Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Book Review: Dear Abigail....

Dear Abigail: The Intimate Lives and Revolutionary Ideas of Abigail Adams and Her Two Remarkable SistersDear Abigail: The Intimate Lives and Revolutionary Ideas of Abigail Adams and Her Two Remarkable Sisters by Diane Jacobs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Smith sisters--Abigail Adams, Mary Cranch and Elizabeth Peabody--are an American treasure! There's so much to learn about America's early history along with feminist thoughts of the late 18th century from their correspondence. They really were very modern women, expressing an intense desire for more educational opportunities and say-so in their daily lives. But the hardships these women had to endure are heartbreaking. Abigail was separated from her husband, John Adams, throughout most of the Revolution and then John became a diplomat to France and England and left her at home to tend the farm and children... It's unbelievable how they stayed married with such long periods apart, but their letters show that their love and mutual respect ran deep. Repeated sickness, alcoholism, and early deaths took their toll on their loved ones, but somehow these three women survived and blossomed and successfully raised children who would make their mark in the world. Their words show how having a supportive sister can make all the difference.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Robot UprisingsRobot Uprisings by Daniel H. Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's hard to sleep at night after contemplating all the frightening scenarios put forth in this wonderful sci-fi anthology. Will we be taken over by our seemingly benign mechanical household servants? Will incredibly small nanobots we create to cure us from disease and infection be our undoing? Will we even have a clue our robot slaves have gained sentience before it's too late? And what is the difference between artificial intelligence and our own, particularly if the machines outwit us at every turn? These and more are part of the exciting worlds that await you in Robot Uprisings. Come the roboapocalypse don't say I didn't warn you.

View all my reviews

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Writing Process: What is the Secret?

This Blog Hop is called The Writing Process: What is the Secret? It's all about authors offering  a glimpse into their work, their writing schedules, and perhaps their innermost thoughts.

I received the invite to participate in this blog hop from the talented exotic romantic adventure author Sabrina Devonshire. Sabrina writes riveting contemporary romantic suspense that take place in exotic places where love awaits! I hope you will take the time to hop over to her site and also visit the sites of the three authors who will be posting their comments on Monday, March 31.

So without further ado, here are the secrets of my writing life...

1) What are you working on? 

Currently I'm working on the third book in my Loving Who fantasy romantic adventure series, entitled Losing Who. (Leaving Who is the second book in the series.) I'm anxiously awaiting the new season of Doctor Who to begin so I can see more of the newest actor in the role, Peter Capaldi, but I probably will finish the manuscript long before August. I'll have to make a few educated guesses as to the character of the latest Doctor.

Also, I have a YA SF/Fantasy manuscript called Olivia's Escape that's partially complete that I'm hoping to finish soon with some kind feedback from my talented hubby author AJ Matthews. The story takes place on a distant planet where the inhabitants kidnap humans and bring them to act as slaves and "replacements" for their dying species. It has sort of a steampunk feel to it, so it's a new and exciting genre for me.

2) How does my work differ from others in its genre? 

I'd have to say that my writing has a more pronounced sense of humor than a lot of other romantic fiction. I like my characters to find the humor in their situations--even when they are flat-out dire--so the characters can gain the strength to carry on and win the day. You could call me an eternal optimist. I enjoy the happily-ever-after or happy-for-now ending. It's the satisfaction of the human spirit triumphing over adversity. It's why most readers read romantic fiction.

 3) Why do I write what I do?

This is an intriguing question! I like observing and taking notes on unique people and fascinating situations. I enjoy exploring different locales, too. I feel that all drama comes from within, and to explore the human psyche is what novelists should do in whatever genre they choose to express themselves. To share insights into what makes human beings tick is my goal and probably the shortest answer to this question.

4) How does your writing process work?

I'm a pantser more than a plotter. I sometimes write a bare-bones synopsis and in-depth character sketch before starting to write a story, but I don't always get it all down on paper or an e-file. (I keep it in my head.)  I've found that if I tried to do a scene-by-scene outline I will almost always diverge from it. My characters just "talk" to me as I write. I allow them to take me where they will as I write the first draft. Any problems can be ironed out in the rewrites, but I trust the characters' intuition. The characters generally lead me in the right direction. It makes sense. It's "their story" after all.

5) Who will we meet next week? 

