The importance of Reviews

http://lorilrobinett.comBefore I started writing, I never left reviews on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Goodreads. But after I started writing, I began to pay attention to how I used reviews. Not only did I want them as a writer (and, oh, how I looooooove reviews!), but I want them as a reader.

When I finish reading one book, I’m immediately ready for another. Because I have LOTS of books on my to be read list (I mark mine on Goodreads – feel free to connect with me if you want to share lists/books!), and it’s really hard to decide what to pick up next. Admittedly, part of my decision is made on the cover of the book. But the main thing I do is read reviews. I look on Amazon and Goodreads, look at the average star rating, then read a handful of reviews – from those who liked the book and those who didn’t.

Once I realized how much I used reviews, I decided to start writing them. Some reviews are really long and in-depth – a work of art in and of themselves. Some reviews are short and to the point – “I liked it.” Some are serious, some are hilarious (one of my favorites is the banana slicer – pop over & take a read). My reviews are somewhere in the middle.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Did you like the book?
  • Was the plot engaging? Did it keep your interest?
  • Did you like the characters? Are they people you’d want to have lunch with, travel with, meet at a pub . . . or would you cross the street to avoid meeting them?
  • Was the setting something you could relate to? Someplace you’re familiar with, or did it transport you to an exotic location?

If you haven’t written a review yet, go try it on one of my books. You’ll get some experience and you’ll make my day!

Denim & Diamonds

Fatal Impulse

#BookTour: Murder, Mystery & Dating Mayhem

http://lorilrobinett.comI’m happy to be hosting D. E. Haggerty today. Join me in offering her congratulations on the release of her new novel, Murder, Mystery & Dating Mayhem. As you know, my books generally include second chances, so I asked D.E. about her second chance. Grab a cup of java and let’s chat with her . . . (and don’t forget to enter for a chance to win an Amazon gift card below!)

Secˑond chance Definition (n.) opportunity to try something again

Self-publishing is my second chance at a writing career. Despite the fact that I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing, whether it be short stories, novels, poems, or songs, I never thought about writing as a career. A writing career was for someone that came from an educated and wealthy household not the daughter of a factory worker. I settled on law as my career choice. From the age of five, I was determined to do anything necessary to become a lawyer. And I did. I even joined the military to profit from the GI Bill.

Although I love the law and I absolutely loved law school, being a lawyer was not for me. Not even close. I tried everything I could think of to keep in the field. I worked at a large law firm, as a company lawyer, for the public sector, and finally for a specialized law firm. It just wasn’t for me.

During one of my numerous job changes, I took a six-month break and wrote Unforeseen Consequences. I thought that this manuscript was my chance to escape from the law. I was wrong. I tried to find an agent, a publisher, anything. No dice. I ended up going back to the law, albeit in yet another position, but I just couldn’t keep at it.

Desperate for a change, I convinced my husband to move to Germany where we bought an old pension and renovated it into a Bed & Breakfast. At first, the change was good. Renovating the house and getting everything set up for the business was fun. Running the B&B on a day-in and day-out basis, however, was not. I was naïve and didn’t realize running a B&B is mostly about cleaning and making breakfast. It turns out I’m allergic to most cleaning liquids. Who knew? To be honest I hated the constant cleaning even before my hands broke out into hives.

During one of our never-ending discussions about how unhappy I was with my career, my very patient husband suggested I pull the manuscript for Unforeseen Consequences out of the attic and self-publish it. Although self-publishing has always been around to a certain extent, e-books hadn’t existed when I first wrote the book. Now it turned out I could publish my manuscript as an e-book with almost no cost. I might have pushed my hubby out of the way as I ran to the attic to get the manuscript.

Self-publishing turned into my second chance at a writing career (although to be fair giving ‘traditional’ publishing a chance for only six months wasn’t really giving it much of a chance). To be completely honest I was also incredibly lucky in that I no longer need to make a lawyer’s salary like I did when I initially wrote Unforeseen Consequences. I have the luxury of being able to spend my days writing, marketing and researching without worrying (too much) about royalties. It was thus a combination of factors that lead to my second chance. E-book self-publishing plus a great career opportunity for my husband in Istanbul meant that I could forego (at least for now) the legal salary and concentrate on writing.

Hapˑpy Definition (adj.) feeling pleasure and enjoyment because of your life, situation, etc.

