Thursday, December 29, 2011

DEAD WITNESS e-books available at SMASHWORDS

I can't remember who, but somebody once wrote that nothing compares to your first book deal. Once you hold your novel in your hands, nothing as exciting will ever happen again....

That's like saying the birth of number two child isn't nearly as miraculous as number one child, so why bother sending out announcements?

That's just silly.

It's also the reason I'm thrilled to announce that Dead Witness's e-book version is now available at Smashwords. Even with two novels published, this news has put a huge smile on my otherwise bland expression. (I'm kidding. Lots of things put a smile on my face. Like the fact that grandson Reese just spent 2 days with us, and now it's his sister Selena's turn. The world is a glorious place through the eyes of a child.)

So, don't be surprised if every single time a new site exhibits my e-book, I announce the good news here. Who better to share this with than my writing community.

Oh, and before I forget, if you're near the city of (my birthplace) Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Jan. 6th, stop by their public library around 6:30 PM and say hi. I'll be there reading from my novels and sharing a little of my publishing history.  Yes, I'm going home to share the good news.

Happy New Year, everyone.

FBI’s “dead witness” defies their authority and goes after the man they’re hunting when he threatens her children.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Thank You for Carrying On

Not long ago I received this poem from a dear friend. Because the last military flight out of Iraq left Saturday, today seems as good as any to share it with you and to extend my best wishes to those families who are now reunited with their loved one. As many of you know, our son served in Afghanistan during a very difficult time in our lives, and so I understand well what the families went through during those deployments. We honour our soldiers and celebrate their bravery, as we should. But please take a moment to send a silent thank you to the families who carry on during the worst of times.
Merry Christmas. 

    A Different Christmas Poem

      The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
       I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
       My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
       My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
       Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
       Transforming the yard to a winter delight.

       The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
       Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
       My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
       Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
       In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
       So slumbered I, perhaps I started to dream.

      The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
       But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.

       Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
       Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

       My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
       And I crept to the door just to see who was near.

       Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
       A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

       A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
       Perhaps a Trooper, huddled here in the cold.

      Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
       Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

      "What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
       "Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!

       Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
      You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

       For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
       Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts.

       To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
      Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
       I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."


       "It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
       That separates you from the darkest of times.

       No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
       I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
       My Gramps died in Europe on a day in December,"
       Then he sighed,
       "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."   
       I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
       But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.

       Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
       The red and the white ... A Canadian flag.
       I can live through the cold and the being alone,
       Away from my family, my house and my home.
       I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
       I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
       I can carry the weight of killing another,
       Or lay down my life with my sister and brother.
       Who stand at the front against any and all,
       To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."

       "So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
      Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
       "But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
      "Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
      It seems all too little for all that you've done,
      For being away from your wife and your son."
      Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
       "Just tell us you love us, and never forget.

       To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
       To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
       For when we come home, either standing or dead,
       To know you remember we fought and we bled.
       Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
       That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 17, 2011


No, I didn't compose this, but it does pretty well sum up my life this week. 

It's winter time in Canada
And the gentle breezes blow
Seventy miles an hour
At thirty-five below.
Oh, how I love Canada
When the snow's up to your butt
You take a breath of winter
And your nose gets frozen shut.
Yes, the weather here is wonderful
So I guess I'll hang around
I could never leave Canada
Cuz I'm frozen to the ground!
Have a great day...


ps. I'm still putting my computer back together, but will probably post about my experience another day. What a nightmare. So glad to be back among you all. Merry Christmas!

In my kafuffle, I neglected to mention that I was a weeklong guest on Killarney Sheffield's blog. Thank you so much, Killarney for this wonderful opportunity. I lost my calendar, links, or I would have been there earlier. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and thanks again for stalking me.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Lake Froze

I'm not sure if it was inevitable or a fluke. My computer crashed. Luckily I do regular backups using Time Machine. Sadly, it won't let me restore to a particularly day but instead is making me restore one app at a time. Yes, it murderous.

However, I shall fix this problem. I'm too stubborn not to. Just wanted to let you know that if you don't hear from me for a few days, no comments on your blog etc, it's because I'm battling to get back all my bookmarks, emails, links, and photos. Yes, I'm devastated that I may have lost my photos. In the back of my mind I'm thinking there must be a solution. Why else have I been backing up if I can't restore my computer? And please don't tell me I have to go back and type in every single bookmark!

