Friday, December 28, 2012

Fake Reviews

I was reading this article recently about fake reviews on Amazon.

I never worry about fake reviews. If you take your time researching each book before your purchase it, then you should be able to get a general idea of whether or not you'd like a book before you purchase it.

1. Read multiple reviews. Don't buy a book because you read one five star review.

I read both five star and one star reviews before I purchase a book (and some reviews inbetween.) I usually assume all reviews are biased if they only have positive or only have negative things to say. So I take those reviews with a grain of salt.

I also look at what the negative reviews are saying. Something that annoys another reader won't necessary annoy me. For instance, I passed on a book once because the negative review was that the author lectures the reader too much on religious issues. It's not something I want to think about when I'm trying to relax and read. But another negative review for another novel I read once said that there was too much gore and sex in a novel. I'm very comfortable with any level of gore and sex, so the negative review didn't bother me and I decided to purchase the book. And yet another negative review for another book told me once that there was horrendous spelling and grammar for the book. I looked at the sample and it looked fine. That person probably found a couple of mistakes in the novel and was a grammar nazi who felt the book was ruined by that. I couldn't care less about a couple of mistakes.

I weigh the negative reviews and how annoying those books sound versus how intriguing the premise for the book is.

If the book is a retelling of a fairytale, which is something that I love, then people have to say something extremely horrendous for me not to try it. But if it's a mystery novel, which is something I rarely read, it doesn't take much for me to pass on it.

2. Remember that reviews are subjective.

My Dad is a judge and I asked him once how he can tell the difference between people who are lying in court and people who are telling the truth. He told me that it wasn't his job to tell the difference. He assumes everyone is giving their truthful view on how they saw the events occurring. The reason their viewpoints sometimes contradict is because people remember things and view things differently than one another. It doesn't mean any of them are lying.

In fact, he tells me it's more suspicious when everyone's story is identical because they probably rehearsed their story ahead of time.

So just because someone reviewed a book you hated with a five star review raving about it doesn't mean they are lying. And just because a book has both one star and five star reviews doesn't mean either side is lying either.

You just need to piece together the information you are given from all viewpoints of the book and figure out which viewpoint you are most likely to agree with.

Fifty Shades of Grey is not a book I was able to enjoy. After reading a third of the book, I was forced to put it down and doubt I'll ever pick it up again, but I don't think the people who gave it five star reviews are lying. They just view things differently than I do.

3. Read a Sample before you buy it. It's so easy to do with Amazon.

Agents do it all the time. They're able to figure out whether they click with an author and their writing within reading the first chapter. I can usually tell whether or not I'll like a book that quickly as well.

It's even better than reading reviews because it allows you to experience the book personally and form your own opinion.

4. I also use sites like goodreads that tracks books I like and want to read and gives me suggestions of similar books that I might enjoy as well. I don't enjoy all their suggestions, but when I put them through the above process, I can usually tell whether or not I will enjoy a book.

Also, trust a friend with similar tastes in books to what you have and their thoughts on a book more than any review you read online.

Suggestions from others can help a lot as well.


Everything, like reviews, samples, and goodreads is just a tool to help you find books to read. None of them are foolproof and they aren't supposed to be. Use them right and they'll help you a lot.

Whether people write real reviews or fake reviews really shouldn't matter if you take the time to make sure you're being a smart consumer.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

I hope your holidays are filled with love, regardless of what you celebrate!

This year, I have a holiday present for all of you. From December 25-27, Medusa's Desire will be free for anyone to download on Amazon!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Exploring the Dark Side of Love

Congratulations to Sue H. on winning the Christmas Blog Hop Contest!

I've always loved everything to do with fairy tales-from their fantasy settings to their happily-ever-afters. Lots of authors have started to rewrite fairy tales lately. I buy and read those books like crazy. I want to read about the new takes on stories I grew-up with and loved. It's fun to see authors reinvent characters.

When I decided to re-write Greek Mythology, it was very different from rewriting fairy tales. Beloved characters exist in them like Hercules, Pegasus, Perseus, and more, but their stories don't always end happily.

I was asked to sum up in a sentence what the Death of Eros series was about recently. I thought about it and realized that it was best summed up in the words "Exploring the Dark Side of Love."

Greeks are famous for their tragedies, for the way they are fearlessly willing to explore the dark side of life. When I decided to write about Greek myths, I knew I wouldn't be true to the original stories unless I did the same.

So while there is giddiness in my novels, there is also depression. Bliss and devastation run side by side. There is security and jealousy. Both happy endings and sad ones.

It's hard to read about these things and I think that's partly because some of it is so real. While love is wonderful, it can also be dark. I explore both sides and try not to be shy about it.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Blog Hop Contest!