Thanks, D.E.! Now that you’ve heard her story, are you interested in buying her new book? Here’s where to go:

Amazon

Smashwords

Barnes and Noble

Enter to win a $15 Amazon gift card!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Stay tuned for my review later today!

Blessings,

Lori

Book Tour: Life Discarded #BookTour #thriller

Life Discarded Tour Banner

 

Virtual Book Tour Dates: 11/24/14 – 12/22/14

Genres: Suspense/Thriller/Mystery, Women’s Lit

Tour Promo: Unforeseen Consequences and Buried Appearances by D.E. Haggerty are free until 1/1/15.

 

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Blurb:

Why would a woman who has it all throw her life away? Morgan has the perfect life. She married the man of her dreams. Daniel is smart, gorgeous and successful. Everything she has always wanted in a husband and the father of her children. But he’s also overprotective, jealous, and domineering. Is living with him enough to drive Morgan over the edge? Or does something more treacherous lurk beneath the façade?

Morgan

A gorgeous, sweet woman that is oblivious to her own beauty. She’s shy with men, but a rock to her friends. A librarian in a small town in the mid-west. She’s been waiting a long-time to find the one.

Daniel

An accountant in the city who will do anything to be the youngest partner in his firm. He always gets what he wants and he wants Morgan. He will pursue Morgan until she submits.

Together

They rush through a courtship and marry within a year of meeting. Morgan’s life is perfect. She has a job she loves, a best friend for which she would do anything and a husband that completes her. But things are not often as they appear. Behind closed doors the loving Daniel that Morgan married is jealous and overprotective. Sometimes he’s even domineering.

The Culmination

Morgan runs away – destroying everything in her path as she disappears. What made this good girl go bad?

See the book trailer on Youtube

 

Excerpt:
Prologue
Shaking hands steer the car to the nearest full service gas station. Only one or two gas stations in town still offer full service, but she had done her homework and knew this one did. Not only did full service guarantee that someone else would be pumping her gas, but its expense meant that there’s never a wait. Maneuvering the car to the furthest full service pump, she waits, hands clutching the steering wheel, for the attendant.

After what feels like an eternity to her fevered brain, the attendant finally notices her and saunters over to her car. Her eyes follow him, silently urging him to quicken his pace. Come on, come on. “Fill it up,” she squeaks at him when he finally reaches her car. She grabs her over-large purse and jumps out of the car, nearly tripping in her haste. Looking back, she whispers “I’m sorry” to the oblivious attendant before continuing around the building.

When she reaches the rear of the building, she frantically scans the area. Finally she spots the large garbage container, not in its usual spot. She jogs to it and squats behind it; shrinking into herself and covering her ears. Just in time. A loud bang shakes the earth below her feet. Looking up, she sees flames shooting into the sky.

Time to get out of here. She stands on shaky legs, taking a moment to calm her erratic breath before walking in the opposite direction – refusing to look back.

 

Buy Links:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Smashwords

Kobo

 

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About the Author:

D.E. Haggerty was born and raised in Wisconsin but thinks she’s a European. After spending her senior year of high school in Germany, she developed a bad case of wanderlust that is yet to be cured. After high school she returned to the U.S. to go to college ending up with a Bachelor’s degree in History at the tender age of 20 while still managing to spend time bouncing back and forth to Europe during her vacations. Unable to find a job after college and still suffering from wanderlust, she joined the U.S. Army as a Military Policewoman for 5 years. While stationed in Heidelberg, Germany, she met her future husband, a flying Dutchman. After being given her freedom from the Army, she went off to law school. She finished law school and moved to the Netherlands with her husband and became a commercial lawyer for more than a decade. During a six month break from the lawyering world, she wrote her first book, Unforeseen Consequences. Although she finished the book, she went back to the law until she could no longer take it and upped stakes and moved to Germany to start a B&B. Three years after starting the B&B, she got the itch and decided to pull the manuscript for Unforeseen Consequences out of the attic and get it published as an e-book. Deciding that she may have indeed finally found what she wanted to do with her life, she went on to write Buried Appearances. After moving to Istanbul, she started on Life Discarded, her third book. Between tennis, running, traveling, singing off tune and reading books like they are going out of style, she writes articles for a local expat magazine and various websites, reviews other indie authors’ books, writes a blog about whatever comes to mind and is working on her fourth book.