While I'm feeling sorry for myself, please give a loud round of applause to Janet Johnson, who was the closest in guessing when the lake would freeze over.


We experienced a cold snap and voila, that's all it took to freeze our lake. This year it happened after daybreak so we were able to watch. The ice was so clear, I had to call a few neigbhours to see if they had frozen ice out front, or if it just looked that way from here. Without a breeze it's difficult to tell.

A couple hours before that, a fish jumped out of the water and started flopping around on the ice. He was at least one and a half pounds. My neighbour called because he knows I love to take snaps. By the time I grabbed my camera and got out to the deck, an eagle was escaping with the fish. You gotta be quick.

Thanks to everyone for participating. We'll do this again in the spring.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Interview with Theodora from Untroubled Kingdom

Dear Readers, today I need you to give a warm welcome to Theodora from the planet Keplar. Theodora is a reformed demon, once a self-professed goddess. I was lucky to find her. She's usually hiding out in Laila Knight's book Untroubled Kingdom. 


1. Tell me a little about yourself.  How did Laila come up with you?  And why are you qualified to speak on behalf of Laila and planet Keplar?

My name is Theodora.  I was a self-professed goddess once, a demon actually. Now I strive to make my way up the evolutionary ladder. Honestly, I'm trying my best to be good.  I even pass along a little bit of my wisdom to other souls.  

As for how I met Laila, well that was by accident.  As an otherworldly being I was making my usual rounds on Earth and just happened to pop in on her.  She was around twelve and had been dubbed the honorary title, Nature Girl.  She insists it was a taunt, just kids being mean, but I beg to differ.  Little did I know from that day forward I'd become the embodiment of all her secret desires.  She's always been so kind-hearted and easy-going.  And people tend to take advantage of that. 

So when she's in trouble, I leap into her mind and keep her safe.  I make her a rebel.  We have a lot in common.  Both of us were discarded on Earth by an alien race.  We have dark hair, dark eyes, and a similar stature.  I don't judge her and she doesn't judge me.  And above all, we both think Craven is super hot.

2.  In your opinion, what makes Laila's race so special?  What can you as a species contribute to planet Earth?

The people of Kepler22b are simple. They aren't biased and they don't lie. Since they exist mostly as energy, they don't fret over physical possessions. They understand that insufficiency is an illusion, a game Earthlings play with themselves. Laila's race can teach them that the universe offers endless bounty, that they can share and not horde, that a hug is ten times better than a text. But Earthlings must be willing to evolve. As a planet, Earth is still in kindergarten. And Kepler22b will not allow its barriers to be breached by anyone who is unwilling to offer love in its purest form.

3. Your creator writers Fantasy.  What made her decide on a make-believe genre?  There are tons of Earthling writers already writing in this genre. How many books does she intend on writing and what is her current writing status?  Is there a character, aside from you, that she is particularly fond of?

When Laila was a child she didn't have many friends.  See, she was always different, and the world around her left her feeling empty.  Often she would look to the stars and imagine, "What if..."  

And out of those thought came into being an entire galaxy and a story in a genre more fun than anything reality could ever offer.  It is her intention to write 10 books as a series.  The first one is called "Untroubled Kingdom"...hence the name of her blog.  Aside from me, she's mostly fond of Craven, the sexy king of Pantheas and my soul mate.

4.  If you could use one word to describe Laila, what would it be? 

Sweet. She like freakin molasses.

5.  On your behalf, I will deliver a message to the people of Earth.  What would you like me to tell them?  
Don't be afraid to recognize the beauty in yourselves, regardless of what everyone around you might think. You are all a product of divinity, amazing creatures. Embrace your greatness.  And when the time comes, the people of Kepler22b will embrace you.

Thank you, Theodora. Hope you can visit for a bit. Perhaps you'd like to participate in the ice contest?

If you'd like to hear more about Laila and the Untroubled Kingdom, here's her blog.

Interestingly, she's interviewing Valerie McCormick today. Valerie's my protagonist in my suspense thriller Dead Witness.  

