Writing Improvement Software

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Author Showcase: Chameleon

 I've spent the past three months showcasing quite a few authors, and I hope you've enjoyed hearing from them as they've commented on their books, their writing process, and their overall experiences in writing. Several people- including my husband, have asked me when I was going to showcase myself. They were met with a blank stare, at first. I had never thought about doing that, after all, this was about helping other authors. It's about helping readers get more acquainted with books that all too often get lost in the huge haystack that is made up of the millions of books on Amazon and other sites. So, here it is. An author showcase featuring... me :)
4 Star Review by Lornwall as posted on Amazon for Pawn of Innocence
    After a rather slow, though not uninteresting start, PAWN picks up the pace and races along to its conclusion with twists and turns along the way. The plot is strong and entertaining. As the story is told primarily from Camille's point of view, the reader is as apprehensive and caught by surprise as she is, which heightens the suspense. Although a few of the twists are not as unforeseen as they might have been, most are very well done. Scenes where Camille overhears portions of conversations and immediately jumps to conclusions are quite clever, as she doesn't always jump to the wrong conclusion. Sometimes she does, however, so her turmoil and uncertainty are well-founded.
    On the whole, I very much enjoyed this story. It would have benefitted, though, by a more professional editing. One of my pet grammar peeves is confusion with the verbs "lie" and "lay." Unfortunately, they are misused frequently and consistently throughout the story. It's one thing if a character is speaking - and yes, people misspeak these words all the time - but they should be used properly in the narrative...
    Nevertheless, PAWN's characters are well-developed and enjoyably free of stereotypes. It was a little hard to watch Camille make the same mistakes over and over, but that was consistent with her desperation and immaturity. Armand is a noble and conflicted hero - my favorite kind! The secondary characters were also appealing and believable.
    If you enjoy romantic suspense with some intriguing and off-the-beaten-track settings, you'll enjoy PAWN OF INNOCENCE.
Q. I wanted to post a nice 5 star review of the first book we'll talk about, Pawn of Innocence, and instead you asked me to do this one. Why?
A. This is actually my favorite review of this book, of all the 4 and 5 star reviews I've gotten on it, I think it's the most accurate. He/she really got it, they understood the book perfectly, and I think they described it perfectly. 4 star reviews are not a bad thing. It tells you that there was something about the story- or writing, that the reader didn't particularly care for. He/she explained in the review what those things were that kept it from getting a 5 star, and I really appreciated it. I went back and corrected those things.
Q. Fair enough. I would imagine those are the best reviews to get- ones that point out the things that are easily missed by an author.
A. They're the best, yes. Well, 5 stars are the best, but for anything less, it's priceless when the reviewer will at least say why it didn't quite make the top ranking for them. Just a sentence would be wonderful. If you bought any other product you weren't completely satisfied with, I'm betting you'd be more than diligent about saying why in a review for that one, why not for the books you buy?
Q. I agree with that. You know, when I talk to you about Pawn, I almost get the impression that it's like a dirty little secret that you'd rather keep shut away. You tend to brush over it and try and move on. What's up with that?
A. (laugh) Well, Pawn is like the little girl that has gotten into mommy's make-up. All garishly prettied up, she goes running out to the playground and throws up her arms as if to say to all the other kids, "here I am!". Of course, they all stare, mortified, then bust out laughing and pointing. Crushed, the little girl runs home crying.
    I, like so many authors before me- and after, rushed to publish my first book, Pawn, well before I should have. It accounts for most of the lower star rated reviews I've gotten, and rightfully so. But, just like the little girl who thought she looked so pretty, I was incredibly na├»ve and innocent. I had no idea what I was doing. I only knew that I had a great story to tell, and simply couldn't wait for everyone to read it. After heartbreaking reviews, I went running home, and from that day forward learned what I could to make it right. It's so much better than it was, but that first sting of rejection is a deep cut, and I haven't been able to regain my confidence with it, even though it is a really good story.
Q. I do know that feeling. So why did it take you so many years to publish Pawn?
A. When I first started writing at 23, I really did it for my own entertainment. Storyline after storyline raced through my mind constantly. Sometimes making up a partial book, but quite often entire stories. I would bet that if I could remember all the books I've written in my head, I'd have easily 300 books worth of material. It was really ridiculous, and I couldn't shut it off. Fortunately I got real busy with 'life' and it stopped for 6 - 7 years, then one day I told someone about Pawn, and just talking about it kicked it back into high gear. Still, I never really thought about publishing it, though it was always my deepest desire to see it in print one day. I just never thought it would happen.
Q. Yet, here it is, you do have a print version, right?
A. Yes, both books are available in digital and print. It was actually a bittersweet moment when I opened that package and held it for the first time. Honestly, I didn't know how to feel. It had been a long, and somewhat painful road. It was a lot of work- hard work, because I floundered so much initially. I write so much smarter now.
Here is the review you wanted posted for 3 Days in Paradise:
5 Star review posted by Colleen Bratley on Amazon:
    Chameleon wrote with passion, letting you feel Dani's pain, her love, her every emotion. You road the car to her destiny and felt all the bumps, bruises and road blocks along the way. For a short story, the depth of character and issues was much more than I ever expected. The journey is touching, mysterious and heart wrenching throughout.
    Some have said this is a religious story, I say it is an emotional story with the character deciding for her heart what is real, what is right, and what feels true to her very soul. It was what Dani believed and felt that made the story what it was. It was how well it was written that allowed us to not only be on the journey, but in it with our hearts and our soul. You can read this in less than a day, and truly enjoy it.
    Writing short stories that stir your soul, imagination and emotions is not that easy. You don't have a whole book to develop your characters or expand the story to help with that. So when an author can create a short story that does it all, you have an author well worth reading. I can bet her other books are just as good if not better. Well done Chameleon, it was a great story well written and a pleasure to read.
A. I liked this review because I think Colleen hit it right on the money in her description. I personally wouldn't have called it a Christian book, exactly, though it does have religious overtones. Some reviewers have said it's deeply religious, which is strange to me because Christians I know personally that have read it deemed it mildly religious. I guess it's all a matter of perception.
Q. 3 Days in Paradise sounds like it was much easier for you to write, was it?
A. Like night and day. Though, upon release it still had more errors in it than it should have had, but these were mostly punctuation marks that I was using in the wrong way. Not something that was picked up on by too many readers, frankly, but one nice reviewer did point them out, and I corrected them quickly.
Q. Yet, surprisingly enough, that is the one book you got a 2 1/2 star review on, why was that?
A. That did surprise me. Once I read the review though, it became clear why. The reviewer mentioned the improper use of two words, and pointed out several cases of run on sentences. I thought it was an excellent review, and exactly what a well written one should look like. I learned from it, and made corrections because of it. I did get the feeling that they may have also given it a hit because it had a religious slant, but that's just my feeling.
Q. So, despite your efforts, this book still wasn't squeaky clean. Why don't you hire a proofreader?
A. This book did still have errors when it was first released, yes, but it's incredibly clean now- maybe not 100%, but I'd dare to say it's at least about 98%. I don't hire a proofreader simply out of stubbornness. I want to be able to handle all aspects of my creation. From designing the cover to knowing how to upload it perfectly onto Createspace, and everything in between. I want to be able to do it all myself. I have conquered all of it, except finding those pesky mistakes that can be so easy to overlook. But, I now have a tool that is going to clearly point those out, even after my mind is just too numb to see them anymore.
Q. What tool is that?
A. A few months ago I came across Grammarly. You just did a write-up on it here. What an amazing tool to have. I am running each chapter through it as I write on my current projects. It's fantastic. I'll never publish another book without running it through there first.
Q. Sounds like something many authors could use to polish up their books.
A. Absolutely. I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't use it. It's not that expensive, and it's really powerful.
Q. Your next project, Masters of the Game, really intrigued me. Is that really a true story? 
A. Yes, it is. I have the journals written by the female undercover narcotics agent whose life this book is based on. It's gritty, dirty, heart pounding, and shocking. I was especially stunned when I read the last 3 pages of this journal. This book will be quite a contrast to 3 Days in Paradise, I can assure you (laugh).
Q. It's clear you don't stick to one genre in your writing.
A. No, I write what comes to me. I don't dictate my stories, they tell me how they want to be written.
Q. Any parting comments you'd like to leave with our readers?
A. Hmmm... I hope you enjoyed this more intimate look into my craziness, for one. If you care enough to write a review for any book you read, and rate it at anything below a 5 star, please include what it is that brought the story down for you. Yes, your review is meant to inform other potential consumers, but authors can get great insight from what you write. I think I speak for every author in the world on that note. Any author worth their salt will be thrilled to get your feedback, and would take steps immediately to fix errors pointed out. Remember, we write to entertain you. God knows we certainly don't do it for money or fame. 97% of people who publish a book will get scant little of either.
To be sure! Thanks for your words. I look forward to Masters of the Game!

