Saturday, March 11, 2017

Thoughts on Book Reviews

As a writer, book reviews are critical. I have taken it upon myself over the past 6 to 8 months, to become a reviewer. I want to help my fellow writers draw attention to their work. I also hope that others will do the same for me.


It is said that there is no such thing as a bad review. Every review adds to the author's visibility, and since each reader is different, each review will likely focus on a different aspect of what the writer has to offer. There is definitely truth to this. The more numbers you have, the higher you go up the list. Simple math, and all of that. (Remember, I'm a writer, not a mathematician, but I still get the basics ;)

There is nothing like the feeling of getting a five star review. Even if the person knows you, and is biased because they gave birth to you, or have been sharing their deepest secrets with you since your tweens, these reviews are amazing. Then there are those ones you get from people you've never met, and you think, "wow, I've actually managed to touch someone. This is going somewhere."

On the other hand, there are also one star reviews. Imagine getting kicked in the stomach, then having an elephant sit on your chest. That's sort of what a one star review feels like. It's bad enough to know that someone really didn't enjoy what you were trying to say, but it doesn't end there. I'll never forget reading a blog post by mega selling indie author, Amanda Hawking. She has finally released the final book in her "My Blood Approves," series, but doing so took her years because of negative reviews. People who reviewed her book, rather than simply saying how they felt about the stories or the characters, turned to talking about what a horrible person she must be for even writing such trash. In turn, that made her feel like these books that she enjoyed sharing with the world somehow made her less of a person.

Not everyone will like every book. You can't make everyone happy. It's not possible, even if you write a book that is a best seller, or that wins awards left and right. Even if your book is published in more languages than you knew existed, and has millions of five star reviews, there will be someone who reads it and says, "meh." And it is totally okay for people not to like a book, or to think it is poorly written, or to be unable to identify with the characters, but why do they have to make it personal? Why do they feel the need to belittle the author, just because they didn't like what that person wrote?

I have some theories about nasty one star reviewers, but they aren't overly positive. Personally, I think they're probably compensating for something, and rather than dealing with their own issues, they're using their powers of good for evil. Okay, you can write a scathing review, but maybe you shouldn't pat yourself on the back for the fact that you took someone's dream and crushed it in the cruelest way imaginable.



I could go on and on about this topic, but I'd rather switch to something more positive and save the rest for another time. I'm going to do a talk about my book next week. I have no idea if anyone will show up, but it's the first time I've done anything like this, which means I'm filled with that weird mix of excited nervousness that won't settle until I'm driving home at the end of the evening. I've done plenty of public speaking as a teacher, but it's different when you have to go up and be vulnerable about a topic that is dear to your heart: your precious book baby. So here's to hoping I have an audience, and that they're open to hearing about what led me to write One Week In November.

I'm also hoping to have fresh publication news really soon as I re-release The Darkening Dragons. I'm definitely squirrely with excitement about that, so stay tuned :)


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

New Cover Reveal


I am so excited to be able to help C.E. Dimond share the new covers for her books Awakening and Wandering in her Lost Legacy series. I was privileged to receive free copies of both of these books for review, and really enjoyed them. I also appreciated the author's willingness to listen to feedback, and how hard she worked to improve her writing. The new covers look absolutely fabulous, and I wish her great success as she works on the sequel. If you're interested in reading more about her books, as well as a fun interview, please check out my blog post from September 29, 2016.


There is also giving away copies of Awakening, so please follow the link :)

https://instafreebie.com/free/p7Z4I

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Surrender Blog Tour

Wow, two posts in a week. I'm really going wild or something ;) Today I get to share a little with you about the book Surrender, by GR Thomas. I actually haven't started reading it yet, because I'm still in the middle of book one, Awaken, which I am enjoying thus far. The stories are an interesting take on Angels, with bits of fantasy woven in for good measure. Once I have a chance to finish both the books I'll be putting up my reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, but for now, I'll let the author introduce things to you herself :) Be sure to read all the way to the end for insights directly from the author.