Valerie McCormick from Dead Witness

-- Happy reading

Monday, December 12, 2011

OH WHAT THE HECK, let's have an ICE contest.

Take a very close look...

The photos start on December 5th through to the 12th. Judging by how fast you think the lake is freezing, pick a day that you think the entire thing will be frozen over. Then pick either morning, afternoon, or evening. The closest guess wins an e-book version of Dead Witness.

Happy guessing.
ps. Vote every day if you like until Sunday Dec 18th.

Dec 17,  evening - Janet Johnson
Dec 19,  morning - Laura Best
Dec 19,  evening - Paul S.
Dec 21,  morning - Wendy Laharnar
Dec 23,  afternoon - Carrie Butler
Dec 23, evening - Anthony Stemke
Dec 24,  morning - Karen Lange
Dec 26,  morning - Hilary Melton-Butcher
Dec 30,  evening - Gary (Klahanie & Penny)
Jan 2,  morning - Pat Bertram
Jan 15, morning - Kittie Howard

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Guess what I forgot to do? Have a "When will the lake freeze" contest. Darn.

I promise I'll have an e-book giveaway for no apparent reason next week. Meanwhile, please give a warm welcome to a dear blogger and wonderful writer, Penny Ehrenkranz.

Penny has two new e-books that you are going to love.

Renaissance Fairs

Hi Joylene, thank you for hosting me today while I promote my two latest releases from MuseItUp Publishing: Lady-in-Waiting, and Mirror, Mirror.  I want to tell your readers I am hosting a contest.  Everyone who leaves a comment and contact information will be entered into a drawing.  At the end of the tour, I will pick two names.  One person will receive a copy of Lady-in-Waiting and the other a copy of Mirror, Mirror.

Both of these stories involve the fifteen century, and so I’ve decided to bring them to the attention of your readers at the same time.  Lady-in-Waiting is the story of Mabriona, her cousin Princess Alana, and the two men who come into Mabriona’s life, Prince Blayne and Prince Madoc.  Mirror, Mirror tells Lindsey Baker’s tale of time travel back to the fifteen century.

Today, I’d like to share some information about Renaissance Fairs. Lindsey loves these types of re-enactment festivals.  In Mirror, Mirror, she prepares to attend one by purchasing appropriate clothing at a local thrift store.  On the same day, she also purchases an antique mirror, which the proprietress tells her could be a scrying mirror.  Lindsey wouldn’t have had her adventure if she hadn’t wanted to go to the fair, so what is the appeal?

Wikipedia ( tells us that Renaissance Fairs are usually outdoor weekend gatherings open to the public.  Attendees will find costumed entertainers, music, theatrical acts, handcrafted items and art work, as well as festival food.
Many of these fairs are set during the Elizabethan period, but time periods can range from Henry the Eighth to eighteen century pirates.  Time travel is encouraged during the fairs and attendees often wear costumes themselves.  Many fairs are designed to look like an English country village, including shops offering items of the period. Some will have a fantasy element with wizards, witches, centaurs, and dragons. Jousting is a popular activity, too, as are Shakespearean plays, jugglers, and singers.  Games can include ax throwing and archery. Animal rides and falconry exhibits are also popular.
According to Renaissance, Medieval & Pirate Faire Directory, ( ) the first Renaissance Fair was held in 1963 in California.  Since then, they’ve grown in popularity around the U.S. A complete listing of fairs held around the U.S .and parts of Canada are listed on their web site. The home page for this site has links to grammar, recipes, costumes and accessories, period games, and links to other useful sites.

Another interesting link to all things related to Renaissance Fairs can be found at Here, you’ll find links to stores which sell fair clothing, jewelry, weapons, music, and anything else you might need to enhance your fair experience.  This site also lists what they believe to be the best fairs in the country.

My attendance at a local Renaissance Fair was the inspiration for Mirror, Mirror.  I hope all of your readers have an opportunity to experience one of these fun events for themselves.

Lady in Waiting released November 18th from MuseItUp.  Direct buy link:

Mirror, Mirror will release in December.  The MuseItUp Bookstore buy link:

TITLE:  Lady-in-Waiting

Tag Line: Through a series of misunderstandings, Through a series of misunderstandings, Mabriona is forced to live a lie, but when the man she loves awakes from his coma, will she confess her deceit?

