Doughnut Receipts and Book Reviews

 

Doughnut

By Angeldm (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

What do receipts and book reviews have in common?
First, remember the comedy bit about the doughnut receipt?

I bought a doughnut and they gave me a receipt for the doughnut. I don’t need a receipt for the doughnut. I’ll just give you the money, and you give me the doughnut, end of transaction. We don’t need to bring ink and paper into this. I just can’t imagine a scenario where I would have to prove that I bought a doughnut. Some skeptical friend: “Don’t even act like I didn’t get that doughnut! I got the documentation right here…oh, wait it’s at home…in the file…under “D”, for “doughnut.”    Mitch Hedberg (1968 – 2005)

This is how I feel some days about the paperwork at my house. I have too many doughnut receipts, things that I don’t need to save. I’m getting ready to do a big purge.

Have you heard? The spirit of Mitch Hedberg lives on in the receipts of a doughnut shop. His joke involving donuts and receipts is printed right on the receipts. So have a doughnut and a laugh, and remember a comedian  who .

 

Second, I don’t want to do a survey every time I go somewhere.

My grocery store’s receipts always have a survey code at the bottom. As I’m leaving, the employees practically beg me to go complete the survey and give them all fives.

Are we really this desperate for feedback? Let’s think about this again. Self-selection bias. The people more likely to do the survey are the ones who are unhappy, even with a promised entry into a drawing for some gift card. Taking ten or fifteen minutes to go online and do a survey isn’t worth my time. Why bother?

What is the grocery store going to do? Use the results to either encourage or browbeat their employees. My guess is the latter. Because only the irritated customers are going to bother. Hoping results from a biased survey will improve is a pipe dream.

 

So why should you do a review on Amazon?

Having said that, if you really enjoy an indie author’s books, go out and give them a review on Amazon. Reward their efforts with a 4* or 5*. Just write a few words sharing what you liked about the characters, or the setting. Let others know what kept you interested in the book.

Why? What’s in it for you? I firmly believe that in this new world of digital publishing, the good authors will rise to the top if enough readers speak out. If you encourage authors who are publishing things you like, then hopefully they will find the audience that will enable them to continue. While it’s free to publish on Amazon, book covers and editors are not free.

If you pick up a book for free or a cheap 99 cents, think about why that author would sell his or her work so cheaply. They are hoping that, if you like the book, you will buy their next one, and add give them a positive review. Share the love. Tell your friends.

 

Kindle Unlimited Readers beware

There are authors on Amazon who are releasing thousands of books of nothing but garbage. Short novels with 25 pages. Look at author Sam Enrico on Amazon and his “How to” series. Last I checked, he has 11,000 books listed in Kindle Unlimited. I’m hoping that Amazon catches his scam soon, but if someone downloads his books for free and looks at the first 10%, which in his case is usually two or three pages, he gets paid by Amazon around $1.50 a book at last check. Pay attention to the length when you are downloading books. If you don’t want to waste one of your free reads on a short story, don’t. Most of the time Amazon will tell you how long it is. He has probably made thousands because people click on the downloads and don’t even realize it. Be careful out there.

Writer Wednesday – Meet Cynthia Woolf

Today I’d like you to meet a writer that I’ve discovered recently. Her name is Cynthia Woolf, and I just finished her scifi romance published under the pen name CA Woolf, entitled Centauri Dawn (Centauri Series). I thought I would introduce her to all of you, and let her talk about how she manages to write in two genres – western romance and scifi romance. Cynthia, take it away.

Author Cynthia WoolfWriting in Two Genres and Other Ramblings

My books are historical western romance and scifi romance. Two very different genres. Or are they?

When you think of western, what do you think of? Cowboys. Settler crossing the prairie in covered wagons. Saloons. Showdowns in the street. Cattle drives. You get the idea. These are the images we have from our modern media. TV, films and even books. Essentially brave people settling an untamed land

When you think of scifi what do you think of?   Space pilots. Space ships. Ray guns and phasers. Our media images are Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Gallactica and in my case, Firefly. I love that show. Anyway what you have, essentially is brave people settling untamed space and planets.

