Baby Writing Career’s First Book Review

I dreamt that I was at a food court in a mall. I met the Book Bishop there, and asked him about how my novel was coming along. He told me to climb on top of a large, wooden table that was under a sky light, and get on my hands and knees. When I did, an enchanted braille paper appeared in front of me. Reviews on my book appeared on the paper in visual text form, but tactile lines divided each one. As the reviews began to scroll down on their own. My phone’s voiceover spoke from the enchanted paper, reading them out loud. 

My heart jumped with horror, when I saw a one-star review. I thought back to the nightmare I’d had, back in October, about getting a one-star review, and couldn’t believe how such a bad dream came true. However, this negative review wasn’t nearly as venomous. As more reviews scrolled down, all of them were either a one-star, or a five-star. The last review I read, before waking up, was a five-star. This person enjoyed the story very much, but complained about how long my introductory section was. 

When I woke up, the dream inspired me to check if I’d gotten any reviews yet, on HECCTROSSIPY Book 1 The Legend of the Land. Christa had posted a five-star review, but she didn’t rate it that high, just because she’s family. She honestly was impressed with how much my writing has improved, since I’d written the original version of HECCTROSSIPY, three years ago. I grew up in a house full of critical personalities. If something I created isn’t good, my parents and sisters are not going to blow smoke up my ass, and say that it’s great, just to avoid hurting my feelings. So I was honored to get five stars from her. Christa also sent one of our writing group members an Advanced review copy, and my editor sent some to several people he knows. A couple of months had gone by, since then. So I figured I must have at least another review or two by now. 

I opened up my mobile Kindle app, and typed, hecctrossipy, into the search text field. When I tapped open my book’s page, I thought I would have a heart attack. 

3.0 stars! I had only one review—But it was three fucking stars

Amazon took down Christa’s review, because they don’t allow authors’ families and friends to review their books. Sadly, there were too many incidents where authors had smoke-up-the-ass reviews from those closest to them, and their books weren’t really that good. I assume this lead to customers who bought these books, because of their bogus rave reviews. Then they were disappointed enough to demand refunds, and give Amazon a hard time about it. How was Amazon to know that my sister was being honest?… 

How the fuck did they know we’re related?! I go by a pin name, for God’s sake!  

My heart raced, and my hands trembled, as I scrolled down to the section where the reviews are. I know that about 99.99% of new authors’ debut novels won’t become instantaneously successful, and I was grateful that this first review wasn’t one or two stars. Still, I confess, this hurt my wee little ego. After spending three years writing and re-writing and re-writing this first installment to my series, and polishing and perfecting it, and putting hours of my heart and soul and imagination into it—The end result is, someone thought it was, meh. 

WHAT DID I DO W-W-W-R-R-R-O-O-O-N-N-N-G-G-G??? 

It turns out, the review actually wasn’t all that horrible. The reviewer liked Planet Velva Leena. She was impressed with my imagination, and she really liked the two main characters, Artheena and Mell May. They were compelling, she said. 

Her first complaint about the book was something I could totally understand. My introduction to the planet was too long. I’m not going to quote her, word for word, because I don’t want to come off like I’m calling her out, but she said something along the lines of—“I would rather have learned about the planet through the actions of the characters, instead of 26% of the book being notes about it.” 

Oh, shit. I was afraid that would happen. In my bad dream, back in October, about getting a one-star review, the dream-made-up reviewer hated my introduction. 26%? I didn’t know it was that long. I was leery about keeping it in there, but I thought it would be nice to have readers really get the feel of Velva Leena.. I wanted to welcome human folks there,, and let them spend a few pages scoping out this Alien world, before getting thrown into the middle of Artheena and Mell May’s drama. I thought it was necessary to let readers know about such unearthly details as, what a world would be like, run by two ruling races who have a hive mentality instead of a tribal mentality, like humans. The way they don’t name lands and villages, but instead, all civilization is numbered and neatly organized. How prisons and jails don’t exist on this world. Instead, those under arrest get either an orange collar, or a yellow collar around the neck, and are sentenced to different levels of slavery, depending on their crime. How time isn’t so divided, like it is on earth. (In the actual story, the non-existing divisions of time, like minutes, seconds, and hours are replaced with words and phrases like, “moment”, “split moment”, and “within a span of time that would equal to such-and-such hours”) Stuff like that. Perhaps I should’ve took on the challenge of wriggling all this extra detail into my already-vividly-detailed story. But I was being lazy, and didn’t feel like giving the book a holy-shit-thousand-and-sheesh-hundred-and-nutty-nutth re-write.  

