Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Casual Conversation #4

Visiting with Julie Elizabeth Powell

Today I am chatting with Julie Elizabeth Powell.  Hi Julie and welcome.  Can you share a little about yourself?

 Hello, thanks for the chat!
My pen name is Julie Elizabeth Powell and I have written numerous stories in a variety of genres, although, I prefer fantasy because I can make it up - I just love the imagination and where it takes me.
I live in England, my favourite colour is purple, though, fushia pink is a close second.  I love to read, write and create 3D art and cards.  I love to draw, paint and design my own book covers.
Another talented author who creates their own covers.  I can dream up what I would like but that is where my cover creating abilities end.  How do you come up with your designs?  Do the stories come first and inspire them or visa-versa?   
 Usually, the cover comes after I’ve written the story.  There are times when I see an image and it triggers my imagination to write a story so then I use that image.
Oh dear, it’s like choosing a favourite child.  My first book was Gone, a fantasy that was inspired by what happened to my daughter, Samantha, when she was two, her heart stopped and she died.  She was revived too late and thus severely brain damaged so that she didn’t know me or anything else – she had gone only leaving a shell.  I was haunted by a question: If Samantha wasn’t ‘here’ then were was she?  Her essence had flown, where was it?
So then, I wrote Gone and went in search of her.  This will always be my most important book, therefore, this cover has to be number one (although, it’s not the original as I did change it a couple of years back).

I read Gone, actually I just finished rereading it.  Such a poignant story. My daughter passed away 11 years ago and I am still plagued with the "if onlys" just like Charley. You share so much of yourself.  You remind all of us in this boat that we must live.  Personally I find it hard to do, but with the message from you, I am working on it.  How about you?  Did the writing of this work help you heal, or is it still an ongoing process?

Samantha's Story
I’m sorry for your loss and if my story helps then I’m glad – for others, too.  No, I will never heal, but writing Gone forced me to face those tangled feelings.  The pain is just as harsh now, many years later, as it was when it first happened.  Samantha ‘existed’ for seventeen years, her empty shell becoming more and more filled with pain and twisting.  She didn’t know me or anything else. 
Guilt is a terrible thing, but even though I still feel it, part of me knows that the decisions I had to make were really the only ones, despite some people cursing me for them.
I’d love to think that Avalon is real and that one day, I will see Samantha again.
I think that Gone is an inspiring read, not depressing.  It left me with a sense of hope – whether that is a good or bad thing, I’m not always sure.  Writing Gone was the best thing I could do.
FYI – on the day the first paperback versions of Gone were delivered, I piled them onto a table and left the room.  When I came back in, there was a small, pure, white feather sitting in the middle on top of the pile and I wondered if that was a sign that Samantha approved.  White feathers have unexpectedly fallen towards me since she died a second and final time at the age of nineteen.
Time can help with the coping mechanisms of such grief and helplessness, but  such things never cease – it is an ongoing process but I do try to focus on other things, such as writing and reading and creating (whatever I can).

White feathers, how beautiful!  I felt my daughter's presence when Voices first came out.  Recently I completed the set dedicated for her.  It was supposed to be 3 books but I felt her nudge and made it 4 and the first time I saw Erika's cover for the box set, I felt an all encompassing warmth surround me, like she was approving.  
I find death and dealing with survivor's guilt touches a lot of my poems. Your book gives me hope, a new vision of what could be in the future. 
I am currently reading your book Changing Angels.  I like how you seamlessly change points of view.  It blends well.  Do you believe in Guardian Angels? 

I think words in any form can be emotive, especially if they touch the reader deeply and resonate with personal experience.  I’ve written a little poetry but stories are my preference.  Those tangled emotions of grief can be all-encompassing and sometimes finding words can ease the pain, if not erase it.  Thank you for saying that Gone gives you hope.
Changing Angels was inspired by true events; however, my imagination allowed me dramatic licence to pepper it with tension and suspense.  It’s a romance, drama, crime thriller with a touch of fantasy (I not only like to write various genres, I also like to mix them in one story).
Thank you for your kind words about Changing Angels.  

It needed to have two points of view and I think it works.
I don’t know if Guardian Angels exist, but it’s a lovely thought.  I can’t deny that I see the white feathers and sometimes feel a tap on my shoulder or a nudge in my side from what appears to be an invisible source.
My husband has always said that he must have a Guardian Angel because his life has been a tough one and he feels he wouldn’t have survived without some seemingly ‘otherworldly’ intervention.  I’ve always believed that if I had one, it wasn’t doing a very good job – my husband, therefore, said that his would look after me.  Who knows?

