Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Was I Insulted? What say you?

I think I was insulted a few days ago. I’m not sure, maybe that was the intent. But after I thought about it, I could only feel sorry for the individual who had said it…because she was missing out on a LOT of good reading. You see, I was asked to do a little administrative work by the director of our BookReviewers site--to find one or two additional reviewers. I carefully went through the applicants and had narrowed them down to three. I started to contact them…the first one didn’t respond so I assumed she was no longer interested. The second one said "Yes!" and proceeded to submit further information and a sample review.

I then contacted the third one who had sent a sample review earlier. At first she said she was interested, but indicated she didn’t do POD or vanity books. I quickly wrote back and told her that most of our books to be reviewed were POD. She declined to be considered further, indicating that she just couldn’t do this kind of book.

Okay, I admit it. At first I was irritated, just a little bit offended. Yes, she does reviews of books that were published…but then, so do we. We just don't "refuse" books that were submitted to us by POD authors. I felt like she was implying that we weren’t professional reviewers! Well…Boo Hiss! I say! Admittedly, we do have some books that come to us with errors. We either refuse to review them or work with these authors to have them corrected. We want to support these new authors!

Why should I spend a lot of time reviewing books by James Patterson, Jonathan and Faye Kellerman, Dean Koontz, Linda Howard, N. Roberts/J.D.Robb, Robert B. Parker…and all the many favorite authors I read all the time? These individuals are great authors and everybody knows it!

I would much rather spend my "review" time with bright new shining stars that are fitting their writing into their busy lives. They are trying to follow their dreams while doing all that needs to be done to keep bread and milk on the table. I can stand to read and mark a few errors to help them move forward in their writing experience. Sometimes I even get to ghostwrite a paragraph or a book closing or a word or two within their books that helps them say what they want to say, just a little bit better.

Having over 40 years of writing experience of one type or another, I take most afternoons and evenings and spend time with my beloved favorite authors. If I wrote  a review, what could I say…"Great! As Always!" I do that once in awhile in this blog…ah, but it is so much more fun, more exciting, to be able to say that I was there right at the beginning…I helped make this individual’s first book happen! I let people know that this new author, though lacking a lot of writing experience, has dreamed and believed enough in himself/herself to ensure that they broke into the publishing world…whether through POD, a small press publisher, self-publishing, or even vanity…

I’ve enjoyed lots of great books that I might never have had the opportunity to read had I not agreed to read books that are by these new authors, finding a place for themselves via the new technologies in publishing.

So, to those of you, including the big publishers, who don't have time or don't care to "risk" money on these new authors...well, I can only pity you.  If God has given me a talent to read/enjoy books and a skill that allows me to help new authors find their way in the harsh publishing world, then that may indeed be the path He's chosen for me.  And, Wow, am I having a lot of fun doing it!

More Than Angels: Once Upon a Broken Heart published!

One of the recent manuscripts I reviewed is now published--More Than Angels! If you didn’t check it out then, do so now…and then consider buying this wonderful book! I got an autographed first edition and excerpts from my review on the front cover and inside too! Plus, my new friend and author, Ruby Moon-Houldson gave me a number of pictures plus a series of DVD’s regarding a certain group of individuals for which we both share an admiration. Hey, Trekkies, this woman is a realllll fan! Check her out!


Talk about wonderful books! I just finished Elizabeth’s Choice by Mary Edwards! See my posted review! Check out the little blond on the cover—she reminds me of myself when I was a little girl…LOL. I don’t think I was quite as brave as this one though. My Mom was a widow, but, gee, I just never thought of asking God for a new father. Maybe that was because my father had been killed before I was born and thus never had the experience Elizabeth had. Still, God was in our home as well and a lot of prayers went up. This book is a great family-oriented story that you can share with your children!


I also finished Fairies in Elysium by Danielle Marie Linton, The Final Voyage of the Sea Explorer by Douglas Boren, and Bullets and Bandages by Robert Saniscalchi…More on these next time!


To close, I’d like to share a short story sent to me by my friend, Robert Noonan, author of the Wildflowers Trilogy.

Here is a true story on giving. It was told by Jack Kornfield of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre.

An eight-year-old boy had a younger sister who was dying of Leukemia, and he was told that without a blood transfusion she would die. His parents explained to him that his blood was probably compatible with hers, and if so, he could be the blood donor. They asked him if they could test his blood. He said sure. So they did and it was a match. Then they asked if he would give his sister a pint of blood, that it could be her only chance of living. He said he would have to think about it overnight.

The next day he went to his parents and said he was willing to donate the blood. So they took him to the hospital where he was put on a gurney beside his six-year-old sister. Both of them were hooked up to IVs. A nurse withdrew a pint of blood from the boy, which was then put into the girl's IV. The boy lay on his gurney in silence while the blood dripped into his sister, until the doctor came over to see how he was doing. Then the boy opened his eyes and asked, "How soon until I start to die?"