Visit the blog hop spot here

Yes! I decided to hold another contest. It's the month of December, so it's the best time of year for generosity.

You might not have won my last contest, but this time the prize is even better! A $25 gift card from Amazon and a copy of my novel, Medusa's Desire in any format of your choosing.

You'll have to hurry and enter, since the contest will only be lasting for three days starting on December 14th!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Please enter! Don't make my dog, Izzy, beg.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Interview with Matt Sinclair

Today, on our blog, we have a special guest-Matt Sinclair, President of Elephant's Bookshelf Press, LLC, which releases short story Anthologies.

Name five random things about you.  I’m the father of twin girls; I grew up as a huge baseball fan with a seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of all sorts of trivia; I’m a lifelong Mets fan, which means I’m loyal even when it’s bad for my health; I’ve had several different musical groups, including solo ventures, but haven’t performed in public in fifteen years; I am an active volunteer with some widely different groups, including a Scottish arts organization and my hometown first aid squad, where I’ve been an active EMT for more than twenty years.

What was your favorite aspect of collaborating with other authors? I enjoy the whole thing about these ventures – the solicitation of stories, reading them, the thrill of acceptance for both the writer and for me, and receiving the final product. I don’t think anything beats holding that final work in your hands.

Was it a difficult decision to choose whose short stories to include? Yes and no. In Spring Fevers and The Fall, the quality stories were immediately apparent. But we also received many “pretty good” stories that we ended up not accepting. The decision can be difficult because you’re trying to decide whether to invest a copy editor’s time and energy in a story and balance that with the other stories that demand time and attention. Plus, with The Fall, we were well aware of the number of potentially similar stories we might receive because of the nature of the theme. We wanted the final stories to stand on their own, in a sense, and feel unique and distinct.

What is the Fall about? It’s a collection of stories that envision the apocalypse. How we interpreted that was stretched a little here and there, but basically it was about individuals or societies in the midst of or in the wake of total change. One thing I looked for in each story was whether the values of those individuals or societies changed as a result of the challenges ahead of them. And was change a good thing in that situation? But in this collection, we made sure to bring a fair amount of humor and fun to the end of the world as we know it. Jean Oram wrote what essentially is a short romance. Mindy McGinnis posited what God might do if he had an iPhone. And Cat Woods penned an amusing story about a Little League game between little saints and demons. But we also have Judy Croome’s story, “The Last Sacrifice,” which is decidedly not amusing. It’s pretty grim, and I think folks will either love it for the exquisitely crafted tale of faith and family that it is or hate it for the cruelty and seeming willful ignorance that some might infer.

What makes it different than other short story anthologies? That’s hard to say. I think most anthologies include stories that make you pause and some that you just smirk and say ‘That was nice, what’s next?’ But I believe that what distinguishes The Fall is the quality of the writing. There are stories here that I believe could have been published in well known literary journals. I’m proud to be the publisher and I keep working to get them in front of people who haven’t fully understood what this new publishing revolution can mean for writers. This is an opportunity to get your work in front of millions of eyes, but the power is in collaboration.

When did you become interested in stories about the Apocalypse? Well, I’ve always been intrigued by life and death situations and the challenges that people face as a result of them. Frankly, I think most people are curious about how the end of the world will come and what it might look like – and whether we can stop it. I’ve long been a reader of science fiction and fantasy, but it’s not so much for the other worldly elements – lord knows I love well crafted world-building – but rather the sense that humanity and truth are universally significant. To me, a well written apocalyptic tale should leave you wondering what the hero of the tale will take with him or her to show that the world of the past wasn’t lost in vain.

Want a free book? Elephant's Bookshelf Press also released a short story anthology you can try for free called Spring Fevers.

Find it on Amazon or on Smashwords.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Interview with Kathleen Morris and Announcements!

I just want everyone to know real quick that the winner of ***E.B. Black's Early Christmas Giveaway*** was Dan D. Congratulations Dan!

And that my blog tour starts today. If you'd like to follow me as I hop from blog to blog, my schedule is post here:

Anyway, today I have a special guest on my blog, Kathleen Morris, a Christian Fiction author.

When did you start writing?

I started writing probably about fifteen years ago when my youngest was three. I wrote for a small town newspaper as a correspondent. I didn't make much money but I loved it. Then I just found myself writing more and more. I began to write plays and some of them were performed in my church. One of my plays titled Gotta Love It  won Saskatchewan's Rural Writing contest and was performed by The Dancing Sky Theatre in Meacham, Saskatchewan. It was thrilling to have a professional theatre troupe perform my work. I guess it all spiralled from there. My family and I moved to an acreage as the kids started getting older and I decided to try my hand at writing a book. That's when Deep Bay Vengeance was born. It took me a couple years but I did it. And then it's sequel was born: Deep Bay Relic. 