Blurb: Mabriona is cousin to the beautiful and spoiled Princess Alana.  When Alana is forced to marry a man she despises, Mabriona is torn between her loyalty to her cousin and her attraction to the handsome Prince Blayne.

Tragedy befalls the cousins on the way to Prince Blayne’s castle.  Servants, believing Mabriona to be Alana, refuse to listen when she tries to explain.

While she waits for Blayne to recover, Mabriona meets his equally handsome younger brother, Madoc, a bard.

When Blayne awakes, will Mabriona choose life with a future king, will she be sent home in disgrace because of her inadvertent lies, or will Madoc win her love with his poetry?


Mabriona assisted Alana down to the common dining hall as was her duty.  The big room was warmed at both ends by huge hearths.  In honor of Prince Blayne’s arrival, the boards had been scrubbed until they gleamed.  Warm, fresh-baked loaves of bread graced each table, and the delicious aroma made Mabriona’s mouth water as they entered the room.  Jars of honey mead sat within easy reach of all.  Pewter bowls piled high with fresh picked apples and pears were artfully placed. Serving wenches waited, poised, with huge pots of steaming porridge.

King Cedric already sat at the upper table with Prince Blayne at his right hand.  His face lit up with a smile when Alana and Mabriona approached.  His voice boomed as he greeted his daughter, “Here she is, the flower of my life.”

Mabriona’s breath caught in her throat as her eyes met Blayne’s.  As Alana had feared, the young prince was dark-haired with eyes the color of jet, his stature kingly.  Broad shoulders and well-muscled arms nicely filled out his deep purple brocaded doublet. A full beard of coarse black hair covered his cheeks and chin, but what stopped Mabriona was his smile.  Never before had she seen someone’s face light up like the sun rising on a summer’s morn.  Yet, this was what came to her mind.  Clearly, Blayne’s smile was meant for her, but why? 

He stood and walked toward the women.  “Princess Alana,” he said, bowing before Mabriona, his glance speaking words of heat and passion.

“Oh no, Your Highness,” Mabriona said, blushing.  “I am Princess Alana’s lady-in-waiting, Lady Mabriona.”  She felt Alana glaring daggers at her and quickly curtseyed to hide her embarrassment.  Alana made it clear earlier she wasn’t attracted to dark-haired men, why is she so angry?  It isn’t my fault the prince was confused. Alana looked down at the floor before glancing up at the handsome prince.

“Forgive me, Lady Mabriona.  I’ve made an unthinkable error.”  Prince Blayne bowed again and then turned to Alana.  “Your Highness, your beauty should have made it clear to me you are my intended.”

Mabriona’s heart sunk.  She saw Alana’s cold look as Blayne bowed and took her hand to kiss. She knew then that Alana hated him, yet Alana would marry him as her father decreed.  It was unfair, but Mabriona was already wise enough to know she couldn’t change her lot in life.  Alana would marry the handsome prince and live happily ever after, and she would remain the ever-faithful servant catering to Princess Alana’s every wish.

Blayne grasped Alana’s elbow and led her to the table to sit beside him. Yet as Mabriona watched them, Blayne’s gaze slid back to her, lingering as if he could imprint her image upon his soul.  Her knees felt weak, and Mabriona quickly took a seat at the far end of the board.  Her heart beat rapidly in her chest.  What was happening to her? Prince Blayne was not the first man to have caught her eye, yet he was certainly the first to have affected her so she could barely breathe.  Unobserved and temporarily forgotten, she watched the couple.  Just as she suspected, Alana kept her nose in the air and cringed each time Blayne looked at or touched her.  King Cedric would get an earful as soon as Alana got him alone, of that Mabriona was certain.  Her heart bled for the handsome prince.

She looked up to see Alana motioning furiously at her.  She went to the princess and bent near her.  “Yes, Princess?”

“Get me out of here, now,” Alana whispered harshly.