Fortunately, Jesus already died for all of us!  Especially at this time of year, stop and remember that He died on the cross that we all might live! 

"He Lives, He Lives, Christ Jesus lives today.  He walks with me and talks with me,  Along the narrow Way.  He Lives, He lives, Salvation to impart.  You asked me how I know he lives?  He Lives...within my heart!

God Bless!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Publishing May be Your Own Personal "Hell!"

I am angry today! Good and mad, in fact! Angry at individuals and companies who think nothing about their customers, their clients...only about the money they can make!

As a book reviewer, I receive a lot of books from new authors. They are eager and concerned that they will get a good review. However, for many of them, there is so much "wrong" with the book that as a professional reviewer I must consider my own reputation in providing that review.
It is NOT easy to write a bad review. It is NOT easy to criticize someone who has worked hard to put their own words into something that will be shared with others. I find that I empathize with each one of these writers as I think back to the many reports, letters, articles that I had to produce on the job.

When I found I had a talent for helping new authors through providing book reviews, I found a new joy in a career that is supportive and helpful. It helped greatly to reduce the anger and frustration associated with the last job I had before retirement. There, too, there were people who had lost their concern for individuals, for their feelings.

There are MANY companies out there who pretend to be friends to new authors. When you look over their online web sites, you begin to hope, to believe, that
there is somebody who is going to help you break into the hardest circle in the world, I think--the world of publishing!

Now, I know that these individuals need to make money to stay in business!

But if you are going to be in business, it my opinion, you must be prepared to do everything possible to make those efforts the best possible. Instead, if a publisher is "scamming" clients, they work to ensure that "quality" is hard to come by...they announce that editors will work with these new authors. But
they really don't. And when that author comes back regarding errors in their printed book, with probably a beautiful, appropriate cover, they are told that they will have to pay for corrections...and they'll have to pay...for this...and for that...and for just this one other thing! It is so unethical! These companies hide behind so many misleading advertisements and can still dare to stay in business, continuing to look out and encourage other new writers who are waiting to be "published."

Now, the author does have some responsibility, hopefully having had their work edited or at least proofread by a competent assistant prior to submission. Most of the time, though, if mistakes are made by an author, as I read, I will normally find a similar statement/sentence in which the error
was correct. That to me means that the author is competent in basic writing skills, but just has read through their book so often that they are reading "what is in their mind" rather than what is "actually there on the paper." To me, that is perfectly understandable and acceptable because we all make similar errors.

However, when an individual who is paid as an editor and works for a publisher does not catch errors, to me that is totally unacceptable. Under NO circumstances could I condone proceeding to actually printing that book!  And yet, I can say without a doubt that 100% of the books submitted to me have errors in their final published book!  Maybe just a few so we don't mention them; others are so bad that we refuse to review them...who knows, the book may have been a potential best seller...but no reader is willing to wade through garbage to find it!

Well, my ranting is over, I guess...with this closing...

Writers, Beware! Your own worst enemy may be your publisher!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Early Read of Excerpt of Upcoming Novel!

Even though it’s been raining today, it was a good day…visiting the Lord’s House! I was privileged to sing one of the Gaither melodies that some of you may remember, There’s Just Something About that Name which includes a reading between singing it through twice. As Easter draws near, it is important that we remember that Jesus Lives!


With her permission, I am sharing a poem written by a new author friend of mine. Her next book will have the same title as the poem, Autumn’s Turning. So this is a special, early excerpt from that book. Isn’t it beautiful?

Mary Edwards

It is here, love, the evening of our days
How shall we spend it before the dark night laughs with autumn's turning, and winter bids us come?
We loved each other well, didn't we, in the morning of our youth? We worked, we laughed and played and shared remembered heartaches.
As we walked into noon, a child's laughter charmed the silence and together we looked upon the flower of our love.
But now the sun has gone to bed and we are sentenced to the night that runs on swiftly moving hours to claim our days
And wonder who will it be that waits to greet the other beyond that secret curtain
Would that we could go together and shorten the lonely journey while the night surrounds us
And autumn turns to winter and bids us sleep.
                                                                                                   - Mary


I’ve just received Mary’s second book, Elizabeth’s Choice, and will be reading it this week. Come back to check my review!


Bullets and Bandages by Robert Saniscalchi has also come and will be next for a review. This book is based on true events from the Vietnam War, as told to the author by his brother. Perhaps because this war was during my early years working, stories regarding that war has always captured my attention. This one should be completed within two weeks! Don’t forget to check back on this book, which is credited by USAF Retired Wayne A Whitehead, to be an accurate accounting and story about this "Hell."


I had the opportunity to read three uniquely different books recently and I want to share and recommend all of them to you!

Linda Fairstein, in The Deadhouse, wrote a suspenseful murder story against the backdrop of buildings erected on a small island in the East River outside of New York City, which provided an asylum, prison and a hospital for the terminally ill back in the 20’s. One of them was once called The Deadhouse and you'll find bodies are still taken there, even today!