You talk about your books like they are your children. Why is that?

Yes! I like to refer to them as my children. Every word, every sentence, every chapter was uniquely crafted together just like when you're expecting a baby. It takes a lot of work to grow a baby. Nine months of watching your stomach grow. It took me a lot longer to grow my books but little by little I watched it get bigger and bigger until it became a real story. And the characters in it grew as well. One by one they were born. Writing is a deep personal thing really. So much of myself comes though without me even realizing it. Bit by bit the books takes on a personality of their own until one day, labour starts and a newborn story is born. My story, by characters, my baby. They hold a special place in my heart. That's kind of strange I know. People call me crazy. That's okay, I kind of am. You have to be if you want to write. But I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Why do you write Christian fiction?

I settled on writing Christian fiction because my faith is important to me. I want everyone to know God. I've been through a lot of hard things in my life and without God, I wouldn't have made it. I really believe that and I want other people to have that as well. So, I write Biblical truths into my character's lives and God's love into every story I write. 

What process of writing do you use?

Well, I'm a non-traditional writer. I don't like to pre-plan anything. I don't have charts and notes or anything like that. I sit down and place my fingers on the keyboard and start to type. I've talked to other writers who can't understand my technique but that's okay. Every writer is different. I guess for me, I just love a good surprise. I like not knowing what is around the corner or who will get into trouble next. The best way to describe the way I write is, writing by the seat of my pants. Usually I shock myself by writing a character off that I didn't expect to. I've cried my heart out over the death of a character I didn't intend to kill off. It's crazy I know, but that's part of the thrill of writing for me. I'm just as surprised as my readers when something bad happens. I like that! 

What do you think makes a good story?

I think a good story should have a little bit of everything. Though I like to write suspense/thrillers it wouldn't be a good book if it didn't have romance mixed with it. My characters also have to go through a moral struggle and come out learning a lesson. That is a must. And when I write, I like to leave a person hanging with something suspenseful. Each page, each chapter, has to grab me, and ultimately has to grab the reader. If it doesn't, I'm bored and I just don't read it. I think my readers feel the same way and so that is why I deliver that to them. 

What style of writing do you like best?

I like to write in the third person. First person bothers me. I guess because it doesn't sound real to me. I have to read and write realistically. I have a problem with fantasy. My kids make fun of me because I don't like fairy tales but that's just me. I've always been like that and I guess I always will be. It has to be realistic! I also like to get inside the heads of each of my characters and throughout the book I give each character a chance to tell the story through their eyes. 

Are you working on your next book?

Why yes, I am. It won't be a third book in my Deep Bay Series though. That series is perfect with just two books. My next series is called The Blood War Trilogy. I don't want to reveal too much about it. Not even the title, but what I do want to say is that it will surprise everyone. By that I mean, my topic is a bit wild for the Christian genre but God is still  in it. My characters will go through a great deal of pain and suffering in this one, but their transformation will be unique. Be prepared for an apocalyptic thriller with an amazing twist of fate. For the time being you can enjoy my new book of short inspirational stories that just went live via Smashwords Dec 3, 2012. It's called Size Seven Shorts. Self explanitory. Seven short pieces that will change your life.


Size Seven Shorts (New Release)
Seven inspirational short stories that will change your life! Join in the spiritual journey through the adventures of Kathleen Morris, author of Deep Bay Vengeance and Deep Bay Relic, as she unfolds the many personal experiences and entertaining stories of her colorful life. Size Seven Shorts by Kathleen Morris. Get more info on Kathleen Morris and her book at Smashwords:

  Deep Bay Vengeance (Book one in Deep Bay Series)
 What would you do if your son got shot and killed right in front of you and nothing was done about it. Would you go after the killer? Would you seek revenge? Loretta Lancaster is a mother who's only son was murdered in front of her during a robbery and she wants the killer dead even if it destroys her soul! Deep Bay Vengeance by Kathleen Morris. Get more info on Kathleen Morris and her book:

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Deep Bay Relic (Book two in Deep Bay Series)
 What would you do if you met the Loch Ness monster? Carla Reece did when she went with her boyfriend on a treasure hunt in the deepest lake in Northern Saskatchewan. Not only did she see it face to face, but it pulled her down in the water and clenched its teeth around her ankle. It wanted her blood, wanted her soul, and all because of sin. Deep Bay Relic (Book 2 in the Deep Bay series) by Kathleen Morris. Get more info on Kathleen Morris and her book:

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