Mabriona offered her hand, and Alana rose from her place.  Blayne looked up, catching Mabriona’s gaze.  His eyes sparkled, and a smile spread across his face.  He bowed his head slightly.  He openly flirted with her.  This could not be happening.  If King Cedric saw the interplay, what would he think?  Blayne was the intended of Alana. Things could not get any worse.  Her thoughts tumbled like the bones the guards threw when they played at betting games. 

TITLE: Mirror, Mirror

Tag Line: Lindsey Baker’s purchase of an antique mirror sends her back in time to salvage a love torn apart by class restrictions.

Blurb: Lindsey Baker is intrigued by everything about the middle ages, but when she purchases an antique mirror and a costume to attend a Renaissance Faire, she suddenly finds herself transported back in time.  There she finds she’s been called by a witch to right a terrible wrong. 

Graham loves Prudence, but he can’t marry her because he’s landed gentry, and she is only the baker’s daughter.  Before Lindsey can return to her own time, she must convince Graham to marry against his father’s wishes.  Unfortunately, she also finds herself falling for the handsome gentleman.

“Fool-born child!  Watch where you are walking. The master will have your hide for getting mud all over his clean shirts.” 

Someone pulled her ear—hard—and Lindsey yelped with pain.  She was tugged up into a kneeling, then standing position, before she opened her eyes.  She realized in the first moment she was no longer in Oregon.

“Where is your cap?  If the master sees you with your hair hanging down all over your face, he will switch us both.” 

She stared wide-eyed as a large, buxom woman bent down, picked up dirty white shirts from the ground, and thrust them into Lindsey’s arms.

“‘Tis not here. Take my extra one.”  The woman grabbed Lindsey’s hair, balled it, and shoved it into a long, sleeve-like cap, which came to Lindsey’s forehead and fell down around her shoulders.  Balancing the load of shirts with one hand, she felt the cap.  Not a shred of her hair was showing. 

“Um, thanks,” she said.

“Well, donna be thanking me now.  You just watch what you be doing next time, clumsy girl.  Now march back into the washhouse and get the mud off those shirts.  When you have finished, hang them out to dry. Then get you into the kitchen and help cook with dinner.”  The woman brushed her hands off; then she smoothed her apron and marched through a courtyard toward a large stone house.

Dumbfounded, Lindsey stood where the woman left her.  She looked down at herself and saw she still wore her second-hand clothes from St. Vincent de Paul’s.  Her feet were bare. Then she noticed the woman walking away from her was also barefooted.  Despite the muddy courtyard, the air was warm and so was the soil.  But where am I?  As she looked around, the structure of the buildings reminded her of pictures from her British History course in college.

In the opposite direction from which the woman took, Lindsey noticed a path leading to a small outbuilding.  Smoke rose from a chimney.  She trudged back to the washhouse, opened the door but stepped back outside when her eyes began to tear, and the heat blasted her face.  Do people actually work under these conditions?  With the door opened, some of the smoke and steam cleared, and she was able to see a large wooden tub sitting on metal legs straddling hot coals. Lindsey dumped the load of shirts into the tub, picked up a stick and stirred the load in the water.  Before long, her muscles ached, and she had blisters on her hands. Once the tears began, there was no stopping them.  Until this point, she hadn’t thought much beyond putting one foot in front of the other.  She collapsed on a small overturned crate and with head in hands, had a good cry.

With red, puffy eyes, and stuffed nose, Lindsey looked up when the door opened.  A wizened old woman leaning on a cane shuffled in.  She looked at Lindsey with questioning eyes.  “Is it really you, Mistress?” she asked.

“What do you mean?  Who am I supposed to be?” Lindsey responded between sobs.

The old woman began to dance.  “It worked!  It worked!”

Lindsey wiped the tears from her eyes with the bottom of her skirt.  “What worked?” she asked, realizing this woman might know what happened.

“Why the summoning I did for Mistress Prudence.  So you’re the one, eh?”  The old woman pinched Lindsey’s cheek and turned Lindsey’s face from side to side to get a good look.

  “Well you do look like the young Mistress.

When are you from, then?”

“You did say when, not where?”

“Of course.  I know you’re not from now, foolish simpkin.  I brung you here.”

“This morning it was 2011.  I’m not sure what year it is now.”

“‘Tis the year 1421, and you need to get busy, little missy.  You need to get the Master to accept Prudence as his bride.  Soon as you do, we can send you back from whence you came.”