I'm honored and pleased to introduce you to three of my fellow authors: Amber Lea Easton, A J Matthews and Dakota Skye. Amber is a multi-published romantic suspense, contemporary romance and nonfiction author. Dakota is a paranormal erotic romance author who is fascinated by all things "unexplained" and other worldly. A J Matthews writes intriguing paranormal erotic romance and has another great book in the "Mr. Grey, Ghosthunter" series coming soon. They will be posting about their writing process on Monday, April 7 . Please download their books today (links below) and mark your calendars so you can read what they have to say next week. 

Thanks for reading my blog entry and be sure to leave me a comment below. If I have 25 comments, I will do a drawing for a free ebook. :)

Dakota Skye

A J Matthews

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Why I Don't Care for Amazon--the Home of Death Threats and Fake Reviews

It seems morality and fair play are dead and gone in the publishing world. Here are some articles and blog postings that have come to my attention lately to show you why I'm feeling blue. I've included my comments as well.

Anne Rice signs petition to protest bullying of authors on Amazon

I'm glad that no one pays attention to my books on Amazon now! Death threats aren't funny, and Amazon has a lot to answer for allowing posters anonymity which only protects the bullies and the fake book reviewers.

I haz a sad... Writers are gaming Amazon 
Here's a comment I made after reading The Lover of Books blog posting called "I haz a sad..." (link since taken down/blocked) about how an unnamed but well-known author sends out emails saying that (s)he'll give out free books to readers in exchange for 5 star reviews on Amazon. If you want to give her/his book anything less than 5 stars, please don't post it there but email the review to the author directly instead so (s)he can "discuss it" (and not post it) with you the reader. Here's my comment on this blog:

This is why you can't trust Amazon's "5 star" book reviews. A lot of them are fakes. Some authors buy them from so-called "beta readers" with free books/giveaways and others just outright pay cash for the reviews. (There's a web site link I won't post since I don't want other buying 5 star reviews). If you see a book on Amazon with lots of 5 stars alongside poorly written reviews, just assume these are paid reviews and not the real deal. The "reviewer" may not have even read the book. It's cheating and it makes all authors look bad. (At least I can honestly say that I have never paid for reviews--and I currently have zero at Amazon. Go figure!)

In reply to the latest way to "pay your way to reviews on Amazon":

I can’t say I agree with this method at all. This is coming from the viewpoint of a book reviewer, editor, and author. To give away free books or to pay cash for reviews up
front is basically the same thing. How can you be sure you’re receiving an “objective” review when you’re essentially encouraging the reader to give you a good review or none at all? Are they going to say anything “bad” about their “new friend’s book” and especially to your face via Skype, etc. as you write up "their" review for them? I think not. The review is worthless and is essentially a “fake”.

That’s why I tell people to not depend on their friends and family members to give their writing an honest critique. Those who care about you don’t want to hurt your feelings. And just like those poor tone-deaf people who get on American Idol and then get laughed at and ridiculed by millions because they carry a tune in a bucket (and they don’t know they can’t sing), you’ll have millions of “authors” who need to take a decent writing course and join a critique group before trying to publish their books and they won’t do so because their “new reviewer friends” tell them their work is perfect as is. There’s no room to improve on perfection, is there? More “not-ready-for-primetime” stuff to clutter up the ‘net! (And why would Amazon care as long as they’re making money off it?)

If you want to gain some useful writing tips I formulated after working over a decade and a half in the publishing industry, try my funny how-to guide Defeating the Slushpile Monster now at Amazon:

After my public commentary, I expect a load of hate email and bullying on Amazon any day now! Please leave a comment below on how you see this present crisis of confidence playing out at the online book-selling monopoly's web site and share this blog link with others who may be feeling similarly down about Amazon. Perhaps they'll clean up their act one day? We can only hope!

Friday, March 07, 2014

Book Review: The Science of Discworld

The Science Of DiscworldThe Science Of Discworld by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

You can't keep a good wizard down! I loved the chapters with the story line of the wizards of the Unseen University meddling with their "Roundworld" universe. My favorite character, Rincewind, finds himself named Egregious Professor of Cruel and Unusual Geography--how appropriate! The one thing that mars this otherwise enjoyable book are the non-fiction chapters. They're simply too long-winded for laypersons and detract more than add to the fun of the Discworld story. Really, for atheists these guys preach and preach and preach... Not a turtle in sight. Boring! It's much more fun to read about the wizards in action trying to unravel the mysteries of a planet very much like our own.

View all my reviews