I, like you, believe they exist! Like your husband says, it explains how I have survived as much as I have.
I haven't read your Avalon Trilogy yet.  According to the blurb it is a fantasy but it does not have angels.  How did you come up with this new world?  Did the journey of your characters take unexpected twists while you were writing?

After I’d written Gone, I loved the world I’d created and couldn’t let it go to waste, so I began writing The Star Realm – one of the worlds inside the Orb of Caprice, where Charley had her adventure.  I included The Time Keeper and some others, such as Chamber (grumpy of Puzzle Woods) and it grew and grew and grew until I had to divide the story into three.
Invasion (#2 #Avalon Trilogy) takes place in one of the Below Words, the Dark Reaches, while Secrets Of The Ice (#3 Avalon Trilogy) is set in the Dominion Of Ice, yet another world within the Orb of Caprice – that heptagonal orb that is built from numerous (and ever-adding) worlds created throughout Time and the imagination.
Charley Woods is in The Star Realm in the beginning so as to make some sense to the five children as to what is going on.

So then, the trilogy takes place in three worlds within the Orb of Caprice, its host being Avalon (where resides The Time Keeper, The Star Council and Waiting Room Only, and let’s not forget the Freeway and Fun and Games etc.)  Nevertheless, there is potential for further stories, if and when I ever have time.
It’s an epic quest with five friends who encounter all manner of strangeness, creatures and characters, including talking flowers, fairies and yes, even angels, but maybe not in the way you would think.  I made up many of the creatures involved.  It’s a mystery adventure with secrets that are not revealed until the very end.

As with all my stories, the characters take over and drive me into unexpected corners and then I have to figure out how to move forward.
I like all my stories to have meaning, and The Avalon Trilogy does include important lessons – without the lectures!   It does have humour and, I hope, insight into younger minds, who maybe forget that we were all young once.
The Star Realm, Invasion and Secrets Of The Ice are also now audiobooks.

It sounds fantastic!  I did not realize it would return me to the wonderful world from Gone. Everytime I see the name Avalon, I think of my high school yearbook.  Memory Lane sometimes creates havoc with the observation process. I am glad it is on my TBR list!  I like books that teach without preaching.  I want to read things with substance. 

I remember when I was a child and I loved stories to be read to me.  I’d also listen to the wireless (as it was called then) to Listen With Mother, where short stories were told – wonderful.
Thank you for reading my books!  Reviews are always welcome (have to try) LOL.  Having said that, Amazon is being rather mean about who can post them.  I’m a reviewer, too, so I post where I can – Amazon UK, USA, Goodreads, BookBub and my review page on Facebook.  At least BookBub and Goodreads allow any review from the moment.  The reviews for my books can vanish and I have no idea why...never mind, that’s life.

I know how important reviews are and I will leave them on Goodreads soon and then share them on FB, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  I am not allowed to leave any on Amazon. 
You said this series is now available in audio.  What is your personal opinion of this new format?

I think the format is great for those who prefer to listen or don’t have time to read or are in the car /travelling.  Perhaps the cost is rather high but it depends on what you like most.  I always have promo codes if anyone is interested.

It takes a long time to produce an audiobook – especially when it’s an epic like the three books in The Avalon Trilogy.  I was lucky enough to find a brilliant narrator who was more interested in a good story than whether I was famous or not.  Over twenty of my stories are audiobooks now.  It’s also a great way of finding those embarrassing errors (if not all).  Dratted gremlins are everywhere!
I like all formats for books; it depends on where I am.  I prefer a ‘real’ book in my hands, but I don’t have time to read that way often, so find myself reading my Kindle late at night, with the light off so as not to disturb hubby and am grateful for the backlight that comes with the Paperwhite.  Audiobooks can help relaxation, too, of course, it depends on the subject.

I am in the process of having one of my poetry books put into audio.  I am still not sure how I feel about it.  A novel or story flows but poems are like separate books, in my opinion.  I would rather it be like a music CD where people could jump around to whatever poem they wished to hear at that moment, not be forced to listen to them in the order my hat decided they should be put into.  We will see.   
I love real books but I do use a Kindle also.  I can carry a lot more books with me in the truck using that!
What do you feel is the hardest part of being an author?

