Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Review of Wilde Riders by Savannah Young - Makes the Grade

Wilde Riders by Savannah Young is a 2014 Short on Time Books publication. I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Riley lives in New York and is sick of the slick Wall Street type. She is given the assignment of looking into a fraud case in rural New Jersey. When she arrives in Old Town she is stunned by the contrast. Old Town is like another planet compared to New York.

Then Riley meets the Wilde Brothers. Jake is the one that has been running The Haymaker, a bar owned by his late father. This is object of the investigation, since The Haymaker has been in a little financial trouble. Jake calls his brother Cooper who just so happens to be employeed on Wall Street for some advice and help. Cooper had fled Old Town the very second he could. He plans to be a millionaire before he is thirty, he dresses fine, drives a BMW and has absolutely no desire to ever go back to rural New Jersey. When Jake calls and Cooper hears the stress in his voice he reluctantly agrees to help him out.

The bar was where the Wilde Riders country music band made it's home and Cooper loves playing music, but he is out of his brothers band by choice, although Jake tries to lure him to The Haymaker's new stage for old times sake.

When Cooper meets Riley he is instantly attracted to her and feels a compulsion to take care of her, even if it means protecting her from ladies man, Jake , and from his other brother Tucker who is a war vet learning to live with a disability. Riley has to spend a weekend in Old Town after her car is damaged and Cooper makes the most of that situation. The mistake he makes is hiding his New York lifestyle from Riley after she confesses she is tired of the Wall Street crowd.

With this first installment of the Old Town Contry Romance series, the author introduces us to a motley group of brothers, each with their own set of issues and and personalities. Cooper and Riley are the main focus of this story, but Jake gets a lot of coverage as well. Jake and a local girl that had a massive crush on Cooper for the longest time are spending time together, but for Jake it's just a game. Tucker is bitter and scares Riley a little bit. Then, we have Hunter who is very quiet studious type. I am really looking forward to reading each installment in this series. Now that we have met everyone the real character development can take place. 

Being drawn to the war hero type I am especially looking forward to Tucker's story. Overall this is a nice start to the series. This one gets a B or 3.5 stars ( rounded to 4)

Reviewed by StoryFinds Reviewer  

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Self-Published authors making best-seller lists

HICKORY NC – If you’ve been waiting until you retire to finally write that novel you’ve been putting off, you might want to reconsider.

This spring two unknown writers, Jack and Jasinda Wilder (pen names), cracked the top-10 best selling lists of the New York Times, Amazon, and several other online book distributors.
Out of work, with the proverbial wolf at the front door and Snidely Whiplash holding their mortgage, the two teachers literally wrote their way out of debt.

Reeling off dozens of titles, like, ‘Big Girls do it Better’ – steamy romance novels – they hit the big time with “Falling Into You,” which marched up the book charts, according to a report on CBS news broadcast in mid-June.

In less than a year, the couple has sold close to a million copies of their works altogether, according to the report.

And, they self-published their work.

After their meteoric success, publishers have come knocking. Their response is who needs a publisher?

Ann Chandonnet is both a published and a self-published author. The 70-year-old Vale resident moved to the area with her husband after living 34 years in Alaska. Her books are mostly cookbooks that reflect history and recipes of eras of history, such as “Gold Rush Grub: From Turpentine Stew to Hoochinoo.”

Her first publishing effort was in 1976 – a collection of poems entitled “The Wife,” which reflected her life as a stay-at-home mother.

“Writing about domestic life was not fashionable at the time,” she said, “but I thought that it was important.”

She pasted up typewritten copy and took her manuscript to a printer. Her audience was primarily family and friends, she said.

She wrote “The Wife, Part Two” three years later, using the same production method.
Chandonnet said the motivation to publish her work has never been the money or fame.
“You want to get it out to a body of readers,” she said. Asked why she wrote, she replied, “I just like words.”

She decided when she was 16 she was going to be a poet, she said.

Her journey with words has taken many forms. She worked for two newspapers while in Alaska, The Anchorage Times as a feature writer for 10 years, and at the Juno Empire for three years writing features, business articles and cops news. Her husband, Ferdinand, was a newspaper editor.

Chandonnet has a new book coming out, “Colonial Food,” which is distributed by Random House. It combines a “window into daily life in Colonial America,” according to a promotional flyer and features authentic menus and recipes.