Before officially getting the book published, I toyed with the idea of removing An Introduction to the World of Velva Leena, and putting those facts in the back of the book, as part of the appendices. But I decided to take a risk instead, and keep the introduction. I’d  seen introductions to fictitious worlds, in the beginnings of other books, so I thought, why not. But, ah, man, the reviewer didn’t think the facts about my weird-ass planet were interesting enough. It made me want to apologize to her, and take the book down, so I could make it more to her liking.  

After An Introduction to the World of Velva Leena, there is another section before the first chapter, which is a little bio about Artheena and Mell May’s Alien childhoods, and about Mell May’s childhood trauma, before Artheena’s parents adopted her. This was maybe kind of on the info dumpy side too, but I guess the reviewer enjoyed that part, because she didn’t include it in her constructive criticism. I put both parts in one whole section of the book, titled, before the Story Begins. To let readers know that this is not really part of the story. Just optional bonus material that they could skip over, and come back to later. Because if they do skip over it, they might get confused along the way, about certain phrases and character and background descriptions that are mentioned in the story.

The only thing that the reviewer said that was insulting, was—according to her—not that much happened in this first installment. 

Excuse me?! 

There were three major events that happened in this book. And there was Artheena’s interview disaster, and the sisters’ horrific experience in the forest, after unintentionally getting high for the first time. There was also their best friend, Audry’s, mystery illness sub-plot, and more. Not that much happened in this first installment. What the hell are you talking about? 

Wee little ego aside, I eventually understood what she meant by that. There was a lot of inner drama with Artheena and Mell May. Their hopes, dreams, fears, anxieties, insecurities, their unspoken sibling rivalry, their obsession with the famous Leeandro Paul, and so on. I think what the reviewer would’ve liked was, more outer drama. Not to self sabotage, but The Legend of the Land is not a nail biting, pulse pounding, action packed kind of story. Artheena and Mell May’s planet has its share of problems and conflicts, but its not chop full of them, like Earth. The sisters have experiences and adventures that are exclusively Velva Leenan. 

When I confided in my writing group about my three-star review during a conference call, my editor, who is also an author, knew exactly who I was talking about. She had reviewed his stories before. Some she praised, and others she crucified. So he could totally relate. She especially loved his book, Gods of the Black Gate, which is my favorite book of his too, so far. Then I thought, NO WONDER why she didn’t think that much happened in my book, if she reads Joseph Sale’s books. His books are full of battle action, paranormal activity, magic, and all kinds of wild, intense stuff that happens between Earth and other weird realms. 

On a positive note, the reviewer sounded interested in what happens to Artheena and Mell May, in the second installment. She has predictions for what might be coming, and she’s curious whether or not if her predictions are right. She thought my story was an imaginative take on Cinderella, which I found amusing. I could totally see why she thought that, but—HA HA! Fooled her. Spoiler: Pretty boy, celebrity heart-throb Leeandro Paul, is actually the bad guy. 

In book one, you don’t really get to know him that much. He’s mainly an object of female obsession, and someone who appears to have a way with the leaders of the land. In HECCTROSSIPY 2: THE WILL OF THE DARK CREATOR, which I’ve been re-writing for the countlessth time, you get to know him a lot more, and he’s quite the charmer. Fingers crossed, I’ll get that second book out by spring, or early summer. 

Thinking back on all the times I browsed Kindle and Apple Books, and read book reviews. I realized, what author doesn’t get a negative review. Even the popular books who get hundreds of five-star and four-star reviews, get one or two reviews that are less than four stars. When a book has a five-star rating, it doesn’t always mean that 100% of those who reviewed it, rated it five stars. I have seen this happen, but with books that have a single-digit handful of reviews. It sucks, but you have to have the skin of an armadillo, and a bullet proof self esteem to withstand the fiction novel writing business, because not everybody is going to love your book. I accept this fact, and soldier on further into my series, with no contemplations of giving up…

But I’m too much of a scaredy-cat to look on my book’s page again, where there might be more reviews. This 3.0 discovery happened on New Year’s Eve morning, but I hadn’t checked for reviews ever since. 

Love you all! Post you soon! 

And what the hell is a Book Bishop?! 

Caffeinated Christmas

It’s been a while, but—hello again! 