Trying to attract buyers to my work is not easy, especially when I have no money for marketing.  I promote where and when I can.  I give away promo codes for audiobooks, two of my books are free, including The Star Realm (Kindle edition) and the first ‘episode’ of my Weird series.  As for the rest, they are 99p, except for the omnibus editions, which are also at a bargain price.  Paperbacks are available on Lulu – this was the first place I found where I could publish, although it is easier to publish ebooks on Kindle.
There is argument about prices but I find my only way is to make my books as inexpensive as I can and hope folks love them and maybe then I’ll be able to charge a little more for my years of work.  There is no choice with audiobooks, Audible /Amazon set the price.

I agree. Marketing is the hardest.  All of us have our own views on pricing and what works.  Personally, I have not found anything that works. If I ever do, I will gladly shout it from the rooftops.
You mention your "Weird" series, what is that about?  How many episodes are available?

No, I haven’t found anything that works : Yes, please, let me know if there is a secret not yet found.  I sell very few books and even less reviews are posted.  That said, I believe in my work and think it is brilliant – so there!!! LOL  I have tried writing poetry and I’m pleased with what I’ve done.  The most interesting one I did was a Ballad Poem where it is a story in poetry form.  It was fun.

I think Kindle is a wonderful tool.

Henry Ian Darling (the star of Weird) came to me in a dream and told me that I must write about him in a series of missives.  So then, Weird: A Henry Ian Darling Oddity: Missive One was created.  It’s a paranormal series, some are longer than others; there are five available so far.  I’m in the process of writing number six but keep being waylaid with life and other ideas for stories.  Summer is almost here so the garden is insisting it has too many weeds – I’ve been out there today, actually (ouch). 
I love fantasy and all its derivatives, including paranormal, horror, science-fiction etc. – these genres all have a mystical sense about them and are such fun to write.  Ian Henry Darling is six feet (he lost half an inch when he came back from the dead), in his late fifties and thinks he’s ugly with a paunch.  His wife, Clara, is a witch – his first wife died.  He has a resident ghost and continually finds /given oddities which he must investigate... I really don’t know where it’s going because Henry leads the way.  Weird #1 is free.  The first three missives are audiobooks.

I have written a poem or two, lol.  I am glad you have such a beautiful attitude toward your talent!  Although I love my work, I am still amazed when anyone else says it is good.  
Weird sounds so interesting, the first book is on its way to my kindle!
Last summer I had retired and was able to have a garden.  It is the one thing I missed out on while driving over-the-road.  I enjoy canning and having garden vegetables all winter long!  Do you have a large garden?  vegetable or flower or both?

Yes, I am always amazed when others like my work, despite my belief in it.  I used to wonder if it was good enough then thought, yes, it is...especially as I read a vast amount and can see what is good and what is not.  Sometimes, it is difficult to keep on believing due to the fact that I can’t sell my work but it’s important to me.

The garden at the front of the house has three small lawns and some flowerbeds.  There’s also a small vegetable plot where I mainly grow tomatoes then turn them into pasta sauce and freeze; great taste of summer for those winter months.

The back garden has an Oriental theme, created with Samantha in mind.  I had made another one but had to leave it when I moved (my life changed for the better – divorce then remarry amongst other things).  So, I had to begin all over again with the garden.  It’s very peaceful.  Keeping it all in check is fabulous exercise.
My favourite flowers are roses, so there is a spread of those, and I love acers and other Oriental plants; plenty of those.  The front garden has a hedge of lavender; gorgeous aroma.

Oh, I hope you enjoy Henry Ian Darling!

Your gardens sound like paradise. My favorite flower is jasmine, but since I left Florida I find it hard to keep alive.  I tried having a rose garden, I actually had 15 different varieties, but the fog every morning kept giving them fungi so I had to pull them up.

I just finished Changing Angels, it was awesome, and ending I did not expect.  I am sure I will enjoy more of your works.

If you had a chance to do it over again, would you have become an author?

 I’ve always enjoyed stories.  As a child I loved anything to do with magic – though Hansel and Gretel terrified me.
Over the years, I’ve dabbled with words but when that question over Samantha haunted me, I knew that I’d have to write the story – Gone.  It’s filled with all manner of my experiences and loves and hates, tension, loss, grief, inspiration and hope, and I think that sprinkle of humour shows my weirdness in what I think is funny.  People look at me sometimes and wonder if I’m sane – how can I answer that?