Not so very different are they?

I started writing westerns first. My first book, TAME A WILD HEART, was written because I fell in love with the story of how my parents met on a ranch in Southern Colorado. Mom was from Texas and up there as a nursemaid (nanny) to a young boy with asthma. Dad was a cowboy who worked on the ranch.

I found the idea of ranch life fascinating and decided to write a story about it. That’s all I had to begin with. Just an idea. Now I’m not a plotter. I’ve tried and tried to plot my books. I’ve tried using GMC, the hero’s journey, the W plot. You name it I’ve tried it. The problem is when I get the book plotted, I don’t want to write it anymore. To me it’s already been written. Now it’s just fill in the blanks. As a pantser (a non plotter) the book unfolds before me much as it does you when you read it. It’s a surprise.

Redeemed by a RebelMy current western, REDEEMED BY A REBEL, is the first in the Destiny in Deadwood series. The books are about the Black Hills Gold Rush in 1876-1877. My hero is on the run from the law and he and his brothers come to Deadwood, where there is no law. There they each meet their destiny.

The second book I wrote was CENTAURI DAWN. It came about because of a dream I had when I was fifteen. My mother and I were going through a rough patch. My dad died when I was five and Mom was both mother and father to me. It was tough on her, but as a selfish kid I didn’t think about that.

But I digress. We were having a difficult time as most teenagers have with their parents. During the time, I had a dream. I was a princess from Alpha Centauri. I’d been sent to Earth as a baby in order to save my life. Bad men wanted to kill me. But now it was time to go home and they’d come for me.

That was the premise of my second book. This one had a space captain not a cowboy flying to the rescue of the princess not a ranch owner.

I guess what I’m trying to show is that these two genres are not so very different. A different place and different time but still the same story. Battlestar Gallactica is just a retelling of the old TV show Wagon Train. Star Trek is the old show Gunsmoke, where the sheriff (Matt Dillon or Captain Kirk) attempts to keep the peace in their town or universe.

What it comes down to is write what you love whether western or scifi or romantic suspense or romantic comedy or thrillers. Whatever it is, they all have some elements that are the same if they are romance and all of mine are. They must have a happy ending. The guy in the white hat (good guy) always wins. The hero always gets the girl. Always.

Amazon Buy Links to the first book in each of my series:

REDEEMED BY A REBEL – http://amzn.com/B00I1GZAU0

CAPITAL BRIDE – http://amzn.com/B00AM3CNQ4

TAME A WILD HEART – http://amzn.to/vu62X7

CENTAURI DAWN – http://amzn.to/uDMkCY

THE SWORDS OF GREGARA – JENALA – http://amzn.to/JFXEQv

WEBSITE – www.cynthiawoolf.com

Facebook – www.facebook.com/CynthiaWoolf

Twitter – @CynthiaWoolf

 

Here’s an excerpt of Redeemed by a Rebel:

CHAPTER 1

August 1876

He’d been dead. Deader than a doornail in a rotted-out door. Becky Finnegan remembered finding Horace Sutter splayed across the rocks like the annual sacrifice to some unknown god. Heck, that wasn’t something she was likely to ever forget. She’d had to leave him to collect her no good, drunkard father, Billy, from The Gem where he spent all the gold she worked her butt off to get.

She’d lied to Billy once again, only given him part of their gold. If she gave him all of it, like he wanted, nothing would be left to buy food or the pans and other equipment she needed to work their claim. And then there’d be no gold for him to go drown his sorrows. Sorrows that were her fault, according to him, since Becky killed her Ma by getting born. And then he’d beat her and she wouldn’t be able to work so there’d be no gold and the cycle would start again. Better to lie to him.

Resigned, she grabbed the mule’s bridle. Buster snorted at the small jerk she gave the gear as she started walking downstream along the narrow path that followed the creek. She’d made this path, going back and forth to their claim on a daily basis. After collecting Billy from The Gem, after he’d spent another night drowning his sorrows. Better there than at their campsite where he’d just complain and then beat her for the hell of it.