Title: Surrender (The A'vean Chronicles : Volume 2)
Author: G.R. Thomas
Summary from Amazon.com:
Sophia Woodville's life is anything but ordinary. You can't be ordinary when you've discovered
you're an Earth-born Angel. Alone and suddenly powerless in the stinking heat of the Daimon
realm, Sophia has been betrayed by the one person she trusted most. She must find a way to escape and continue her quest to unravel the clues left for her eyes only, fighting the Zombie-like Rogues to preserve the prophecies of Enoch. Only then can the Fallen Angels return to their homeland and humanity be released from the grip of Yeqon and his evil horde.
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Surrender-Avean-Chronicles-2-
Thomas/dp/0994506910/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1484549250&sr=8-1
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33146650-surrender
________________________________________________________________________________
Prologue
Syracuse 212 BC
The stench of the narrow, dusty streets made Lucius wish for the battlefields more than ever. The smell of human waste rolled his stomach until the acid of bile lapped at the back of his throat. It mercilessly gnawed at him more than seeing the entrails of a dead soldier. His protracted reposting under General Marcellus was nothing short of mind-numbing. Running meaningless errands for that tyrant not only left his body lacking its former battle strength, but had driven him to the evils of too much wine and women for the lack of adventure. He grimaced with disgust at himself as he wiped strands of amber hair and sweat a third time from his brow with the back of his battle-scarred hand.
He smoothed down his well-kept tunic after a wind gust and re-adjusted his beloved sword across his waist. A gift for bravery, his thumb rolled across the top of the hilt as he made the last turn into the small cobbled street, barely two soldiers wide. The effort of dragging up his right leg with any semblance of dignity slowed him down considerably. The damn injury that saw his last battle a career-ending one. He resented this lameness and ground his teeth in an almost permanent scowl.
Barely twenty-five with a young family back on the outskirts of Rome, who were barely sustained on his paltry wage, the pressure to provide well for them was immense. He could envisage the look of shame in his late father's face when he stared into a looking glass during his morning ablutions.
This extra job though, bringing in the old rogue, Archimedes, would see an extra one hundred
Denari in his eager hands. Yet to lay eyes upon his two-year-old daughter, the monetary reward was all that pushed him to accept such menial tasks so far beneath a centurion of his standing. He growled to himself, but pushed on towards his destination. Lucius found the ramshackle frontage, stopping to rub his temples before he announced himself. Frustrated, he kicked out a stray dog, sniffing for a scrap of food. Headaches had plagued him of late. None of the poultices had worked, not even an entire night's worth of drinking could calm it.
He'd resorted to Vitriola recently, using far too much of his precious wage to acquire the addictive painkiller. It did work somewhat, but left him with nightmares of hellish proportions. Be sure and also pick up a copy of "Awaken," the first book in this incredible series.
SOME PEOPLE AREN'T DESTINED TO BE ORDINARY.
With a special gift held close to her heart, it was always going to be hard for Sophia Woodville tolive an ordinary life. As a 20 year old nursing grad, she thought she had her future all sorted.
However, destiny was about to intervene. Her secret was not so secret. The gift she possessed was just a hint of something far beyond her wildest imagination.
Sophia will be pulled, kicking and screaming, into an unseen, ancient world that challenges all that she thought to be true of herself, her family and the origins of humanity.
Original sin, forbidden love and her life in constant danger.
Will Sophia survive this dark twist of fate?
Will the devil be her saviour?
Will an Angel be her downfall?
________________________________________________________________________________