Yes, I would have become an author and it took that tragic event to push me into something serious.  Over the last twenty-odd years I’ve battled numerous things and depression is an enemy that’s difficult to conquer, however, writing, my husband, my two surviving children, stepchildren and other family members keep me sort of sane.  I will never overcome the catastrophe of Samantha’s life, and I know I’m broken, but I continue to look into the mystery of the world that surrounds us and wonder at the majesty of it.  I do not believe in God, although, I am convinced of something ‘other’ than us and our brains have only to one day discover it.  I have no idea what that might be.  Through writing I may find it.

I love your logo, it is beautiful.  I know a lot of authors are getting them lately.  Did you design it?  Also what one thing in it screams "This is ME" at you the loudest?

Thank you!  Yes, I designed it.  One of my favourite things to do is design my book covers.  The one thing that screams at me from my logo is STORYTELLER.

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me.  I have had a great time.

Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me, Cindy, it’s been a pleasure.  I hope you continue to enjoy my work.  I like to challenge my writing, fill it with meaning and create twists, turns and surprises.

If folks want to contact me or are interested in my work, here are some links:

Website -
Amazon USA page -
Amazon UK page -
BookBub –
FB page 1 -
FB page 2 -
Twitter -

Casual Conversation #3

Visiting with UK author Rick Haynes

This chat is going to be a bit different.  Today's guest, Rick Haynes, is a new acquaintance for me too. It is nice to meet you! Can we start by having you tell us a bit about yourself?

Hello, Cindy.

I was born in London not long after WWII finished. Food rationing was still in place. Looking back,

we were a poor family, yet it didn’t matter to me. I lived outside playing in the street with the other kids and loved it.

Luckily, my schooling enabled me to pass most of my exams. Unsurprisingly, it took me three attempts to pass maths. Surprisingly, I ended up working in finance until the day I retired. Why did I work for an industry I found difficult? Simples. I loved working with people struggling to understand the plethora of ways to provide for their future. From millionaires to dustmen, I was pleased to help them make crucial decisions.

I met a beautiful lady with a heart of gold. We were both immediately smitten although it took many years to live together and finally wed. She knows all my thoughts and can read me as easily as reading a book. Sometimes, in fact, many times, I tease her but never win. But it’s fun trying.

After so many operations, I was climbing walls and sinking into a deep mire of self-pity. Yet, my lass stood by me. And when she suggested writing my feelings down, the light bulb inside my head was switched on. Going back to school was fun, this time. The members of my writing group were supportive, the teacher inspirational. I read out my first piece of work. The members tried so hard to be kind but it was crap. Decision made then. It was time to listen and learn.

Writing is now my staff of life. I have written three novels, one novella, and been involved in several anthologies as well as many short tales. My stories have been published in Scribble magazine, The Portsmouth News, The Star and Garter, The Chania Post, and sometimes I get paid. Yippee!

As much as my body will allow, I live life to the full and have much fun along the way. Without a sense of humour, I’d probably be resting in a hospital waiting for God.

Thank you for having me.

Your life has been an adventure in itself!  I am so glad your better half supported you and led you to writing.  How blessed the world is to have two people so caring in it!  If I understand correctly, your operations happened after you retired? I do hope all that is taken care of now. One of your books, Bolt Out Of The Blue, is up next on my TBR so I will have a better idea of your writing by the time this chat is really underway.  Do you prefer to write longer or shorter stories?  Which of yours was the most fun to write, and where can we find it?

I write whatever I fancy but really enjoy writing Drabbles, which are tales of exactly 100 words excluding the title, as well as short tales and novels.
Do I have a preference? Probably not. Drabbles, like any other tale, must have a beginning, middle and end but the author only has 100 words to play with.
Now that really focuses the mind. Conversely, I would add there is a wonderful sense of euphoria when a new paperback of mine is sitting in my hand.
All my books are available on Amazon and I guess, my yet to be published novel, Outcast, gave me the greatest satisfaction once I finished it.
Which one was the most fun to write? Without any doubt, Chocolate Chunks From Crazy Crete still makes me laugh.

We often visit and now have many true Cretan friends. They are zany, utterly bonkers at times, shout loudly and all have a tale to tell.
Based on their, and my own, experiences, I put together a collection of short tales.
Some are true, some are based on truth and a few are fiction - yet knowing my crazy friends - could have happened.