An excerpt from the book talks of how early colonists prepared their food:
“Hearth cooking centered on the simplest of fare – stews of beans, peas and vegetables; or a hash of leftovers. Protein sources ranged from deer to bluebirds, from raccoon to salt pork to smoked ham hocks. Breads were baked in covered cast-iron pots. Few hard-working colonists complained of the food. As Cervantes reckoned, ‘Hunger is the best sauce.’”

John Womack has lived in Hickory for about four years. As a child his family moved about the country. His father worked for the Illinois Central railroad, he said.

Womack has a varied background, having spent time in the Air Force as a navigator watching over Titan II missiles. He also served in Vietnam. He retired from the Air Force as a major, he said.
“Titan Tales” is an historic recount of his service, and he self-published the book.

“I was tired of seeing people I knew getting all kinds of misportrayals,” he said of cinematic reflections of real life.

The book chronicles two years of his experience commanding a Titan ICBM and keeping the nuclear-armed missile ready for instant launch, while at the same time going home to his children at the end of his watch.

Womack said he printed around 1,500 copies of the book.
“I have about 300 left,” he said.

Womack’s writing mission is about informing his readers on what he considers to be interests: spirituality, religion, traveling, hiking and driving the North Carolina mountains.

“I want to explain things. I want to connect on a mental and spiritual level,” he said.
One of his future books will be a cookbook: Cooking for Fun, Eating for Joy.

Most of what he writes is nonfiction. His avid interest in photography over the years translated into “Methods & Procedures of Outdoor Photography.”

“This is not digital photography,” he said, and explained the book covers from A to Z what any photographer needs to know to take good pictures.

Both Chandonnet and Womack are part of a network of writers that meet monthly to share information about the local and state writing community, as well as successes and recommendations regarding their work.

According to Scott Owens, who is the designated leader/moderator, the group combines two aspects. The first part is called Writers Night Out. Anyone is welcome to join the discussion or come to read, which occurs on the second Tuesday of each month at Taste Full of Beans Coffeehouse in downtown Hickory.

“Most of the attendees are pretty regular participants and have been coming for at least a year,” said Owen.

The second part of the gathering is called Poetry Hickory. Often poets of some renown are invited to come to Hickory to read from their work. The July guests were John Thomas York from Greensboro, and Beth Copeland from Fayetteville.

Launched in September 2007, the purpose of the group is to give local poets an opportunity to connect with an audience and to give Hickory the opportunity to hear good contemporary poetry from across the state and the Southeast, according to Owens.

He has been happily surprised at the quality of local poets.

“Honestly, I couldn’t believe that a poet as good as Tim Peeler was living in Hickory and nobody I knew knew about it,” Owens said.

Attendees come from Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Vale, Taylorsville, Statesville, Sherrills Ford and Hickory

A final portion of Poetry Hickory is open mike reading. Participants are invited to read their work to an audience in the coffee shop. The readings tend to be poetry, but it is not constrained to that.
Tony Rankine read from a chapter of a book he is working on. It was a satirical scene involving political notables Dick Cheney and Bill Clinton, among others.

“I had to read it very fast,” said Rankine later of the reading.

Rankine is more into nonfiction and fiction writing – not so much poetry, he said. A computer engineer by trade and experience, he is working on an idea to help new writers crack the barrier every writer has to hurdle: that of getting his work out to the public.

“The first part is to get your writing reviewed by peers,” he said. When a self-publisher posts to a service like Amazon, critiques are made by anybody, and are not filtered, according to Rankine.
His system would provide peer review that would judge the writing on its merit, not so much the content.

“Your writing might not be my cup of tea, but I know and can judge if what you’ve written is quality or not,” he explained.

Through his system, which he referred to as a portal, the author would be able to approve comments or reject them.

“That way, the author of a historical novel, for example, can screen out the critic who focuses in on whether the history is accurate or not, rather than if the writing is quality or not,” he said.

Rankine mentioned that for those who are not poets, and who are trying their hand at prose – fiction or nonfiction – a nearby group meets monthly in Mooresville. The group, Lake Norman Writers, is a membership organization, and offers information about its focus and meetings on their website at www.meetup.com/Lake-Norman-Writers.

