Book Ratings – When Over 18 Isn’t Quite Enough #Reviews Matter

Amazon Reviews Feed Authors

Star ratings have been around for as long as I can remember…and that’s a pretty long time. I’ve always believed anything from three stars and up is wonderful. However, those stars don’t mean nearly as much as what the reader has to say about your book or rather, their written review. There is so much to be learned from well thought out, honest reviews. Be they good, bad or somewhere in between, those thoughts matter more often than they don’t.

AMBER WAKE received a three star review today. To be honest, based on the reviewer’s comments, I believe she was quite generous. She was very complimentary on the writing, the characters and the story. However, the reader felt the book was for mature audiences only and I agree with her 100%.


The book is well-written, the characters are complex and interesting. However, this book, in my opinion, is definitely for mature audiences. There are slang words for male body parts, unsettling adult situations, and material I skipped over in order to not read to my teen-aged granddaughter. I knew it was a pirate’s tale, but until about chapter five there was nothing objectionable. I read to my husband whose vision is not good enough to read to himself. Our granddaughter was visiting with us while I was reading. I had to skip a lot. Thus, I felt embarrassed at some of the material. I put the book aside and did not finish it.”

Is there graphic violence? YES because, well, pirates

Is there profanity? Very little

Are there sexual situations? Nothing graphic or gratuitous

With the above questions answered, I’ve considered consulting my co-author to possibly add in the author’s notes that the book is for mature readers and give it say, an 18+ rating. However, there are droves of readers who are far beyond 18 years of age who still may find some of the subject matter not to their taste and even objectionable and that’s okay.

I’d personally like to thank this reviewer for two reasons; first, for her honest opinion and for sharing that opinion so others who may be put off by certain subject matter, don’t go into this story looking for Pirates of the Caribbean or at the very least, a Disney pirate tale and second, for enticing those who enjoy this type of realistic, although often times shocking and even ugly side of history, exactly what they’re looking for and more. With her praise, as well as her dislike, she has done this wonderful book so much service that I simply couldn’t go to bed tonight without sharing it.

As authors, we always hope everyone who reads our books will love them but the reality is not every story is right for everyone. Leave your reviews anyway…please. They mean so much more than you know!


My Beautiful Map of Port Royal and Kingston Jamaica

My beautiful map of Port Royal and Kingston Jamaica, for my soon to be new writing room, “Peggy’s Cove.” This map is dated 1772. Of course it isn’t the original but it’s beautiful.

my map


Check out a little history on the tragic Earthquake that destroyed a great deal of Port Royal in 1692.

I chose this web site not only for the story content but because of the wonderful illustrations.

Pirates of the Caribbean – PORT ROYAL EARTHQUAKE

It was calm in Jamaica the morning of June 7, 1692. According to Edmund Heath’s eyewitness account, “there was no wind stirring” and nothing that made anyone suspicious of the calamity about to befall the island.


Telling A Story My Way But Writing It For You

What’s the point of being a storyteller if we can’t share it?

As much as I, like most of you, write what I want to read, I often read the same books that many of you read, watch the same movies and television shows and follow the same blogs. That’s more than enough to show that if I write what I want to read, odds are, others will want to read it as well.

However, like most of you, I want to know what I’m getting myself into and at least have an idea of the story before I drop my money in the jar and dedicate my precious time to it–whatever it is.

Tonight marks the three day countdown on my book release timeline so I want to share a little about the story and why I love it so much in hopes that you’ll take a chance on me and give me some of that all too precious and rare trust, that I’m not going to let you down.

The Blue Diamond – The Razor’s Edge is historical fiction (gasp!) but I like to think of it as a historical romp through the golden age of piracy as seen through the eyes of four young women. They are all completely different and yet they fit together perfectly. Nothing brings people together more than struggle and crisis and these girls have had plenty of it. Tonight, I want to take the time to introduce you to each of them and give you a little background on them. Don’t worry, there won’t be any spoilers. I want you to love this book and I certainly wouldn’t do anything to ruin that.

Like the opening line of the book states: Ivory once said, “Bring me a lad with the right stuff, and I’ll leave him even better,” but that was long before she was found adrift and alone in a leaky longboat, rocking her way with the tide to the soft, white Jamaican shore. 