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Growing up in the burbs of Melbourne, Australia, in the 1970's, I had little in the way of technology to entertain me. I loved horses and books. When not riding my pinto pony I devoured fantasy books. I loved Enid Blyton with all the fairies and make believe. Over time, those fairies became darker as I delved into richer, more adult and scary fantasy and paranormal literature. These books mirrored a vivid dreamscape that comes almost nightly to me. Stories swirl about whilst I sleep, both delighting and frightening me. After a wonderful career as an I.C.U nurse and having an amazing family, I finally put pen to paper and began pulling out some of these stories. History and fantasy are what I love to read now, and especially when intertwined together. Anything that takes my mind away from the daily grind is fair game. I am a great fan of diverse and immensely talented authors, some of these being, Ken Follett, Phillipa Gregory, Tolkien, Julie Kagawa, Cassandra Clare, Amy Plum, Rochelle Maya Callen and the very talented Aussie author Matthew Riley. The list could really just go on forever.
Awaken is my debut novel, the first in a three book series.
Follow me on Instagram at grthomas2014 for regular updates on my current writing
AUTHOR LINKS:
Website: www.grthomasbooks.com
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/grthomas2014
________________________________________________________________________________
GIVEAWAY:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/050c6a3b15/

TOUR SCHEDULE:
January 16th:
Jen (http://www.happylilbooknook.com)
January 17th:
Jordan (http://www.readbyroe.com)
January 18th:
Misty (http://www.mistysbookspace.wordpress.com)
January 19th:
Wilmarilys & Melisa (https://bookalmighty.wordpress.com/)
January 20th:
Camille (http://www.instagram.com/cami_simply_reads)
January 21st:
Julieanne (http://ephemeralwriting.wordpress.com)
January 28th:
Tracy (http://www.thepagesinbetween.com)
Sarah (http://www.transientdrifter.blogspot.com)
January 29th:
Sarah (http://www.sarahinzombieland.wordpress.com)
Blog Tour Organized by: Happy Lil Book Tours


1.) When it comes to writing do you consider yourself a plotter or a pantser (someone who just writes by the seat of their pants)?
I am a bit of both. I always plot out important milestones of the story but do a substantial amount of flying by the seat of my pants over a latte at my favourite cafe. I find a skeletal framework with a whole lot of room to move in between allows my mind to wander far. I have had some quite substantial changes occur by letting the story and characters take charge.

2.) When you started writing Awaken, were you already anticipating writing a sequel? If not, at which point did you decide you would need to write more than one book, and do you have plans for more in the series as well?
I always knew this would be a trilogy, with a very clear destination. I’ve had the ending written for a long time so I know exactly where I’m headed. I just have to fill in all the bits in between. This can sometimes make it tricky because I have so much swirling through my mind at once. I have to keep a clear focus on not trying to put too much in too soon. Balancing out the reveal of the story is key.

3.) My readers always love a chance to go behind the scenes with the characters. Can you share any background info that doesn't appear in the story? For example favorite color, style of music, celebrity crush, favorite food, etc. about any of your characters.
Background of a character, this is interesting. I had to have a good think on this. I’ll go with Ben because he’s is fairly under-represented in Awaken.
Ben was always a loner until Jaz came into his life. His words are few and to the point. He is keen on keeping his hands and mind busy with the least amount of intrusion by others. He loves to fix things. He picks up what is broken, works out how to fix it and then brings it back to life. He particularly likes motorbikes but also loves the complexity of repairing computers. Ben eats blandly. Food does not interest him. He is at home with an open can of beans and a piece of dry toast any day. Food to him is a means to an end, not a pleasure. Likewise, he is disinterested in fashion but plain and black suit him just fine. Jeans, a t-shirt and a jacket are all he needs. He is often found wandering the local forests, secretly he likes taking Sophia’s dog, Shadow for walks when she is at work. He doesn’t advertise the fact that he has a soft spot for animals. He works out....a lot. At least twice a day he lifts weights giving him an impressive appearance.
He does however like music, hard rock and heavy metal played loud to drone out his worries is not uncommonly heard through an open window at his home. Ben continues to prefer to keep to himself other than his friendship with Sophia and sister, Jaz. He socializes with them, does what they want to do, adapting himself to please them regardless of whether he’s interested in the activity or not. He has always been fiercely protective of them both and has been known to enthusiastically pick a fight to defend them, even for something as simple as a glance in their direction. His fuse is shorter than his calm demeanour infers.