 

Connect With The Author:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Blog

Goodreads

Pinterest

Google +

Amazon Author Page

 

Giveaway:

Enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card on the Life Discarded by D.E. Haggerty Book Tour and Giveaway! Open worldwide, this giveaway will run 11/24/14 – 12/22/14. Enter through Rafflecopter.

 

BOOK TOUR: #SpecialRun by Lena McCoy (and a #giveaway!)

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Special Run: If an animal spoke to you, would you listen? Botanist/psychokinetic Katrina Ormstead created a super hash. A variety of marijuana she calls MAGIC. Before she can share her successful medical findings with the scientific community, she’s murdered. There is, however, one witness begging to come forward. Special is Katrina’s wolf-hybrid dog. She saw her mistress die. She wants revenge. Now she has to convince food photographer, animal psychic and Katrina’s best friend Wheat Keigwin of the same thing. Together, dog and woman dedicate themselves to solving the mystery behind Katrina’s death.

“Trust me, if you’re an animal lover, a paranormal fiction follower, a reader of rom-coms, or a murder mystery aficionado, you should really buy this book.” Charlie Bray’s Indi Book Reviews, The Indietribe Newsletter – Read the whole review at: http://eepurl.com/Pd4gv

I just finished reading Special Run and am thrilled to have the author with us today (and please keep reading – my review follows her post). I asked her to tell us about strong characters, because her main character, Wheat, was so appealing to me. Lena, welcome – and please, tell us about Wheat and how you came to write such a strong character!

When the story Special Run came to me in a dream, my character, Wheat Keigwin, was born.
Special Run literally came to me in a dream. The urge to write the outline was so powerful when I woke the next morning, the first thing I did was find a pen and pad of paper. Besides the outline of the story, I wrote the descriptions of the main characters and a young Meg Ryan became Wheat Keigwin.
Physical description aside, as I studied my notes, I realized in my dream Wheat was a fearless, no nonsense woman. It wasn’t until I started writing the story that I realized she was an accumulation of the women I’ve known.

I’ve been surrounded by strong women my entire life. How could my character be anything less?
I knew from the start Wheat would not be some bumbling damsel in distress, tripping her way through the book. She is a character that meets challenges head on. As an author I know I bring my own experiences into my writing. I tribute my life growing up in rural America with the way I view and grow my characters.

Like me, Wheat grew up with women who put the Nike™ brand to the test. “Just Do It” could be the mantra for all farm and ranch women. Without a grocery store around the corner, you learn to plan in advance or use what you have for food. You’re creative when it comes to making a costume for Halloween. You do chores, take care of your husband and your children and still find time to make quilts for the less fortunate.

I grew up in a home with no complaining. You did what you had to do to accomplish a task. You had to take care of your animals no matter what the weather or time because they provided for you – money and food. You ate the food God provided and thanked him for a full belly. Even when Wheat is afraid, she knows it is no use panicking because it won’t change the outcome. Underlying that fact, I know she believes in God and knows her fate, whatever it is, is in his hands.

Because of Wheat’s personality I had to find a way to make her grow and change. Facing an inner demon and being true to her best friend allows Wheat to use her psychic ability in a positive way. She has mixed feelings about an old love interest and struggles to sort the emotions. However, because of her inner strength, the decisions she makes or based on her core values.

Currently I’m working on the sequel to Special Run called Bulldog Fall. Wheat Keigwin once again is an amateur sleuth with a dog in need and a mystery to solve. Wheat is the conduit that helps a dog bring a killer to justice.

In progress concurrent with Bulldog Fall is an unnamed thriller I’m writing. Once again my protagonist, Mesa Stone, grew up on the farm. It allows me to use my life experience to create a strong woman. She knows about bailing wire and she isn’t afraid to use it!

REVIEW (note: a copy of the book was provided to me in return for an honest review)

What initially drew me to this story was the setting. We’ve vacationed in Colorado and I could totally picture a desolate huddle of buildings squatting in the harsh landscape east of the Rockies. The characters were believable and layered. As an animal lover, the power that allows Wheat to communicate with animals was appealing. As a mystery lover, I was drawn to the possibility that a dog could assist with an investigation, and bring a murderer to justice.