So, let’s talk about Ivory first.

Ivory “The Razor” Shepard, is identifiable not only by her sun bleached blond locks but by her dedication, convictions and above all, her protective instincts. She’s the eldest of the four by only a year but she takes on the role as mother lioness, after tragedy strikes them when they are barely into their teens. She voluntarily takes on the responsibility of raising her cousins and instilling in them that no matter what has happened, they are not and never will be victims.

These are not your spoiled, self absorbed and pampered southern belles. These girls have grit and they aren’t afraid to use it to stay alive and stay together. Ivory’s not afraid of the dirty work and although it isn’t spelled out in words in the book, one gains the understanding that when she does what she needs to do to keep them all alive right in front of them, you can believe there are more times than can be counted that she’s done it without them even knowing about it. Most of her life she’s been a spectator to their happiness and she’s been guarded and content to watch life from the sidelines–at least the parts of life that actually touch you and get inside and make you feel warm. That is at least until she’s kidnapped and finds herself completely vulnerable and alone with a mysterious and beautiful stranger, who turns not only her life but her identity upside down. Now the struggle isn’t about raiding ships and drowning her sorrows in rum, it’s the internal struggle to live her own life or step back from the ledge and play it safe where swords, guns and her razor are the only armor she needs.

Cassandra (Cass) Randall is a beacon. She’s Ivory’s light in the dark. She is a confidant, a voice of reason and logic, and she’s a soft and gentle soul who can rise to any occasion. She’s a leader and an organizer, and she’s the epitome of the phrase, still waters run deep. She may not say everything she’s thinking but buried deep inside her cool, level headed exterior beats the heart of a warrior. She’s also very good at keeping secrets–especially her own.  She and the love of her life are star crossed but she’s very good at keeping her emotions at bay.

Keara (pr: Kira) Shepard is a ball of fire. She wears her heart on her sleeve as well as her opinions and she doesn’t care who knows it. She curses, she’s a dead shot and can swing a sword as well as any man twice her size. She and Ivory butt heads quite a bit but it’s mainly because Keara shoots from the hip whereas Ivory as a captain, has to remain cool and always rule with her head, not her emotions or her heart. However, she’s madly in love but that’s her business. She’s not interested in showy romantic affairs and her love life is nobody’s business but her own.

Miranda (Mir) Shepard is like a whirlwind of perfume, lipstick and pounds of fiery red hair that once a man gets  caught up in the storm, he will find himself marooned with the rest of her many admirers. She knows her super power is her charm and she’s neither afraid nor ashamed to use it to get what she wants. More often than not, she’s really only looking for a good time but when necessary, she will use whatever wiles she possesses to get the information she needs. Her only weakness is that she’s in love with love–even if she refuses to admit it.

The Blue Diamond is filled with adventure, love, lust, humor, danger and more fun than you can shake a broadsword at. I’ve often described it as Charlie’s Angels meets Pirates of the Caribbean but recently, I spent a rare and precious afternoon at a salon having a pedicure and they were playing a Sex and the City Marathon. I’ve never watched the show but I found myself glued to the television with my eyes bugging out because all I could think was holy cow, this story is more like THAT and Pirates of the Caribbean but with guns and swords and big hats.

So for tonight, I’ll leave you with that. Tomorrow night, we’ll take a look at Captain Maddox Carbonale and what floats his boat as they say. I can promise you one thing, he’s no Captain Hook. 😉

You can pre-order The Blue Diamond tonight on Kindle or wait until Friday for the paperback. Amazon says it’s 296 pages but I can assure you, it’s 479 pages of good, solid fun.

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A Sneak Peek From Somewhere Deep Inside Le Chat Noir – The Blue Diamond – The Razor’s Edge

I feel like sharing today, so here’s a treat from deep inside of my soon to be released third novel – The Blue Diamond – The Razor’s Edge.

Maddox Carbonale is a very complex and multi-layered man. He is protective of himself on every level but his best friend and quartermaster, Alphonse Green knows him better than anyone alive:


Click the book cover to Pre-Order your copy today. Only $2.99 on Kindle!

