One, The Shielded Series, FREE in ebook!
PROTECTED, Book Two, The Shielded Series, available now!

SECURE, Book Three, The Shielded Series, coming soon!

Monday, February 13, 2017

The one constant

There's been some turmoil lately. Nothing earth-shaking or unusual for anyone here:

  • husband quit his job (long story, don't get me started). Yes, he's job-hunting, but we're older and ...
  • I telecommute a 40-hour work week from home, so he's underfoot all day. Enough said.
  • Should I retire? no? We're meeting with financial planners soon to factor in the first bullet point and where we stand.
  • A few annoying aches and pains that make movement painful unless I do a lot of stretching and moving (Catch-22: move to feel better but it hurts to move). I'm doing it, but there are days ...
  • Volunteering: Master Gardening committees and events; homeless shelter sewing; I'm considering tutoring at the local immigrant center.
  • The Orange Monstrosity in D.C. Enough said. I'm calling representatives, writing postcards and taking notes for my End of the World novels.
  • A beloved cousin is going through cancer for the 2nd time
  • My work laptop had a meltdown; I'm 250 miles away from tech support. A new laptop is on the way but until then I have to baby this one. Can't switch over to a home laptop because of software, security, etc. 
A lot of distractions, right? 

Actually, no. Here's the way I view my life: I am a juggler and those bullet points are the things I juggle. In the middle (me) is my writing. That's the constant that keeps me going. Every day I get to sit down and visit my characters and write their story and join them for however long I can. 

That's the central pivot point. Everything else will have its moment but through it all, I'll have my writing. Lord knows what I'll do if that goes away! I don't think it ever will. I have a lot more stories to tell.