She and her father, Billy, originally came from the coal mines of West Virginia. Some said they were rebels because West Virginia was in the south during the War of Northern Aggression. But that was so long ago and there’d been many, many stops along the way. Becky barely remembered the place anymore. She supposed the only reason she didn’t forget it altogether was because she’d lived there with Grandma Bess. Those were the memories she liked to remember. Grandma Bess was so good to her, but then she had to go and die. Then there was just Billy and new place after new place

Every time she hoped this might be the spot, the one where they could put down roots. But it never was. Billy leached the goodwill from the townsfolk until there was none left and they had to move on.

She’d gotten lucky with her education. One of the ladies she worked for took pity on her and taught her to read, write and speak so she was able to get better jobs as time went on. But not good enough to keep Billy supplied which was why she spent all day in the cold river panning for whatever gold, flake or nugget, she could find.

She went into The Gem and saw Billy, face down on one of the tables next to the door.

“Hi, just came to get Billy,” she said to the man behind the bar.

“Ah, if it isn’t Miss Finnegan. Where are your bruises Becky? Guess Billy’s been keeping his fists to himself lately.” Al Swearengen, owner of The Gem and procurer of flesh, said from in front of his second floor office.

“No thanks to you and all the whiskey he downs here,” she said. There was a running dialogue that she had with Al, every time she picked up Billy.

“Thanks for that. I love the gold Billy spends here every night. He almost single-handedly keeps me in business.”

She rolled her eyes and looked over at Billy, wondering if she really could be related to the reprobate. She’d get the barkeep to load him on the mule and then, when they got back to camp, she’d untie him and let him slip to the ground. She used to try holding him up, to slow his fall, but too many times, she’d ended up trapped beneath him until she could shove his heavy body off her. Totally ignorant of the whole situation, he blissfully slept off the effects of his alcohol fueled stupor.

There’d been just as many times she left him at The Gem and let them deal with his sorry ass..

Dan, the barkeep said, “you get your father and get out. I keep telling you, this ain’t no place for a girl like you to be seen.”

“Oh, I don’t know, Dan,” said Al looking dapper in his black three piece pinstriped suit. He wore no tie and his shirt was open at the collar. Becky craned her neck to look upward at him. “We could give her a job that’s a lot easier than working that claim. Wouldn’t you like that Becky? No more standing in the cold river. You’d be flat on your back, but you’d be warm.”

He leaned on the hand rail of the second floor walkway. The small porch like structure went along the whole back of the building, all of the doors to the whores rooms were off of it and visible from the bar where the barkeep could keep track of the comings and goings of the men from the rooms.

“Not today, Mr. Swearengen, but I’ll be sure and keep your offer in mind.” She hoped the sarcasm came through in her voice.

Swearengen laughed. A great rumble from deep in his chest. “You do that. Help her load Billy on to her mule,” he said to the barkeep then he turned away and went back into his office. “See you tomorrow, Becky,” he called over his shoulder.

She nodded, then looked at the fancy women lounging around the room in varying states of undress and silently agreed with Dan. She should get out. She didn’t understand how they could do what they did. She’d rather work day and night in the creek than let any man with a dollar in his pocket touch her in that way.

 A little bit more about Cynthia:

Cynthia Woolf is the author of six historical western romance books and one short story with more books on the way. She was born in Denver, Colorado and raised in the mountains west of Golden. She spent her early years running wild around the mountain side with her friends.

Their closest neighbor was one quarter of a mile away, so her little brother was her playmate and her best friend. That fierce friendship lasted until his death in 2006.

Cynthia was and is an avid reader. Her mother was a librarian and brought new books home each week. This is where young Cynthia first got the storytelling bug. She wrote her first story at the age of ten. A romance about a little boy she liked at the time.

Cynthia loves writing and reading romance. Her first western romance Tame A Wild Heart, was inspired by the story her mother told her of meeting Cynthia’s father on a ranch in Creede, Colorado. Although Tame A Wild Heart takes place in Creede that is the only similiarity between the stories. Her father was a cowboy not a bounty hunter and her mother was a nursemaid (called a nanny now) not the ranch owner.