I don’t expect that all of you had a rip roaring good time during the holidays, with all this death and sickness going on. So I’ll just say, I hope you had a decent Christmas, and an all right New Year’s Eve. Or a fairly enjoyable time celebrating Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, or any other December-through-January festivity. 

Sorry to brag, but I had an awfully non-depressing Christmas. It was very up-lifting. Literally. I got so many coffee related presents this year, I’m going to bleed breve and sweat cappuccino froth. 

Unique flavored coffees was one of the items on my Christmas list. The weirder the better. I love those flavors of coffee that gross people out, like blueberry cobbler, Georgia peach, and mocha mint. 

There used to be a coffee shop called The Beanery that was at the Woodbridge Mall, in Woodbridge New Jersey. This place was the jackpot for unique coffee lovers. The only place in the world, where I found Michigan cherry coffee and banana-nut bread coffee. 

Fresh Market had some pretty daring flavors too. I don’t know if they still do, because I haven’t been there in forever. But while shopping there, I discovered chocolate lavender coffee, chocolate orange, and chocolate cranberry. 

When it comes to flavored coffees, most stores stick to the classics, like French vanilla, and hazelnut. If you scan the aisle a little more closely, you might find a few other flavors that are compatible with breakfast foods, like southern pecan, cinnamon swirl, and caramel crumb cake, but nothing too outlandish. However, with the world pretty much ending, the grocery stores’ coffee selection seems to have downsized. Publix didn’t even have the New England’s Best pumpkin spice, egg nogg, and mocha mint coffees, that they used to always have in stock, every holiday season. Mom, who does most of the grocery shopping for the family, was able to find a bag of New England’s Best pumpkin spice, back in October, but she hasn’t been able to find it ever since. Because of the lessening of flavor varieties, my Christmas request was for the family to look for unique flavored coffees on the internet. 

My sister, Gina, was the best at this. When it was time for everyone to open presents, some of the flavored coffees she got me even had me shocked. I had tried them all, since Christmas. Here’s how they tasted… 

Republica—mushroom coffee: I admit, I was a little nervous about trying this one, or even sniffing it. I mean, coffee made with fungus? How is that going to smell good? 

This is an instant coffee that comes in a little plastic canister. It has the consistency of a very light and fine powder, instead of the regular instant coffee crystal granules. This coffee is a drink for improving your health, because it’s made with a few types of mushrooms that are considered super foods. 

To my surprise, (and relief) it smelled like normal coffee, but better. It didn’t have that slight hint of processed funk that some instant coffees have. 

It tasted very nice too. Not at all like drinking a hot cup of fungi. I was impressed. It had a smooth, Pleasant, mellow taste. If you made a cup of it for someone, they would never suspect it was made with mushrooms, if you don’t tell them. I made it stronger than how the directions said to make it, but adding more only enhanced the flavor, without making it harsh and acidic, like when making stronger normal instant coffee. This coffee is probably kind to sensitive stomachs. 

Bones—maple bacon: The Bones coffees came in a variety box. All of them were made with a pretty mild roast, which is cool, because a milder roast won’t take away from the added weird flavor, like a bold roast would. This was the wackiest sounding one in the box, so I had to try it first. Bacon is one of my favorite meats, but would I love it enough to drink it in my coffee? 

Surprisingly, it wasn’t bacony at all. It had the faintest hint of a smokey smell, but the flavor was all about the maple. This is one of my favorite flavors in the box. It smells and tastes very mapley and cozy, and so delicious. Yum. I don’t understand why maple coffee hadn’t become a coffee flavor standard, like French vanilla. People drink coffee with their pancakes, which are most often drizzled with maple syrup. So why not make maple coffee just as common? This is a true comfort drink. A perfect companion to a nippy winter morning. 

Bones-Strawberry cheesecake: Now this is my kind of flavored coffee. It smells like coffee mixed with strawberry jam. The smell is very aromatic, but not too cloying. The strawberry flavor is more there than the cheesecake flavor. To me, it’s more like strawberry vanilla, with the slightest hint of a buttery taste. With half & half and agave stirred into it, it has that yummy, desserty berry and coffee taste that I always loved. 

Bones—smorey time: I don’t know what the hell this flavor is supposed to be. Does it have anything to do with s’mores? I can’t tell. The flavor is indistinguishable. It tastes like they used the same type of coffee flavoring that’s used in other flavors I’ve had through the years, like crème brûlée, caramel Maki auto, and snickerdoodle. It’s kind of a universal flavoring. Any of you out there who also like drinking different flavors of coffee would probably know what I’m talking about. It tastes like a cross between coffee cake, yellow cake, a hint of fake chocolate taste, and the faintest trace of coconut.  Smorey time is good, but not so original tasting, like the maple bacon and strawberry cheesecake. 