While Owens does have experience in self-publishing, he has nine books of poetry in print selected by a press or an editor.

When asked how he would respond to someone who has contemplated writing, but has not been able to overcome the initial fear of exposing their work to others, Owens replied,

“Same thing I say to my daughter when she says she doesn’t like a certain food: “You don’t know until you try.”

By Skip Marsden lmarsden@hickoryrecord.com

Saturday, June 7, 2014

John Steinbeck’s Advice for Beginning Writers

Dear Writer:

Although it must be a thousand years ago that I sat in a class in story writing at Stanford, I remember the experience very clearly. I was bright-eyes and bushy-brained and prepared to absorb the secret formula for writing good short stories, even great short stories. This illusion was canceled very quickly. The only way to write a good short story, we were told, is to write a good short story. Only after it is written can it be taken apart to see how it was done. It is a most difficult form, as we were told, and the proof lies in how very few great short stories there are in the world.

The basic rule given us was simple and heartbreaking. A story to be effective had to convey something from the writer to the reader, and the power of its offering was the measure of its excellence. Outside of that, there were no rules. A story could be about anything and could use any means and any technique at all – so long as it was effective. As a subhead to this rule, it seemed to be necessary for the writer to know what he wanted to say, in short, what he was talking about. As an exercise we were to try reducing the meat of our story to one sentence, for only then could we know it well enough to enlarge it to three- or six- or ten-thousand words.

So there went the magic formula, the secret ingredient. With no more than that, we were set on the desolate, lonely path of the writer. And we must have turned in some abysmally bad stories. If I had expected to be discovered in a full bloom of excellence, the grades given my efforts quickly disillusioned me. And if I felt unjustly criticized, the judgments of editors for many years afterward upheld my teacher’s side, not mine. The low grades on my college stories were echoed in the rejection slips, in the hundreds of rejection slips.

It seemed unfair. I could read a fine story and could even know how it was done. Why could I not then do it myself? Well, I couldn’t, and maybe it’s because no two stories dare be alike. Over the years I have written a great many stories and I still don’t know how to go about it except to write it and take my chances.

If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something he feels important to the reader. If the writer has that urge, he may sometimes, but by no means always, find the way to do it. You must perceive the excellence that makes a good story good or the errors that makes a bad story. For a bad story is only an ineffective story.

It is not so very hard to judge a story after it is written, but, after many years, to start a story still scares me to death. I will go so far as to say that the writer who not scared is happily unaware of the remote and tantalizing majesty of the medium.
I remember one last piece of advice given me. It was during the exuberance of the rich and frantic ’20s, and I was going out into that world to try and to be a writer.
I was told, “It’s going to take a long time, and you haven’t got any money. Maybe it would be better if you could go to Europe.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because in Europe poverty is a misfortune, but in America it is shameful. I wonder whether or not you can stand the shame of being poor.”

It wasn’t too long afterward that the depression came. Then everyone was poor and it was no shame anymore. And so I will never know whether or not I could have stood it. But surely my teacher was right about one thing. It took a long time – a very long time. And it is still going on, and it has never got easier.

She told me it wouldn’t.

- 1963

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Broken Fairy Tale Review of Dust to Dust by S.P. Cervantes

Review of Dust to Dust by S.P. Cervantes
Camryn has been happily married for several years when her husband, Marcus, asks for a divorce out of the blue. The same night, her high school sweetheart, Holden, is back in town after being away for the last 8 years, and he is determined to win her back. But Camryn has first to come to terms with her husband’s decision while at the same time taking care of their two young girls, Ellie and Sophie. On top of all this, a dark secret from her past threatens to break her all over again when the man responsible reappears, and Camryn receives a threatening letter. Will Camryn be able to trust Holden again, and keep the darkness at bay?
Dust to Dust by S.P. Cervantes is a contemporary romance, and the first installment in the Broken Fairy Tale series. There will be 4 books in the series, each one a spin-off with a different main character. In Dust to Dust, the descriptions of the feelings between Camryn and Holden are well written if a bit repetitious. In addition, the author knows how to keep the sex scenes tasteful without giving too much details. I particularly liked the omnipresence of music in the book. In fact, the title Dust to Dust comes from a song by the Civil Wars, a song about loneliness and letting a lover in. Other artists mentioned are Coldplay, Taylor Swift, BeyoncĂ©, Katy Perry, Imagine Dragons and Bruno Mars. If you wanted to, you could set up a playlist to go with this book! There are also references to “Seinfeld” and “Reservoir Dogs”, a TV show and a movie I love. The ending is satisfying even though I would have liked a little bit more background information into the perpetrators of the crimes.

