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When I see super negative reviews…

This applies to both my work and the work of others. As I’ve mentioned before, I will leave reviews on this blog, but will not give anything less than 4 stars on either Amazon or Goodreads. In fact, I really hate assigning anything out of 5 stars and would much prefer a 10 point system. I digress. As of this morning, I received my first 1 star review (which I knew would only be a matter of time). I shall forever wear “Simplistic and dull. DNF” as a badge of honor.

It’s interesting the variety and type of reader that exist on Amazon and Goodreads. My average on Amazon is 4.2 out of 5, while my Goodreads average is 3.57 (and that 1 star average is certainly not helping).

Meh, there is no universal book or novel that will resonate with everyone and there will always be people that feel the need to leave 1 star reviews. Onwards and upwards.

Reviews: Good Grief, Einstein and Emily

I finally hit on two novels that really helped me in my research about contemporary fictional widows. Good Grief by Lolly Winston and Einstein & Emily by Linda Francis Lee. It is worth mentioning that while I’m reading these books I’m constantly comparing the stories and struggles to that of my own character. To me, it’s interesting to see that with this subject what choices other author’s make for their fictional worlds.

First off, I will admit that Good Grief took A LOT for me to get into (and I almost put it down once or twice), but when I finally did, the story and characters paid off (mostly). Now, while I do understand that losing a husband (even fictionally) is an emotional experience, it was quite difficult to warm up to Sophie, as her reaction to death was difficult to relate to.

Book review: Farewell Trip.

In my ongoing review of grief books, I struggled this week to get through Farewell Trip.

Good parts? At first blush, it’s a creative take on the widow story. I enjoyed the use of first person. There was a clever title (the dead husband is named Trip).

The bad? Neither the protagonist nor the dead husband are particularly lovable. Like, they are kind of terrible people (they both cheated on the other, but neither would admit to this). I also think, even as someone who loves expletives in her own life, the use of the word ‘fuck’ is well overused. Awkward, stilted writing between the various timelines doesn’t help the story, it considerably hurts the flow of the novel.

The weird? The marriage didn’t strike me as particularly solid, good, or worth writing about. The couple, who are childless – by choice – have some fundamental issues about communication (on everything from career, to affairs to having children). And since one of the characters is dead, there is no way to resolve this issue. Additionally, the book actually calls out and sort of knocks on P.S. I Love You, which got me wondering – am I allowed to do that?!

I forced myself to finish – not really caring what happened to the widow and not seeing resolution of any kind. There were some really lovely moments, but not enough to overcome for the awkward story.

I’ll also put this books on the list of, ‘This was traditionally published?!?’ and ‘It took two people to write this?’

KDP Select, by the numbers for Room 702.

15,439 – number of downloaded books in a 5 day time (significant numbers started in the 3rd – 5th days)

13 – current book sales (post free listing)

2 – additional reviews (one positive, one who really didn’t get the book)

0 – new follows on Twitter

3 – pins showed up on Pinterest

1 – new follow for the facebook page

a lot – number of adds on Goodreads

1 – request for Authograph

10 – number of adds on Shelfari

Given this is the first weekend that people might be actually taking the time to read the book, I’m optimistic for the week ahead.  Overall, I feel proud.  While the number seems a little surreal and I wish it were actual book sales and not just free downloads, I have to take a step back and think of what I accomplished.  My book didn’t have anyone else supporting it but me.  My book wasn’t traditionally published.  This was my first title as Ann Benjamin.  Would I do the same thing again with additional novels?  Hell yes and much earlier in the process.  Room 702 was always meant to be something I learned on, and for its success, I am very grateful.

Now, I’m ready to get back into working on my manuscript which I completely abandoned while all this was going on.

Good question.

Found this on Tumblr and it made me laugh: “Do you ever wonder about how an author would describe you in a novel? Not only your appearance but the way you talk and laugh and hold yourself and all the expressions on your face…”

How would an author describe you?

Catch and Release.

While the movie was apparently not well received by critics and audiences, I did like Catch and Release the first time I watched it. In approaching ongoing researching for my current manuscript, I thought it deserved another viewing. (Don’t worry, I’m reading books to – my research is not limited to just movies).

I enjoyed the film just as much the second time. There was a great supporting cast (Kevin Smith and Juliette Lewis, I’m looking at you), the setting made me want to move to Colorado (could be because I live in a completely opposite city) and I liked how things focused on the ‘after.’ While my story picks up a little later in the grieving process, Jennifer Garner’s portrayal of Gray gave me a number of things to think about for my own protagonist.

Book Review: Big Girl Panties

Continuing on my research of widows (both actual and fictional), I picked up Stephanie Evanovich’s Big Girl Panties (not sure of any relationship to Janet Evanovich – although, bonus on the last name to cash in garner interest – even if using the surname has caused some confusion). Anyway, ugly terrible horrible title aside, I settled in for a novel in which the protagonist has recently lost her husband to pancreatic cancer. Guys, I’m here to let you know, she’s fat. It’s the first thing we learn about her.

Work all day, market all night.

Ever since Life After Joe came out, I’ve tried to put at least an hour day into some effort towards marketing.  The timing of this is usually after work when I always have tons of energy #sarcasm.  As I’m easily distracted, this time almost always devolves into putting time towards many of my other sevenprojects and I keep wishing there were more hours in a day!

Book Review: Rebel Queen

I downloaded this book as research for the third book in my Queen of England series and I’m so glad I did.  Not only have I been introduced to a part of Indian history I had no idea about (thank you Western education), I’m also now aware of a fantastic author whose other books I can’t wait to read.

Rebel Queen tells the story of Queen Lakshmi, a Joan of Arc type figure in Indian history (which I am woefully ignorant of).  The presentation of this amazing TRUE story is a fascinating one and very well told.  That there were women warriors who defended their rami and traveled to seek audience with Queen Victoria is an incredible journey and definitely a story that deserves attention.

Personality Insights from my writing (Room 702)…

Same test again, this time with the first page of Room 702.

You are heartfelt, rational and strict.

You are imaginative: you have a wild imagination. You are philosophical: you are open to and intrigued by new ideas and love to explore them. And you are calm under pressure: you handle unexpected events calmly and effectively.

Experiences that make you feel high efficiency are generally unappealing to you.