I have posted about this on facebook but decided to post a fresh link on my blog. The Clean Indie Read blog that started a couple of months ago has gotten off to a tremendous start. It’s a site that lists inexpensive ebooks rated G, PG, or PG-13. As I have watched this blog get started, I’ve been amazed at how fast it has grown. It’s a great resource for both readers and authors. If you haven’t taken an opportunity to check it out, here’s the link: Clean Indie Reads. The blog is run by the amazing, Lia London.
Below is a list of genres posted on the blog as of 9.22.13.
Have you ever noticed how polar book reviews can be?
“I loved it!”
“Eh.… it was okay.”
“Bleck! Who writes this stuff!”
Clearly, no book is meant for every reader. But as writers, it is imperative to set our egos aside and determine the valid criticism from the invalid. For me, a few steps have really helped with this process.
1. Write with a target audience in mind. This is important for so many reasons. Readers outside your target audience will probably dislike (or at the very least, not LOVE) your book. Understanding this make it much easier when negative reviews come in.
2. Criticism is your friend. Become an analytical machine and turn off your ego. Once your pride is set aside, this becomes much easier to do. Look at your work the way a literary agent would. They’re critical, tough, totally uninterested in your feelings, but very objective. I admit this is difficult, but it is not impossible. Learning to set your ego aside brings a fresh view. You’ll see things you never saw before. An added bonus will be the ability to spot sourpusses. These are the reviewers with an agenda. Obviously, sourpusses offer little constructive criticism. And if it’s not constructive, what good is it? Toss it out.
3. Be objective, even if it’s painful. If more than one reviewer says the same thing, look at the situation again. Take plenty of time before making a major decision. Think, think, think.
4. The Average Jane (or Joe) are probably the best source for constructive criticism. These are the reviewers that don’t have an agenda. They just decided to write a review. Personally, I think they are AWESOME! (thank you, Thank You, THANKYOU to each and every one of them! Whether it was a review written for my books or someone else’s. Reviewers like this are golden! Golden, I say! GOLDEN!)
5. Never allow criticism to put out your fire. Instead, use it. Dissect criticism. Focus through an analytical eye rather than an emotional one. (You’re a writer, so you have an amazing imagination. Put yourself in the publisher’s seat. Think like a publisher. Think like an agent.)
6. Most importantly, ignore the mean people. For some reason there are a few out there chasing indie authors. (Weird.) Ignore them. Period. They’re just not worth your time. At least, they’re not worth my time. I’ve got books to write. Characters to create. Plots to form and scenarios to twist. I’m busy!
7. Keep moving ahead. Learn from your mistakes. Embrace them. They are your teachers. Don’t beat yourself with a stick. There are plenty of people willing do that for you. Instead, keep working.
8. Write, write, write, write, write! You know you want to! Speaking of which, I’ll see ya later. I’ve got more novels in the works. Until next time.
The Forgotten Queen is Annette Mackey’s most recent novel. Available on Amazon.
I am so please to announce that my new novel, The Forgotten Queen, has won the Silver Award from Readers Favorite in the Fiction — Adventure category. I am so grateful! And congratulations to all of the other winners too!! So many great reads are listed! If you’re looking for something to sink your teeth into, take a moment to check out the list of winners: Readers Favorite Contest Winners, 2013.
Best movie of the summer? Definitely! Five stars–minus the parts that bugged me. See below for details.
WARNING: there may be spoilers ahead.
If you haven’t seen the new Superman movie, it’s well worth it. But that’s not to say that it is without flaws. And who better to comment on a Superman movie than a longtime fan? (Except that I am a bit picky.)
Henry Cavill wears the suit well. Not everyone can make us believe that they are invincible while maintaining an endearing quality that keeps us rooting for them until the bitter end. It’s a balance of humility and power. Nicely done.
Every now and then I wished the director had let Mr. Cavill spend a little more time developing the character’s emotions. Too many times I just barely began to “feel” a scene, only to have it clipped short in favor of action/graphics. (And I know Cavill can portray emotions because he was great even as a kid in “The Count of Monte Cristo.”) This was especially true at the end of the movie when Superman screams after Zod is killed. He’s at one of the lowest points in his life. The last Kryptonian is dead–and at his hand. If only the raw emotions had come through. Instead it felt all too super. That was the part where we wanted to see his humanity. His cape, hair, and suit remained beautifully untarnished. There was not even a scrap of shrapnel on his shoulder. After all of that, let his suit be torn! Let him be covered in muck. Let the famous curl in his hair frizz! We already know that he’s powerful, but his clothes shouldn’t have to be. And his hair, no matter how strong, blows in the wind. It should have been a mess. After a battle to the death he should have looked more like a bloodied gladiator than an actor ready for his close up. We want to see him vulnerable. We really do!
I liked Amy Adams as Lois. Some people may have mentioned that she seems a little too fragile for the role. Eh? .… Possibly, but I still enjoyed her work.