Bones—sinnabon: Yes, sinnabon instead of Cinnabon. Very cute. Gina described the bag for me, and said it was black with skulls and crossbones on it. Adorable. However, flavor-wise, it was no different than any other cinnamon flavored coffee I’ve had. I still like it a lot, but it would be more of a novelty to someone who is just beginning to venture into trying flavored coffees. 

Bones—Highland grog: This flavor doesn’t taste as unique as it sounds, but I love it. It tastes like Irish cream flavored coffee, which used to be really popular, back in the 1990s during America’s coffee craze. Irish cream, Amaretto, French vanilla, and hazelnut were once the popular clique of the coffee world. Every coffee product and their momma were available in those four flavors. They were so popular, I got sick of them, and took them for granted. By the 2020’s, it’s just French vanilla and hazelnut that rein supreme. Irish cream and Amaretto have become washed-up hasbeens. Those flavors are so impossible to find, now-a-days, they practically died off out of existence. Now that they’re not around anymore, I miss them. Highland grog is a yumtastic reincarnation of Irish cream. 

Aside from those unique coffees, I also got bags of hazelnut cream, southern pecan, and crème brûlée coffee, a large jar of Nescafe instant coffee, Italian sweet cream coffee creamer, coffee flavored Worther’s candies, chocolate covered espresso beans, and my very own French press coffee maker. YOWZA! I’m going to be more wired than the power grid! 

Good shock treatment for the brain, to help me write more books and blog posts! 

Love you all! Post you soon!            

🥂 Author Year-End Review 2020 – Join us in the Writers’ Mastermind

To say that 2020 has been a crazy year is an understatement. What we’ve experienced is stranger than fiction, and whatever plans we made for this …

🥂 Author Year-End Review 2020 – Join us in the Writers’ Mastermind

The Different Colored Energy Blocks of Time, Sarah Canon, and Why I Suck at Time Management

First of all, I’d like to thank all of you for sticking around. Two weeks ago, I ended my post with my usual, “Love you all! Post you next weekend!” Then when that weekend came, I didn’t keep my word. I know, it’s not like you guys were waiting by your digital devices all weekend, eagerly anticipating my next episode, checking your Inboxes and WordPress readers every five minutes. It’s just that, I wouldn’t take my blog followers for granted. I want to keep my word and be reliable, whether you read my posts religiously, or not. One of the most important qualities of being a good blogger, is being good to your audience. Gaining their trust, by staying consistent and reliable. 

When I started caring about this blog again, my goal was to do one or two posts each weekend. I don’t have kids and a husband, or pets, or even a day job, so I don’t have to juggle nearly as many tasks as most people. I write, read, blog, do the social media thing, and the basic day-to-day stuff—eat, shower, clean the bathroom etc. Still, I struggle to manage my time properly. Dividing all of my to-dos in a by-the-clock schedule doesn’t work for me. I’d only tried it countless times, but it never sets well with the way my quirky brain operates. 

My nearly-schizophrenic case of synesthesia insists that certain measurements of time are constantly moving scrolls of color coded blocks. These blocks are hollow, translucent, and made of energy vibes. Outside, I could still see that the sky is blue, and the sun looks the same. But because this is December, there’s a part of my brain that says that the whole world is encased inside a hollow, vibrant pink block. 

In reality, the months of the year move in the direction of Earth’s revolution around the sun, and days move from East to West, but my brain insists that the passing of time moves downward, like the downward scrolling on a computer screen, but in a three-dimensional sort of way. Maybe a better way of explaining it would be: The passing of time is like always moving upward in an invisible elevator. Each color coded month block is like a different story of a god-sized building. The passing of each color coded day of the week block is like moving upward through the stories of an interior giant building within the god-sized building. It’s Sunday, as I write this. So, according to my brain. The world is inside the vibrant pink December block, but its also inside the white Sunday block within the pink block. Simply acknowledging that the date is the 13th, makes a giant, translucent, brown and green 13 overlap the white of Sunday. 

If I pay attention to hours, it divides each day block into color coded hour blocks. Half-hours, quarters of hours, minutes, and so on could divide each hour block into smaller and smaller blocks. One would think that this psychosis induced time compartmentalizing would help me manage my time better. However, dividing my day block into smaller blocks actually disrupts my ability to fully concentrate. 