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  1. Nice! I've read both books and really enjoyed them.

  2. I loved your showcase! What a wonderful honest approach that will benefit other authors. Just understanding how to look at those less than perfect reviews is priceless and will save a lot of heartache. I think of it as having a free editor when someone gives me a nice 3 stars with detail about what I could have done better! I loved Pawn, don't be afraid!

    1. Ginger, thank you for your encouraging words! And you are 100% right about reviews. This is a deeply divided issue, though, and one I wish people could see the common sense behind. For instance, I have several 4 star reviews where people have said they loved the story, and found it moving...they really felt for the character, yet, they gave it 4 stars. My first question is: if you loved it so much and had nothing but good to say, why did you give 4 stars and not 5? That alone tells me something fell short for them, but what? I can't fix it if I don't know what it was. Many readers are quick to say it's not their job to point out errors, or something else they felt was wrong. Well, if you went to a fancy restaurant and ordered a meal, and let's say the baked potato was undercooked, and the desert was just so so. If you were inclined to even write a review, would you say: "Oh, it was a beautiful place, so elegant and serene. The waiter was wonderful, and the food was fabulous." Then give it 4 stars? Of course not, at least I would hope not. If you gave it 4 stars it would be because you also told people the baked potato was undercooked and the desert wasn't near as good as it looked, but otherwise, everything was fantastic. Why should reviewing a book be any different? You write reviews to voice your satisfaction- or dissatisfaction, with a product. It's just that simple. If you didn't like something about it, it's just common sense to say what it was. That doesn't mean you are assuming the role as an editor or proofreader, simply giving your opinion. But those opinions- especially when they're detailed, are a priceless thing, and authors should welcome them with open arms. I guess you can tell how rabid I am about reviews, LOL.

    2. Yes...I know...I spelled dessert incorrectly *sigh* another 4 star for me *cries*

  3. I have to say I just loved this Showcase so much! I love to read things with feeling and this certainly has that. Honesty, persistance and a truth to oneself are a few I will take with me. And your words are also for the writers and couldn't have been said better. There is a lot of great wisdom to be appreciated here. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you, Christina, I appreciate your words!