I have never heard of Drabbles before. They sound similar to what I have heard called "flash fiction".  It is amazing that you can write a whole story using so few words.  Do you have them in a collection?  Would you like to share one here?

Delighted to oblige, Cindy. Drabbles are indeed flash fiction.

I published two collections of short stories and Drabbles - Drabbles 'N' Shorts and 'Shorts 'N' Drabbles. Both had a good spread of English humour.
Here is one of my favourite Drabbles.

My Little Runaway.
Where are you going to my little runaway?
There’s only pain today.
Is it true you are lost my precious runaway?
Just hunger pangs today.
There’s no one at home who understands you.
So how will you cope in the cold and the dark?

Your world so empty.
Your life so sad.

There are no answers little runaway.
Where will you be sleeping tonight?
There are no sympathies precious runaway.
So how will you feel tonight?

But maybe tomorrow will be brighter.
For maybe your star will shine.
So turn around my little runaway.
Heaven’s too full of your kind.

That is awesome!  So much said in so few words!  Drabbles are powerful!  Glad to see you have collections available!  I am definitely checking them out!  What made you decide to write a full length novel?

Full length novels give more scope for greater description and development of characters. And what a feeling when you see the first printed copy of your new book.
Short tales are fun. I can, and often do, write in any genre that takes my fancy. Usually, a picture opens up my mind and my vivid imagination takes over from thereon.
However, whilst writing a novel is hard work - double checking, triple checking etc. etc.- the satisfaction when the book is finished is fantastic.

I do hope you enjoy Bolt Out of The Blue and I thank you. It was my first attempt at writing something as large as a novella.

Bolt Out of The Blue was very good.  I was a sort of expecting an "Alice in Wonderland" type story when Bolt turned out to be a white rabbit.  I am glad it wasn't.  Such an original story.  How did you come up with the idea of saving the farm?  I always thought "trusts" had time limits, is it different in the UK?

 I was fed up with reading about sex, violence, self gratification etc. and wanted to write something for all the family.
White rabbits were seen as something special, a bit magical, so I thought my tale would be good for the old and the young.
I wasn't ready to write a novel - I hadn't finished my apprenticeship so to speak - thus I decided on a novella.
Looking at a picture of a farm brought back many memories. For 5 or 6 years my family spent 2 weeks on the same farm.
My sons loved the call of nature and are now passionate about wildlife.I used my experiences as a base for the story. Along with a white rabbit, it seemed to work.
I'm no expect on trust law but I believe you can set up a lifetime trust in the UK. As someone whose father fought in WWII, the idea of going back in time seemed apt.
With so many soldiers billeted in that area, I thought the idea of US involvement would work.

 It worked perfectly!  My father and step father fought in WWII also.  Strangely I never consider how the people in Europe were and still are affected by the destruction. Bolt Out Of The Blue was interesting and even seemed possible. I loved how you pulled the end together too, unexpected yet somehow it fit.
What are you working on now? Another novel I hope!

My latest novel, not yet published, is entitled Outcast. I loved writing it as the words simply appeared.
Apart from drawing a map, and researching as I went along, I didn't pre-plan.
My main protagonist, Sigbjorn, has a host of mixed morals, like most humans.
Some readers will likely say he's vile, whilst others will applaud his desire to survive. To me, he is both.

Outcast sounds like it is going to be amazing!  I will definitely be watching for it!  Are you planning to make any of your works available in audio form?  I know lots of people are going in that direction.

Now Available
Thank you for your interest in Outcast, Cindy. I believe it's my best work so far. The eBook version of Outcast is live. And the paperback will follow as soon as I receive an acceptable proof copy.
I know Audio books are becoming very popular, and I fully understand why.
A year back, someone mentioned how expensive they were for the author to produce. I guess that remark put me off.
Maybe they were wrong and I should take a look at them in the future.
Alas, so much time and so little to do.
Only joking - do reverse that quip.

It does seem like the days are getting shorter and the "to do lists" longer as I get older. 

