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!

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Getting There From Here – How Do I Get My Books In Your Hands?

One of the things about being a writer is believe it or not, if we publish a book and send it out into the world for the first time, we definitely hope someone reads it.

Writers spend hundreds of hours at their craft and then even more editing, rewriting and tweaking a story because of several reasons:

  • We want it to be as close to perfect as possible
  • We want to give you a great story
  • We want to make a good impression
  • We want you to READ the book
  • We want you to BUY the book
  • We want to make a living doing something we love
  • We want to write more stories for you

There are as many reasons writers write as there are books but in most cases, we write because we want you to read our stories. We hope you like them and that you want to read more. It excites and exhilarates us when you read them and dare I say it, like them enough to give us a sweet review. Reviews are like crack to a writer. Reviews mean we’re legitimate because someone actually read our work.

Then this magical thing happens…we keep writing.

Think of us like the chef at one of your favorite breakfast restaurants. You crave their pancakes and if you don’t get there at least once a month for a taste, you think you’ll lose your mind.

That is my wildest dream.

That’s how we want you to feel about our books.

I admire the success of many authors and at the moment, I’ve been having a secret one sided love affair with Diana Gabaldon. Every time I visit her Facebook page I fantasize that I’m living that life. She’s been at this for over twenty years and is a huge success. I read the things her fans write on her Facebook page and I imagine they’re my fans, my readers, my future.

I watch the now amazingly incredible Outlander series on STARZ based on her books and no, not just for Sam Heughan but someday, I’d love to see my own characters brought to life on screen. I’ve only read the first book in the series but if and when I don’t have to work full time and can actually write and read anytime I want to, believe me when I say I will eat those books like a stack of blueberry pancakes!

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Let me make you all some delicious blueberry pancakes for the rest of my life!

Where are you my readers? Where are you? I know you’re out there and I won’t give up until I find you.

I can write my fingers off but seriously though…I make lousy pancakes. 😉 Thank goodness I love to write!

Goodnight my loves.

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.

CRASH!!!!

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!

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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.

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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!

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Remembering When a Platform Was Something People Stood on to Give A Speech

I guess in some ways it still is.

Two years ago before I’d even finished my first novel, I read a now long-lost article about building an author platform. Boy was I confused!

I hadn’t even finished my first novel at the time and I knew zip about publishing so in between writing, I read everything I could focus my eyes on about how to build my author platform and hit the ground running.

Boy, was I still confused.

I didn’t give up though. I figured what did I have to lose? All of these experienced writers and authors were offering free advice on the internet and I was sucking it up like a V8 engine and refilling my tank at every station. Bless their hearts for being so generous with their ideas and recipes and hammers and nails but what I was missing was the plywood.

It’s not just about getting followers and tweeting day and night with the same links and information. It’s also about lifting others up, sharing your highs and lows and finding your readers. I’ll admit, I’m still looking for mine but now I’m making the conscious decision to stop worrying so much about how many people I’m connected to and I’m focusing on stories, blogs, articles and information that truly interests me and catches my eye.

I’m trying to build a house, not a platform. I don’t want to stand on a platform and shout out to the world, “Over here! Look at me!” I want to create a place where my readers can come inside and feel at home. I want them to get up and make their own snack and grab a drink and feel comfortable doing it. I want them to kick off their shoes and flop on the sofa and chat.

It’s going to take a lot more than plywood and nails to build this house but once I’m done, I’ll have an open door policy to anyone who needs a place to go and relax with a good book.

She might be a one room shack with an out-house right now but soon, she’ll be a boarding house with plenty of room for guests and more books than you can shake a stick at.

When my readers finally do come knocking, I want to open the door and say, “Welcome home. You finally made it.”

Sleep well my friends.

 

Interviewing Your Characters is a Fun Way to Create Interest in Your Books

If you’re anything like me, your characters mean a lot to you and except for not actually living and breathing in the real world, they are as real as fictional beings can get…to you and your readers.

Even if you are just beginning to mold and shape your characters, asking them questions may help you find out things about them you hadn’t even imagined yet.

I was searching around tonight for interesting ways to attract readers to my books and I found a few interesting articles on creating or borrowing questionnaires you can use to interview the characters in your books.

You don’t want to give too much away in these questionnaires, so you’ll have to pick and choose questions that your sometimes wayward characters won’t answer with spoilers or be forced to answer,  “no comment.”

Here is an interesting list I found. It was out there for public consumption so have at it and by all means, have fun with it! 

This questionnaire was invented by the noted French author Marcel Proust.  These questions are frequently used in interviews so you may pretend you’re interviewing your characters. 
  • What do you consider your greatest achievement?
  • What is your idea of perfect happiness?
  • What is your current state of mind?
  • What is your favorite occupation?
  • What is your most treasured possession?
  • What or who is the greatest love of your life?
  • What is your favorite journey?
  • What is your most marked characteristic?
  • When and where were you the happiest?
  • What is it that you most dislike?
  • What is your greatest fear?
  • What is your greatest extravagance?
  • Which living person do you most despise?
  • What is your greatest regret?
  • Which talent would you most like to have?
  • Where would you like to live?
  • What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
  • What is the quality you most like in a man?
  • What is the quality you most like in a woman?
  • What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
  • What is the trait you most deplore in others?
  • What do you most value in your friends?
  • Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
  • Whose are your heroes in real life?
  • Which living person do you most admire?
  • What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
  • On what occasions do you lie?
  • Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
  • If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
  • What are your favorite names?
  • How would you like to die?
  • If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
  • What is your motto?