“Land, Captain!” a young sailor called out with a knock on Maddox’s cabin door.
Since the dawn had barely shown its face, Maddox saw no reason yet to rise. He lay back in his bunk and lifted the open book of sonnets from his bare chest. It was tacky, and the pages peeled away from him as he raised it and recalled where he’d left off some hours before.
How heavy do I journey on the way,
When what I seek, my weary travel’s end,
Doth teach that ease and that repose to say,
‘Thus far the miles are measured from thy friend!
The beast that bears me, tired with my woe,
Plods dully on, to bear that weight in me,
As if by some instinct the wretch did know
His rider lov’d not speed being made from thee.
The bloody spur cannot provoke him on,
That sometimes anger thrusts into his hide,
Which heavily he answers with a groan,
More sharp to me than spurring to his side;
For that same groan doth put this in my mind,
My grief lies onward, and my joy behind.
He recited the poem again with his eyes closed. He remembered falling asleep after having read it repeatedly, until it was embedded into his brain. There were many others which had held his attention, but once Shakespeare’s fiftieth sonnet found him, he stopped turning the pages.
“My grief lies onward, and my joy behind.” He slammed the book closed and dropped it to the floor next to his bunk. One leg dangled towards the floor with one pointed toe’s very tip resting against the cool, rough wood. His mind filled with images of pale blond hair and sun-kissed golden cheeks. He lay back between dreams and reality and succumbed to the memory of her asleep, and then awake and trapped in his arms.
The room was scented with dampness and cold candlewax, but his memories were flooded with a mixture of cucumber, lavender, and Ivory’s own sweet fragrance. His heart raced, and the air he breathed was heavy. He stretched as it escaped him, until his lungs completely deflated, and his chest fell flat. All at once, he sat up. His hands rushed through his curls and down over his aching neck. He arched his back and then fell forward and rested his forearms on his knees. It was then he noticed the tapping at his door and shouted, “Come in!” He was still far too weighed down in spirit to rise.
“Good morning, Maddox. We should reach Kingston by noon,” Green said as he folded his hands behind his back.
“Very well, then. Was there anything else?”
“Nothing of note. All crew members are accounted for and looking forward to land.”
“Aye, something to look forward to indeed.”
Green walked to the bunk, lifted the book of sonnets from the floor, and turned it over. “Sonnets?” he asked with a raised brow.
“Yes, sonnets…and your point is?”
“If you do not mind my speaking openly…”
“When has my minding anything ever stopped you?” Maddox rubbed at his eyes and pushed himself up by the knees. “By the way, do you ever sleep?”
“When we reach Kingston, I could inquire as to Madame Ivory’s well-being, and perhaps I could arrange to contact her. To be honest, I intend to make the journey to Port Royal and make inquiries on my own behalf.”
“Well, good for you. At least one of us has intentions beyond sleeping for days.”
“You have intentions as well. You simply choose not to follow them.”
“Maybe it’s exhaustion or insanity…” Maddox’s voice lowered to a nearly inaudible level but Green leaned in and heard every word. “But, you’re right, you know? I’ll join you in your intentions, if for no other reason than to close this book and return this blasted thing.” Maddox lifted Ivory’s pearl handled razor from the desk and tossed it to Green.
“We will be forced to travel in disguise.”
“Disguise? What disguise? I’m dead, remember?”
“How long do you think it will be before one of these fools exposes the fact that you are very much alive? We will have thirty days, at the most, to relocate.”
“Relocate? Why bother? Money speaks far louder than rum.”
“Money procures rum. Rum is everywhere. Money will not stop them from their drunken ramblings anyway, if that is to what you are referring.”
“Alright, alright… you win. Dammit, Alphonse, the older you get the less pleasant you are to chat with.” Maddox lit his pipe and sulked into his favorite chair. “Choose the most loyal and offer them passage to Port Royal…with a bonus.”
“I always do my best to speak only the truth, which is something you require constantly. How frustrated do you imagine that I am?”
“Is that a smile I detect there?”
“I cannot deny my pleasure in finding you more in agreement this morning. It is a rare treat. However, I must ask you if we are, in fact, solely returning this meager weapon? Or are you hoping to acquire a more substantial reward to compensate for our trouble?”
“The diamonds?”
“It had crossed my mind.”
“The only diamonds I’m interested in are the jewels of closure and no regrets. However, finding Ivory raises the level of danger whilst she still has them in her possession.”
Green’s eyebrow arched with suspicion at Maddox as he turned back to him from the door. “Do not even think it. I long for the arms of my love about my neck, not the noose.”
“One and the same, if you ask me.”
Green chuckled. “Why don’t you read some more of Master Shakespeare? I will secure those loyal men, and we will turn about once we’ve collected our belongings. Will you be bringing Lasher and Zara?”
“Bring a black cat and a woman aboard ship? It’s difficult to find loyal men without superstitions as well. I think under those conditions, we would be sailing her alone.”
“I only thought to ask.”
Maddox tapped out his pipe and poured a goblet of water. “I’ll see you on deck shortly.”
Green was gone and Maddox sulked on for an hour. “Leave my cat?” he whined aloud.