Lindsey stood and looked down at the little woman. “Just how do you propose I do that?  Who is this master, anyway?”

“Why, he be the master of the house.  He loves our Prudence, he does, but his father wants him to marry for money.  He’s just distraught our Master is.  I wager you be a smart woman. You can get our Master to marry you. I canna help you anymore, but I’ll be watching you.”  The crone turned and shuffled toward the door.

My author page at MuseItUp Publishing is:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I. B. NOSEY interview

News flash:  Cluculz Lake is freezing over. I know, that's generally a bad thing, but in this case it means ICE HOCKEY!

If you look closely you should see a thin film of ice...

The lake is freezing, yet it was so warm today that I let the fire in the fireplace go out. I also left the door open. It was 34 C in here. The -16C outside was so awesome! (I know, those weird Canadians)

See! Sunlight!

But the sunset was equally beautiful.

Stunning, yes. But I better turn my desk around because I'm not getting any work done.

Now for something unrelated. This is what my grandchildren woke to one morning outside the city limits of Prince George.

Three mooses. (More than one moose is mooses, eh?) One's hiding in the bush.

I love Christmas even if we have an artificial tree. It's not that I'm against supporting tree farmers, it's just that they're so far away.

Okay, now for the fun stuff...

I'm on a roll, peoples. (In Possumese that means I hope you're not sick of hearing about me and my interviews; and no I don't drink) Yesterday I was the guest on Pat Bertram's blog; today I'm at Gum Drop Island, answering some hilarious questions from I.. B. Nosey.

*NOTE: Though it would be extremely helpful, you do not need to learn Possumese to enjoy this interview!*

To say I had fun is an understatement.

In case you missed it:

--happy reading

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Christmas Wish from Cheryl Malandrinos

As I sat down to type this, I tried to find some topic that would relate to Joylene’s readers. While I browsed her blog, I found a combination of writing, nature and family—all things I enjoy and appreciate.

Like many writers, I’ve written in some form since I was a kid. I am an avid reader, and I truly believe being a reader is crucial to every writer’s success. It keeps you in touch with the pulse of the market, it helps you define what you like, and it inspires ideas. According to Stephen King, “If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” That sounds like great advice.

On this blog, I saw the lovely photos Joylene posted of her winter wonderland on Cluculz Lake. During any other year they would have inspired some happy story that takes place during Christmas. This year, however, they remind me what a fickle mistress Mother Nature is. Our area has been hit by three major storms over the past five months; the last, a freak early snowstorm at the end of October that dumped more than 10 inches of snow on us and left us without power for a week. Yet, certainly, there must be some inspiration in that as well. I felt like we lived out on the Dakota prairie in the 1800’s. If I had a real fireplace and a barn full of hay, I might have considered twisting hay into sticks to keep warm like Laura Ingalls and her family did in The Long Winter.

I’m not sure what story will come from this year’s weather conundrums, but I know they will weave their way into my writing somewhere.

Finally, we come to family. My children are my greatest source of inspiration. Two of my as yet unpublished picture books are based upon one of my daughters—a human Curious George with an unlimited fountain of imagination. I went gaga over the pictures of Joylene’s new grandson, Blake. As she said, a new baby makes you sit there and “marvel at how precious life is.” Life is precious, and babies are a sign that miracles happen every day.

During this season of joy and peace, I hope you find what you need to make your writing dreams come true; I wish Mother Nature is kind to you; and I pray you and your family experience the miracles of Christmas every day of the year.

Cheryl Malandrinos is a freelance writer, children’s author and editor. Her first children’s book, Little Shepherd, was released in August 2010 by Guardian Angel Publishing. She is also a member of the SCBWI.

Cheryl is a Tour Coordinator for Pump Up Your Book, a book reviewer, and blogger. Ms. Malandrinos lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two children. She also has a son who is married.

Visit Cheryl at her newly redesigned website or visit the Little Shepherd book blog at

Monday, December 5, 2011

ASK PZM: Dec 2011 reviews


Q: If I ask for reviews for my novel, but some of them are negative, should I still post them?

This question is actually a much larger question – the whole arena of negative reviews.