In conclusion, I enjoyed reading Dust to Dust by S.P. Cervantes, but I thought the author left some questions unanswered. However, maybe this was intentional, and I am curious to see what the next book in the series will be about.

Dust to Dust by S.P. Cervantes was sent to me for free in exchange for an honest review.
Fun facts about the author:
·         S.P. Cervantes started writing when she was put on bed rest when she was pregnant with her twin daughters.
·         She is a 3rd grade teacher. She writes at night, on week-ends and during the summer vacation.
·         The author loves J.R.R. Tolkien, Cassandra Clare, Kate McCarthy and Veronica Roth.
·         She spent her childhood in New Jersey (where the book takes place), but she now lives in California.
·         She gets her best ideas when she is running, or just before falling asleep.

About the author and her work: S.P. Cervantes’ website.

For more reviews by Cecile Sune who is crazy about books check out her blog

Sunday, June 1, 2014

11 Lessons Authors Should Learn.

Author Lessons to Learn 1. - Agents suffer along with us — truly they do, even when they don’t show it. It’s their job not to show it. So taking some time out when your book comes out to let your agent know you appreciate all his/her hard work is a good idea. It’s so easy for us to focus on all that’s not going right with our book launch when we look around and see the “it” books getting all the juice. We need to remember every book launch is still a miracle.

Author Lessons to Learn 2.
– It won’t hurt to write your editor/publisher/publishing team on pub day to thank them for their efforts bringing your book to life. Even if they don’t write you first — or at all — people doing their job are happiest when appreciated!

Author Lessons to Learn 3
. – Buy books in every bookstore where you do events. If you don’t want to go home with a bag of books, buy one of your own books and give it to the bookstore owner to raffle off or for him/her to give to a reader who might be a great big mouth. Give more than you take.

Author Lessons to Learn 4
. (And publishers.) – Booksellers really really read Shelf-Awareness, EVEN the ads. This week a bookseller shared that my event happened because she read my ads in Shelf-Awareness, and I also found out that Seduction will be included in a terrific newspaper’s summer reading list because the editor saw the ad in… yes… Shelf-Awareness.

Author Lessons to Learn 5.
– Buy other authors’ books when you go to their events. Even if you aren’t going to read it. Even if you are going to give it away. Even if you aren’t interested. Not just for the author but for the bookstore. It’s karma and just plain good manners.

Author Lessons to Learn 6.
– If you are doing blog talk radio shows — listen to one episode before you accept. Some are amazing — Cyrus Webb, I’m talking to you — but some are poor excuses for the host to get you on the show so he/she can draw readers to listen to him/her talk about his/her own book and you are just the patsy.

Author Lessons to Learn 7.
– Find out if your radio interviewer has read your book or you are going to have to do that part of the job on air. It’s okay if they haven’t but its always better to be prepared for what’s coming.

Author Lessons to Learn 8.
– Ask your editor or ask your agent to find out what the house’s goals are for your book before it comes out. Get some sense of expectations so you are prepared.

Author Lessons to Learn 9.
– Put everyone you hire for your book in touch with each other, or at least share the plans!! As “marketing” I bought ads for a clients while at the same time the person she hired to do “social media” was actually buying ads for her too but not calling them ads. So the client didn’t realize she was getting twice as many ads at that site as she needed.

Author Lessons to Learn 10.
– Save yourself some grief. Check with the publicist you hire to see what other books he/she has coming out at the same time as yours. Since I do marketing — and we can handle any number of books at the same time — it never occurred to me to tell authors about this — but PR and marketing are different. If the publicist can only torture the editor of a magazine about one author, will it be yours or the one he/she’s had for 10 years who is 10 times as big as you?

Author Lessons to Learn 11.
- Please post reviews, ratings at Goodreads, Amazon, BN.com etc of the books you read and liked. They matter for algorithms, they matter to publishers, but most of all they warm an author’s heart and stoke his or her soul.