The search for a murdered professor who was dumped into an elevator shaft leads DA Alexandra Cooper, working with detectives, to a college campus and on to the ancient, haunting buildings that are now being excavated and studied by various professors and students. In addition to the intriguing trail they follow to discover what happened, Fairstein has brought forth and highlighted a bit of New York history regarding the treatment of prisoners as well as patients in these horrendous facilities. She has achieved a blend of the old with the new that is not only informative but keeps you turning the pages.  Get this one soon!


Well, I finally met one! For those of us who are involved in the publishing business, we learn that there are few authors who break in big as a new writer. Meet Adam Fawer, whose first novel Improbable, has made it. The novel has already been translated into nine languages for sales internationally and as a paperback, his book came out with a neat little plastic cover that was filled with scientific symbols. Eye-catching and unusual, you bet! This, I thought, is what an author gets when published by Harper Torch! Okay, okay! It is good¾ maybe very good. But Great? I don’t know…I've been a reader of many other new novels which never were accepted by the major publishers and have enjoyed them much better…

Improbable is indeed unique with its main character being a mathematical genius who could ultimately figure the future using those skills! David Caine is also a compulsive gambler! He is also prone to epileptic seizures. With that combination, Fawer takes the reader into a maze of danger when various individual scientists decide that he may be a very important person…and he should have his head examined…literally! The interesting thing for me was the medical info regarding the differences in the brains of individuals who have epilepsy. The exploration of possibilities for these individuals were fascinating and chilling. Those interested in science should find this a must read!


Stuart Woods, in a 1994 paperback, L.A. Times, brought me another unique novel to explore. Consider a young boy who from childhood loved movies…and not much else. His background is as a member of the mob. But he escapes that, changes his name and heads for Hollywood, to become a producer. His expertise in undoubted and he is willing to do anything to succeed.

Woods has placed a sociopath as his main character. A likeable guy, until you get to know him! This romp through the making of pictures and the money-crunching behind them is an interesting tale. What is more interesting is the last scene. Shall we say that "hell hath no fury" like the victims of a sociopath? A very interesting read!

Friday, March 3, 2006

Another Cool Play on Words!

A Well-Known Monk

A wandering monk walked barefoot everywhere he went, to the point that the soles of his feet eventually became quite thick and leathery. And because he ate very little, he gradually became very frail. Several days often passed between opportunities to brush his teeth, so he usually had bad breath. Therefore, throughout the region, he came to be known as the super-calloused fragile mystic plagued with halitosis.

Hey, I've been getting jokes sent to be from ""...I just had to share this one because of its "play on words."

And by the way, reviews are posted for the latest two exciting books I've been talking about!  Go check out my reviews!  Pretty Please!


Wednesday, March 1, 2006

A little light humor

As always, I find something in my email to make me smile!  As a singer, I enjoyed the following...hope you do to!

Hymns for All Professions

Dentist's Hymn: Crown Him with Many Crowns
Weatherman's Hymn: There Shall Be Showers of Blessings
Contractor's Hymn: The Church's One Foundation
Tailor's Hymn: Holy, Holy, Holy
Golfer's Hymn: There's a Green Hill Far Away
Politician's Hymn: Standing on the Promises
Optometrist's Hymn: Open My Eyes That I Might See
IRS Agent's Hymn: I Surrender All
Gossip's Hymn: Pass It On
Electrician's Hymn: Send The Light
Shopper's Hymn: Sweet By and By
Realtor's Hymn: I've Got a Mansion, Just Over the Hilltop
Massage Therapist's Hymn: He Touched Me
Doctor's Hymn: The Great Physician

Book Review's Hymn:  Wonderful Words of Life

Okay, the last one I added!  But...hey, it works!


I just finished Absolute Instinct by Robert W. Walker.  It is the last book in his series starring Jessica Coran.  Wow--is it a smashing finale!  A serial killer is killing women and removing their entire backbones...And using them along with his sculptures!  After he eats the marrow...Yeah. these are weird happenings, but I enjoy the "mechanics" by which the characters put together the pieces to have the good guys win out over the bad guys!  I hadn't read the entire series but have enjoyed several others by Walker.  If you are into CSI "stuff" it!

Author Wright, who wrote Lavina, had asked that I do a little editing for him, so I reread this book over the last few days...and enjoyed it just as much as I did the first time.  Outside of the Song of Solomon, I have never read anybody who wrote about a young couple in love with such beautiful wording--just as beautiful as those Biblical words!  If you haven't bought it yet, get's about a young prince and princess from Africa, who, on the day they agreed to marry, were kidnapped and brought to America on a slave ship.  The book covers their separate lives over the next ten years until they find each other and immediately marry, still loving each other as they had originally declared.  Truly a book worth reading and remembering!