Let’s start with Amazon:

As you may know, people are often suspicious when they see only 5-star reviews for a book. Even if all the 5-star reviews are authentic, there’s a feeling that not everyone likes the same book.

In other words, a partially negative review could be a benefit because it could help all the 5-star reviews look more authentic.

Tip about Amazon Author Pages: You can now get a customized URL for your page. I just got mine – )

And while we are on the subject of Amazon, make sure for 2012 that you have updated both your Amazon public profile (the one that connects with book reviews you do on the site) as well as your Author Page. This includes adding to your Author Page any new blog feeds, which I just did for my new site (an attempt to combine my books and my volunteer activities into one coherent site).

Now let’s move on specifically to negative reviews:

Sometimes you ask someone to review your book and the person writes back that he/she could not give you a positive review so do you still want the review written? In this case I think it is perfectly fine to thank the person but say you do not want the review.

(Remember, a negative review is not necessarily about your book; it can often be about something in the reader’s life that triggers a negative reaction to the subject matter. I actually saw an example of this early on with my novel “Mrs. Lieutenant,” which takes place during the Vietnam War.)

Then there is the case when someone has posted a review of your book that is so off the mark that you feel compelled to answer. Now you cannot answer a review directly, but you can write a blog post elsewhere to address the subject. I did this for my ebook technothriller “Lt. Commander Mollie Sanders” in this blog post “A Fictional Character Is Fiction” at

Later this book got a negative review on Smashwords that I’m still shaking my head over. Here is part of that review (with its punctuation and grammar errors):

… I suspect more attention to what naval ranks can do (Lt Commander is a low rank) more consistency in what characters are called (too often characters are giving different names)…

First, a lieutenant commander is NOT a low rank in the Navy. It is the equivalent of a major in the U.S. Army, and LCDRs can indeed (and do) command ships. In the ebook, Mollie Sanders being the third highest-ranking officer on a sub is NOT incorrect.

Second, the switch in names has to do with point of view. If the POV is of Mollie Sanders, then she refers to people the way she thinks of them. When the POV (in a different section of the book) is of a different character, he/she refers to people the way he/she thinks of them.
But again, there is nothing I can do about this review (which currently is the ONLY review for “Lt. Commander Mollie Sanders” on the ebook’s Smashwords page).

In other words, I have to grin and bear it.

Now a little more about the situation when you are directly sent a negative review and given the choice whether to use it.

One suggestion is to look carefully at the review. It is really incorrectly negative or are there worthwhile suggestions in it?

My co-author (and husband) Mitch and I got one rather even-handed review for “Lt. Commander Mollie Sanders” in which we both felt the “negative” comments had some merit. Thus we felt the review was okay because it expressed a different perspective on the book.

(The negative reactions have tended to be from MEN in the military who want to believe that WOMEN in the military are treated really well. As the co-host of a year-long BlogTalkRadio interview show about the military, I heard plenty of first-hand testimony that this is not necessarily true. But I understand that people like to believe the world exists as they see it.)

I have used several personal examples in the answer to this question because I believe that we authors have to clearly understand that the reason for negative reviews often has nothing to do with our books. And we must keep this in mind when evaluating the negative reviews.

It is important to distinguish that a review may not be negative overall. It may only have one negative section that clearly reveals more about the reviewer than it does about the book.
And then there is the question of Amazon unilaterally eliminating reviews of our books, whether those reviews were overall positive or negative. We discussed this in the November “Ask PZM” – “Is Amazon a friend or foe of authors?”

Let me pose a question in return for this month’s column:

How influential do you believe reviews are to people’s interest in reading a book? (I’m not talking about reading reviews to know about a book without actually reading the book. I’m talking about reviews that motivate a reader to buy/read the book.)

In other words, how powerful a motivator is a positive review and how damaging is a negative review? Are there times when a negative review might actually encourage people to read the book?

"More Changes on Amazon for Authors -- and More Confusion"

© 2011 Miller Mosaic LLC

Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the co-founder of the marketing consulting company Miller Mosaic LLC, which works with clients including book authors to effectively use social media, blogging and WordPress websites.

She is also the author of fiction and nonfiction books and has a new website at about her books and her volunteer activities.