Cynthia credits her wonderfully supportive husband Jim and the great friends she’s made at CRW for saving her sanity and allowing her to explore her creativity.

TITLES AVAILABLE:

REDEEMED BY A REBEL, TAME A WILD HEART, TAME A WILD WIND, TAME A WILD BRIDE, TAME A SUMMER HEART, CAPITAL BRIDE, HEIRESS BRIDE, FIERY BRIDE, LOVE AND MISERY, a very short story


I hope you enjoyed this little chat with Cynthia. I know I did. In the next few months I’ll be buying more of her books. She has a natural, clean style, and her books are well-edited. I fell in love with the men of Centauri (ssshh don’t tell my husband). I could picture the space ship and all of the wonderful technology she described, but she didn’t paint with a heavy hand. The story blazed along and kept me guessing.

So, phasers or six-shooters up — give Cynthia Woolf (and CA Woolf) a try.

And remember if you’re looking for a sample of my work, head over to No Strings Attached.

Identity Crisis: Book Reviews

Image

Who Am I? Who am I posting as? I’m creating a web identity for Lily, my pen name extraordinaire, and I’ve gotten a few twitter followers, and occasionally some fabulous bloggers will pop over here and give me a comment.

I have a personal twitter account, where I follow some celebrities and occasionally tweet with friends, and I have Lily’s account, who talks about writing and general things that amuse me. Lily is more popular.  (@Lilybishop)

On Amazon, I have my basic account where I exist as my real name. I have written maybe two or three reviews in a decade.

However, in pondering how I can give back to the indie authors who have rocked my world lately, I’ve been wanting to write some reviews.  I have three questions that I would LOVE feedback on.

Dilemma 1: Who do I review them as?

Do I review them as Lily, or me? I looked around and Amazon has alias’s. How does that work with a later pen name if I publish through Amazon Kindle Direct?

Dilemma 2: What do you do about legitimate concerns you have about a book?

Now I’m not planning to trash anyone. This isn’t about negativity at all. In fact, the only negative review that I’ve ever written was against a national NYT best-seller that aggravated me beyond measure. I can guarantee you, it didn’t hurt her sales a bit.(Think Historian)

In general, my only complaint against indie authors has been one who skimped on the proof-reading, and another that wrote out of genre.  (I expect a happy ever after (HEA) in romance and I didn’t get it. In fact, the heroine killed the “hero” in the last chapter. Boo!!! I guess he was an anti-hero, but the author implied all along that he wasn’t the bad man everyone thought, and that he had changed. NOT!)

So, for those books that you just don’t get, for whatever reason, do you review them at all or leave them alone? How can you warn readers that they won’t get a HEA without spoiling it? I don’t want to be bitchy, but this particular author really needs to re-bill herself as straight suspense, not romantic-suspense.

Should I focus on spreading love for the indie books that I believe truly deserve to get additional attention, and ignore the ones that I just didn’t quite get?

Again, I want to be clear that I’m not talking about “competitive reviews” that I’ve read about lately, where someone is trying to bring another author down. That’s not it at all.

Dilemma 3: What Scale do you Use?

I’ve always approached it as a “5” would be hard to earn. But what if 5 means it’s a book you enjoyed, and you would read more by this author. It doesn’t exactly have to be the BEST BOOK EVER, right?

I’m aiming for escapism in what I read and write these days. I don’t expect someone to tell me that my book changed their life. I just want to give them a fun little afternoon.

5 – Great story, great characters

4 – Enjoyed it – had some concerns

3 – Probably won’t remember it but no issues

2 – Serious issues (plot, excessive typos, characters not believable)

Yes, I over-analyze things. I should probably just head on over to the great river and give a shout-out to some of my recent favorites. But if I’m going to do it, I want to do it right, and I want to be fair.

I would LOVE some opinions here!  Thanks in advance for sharing.