4.) Which of your characters would you most love to spend a day with and what would you do on that day? I would love to spend a day with Brennan. He’s my favourite character. I adore his wit, his light hearted nature, he is the best friend that we always want. Brennan is an irrepressible gossip and people person so I think a night out around the town, taking in the nightlife would be hilarious with him. He’s a decent and respectful guy who would keep you feeling safe whilst blowing your mind with his total lack of modesty and perpetual clowning around.

5.) Was there anything that surprised you, or came out differently than you anticipated when you were writing Surrender?
Surprises did evolve whilst writing Surrender. The biggest was wrestling with a character that really wanted to write their own dialogue. It was quite a shock. Here I was thinking I was in charge, but every time I tried to write this character a certain way it was like they were screaming up at me from the computer screen to let them be themselves. Suffice to say, the character won.

6.) Do you have any writing rituals, favorite places/foods/music to accompany your writing?I have developed a ritual of writing daily at my local coffee shop. I love the white noise of the cafe sounds, I don’t mind all the coffee too. I find it hard to write at home because I see all the housework I’m supposed to be doing Ha Ha! I use post it notes too, a lot of them.

I’ll share a little of my writing inspiration. Awaken evolved from a dream I had many years ago where I was drowning in a flood and I was saved by an Angel. From there, the places I’ve visited both around the world and in my own back yard have been rich with characters and locations that appear vividly in both my books. In particular, I adore the Dandenong Ranges in Melbourne and feature them in Awaken. I really wanted to highlight the beauty of this magical place that is only a short distance from where I live. Since I began writing, everyone and everything is potential writing fodder.




*Hosts were provided with a copy of the book for review purposes in exchange for their honest
reviews and opinions.*

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Kindness Matters

It's a simple thought, really. Through every age, every era, every part of the world, if we take a closer look at people, not politics, we can see the truth shining up at us. We are not a world made of politics, scored by border lines, races, and religions. We are a world full of people. People who live their lives every day, through good times and bad, war and peace, prosperity and poverty, sorrow and joy. While history may chose to focus on the battles and rebellions that shaped our modern governments and divisions, it is our humanity that continues to draw us together.

I started out 2017 full of inexplicable hope. The number 17 is one of my favorite numbers, you see, and so I wanted to truly believe that this would be a year that would be somehow more amazing. But thus far, well, let's just say, not so much amazing. From frozen weather that shut down the city where my business is, to protests that have continued to divide, to the continued daily struggle of figuring out all the "what next" decisions we are facing, it has honestly been hard.

I was encouraged through a challenge on Bookstagram (the obsessive lovers of books portion of Instagram) to choose a word for this year, and in my desire for positivity, I picked the word "Believe." I've put aside my naivety, but I refuse to completely give up on the dream that despite the challenges we all face, I will believe that things can be better. I will believe that I can push myself forward every day to be more of the person I want to be. I will believe that despite the things that appear to divide, we are all people, and we all matter. Kindness matters.


That is really the core of the book I published back in October. It is so easy to see what we want to see in others and in ourselves, but is that really fair? Are we really allowing people to be who they genuinely are? And if they exhibit their true selves, are we willing to accept and love them, even if we don't agree with them or the decisions they make? Does kindness really matter?

Well, this morning, I experienced kindness in a simple but compelling way. I was out of coffee creamer, and so I decided to pick up a Dutch Bros coffee on the way into work. (Yeah, I like my coffee to taste like candy.) After waiting patiently in line, my punch card and money ready to go, I was greeted by a smiling girl handing me my coffee and explaining that the gentleman in front of me had paid for my drink. And here's the thing, this is not the first time this has happened to me. Even as I was sitting in line I had been remembering the kind soul who had done that very thing for me a couple of months ago when I was on my way to a book signing event. It touched me then, and it touched me again today. I will never see either of those people and know who they are, but their kindness mattered to me, more than they will probably ever even realize.

So wherever you are, whatever your circumstances, whatever your abilities, just remember that even the smallest acts of kindness really do matter.