The story begins with Wheat as she returns to her Colorado hometown after her best friend is murdered. We quickly learn that this isolated town is much more than it appears to be at first glance. Hidden from the rest of the world by a protection spell, the town harbors a unique collection of talented folks who have powers that vary from the ability to heal animals to call fairies.

I have to admit, the beginning chapter was difficult to read when Kat and her dogs are shot. The idea of the wolf-cross Special dragging her battered body across the blood-soaked ground to protect her mistress was heart wrenching. And that was exactly what kept me reading. Special witnessed Kat’s murder and, thanks to Wheat’s talent of talking with animals, the dog has the ability to bring her mistress’s killers to justice. After a wreck in an old grain truck that seems a bit too convenient to be just an accident, Wheat loses her ability and must depend on traditional investigative skills to find the bad guys. The local Sheriff, who runs with the pack of wolves during the full moon, does his best to combine police work with the talents of the townspeople to find out who has broken through the umbrella of protection to hurt one of their own.

Quirt, a federal agent with a K9 partner, Blow, comes to town to investigate a tip about drugs. Kat was working with a unique strain of potent marijuana called MAGIC that has amazing powers. The plant holds the secret to healing diseases such as cancer and rheumatoid arthritis, but the potential for success may have died with Kat. Was Kat killed for the miracle drug? Will Quirt find his rightful place with his pack? And will Wheat accept her power . . . and finally open her heart to true love?

The action is well-written and the story compelling. The story was strong enough to overcome a few minor typos here and there. Occasionally I lost track of the characters and their connections. There are quite a few secondary characters, with a variety of powers, and at times that can be a bit overwhelming. Overall, though, the story was engaging. I recommend it for readers who enjoy paranormals or mysteries. I also recommend it for animal lovers who are looking for something beyond the typical dog story. Overall, I give it 4 stars.

Buy Link:

Amazon

 

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An agriculture journalist, Lena Jo McCoy has worked in the print-media fields, both newspapers and magazines and has spent most of her life devoted to agriculture. Lena Jo has long admired the works of animal behaviorist Temple Grandin, Cesar Milan as well as the farmers and ranchers she’s written about and is dedicated to the humane treatment of all animals. When she is not playing servant to her two English Bulldogs, Lena Jo finds herself at the computer writing the next story.

You can find her here:

Blog

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Enter to win one of ten print copies of Special Run. Available to US addresses only. Enter through Goodreads.

Dead Bodies . . . what to do with them?

In my current work-in-progress, someone dies (shocking, I know). The novel was inspired by something that happened when I was a kid of about 12. We were on a family vacation in Salida, Colorado staying at a quaint little “guest ranch” just this side of Monarch Pass. The towering Fourteeners all around us were awe-inspiring, but what I really remember were the sheer drops as we drove up into those mountains. At one point, my mom started talking to one of the locals about how easy it would be to drive right off the edge of the mountain and someone said something about a mangled guardrail. The local told us about a woman who had driven her car off the road in the middle of a snowstorm. She said the car was still down there, at the bottom of the ravine. Said it was too dangerous to try to retrieve her body. That has always stuck with me. Very much made an impression on me.

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Although that was an interesting story, writing my novel required research. I went on a ride along with a police officer and asked questions about how the officers would react if a woman were found standing on the side of a road, where another individual appeared to have gone over the edge. If you are writing about crime, I encourage you to go on a ride along. Most departments will allow you to do so, and it’s a fairly simple matter to apply. You will likely have to pass a background check. Before you go on the ride along, do a little research. There are lots of resources, but I recommend the article at PoliceLink, which you can find here.

I have only been involved with planning a funeral once, so I did a little research about funeral directors. YouTube is a great research tool for writers. I ran across an interesting short documentary (For Life) which gave me ideas for dialogue and action. If you use YouTube for research, look for documentaries or first person reviews.

Another part of my story that required research related to death was that the body isn’t recovered. That brings up some interesting questions, about how the individual is declared legally dead (this is known as death in absentia). In Missouri, this is a statutory question and requires that the person be missing for five years. If you have legal questions, you can usually check the Revised Statutes for your state. These can also give you ideas for plots. For instance, Missouri laws cover details like the definition of dead (think medical thriller) and disposing of the body (what if a funeral director cut corners to save costs?).

So, now you know how I spend my free time. :o) What have you researched lately?