What is your process for finding covers?  Do they come first then the story, or do you envision the wrapper once you write "The End"? 

original cover
All but one of my book covers were made by a professional cover creator. The original cover for Heroes Never Fade was mine; I thought it great. However, whilst a top blogger in the US gave me a stunning review, he told me the cover wasn’t right for the US market. Thus, the new cover for the 2nd edition is almost ready for publication.
A great cover will, hopefully, stand out for any reader of Epic Fantasy. And in some ways it’s as important as the tale inside. As I write the story, ideas of suitable covers appear inside my head but I always wait until the first draft is ready. I’ll discuss with my excellent cover designer, give him some ideas and await his magic.
And finally.

These covers for your 2 book series are amazing!  

new cover

I have enjoyed our chat!  It was nice learning about the person behind your stories besides just hearing about the books themselves.  They are  now part of my library and I am looking forward to reading them all.  Thank you so much for taking the time to do this with me.  Sorry I made it so complicated.

Cindy, may I extend my sincere thanks to you for giving me such an opportunity.
May the sun always shine in your heart.

You can find Rick:





Monday, May 20, 2019

Pet Peeve #2

Reviews, reviews, we want reviews!

There are all kinds of posts across social media begging for reviews. "Help an author, leave a review!"  It is mentioned at least once a week in every group where I am a member.  

Of course there are lots of scams to go along with these requests.  Review swaps, buying reviews,  and even a few unscrupulous request for troll reviews (I see very few requests for Honest reviews, though).  

Authors share reviews they have received gushing over 4 and 5 star ones.  It is a great feeling to discover one when you check your books.  Very few share their negative ones.  Or, if they do, they imply the person leaving it was somehow in the wrong.

Negative reviews sometimes are the work of trolls. I will grant you that..  However, sometimes they are the honest opinion of the person who bought your book.  They have a right to share it.  Personally, I find negative reviews easier to believe.  I read them over and see if I can fix any mistakes they suggest.   These are two of my negative reviews.  The first one I am not exactly sure what I can do about the fact that he doesn't like poetry.  That he was gracious enough to not only read my book but leave a review, is priceless.  He was exact in his reasons for his opinion and for that I will always be grateful. 

I want to preface this by saying I'm not really a poetry reader. I read the eBook version which did not seem to be formatted right so the poems jumped when going from one page to another. Most of the poems in the book were of a very personal nature and dealt with subjects I was unable to relate to.

The first section of the book "People in My Life" had too much of a personal memoir feel to it and I was unable to relate to the stories Cindy was telling. However, her reminiscence about her Farmville addiction in "FA Addict" was great. The second section "Nature in My World" was painted with a much broader brush and the pictures were evocative of some of my own experiences. "Aurora Borealis" was a favorite. Her "Visions in My Mind" section was also a winner with very enjoyable poems like "Child's View" and "Magic". In the "Days in My Years" and "Pieces of My Heart" sections she reverted again to poems of a more personal nature, except that "So Hard", which was clearly written for and about a specific person, was done in a non-specific enough voice that it built some true resonance.

As you can see from the other reviews there is some good work here for fans of a more abstract type of poetry. I think that if your personal life experiences were similar to Cindy's that there are some poems in here that you would find meaningful. While I liked reading the book and found some very enjoyable work here, I would have to say that I was unable to relate to most of the poems.

This second one truly annoyed me.  I don't mind that you don't like my work.  It is your opinion and you are welcome to it.  But, it is unfair to say you gave me a lower rating because you think I should write a different form of poetry.  That is not a review, that is an insult.  I would never presume to tell someone that they need to write differently.  If it ain't broke, it doesn't need to be fixed.  As for his "disclosure"  I guess he forgot he had me mail him physical copies when he won the e-books for just that reason.  Kinda wonder what he did with the signed books.
In “Voices in My Head”, Cindy J. Smith tells the reader about her life and her thoughts on the world around her through verse. She does a great job organizing the book by topic.

Each poem contained within this collection is nice enough in its own right. However, as one progresses through the entire collection, there is a sameness about them. The rhythm and rhyme scheme maintain a “greeting-card” feel, as though one had fallen into a darker version of a Helen Steiner Rice anthology. Just when the reader is tempted to through their hands up and surrender, Ms. Smith DOES toss in something a little different. Then, it's back to her comfortable rhythm and rhyming scheme again.

Please, Ms. Smith – you show that you have a talent for viewing the world and boiling it down to a short verse. Take a chance – experiment with other forms of poetry. Toss in a sonnet or two, or see if you can salute Dr. Seuss. Try Haiku, or a limerick, OR better yet, step out and move into something more progressive. You have a whole book – you're already taking a risk emotionally with your content, add to the challenge by stepping out technically, as well.