When trying to do the by-the-clock structure, I set my talking calculator to announce every hour. Dividing my day into hourly time slots segments one solid colored, large, roomy space into multiple different colored spaces that are much tighter. The hour blocks are too small to move through, in the invisible elevator, but I could feel the blocks scrolling downward through my body, like a slow motion, vertical Assembly line. Each one of their hollow spaces can fit my mind. For example, if I’m working within the reddish brown 11:00 hour block, and then my calculator says that it’s 12:00, I literally feel my mind pass through the energy walls of the end of the 11 block, and beginning of the 12 block. Then my mind is in the hollow space of the 12:00 hour, which is kind of the color of blue-ish green tinted fluorescent lights. While trying to fill each hollow block with productivity, the calculator’s announcement triggering the feeling of passing through the energy boundaries of each hour gets very disruptive and annoying, breaking my already brittle sense of focus. If I check the time before the hour is up, it makes it harder to concentrate, because I can’t help anticipating the coming of the hour’s energy boundary. Then I get anxious about whether or not if I could fill the rest of the block with enough of what needs to be done, before the next block comes. Sometimes not checking the time makes me anxious. Just the thought of the next block coming any minute, before I could finish filling my current hour, makes it difficult to concentrate. If I checked the time, and it’s a quarter till the next hour, I’d often just give up and do nothing until I pass through the beginning boundary of the following hour. Those minutes of wasted time add up. 

If I don’t acknowledge the hours within the day, and keep my calculator’s hourly announcement off, the color coded hour blocks go away. Then I have a nice, solid colored, spacious day block to move through. This makes me able to concentrate much better, moving things along in a smoother flow. I can get more accomplished, with a more primitive style of scheduling things. (After breakfast and getting ready for the day, do this and that task. After dinner, do that and this task, and get ready for bed.) 

If the colors of dates, and the color coded blocks of hours go away, when I don’t acknowledge them, maybe the same would happen if I stopped paying attention to what day of the week or month it is. If I could do that, my focus and concentration might be flawless! However, I know that’s not an option. There’s birthdays and holidays to remember, and important medical appointments to keep track of. Even though I found a more suitable method for being productive, I still kind of suck at doing things I’d planned to do each week, and staying consistent. I still get side-tracked, especially by weaknesses, like the distracting allure of a dam good book. 

Man, oh man, when I can’t put a book down, the rest of the world and life’s responsibilities can go fuck-off. I admit, that’s what happened last weekend. 

I love you guys, and I love this blog, but I’ve become addicted to Sarah Canon’s Shadow Demons series. Books 8 and 9 were super suspenseful, and so awesomely dark, weird and crazy. I absolutely had to read them back to back. I mean, the half human witch demon princess ended up getting trapped in 1951, by the evil priestess of the Emerald gates. I had to find out if she could get back to the present time, and reunite with her demon boyfriend. I’m halfway into book 10 now. Thankfully, book 11 doesn’t come out until May, but I don’t think that’ll calm my obsession. I still have her spin-off series, sacrifice Me to feast on, which I’ll probably also get obsessed with. Yeah, I spotted a plot hole or two, in some of her books, and I picked out when there were parts of some storylines that were brushed over, but her books are soooooooo addictive. The only book of hers that I wasn’t crazy about is A Life With No Regrets from her Fair Hope New Adult romance series. The rest of her fans loved that book, but for me, Jo and Colton were a boring couple to read about. So many chapters about them just spending quality time together in different settings, and too much repetitious, cliche inner monologues about their attractions to one another, and their doubts and fears about getting into a committed relationship. Ugh. I couldn’t get into that one until Chapter 20. The ending, at least was adorable in that romantic, chick flick movie sort of way that we romance readers love. 

I got into humbly reprimanding myself, to talking about my time synesthesia, to going on about Sarah Canon. Sheesh, talk about a brittle sense of focus. Maybe my struggle with time management isn’t my quirky brain’s fault. It’s Sarah Canon’s fault. I sure hope my HECCTROSSIPY and DARK ADMIRATION series’ have that same effect on people, someday. I’ll end this post now, because I’ve been working on it for hours. The more hours I work on it, the less time I get to read book 10 of the Shadow Demons series, deceiving Darkness. It’s getting awfully dark and bloody and kick-ass. 

Love you all! Post you after I finish book 10, and read the Sacrifice Me series! 

Nah, just kidding! 

Love you all! Post you soon!