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Clean Indie Read

September 22nd, 2013 | Posted by Annette in Books | Marketing | Perspectives | Reviews | Writing Tips - (0 Comments)

Clean Indie Reachs Blog ButtonI 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, THANK YOU 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. :D

~Annette

 

The For­got­ten Queen is Annette Mackey’s most recent novel. Avail­able on Amazon.

Readers Favorite

September 2nd, 2013 | Posted by Annette in Books | Perspectives | Reviews - (0 Comments)

The Forgotten Queen

Silver Award for THE FORGOTTEN QUEEN from Readers FavoriteI 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.

 

Man of Steel

June 19th, 2013 | Posted by Annette in Movies | Perspectives | Reviews - (2 Comments)

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? :D  (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. MY FAVORITE PART 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.

The Kennedys

January 25th, 2012 | Posted by Annette in Movies | Perspectives | Reviews - (0 Comments)

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.


Merlin Season 4

October 7th, 2011 | Posted by Annette in Movies | Perspectives | Reviews - (0 Comments)

Some­times I just can’t help myself .…

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.


The Help by Kathryn Stockett

September 1st, 2011 | Posted by Annette in Books | Movies | Perspectives | Reviews - (0 Comments)

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!