How Readers Talk to Each Other – VS – A Synopsis

I often blog about finding readers. Tonight, although in a bit of a pizza coma–overdid it just a pinch–I started reading back over a synopsis I was working on and decided it’s a little difficult to generate interest in a novel without at least letting readers in on what they’re getting for their time and money.

For a little while, I sat here with my heavily lidded eyes and a cup of coffee, and figuratively stepped outside of the author and back into the reader and recalled conversations with friends and relatives when we would ask each other that all too important question about a book they’ve read;

“So, what’s it about?”

I rambled on as they can all testify to, starting at the beginning and many, many minutes later, it dawned on me giving a synopsis of a 376 page manuscript is HARD. Okay, if you are a writer, it isn’t as if you didn’t already know that but even when you try to tell someone about a television show or a movie you watched, how do you explain something you enjoyed and are excited about without blabbing on and on until you’ve practically ruined it for them?

I’ve read many other authors’ advice on how to write a synopsis without giving it all away but honestly, when you compare the telling with the doing, it’s like telling someone how to drive a car and handing them the keys.


So, here I am about to give you my best shot at a synopsis for “The Blue Diamond,” because I want you to get excited and one: of course buy the book when it is released on October 1st and two: be interested enough to perhaps even support my Pubslush campaign so that I can afford to market it to the masses.

There is also a three, which is the cherry on top; I want you to recommend it to your historical fiction, romance and adventure loving reader friends! After all, from everything I’ve read and from experience, word of mouth is absolutely the overall best way to find your readers.

So, without any further pizza coma babble from me, I give you my heart, my pirate alter-ego, my female powered tale of fortune and romantic woe…a best effort synopsis of “The Blue Diamond – The Razor’s Edge.”

First, the blurb:

Ivory Shepard didn’t want to be a pirate when she grew up but she didn’t plan on being orphaned and alone at thirteen with her three cousins either.

After a Spanish raid in Charles Towne left them with nothing, Ivory held her cousins together, trained them to fight for their lives and led them to a life of quiet refuge on the banks of the Ashley River. Out of reach of the hands of unscrupulous men, they found life on the farm a tolerable substitute for the traditional alternatives life would force onto them—until the night the pirates showed up.

Setting foot on that first pirate ship was nothing compared to the life of freedom and adventure awaiting them, once Ivory and the girls were through playing nice. Only one man believes he can stop her and he won’t need a ship full of guns to do it.

If it were only that easy…

The quick and simple aka the “Let me tell you real quick ’cause I’m in a hurry!”:

When four young women take a leap into the Golden Age of piracy, they not only survive, they thrive and blaze a trail of freedom and adventure. The greatest quest of all begins when they capture a merchant ship smuggling diamonds, of which Ivory happily relieves them, as well as the ship itself.

However, she isn’t the only one who knows the diamonds exist—most of all, the large and valuable blue one. In the end, her true mission becomes trying to prove she can have it all on her own terms; true love, the blue diamond and her freedom.

Now for the big ramble aka the “Damn, you have to read this!” aka a phone call between myself and my sister-in-law Kim and how that would play out if I were simply telling her about the book as a reader:

P – Hey girl, let me tell you about this book I finished writing over the weekend.