RATING: 3 1/2 stars, rounded down to 3 stars where 1/2 stars are not permitted.

DISCLOSURE: I was awarded a free copy of this book in a random draw. No requirement of a review was made, let alone any conditions on the tone / content of a review However, a prompt review was definitely hoped for. (Nope, it took me 2 years to get through this volume, a bit at a time. Nothing to do with the content or style; I am simply more likely to pick up a physical book than those tucked away on my e-device.)

I bet you are wondering what my "pet peeve" is if not negative reviews.  Well, it is authors who expect us to jump all over the internet placing them.  I am not allowed to post reviews on Amazon.  I have been banned for years.  Therefore I post on Goodreads and share them on my social media sites.  

I help authors by purchasing their books, I do not accept free ones.  If you get me to agree to beta read, which is not easy, I will delete your book from my computer and buy it when it is released.  I share book posts.  If I have purchased it, I mention that when I added boost in the promo.  As I read it, when I share I mention that too.   When I am done I  leave a review.

I will not go to every site your book is loaded and share my reviews.  I used to put them up both on Amazon and Goodreads because I bought them on Amazon.  

I know reviews are important.  I know they are fun to get.  However,  do not make the person writing one feel like somehow their enjoyment of your book has made them a slave.  Say thank you for the review!  Thank them for the shares!  DO NOT give them a list of other sites to publish on.  If you want to suggest other places to publish reviews for you, post that on your author sites. 

How do I deal with this situation?  Normally I will go and delete all reviews I have left for the author.  I may continue to read their work, but the added promos usually stop. 

Be grateful for your readers, especially the paying ones.  Authors do not alienate the ones who leave reviews.  Their time is valuable too.  

Find Cindy:


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

OAG 6 Days Blog-Hop #8

Welcome to the #8 stop of the 6 days OAG blog-hop!!

Visit every blog that participates in this fun blog-hop and collect 12 words hidden in the text of the posts between 6 asterisks.
If you visit every blog on the list at the end of this post and collect the 12 words, you'll have a quote about writing.
At the last stop enter the correct quote in the CONTEST ENTRY form.


The #8 secret word is hidden on this page, in the text, between 6 asterisks.

 Find my secret word within this article between 6 asterisks.


Tooting Your Own Horn


Writing a book is hard.  Deciding just what words to use, exactly what wisdom or vision you wish to share is a monumental task. As authors, our blood and sweat soak the pages of our work. Every letter is a piece of our being, part of our soul offered to the world. 

Our hearts feel every slice as we consider our editor's suggestions.  We nip and tuck in hopes of creating a masterpiece. Finally, we proudly press publish and our essence is once more sent into the cosmos. One more book has joined the world's perpetual library. Sighing, we are relieved, believing the hard part is over.

No matter how difficult we found the creation process to be, promotion is worse.  Yes, I said promotion! Tooting your own horn! It is a discouraging task. What worked before doesn't any longer.  There are so many others trying to get a piece of the pie that you doubt there is enough for you.  

Advice is everywhere: "join this group", "get on twitter", "you need a blog", "make a Facebook page".  The problem is, everyone is doing all those things.  Books are the main post on every website. How do you make yours stand apart from the rest? If you are like me and read a lot, you may even wonder if yours should be out there at all..

It is very hard to find just the right teaser to ignite interest in the masses.  For me, I wonder if I have chosen the correct poem... should I share the whole thing? 

I never have been one to say anything I did was good enough. I do not want *** are *** to be in the spotlight, in front. I love my poems, each and every one of them.  They are all part of me.  But, why anyone else would or should, I have no clue. 

That being said..


I raise my horn up to the sky
Toot my worth, at least I try
But doubt and insecurity fill my head
My notes fall flat, my song is dead
Promotion game shouldn't be so hard
The deck is stacked, who cut the cards?
Fame and fortune not my destiny
But I will write for eternity

All my books can be found:

The list of the participating blogs

#1 stop May 12
#2 stop May 12

#3 stop May 13
#4 stop May 13

#5 stop May 14
#6 stop May 14

#7 stop May 15
#8 stop May 15

#9 stop May 16
#10 stop May 16

#11 stop May 17
#12 stop May 17

Thank you for playing with us!
Hop on to the next blog to find the next hidden word