And thank you WB (or whoever) for putting in the backstory, which was awesome. We learn a lot about who Superman is, where he came from, and why his planet was destroyed. We also learn why Zod has an eternal hatred of him and is determined to fight to the death when the two meet on Earth. But.… While the opening scene of Kal El’s birth is tender, those feelings are barely touched upon before an onslaught of special effects takes over. I wanted to be drenched in Krypton’s pain. Instead I felt like I was watching a reel of explosions.
Fast forward a few decades and Kal El becomes Clark Kent. He goes from job to job trying to maintain his anonymity while being a guardian angel to those around him. This section reminded me of the original “Hulk” series that ran in the seventies. In other words, they got it right. At last! Emotions were full blown. MYFAVORITEPART was when Clark went to the aid of the men stranded on the offshore oil rig. When he stood in the fire licking his skin I wanted to applaud. Oh yeah! It was awesome! And drifting in the ocean afterwards was a tremendous idea. I felt his pain as he tried to shut out the world. (Good job movie guys!) Another excellent spot was when Clark entered the Kryptonian atmosphere. I was feeling it there.
I’m sad to say that my least favorite part was the portrayal of Jonathan Kent’s death. Kevin Costner’s acting was good, but it was a stupid scene. No, I did not miss the part about Jonathan putting Clark’s “secret” above his life. Once again, I think they wrote & filmed it that way for the sake of special effects. Somebody wanted to make a tornado happen. It was a cheesy idea. Cheeeeeeeeeesy! Jonathan is supposed to die of a heart attack. That’s the whole point. Clark is supposed to learn that he’s just as helpless as the rest of us, at least when it comes to his family. The scene stunk. Please cut. Rewrite. Film it again and let’s forget that it ever happened.
My last criticism is the lack of sparks between Clark and Lois. Hello? They needed a little chemistry. Maybe the studio is saving that part for the next movie. I hope so, because if Amy Adams and Henry Cavill can’t get it together, then who can?
As a side note, how many buildings can you knock down before you get grit on your shoes? Cut at least a quarter of the city smash scenes, put in more emotional exchanges between the actors, shred the cape when Superman is knocking down buildings, and voila, most of the problems would have been solved.
Lastly, if I’ve deterred anyone from seeing the movie … let me just say that I plan to buy it and watch it over and over again. Great stuff! I loved “Man of Steel” and can’t wait for the sequel.
This is a three disk collection containing a total of eight episodes, each about 45 minutes in length. Over all the series is very well done. I give it five stars. There might be a quibble here or there with a few historical details, but nothing too dramatic. I was, however, disappointed by how many things were not included. The last two episodes in particular rush through some of the most important historical events during JFK’s presidency. I would liked to have seen this as a ten episode series, but I guess it’s better to be left wanting more, rather than less.
Below is a synopsis of each episode, which may contain spoilers.
Episode One: Joe’s Revenge Hour I: This first disk is where we meet the family. We quickly learn that Joe Kennedy had early aspirations for the presidency, but loses the opportunity through mistakes he made as ambassador. In his stead, Joe Junior plans to fulfill his father’s dream. Obviously that doesn’t happen and the obligation falls to Jack.
Episode Two: Joe’s Revenge Hour II: Jack has just been elected president, but is still living under his father’s thumb. In flashbacks we learn that Jack had no initial aspiration to become president. He campaigns without heart to please his father until he finally finds his voice. It’s a beautiful moment, and I found myself wishing I had been there. The flaws of the Kennedy family are portrayed in various roles, particularly that of unfaithful husbands.
Episode Three: Us Against Them: This is the episode where Jack makes his famous big blunder, the Bay of Pigs. It opens just before the inauguration. Rose Kennedy asks her daughter-in-law, Jackie, who has recently had a baby, what she will wear to the inauguration. Jackie mentions that she has eight weeks to get her figure back, and Rose snubs her by saying that it only took her four. (Oh, to be a woman.) We also see Joe Senior’s influence continue. Joe insists that Bobby become Attorney General. Jack tells his father that Bobby doesn’t want to be Attorney General, and Joe responds, “Well, I want it for him.” And that’s that.
Episode Four: Who’s In Charge Here: Joe dabbles in the mob with both feet out of the pond. As Attorney General, clean-cut Bobby attacks the mob head-on. Sound like trouble? It is. Once again the presidency becomes off-limits to Joe, all the while the Berlin Wall goes up. Jack continues to battle health problems, particularly the old injuries he sustained during World War II.
Episode Five: Life Sentences: The civil rights movement is in full swing, though it isn’t swinging smooth. Lindon Johnson seems to be the only cabinet member able to communicate with southern politicians. As the presidency prepares to support James Meredith’s enrollment at Old Miss, as ordered by the Supreme Court, Joe suffers a debilitating stroke. The family members are left reeling as they try to cope with their unresolved feelings. Rose, in particular, is burdened by troubling memories. Simultaneously, law and order dissolve in Missouri as a near civil war atmosphere engulfs the university and threatens the state.