K – Okay cool! What’s it about?

P – Well it takes place around 1700 and there are these four cousins. Wait, think Charlie’s Angels meets Pirates of the Caribbean but anyway…they came to America when they were little with their great aunt and uncle and settled in Charles Towne, South Carolina but when they were like, thirteen, the Spanish raided the town and murdered their aunt and uncle, leaving them orphans.

K – Awww…so then what?

P – Well, they had to work as maids and what not but the eldest one—her name is Ivory Shepard, well, she more or less protects them and teaches them how to take care of themselves and how to fight and what not. Apparently, she’s been doing more than cooking and cleaning to earn a living but anyway, they manage to save up enough money to buy a little farm on the bank of the Ashley River—that’s the river that..

K – Whatever, just tell me what happens.

P – Okay, well, one night, these pirates are raiding the farms along the riverbank and they come to hit the girls’ little farm but the girls see them coming and take care of business! So, they put their heads together because they know the pirates won’t take what happened lying down so they get ready for another attack but what happens is, they end up going with the pirates to Jamaica to start their lives over as free women. Of course that’s after Ivory kicks the captain’s butt and…

K – Holy crap! How old are they?

P – They’re like in their late teens when this happens. This is just the background stuff Kim but the story starts out when they’re already established as pirates themselves and Ivory has this ship called the Blue Diamond and this other pirate—super hottie too, imagine Henry Cavill here okay?

K – Who?

P – Henry Cavill, the guy who plays Superman nut!


K – Oh! Ohhhhh…..

P – Anyway, so he blows her ship to bits and she escapes in like a dinghy but ends up floating around for days before he sends his men to capture her and he holds her prisoner in his house in Kingston which is like across the bay from port Royal but anyway, she has a bounty on her head of fifty thousand pounds and he makes a deal with the guard that if he turns her over, he’ll not only collect the reward but he’ll get a pardon for all of his own pirating.

K – So what does she do? Does she get away? What’s the reward for?

P – Well I can’t tell you everything but over a few days while she’s held captive, something sparks between them and holy crap girl, they hook up one night and it’s like fireworks on the fourth of July!

K – Hot stuff aye?

P – Oh yeah but well, you know they are both pirates so there’s no such thing as happily ever after and neither one trusts the other so regardless of the cherry bombs and sparkles, he’s not letting her go.

K – Get out of here!

P – No, seriously. He’s hell bent on that money, even though you know something’s going on there beneath the surface and the tide could turn at any moment.

January Jones HD Photo -104

K – Oh haha, I see what you did there. So does she get away or what?

P – Seriously? You want me to tell you the whole damn book? What’s the point in that?

K – Okay well at least tell me a little about the other characters.

P – Okay well Maddox has this quartermaster named Alphonse Green. Another super hottie, he’s Jamaican and well, let’s just say there’s some history there with Ivory’s cousin Cassandra. Cassandra or Cass as they call her is the voice of reason in the bunch. Then there’s Keara who’s like a little drill sergeant and keeps everyone in line. Then there’s Miranda, she’s the lover of the bunch but she gets herself in a bit over her head with her love of the men lol

K – Damn, I have to get this book…

P – Wait, I haven’t even told you about the diamonds yet! That ship Maddox blew up to get to her belonged to an English merchant company and apparently, they were smuggling some diamonds and Ivory took them when she took the ship. In the bag was this one big blue diamond worth a whole lot of money girl.

K – Ahhh…so that’s where the blue diamond comes in.

P – Yes. Well, let’s just say that she’s not the only one who knows about the diamonds and the plot thickens as they say.

K – So do the cousins rescue her or not?

P – Wait, I didn’t tell you about Richard. He’s Maddox’s cabin boy aboard his ship, the Black Cat and he’s so adorable and sweet—sweet on Ivory that is, and I didn’t tell you about Zara his housekeeper either.

K – Never mind, just tell me when I can get a copy of the book!

P – Well, it comes out on October 1st but since I love you, I may let you read it now.

K – Hand it over or walk the plank, Peg!

P – Now you know pirates didn’t really do that, right?

K – Book, please?

P – Check your e-mail. Bye!