Sunday, March 5, 2017

Brown Shoes VS Black Shoes

Aspiring writer friends, I know we want people to love our writing, and subsequently buy our books—hopefully more than a few people—but what about those who don’t? How much does that matter to you?

If you’re writing a psychological thriller, and a friend only reads western romance novels with hunky cowboys, chances are, she won’t like your book. Understandable, right?  I won’t bother purchasing your cowboy romance, nor will I buy your newly published book about aliens invading San Francisco. Okay, if we know each other well, I will buy them. I’ve read many books out of my normal interests because I know the author, but I will never buy a book like “Fifty Shades of Grey”—even if my daughter writes it!  I will wish you the best of luck, but don’t expect me to read it. And that should be okay. It doesn’t reflect on your ability to write a good book. It only says my interests are different.

 I recently pinned some photos of plants that I hope to add to the landscape of our soon-to-be home. A friend commented that a couple of the plants I liked would "grow ugly". I knew what she meant, but that feature was one of the things that I liked about the plant. She conceded that people have different tastes with a comment something like, "That's why we have brown shoes and black shoes." 

No matter where your talent lies, there will be someone who doesn’t appreciate it. I don’t think many would say Barbra Streisand can’t sing, but there are many who would not pay to own her albums.

I say all this to encourage you. And as writers, we all need encouragement. There are enough stumbling blocks in this process without raising our expectations beyond realistic heights—that everyone in the world would fall in love with our book and give it raving five-star reviews. Not. Gonna. Happen.

This afternoon, I finished reading TheNight Bird by Brian Freeman.I LOVED this book! Psychological thriller is one of my favorite genres. However, I find many authors can’t tell a tale without excessive foul language and sex. I’d rather not read it. This author had enough talent that he could fill a book without the need for graphic sex and bad talk. I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end. 

I went on Amazon to post a review, and as always, there were numerous one-star reviews. I read through them to see what it was that people disliked about this book. One reviewer wrote that it would desensitize people to violence. Well, that is debatable for sure. But wouldn’t that hold true for all psychological thrillers? Is it fair to rate a book so low because you don’t like the genre? More than one said the plot wasn’t believable. I often read reviews criticizing an author for writing exactly the way the genre should be written!

Okay, it wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read. The author had a habit of using the “grocery list” method of describing characters. In a couple of places, it harshly interrupted the flow of the story. (If I were his editor, this is an area I would have asked him to chop.) And although the storyline was crazy, it’s supposed to be! It’s a psychological thriller. That means it’s also fiction. I don’t think the events in this book could really happen. I don’t care. It was entertaining and had me turning pages on the edge of my seat!

I’m glad Mr. Freeman isn’t going to stop writing because a few people don’t like his books. I plan on reading many more from this author. I’m sure that the bestselling authors have had more than their share of bad reviews. So when you finish that manuscript and throw it out there to the world, don’t dwell on that reader who says your book bored him, or she didn’t care for your style, or your story isn’t feasible. Dwell on the fact that you did it! Dwell on all the times people told you it was good. Dwell on the enjoyment you got when you typed The End. Dwell on being called a published author.

By the way, I prefer brown shoes...but I often wear black.



Sunday, February 26, 2017

Review of For Love and Honor by Jody Hedlund


Prequel to the Series



We first met Sir Bennet in The Vow: Prequel to An Uncertain Choice, but this book can be read as a stand-alone story. Though, having read the entire series, I highly recommend reading them all. Three knights in shining armor—what’s not to love!


Sir Bennet returns home to find that his brother has driven the family into debt, and time has run out for repayment to the neighboring lords. Without repayment, there is imminent danger of an attack. Sir Bennet’s mother convinces him—much against his honorable heart—that the only way to save his family’s land and collection of valuable artifacts is to marry a wealthy noblewoman.
 
Lady Sabine was born with a skin blemish—one that she keeps hidden for fear of being labeled a witch! She is convinced that no man would ever love her with such a disfigurement. Her grandmother, learning of the financial woes of Sir Bennet, has plans for an arranged marriage. Can Sir Bennet set aside his honorable values and marry for money? What will he do when he discovers his only recourse to war might be marriage to a woman branded as a witch?

 
This latest installment in the Uncertain Choice series, like the others in this series, is filled with knights in battle, chivalry, and virtue. While Hedlund’s lead characters are quite likeable, her villains are as loathsome as they come. 

I particularly love the way this author paints women as capable rather than powerless. Even though this leading lady is on more than one occasion a damsel in distress, needing rescue from a knight in shining armor, Hedlund still portrays her as a woman of strong character—courageous in the face of danger.
  

This story has a very good lesson about self-acceptance. As Lady Sabine comes to the realization that God had created her with this blemish purposefully—that she was unique, and should embrace her qualities rather than live in shame. In this world that places so much emphasis on physical looks, it is refreshing to have a heroine who is not painted as exquisitely beautiful.

This story moves at a very good pace. It’s a definite page turner—I read it in two sittings. As always, the descriptive writing and settings are lusciously wonderful and the technical aspects impeccable—just as I’ve come to expect from this author.

Even though this series is listed under the genre Young Adult,
it is quite appealing to old ladies like me.

You can learn more about this series at Jody Hedlund's website.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Something Old and Something New...

I want to tell you all about a new Indie author--Terri Tiffany!



No, Terri is not a new author—she’s been around the block more than a time or two with published stories in many Chicken Soup books, magazines, etc, and even had a novel titled The Mulligan hit the shelves two years ago—via the traditional route. But now Terri has ventured into the land of self-publishing, with her first novel published last week. She has also stepped out of her usual genre into her true love—suspense.



 
 
 This story grabbed me from the start! 




Tiffany does a great job of making the MC’s special “gift” truly believable. Kate Song is a photographer who sees mystifying details that others can’t in her photographs—a puzzling phenomenon she was left with when she became the sole survivor of an massive explosion. Kate has spent her life running from the fame that event brought her—determined to shed the name Miracle Girl.

The setting for this story—the town of Bend, PA—is nothing short of eerie. The perfect backdrop for a suspense novel, complete with a cult-like community. The people of the Bend totally creep me out!

You can tell Tiffany's a seasoned writer. Her descriptions drew me into each scene. The story moves along at a good pace with lots of action—a real page-turner.  The characters are well-developed, and the tension between them kept the story engaging between the action scenes. There are plenty of interesting secondary characters to round out the tale. Tiffany does a great job of creating multiple suspects to keep me guessing the identity of the "trainer".

Tiffany also does a great job of wrapping up all the loose ends. Disappointing—I would have loved a sequel!

Did I mention this one is clean? Yes, a book that you won't be afraid for your teen to flip through. Refreshing to find a suspense that isn’t filled with sex and foul language. This story will appeal to a broad audience. My husband started reading it last night. He said, "Wow. This is a really good book."

Yes, it is a really good book. It's available now as a paperback and for Kindle and Nook. You can purchase The Bend at Amazon, and at Barnes & Noble.

I look forward to reading her next book. Terri Tiffany is an Indie author to watch!