Episode Six: The Brink: Jack’s indiscretions cause Jackie deep pain. She takes a trip to Virginia with the children just before the Cuban Missel crisis begins. Tensions run high as the entire cabinet works together to prevent disaster. This is truly JFK’s finest moment, and true to form, Bobby is continuously at his side. Ethel and Jackie have a candid conversation, and Jackie returns to the White House as Jack brings the country safely through what could have easily become a nuclear war.
Episode Seven: Lancer and Lace: The episode opens with Walter Cronkite telling the world that the president is dead. The rest of the episode leads up to that point. Jack’s affair with Marilyn Monroe is referenced, and as usual, Bobby is stuck cleaning up the mess. Jack commits more definitively to Jackie prior to the assassination, which is left to the imagination, or memory, and the families reaction to Jack’s death is explored.
Episode Eight: Bobby picks up where Jack left off, protecting Jackie as if she were a blood relative. Jackie eventually remarries, stating the need to keep her children safe. Bobby is determined to carry on in politics, and becomes a presidential candidate. When the polls show him out of favor he turns to his mother for political backing. He begins to rise in the polls only to be assassinated a short time later. As he is dying he asks Ethel, “Was anyone else hurt?” And that’s the end of Bobby. With such a gruesome end to the tale, the episode closes by going through some enthusiastic scenes that leave the viewer feeling like everything is fine.
The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls is a compelling read. Normally when I become so engrossed in a book I give it an instant five stars. Not so with The Glass Castle. I’m giving it four stars. The writing itself is fantastic. Jeannette Walls is a top-notch writer who uses the first person flawlessly. Usually I get sick of all the, “I did this,” and, “I did that.” “I, I, I …” It’s enough to make me crazy! But I didn’t feel that way while reading The Glass Castle. The sentence structure is full of variation, and greatly refreshing. Jeannette Walls writes brilliantly. Period. She helps the reader understand the feelings of all her characters, not just the one. I’m an instant fan.
The main reason I didn’t give this book five stars is because it is true. That said, had it been a work of fiction I would have tossed it by chapter two, telling my self, this junk just isn’t plausible. And yet, it happened. The more I read, the more that fact bothered me. Jeannette and her siblings handled the situation amazingly well, but the parents … I couldn’t get past them. It seems so wrong to reward that kind of thing with praise, even if it is a memoir. Had it not been for their kooky approach to life, there would not have been a reason to write the book. It’s a circle I couldn’t escape: I hate that it’s true, yet it’s so well written that I couldn’t put it down. This tight knit family struggled desperately, but it didn’t have to be that way. While it was obvious the parents loved their children, they were so absorbed in selfishness that their love was never realized. It never amounted to anything. The children were starving while the mother ate secret chocolate bars. The children had no clothes, no toilet, no warmth, no decent shelter, or food, while their father drank away every cent they had. When the kids earned money, the father stole it. When the kids found a diamond ring in the woods, and were going to sell it to buy food, the mother took it. After all, she deserved to wear nice things. The father even put his daughter in physical danger so that he could win a bet. These kids were eating out of the school garbage can. Jeannette’s brother had to sleep with a raft over him because of the massive leak in the roof. When the children were in danger, the parents shrugged their shoulders. When the children were being sexually abused, the parents rationalized it away. After all, the abuser was only lonely, and children need to learn to handle those kinds of situations anyway. It made for shocking, riveting reading, but it also left me feeling warped.
So five stars to Jeannette for her amazing ability to write such a fluid narrative. Zero stars to the parents who made the story possible. Four stars to the book, with the rationalization that it probably should be five, but I just can’t bring myself to do it.
If you haven’t heard of the TV series, Merlin, you are missing out. Camelot has never been so much fun. You can catch the earlier seasons on Hulu, but unless you live in the UK, you’re going to have to wait until March(ish) 2012 to catch Season 4. So, in the meantime, here’s the trailer.
There are few books that I have enjoyed as much as I enjoyed The Help by Kathryn Stockett. And, to top it off, the movie was amazing.
The setting takes place during the civil rights movement in Jackson, Mississippi. With such a politically charged plot, I felt my emotions surging and swelling throughout the book. To put it in the words of Minnie, one of the black maids, “We living in hell,” just seems to sum it all up. The only thing I didn’t like was the “terrible awful” that Minnie finally explains. I just about gagged in response and still do when I think of it. Even so, clearly a negative emotion is what the author was going for, and I must say she certainly achieved it! Shudder …
From the first sentence, the book transports you to another time and place. One of my favorite segments was when Hilly, the bathroom segregation ring-leader, tells Skeeter, “There are racists living in this town,” completely oblivious to the fact that she is one of them. I love that because I think most people are blind to their faults. I know I have had my eyes opened once or twice.
Another thing I loved is that the book is full of flawed characters that become endearing as you get to know them. I love that! In reality, people are flawed. Presenting the characters in such a way brought so much realism to the story.
It is not very often that I feel my socks have been knocked off, but this was one of them. Thank you Kathryn Stockett for your wonderful work. This is definitely the kind of novel that I would like to aspire to write. Talk about depth. Wow. Definitely 5 out of 5!