Are Amazon Reviews Bogus?

Interesting and lively discussion back on Goodreads.com regarding all those wonderful stars trailing the best-selling books.

Neil (of “Shut Up and Read”) started it all in December 2013 when he ranted, “Are all Amazon reviews bogus???…Some reviews are so obviously fake, shills, they must think the readers are stupid. …”

Having read the posts and feeling fairly strongly about it myself given the degree to which I’d worked to get any stars at all, noted that I spot read reviews; usually a couple rated 5, but also rely on the lesser rated for some good insight into the book. I felt that the book descriptions don’t always accurately describe the book and the title can be deceiving.

I appreciate honest and detailed reviews for the manuscripts I’ve published for my grandfather and likewise try to be very honest in my reviews of the books I’ve read–and I’ve read quite few; some good–some not so. In view of the time it takes to write a decent review on the books I thoroughly enjoy, I might rate but will not generally spend the time to review one I didn’t care for. I suspect many do the same, although in reading the reviews left by others, usually find a consensus of the same two or three stars I would give confirming my judgment of the book.

My problem here is that if I don’t leave a review for the book I didn’t care for (and that seems to be the norm), the author is deprived of the problems I perceived. The same applies to the books I’ve published. I didn’t understand the motives behind a two-star rating which left me wondering how to fix a problem I’m unaware exists. Of course it’s hard to actually print those harsh words for someone else knowing the blood, sweat, and tears that comprise a manuscript. As Ken from Goodreads wrote“I’ll read the bad reviews first and see if they have anything valid to say. You can usually tell if it’s real. Sometimes a bad review will complain about something that I consider an attribute and that’s makes me want to read the book. I don’t really trust 5-star reviews any more.” Continue reading “Are Amazon Reviews Bogus?”

Advertisements

Full Timing

As I’ve alluded to previously on this blog, we had a Class C Winnebago Minnie Winnie with which we used to touch off a book tour of the Great Northwest in 2013. Unfortunately, the book tour ended all too quickly after a call from my sister that my mother (then 92 years of age) was in critical condition again and back in the hospital.

In the meantime, it taught me that the proper venue made a huge difference in the kind of reception my grandfather’s books regarding his sailing adventures back in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s were received and sold. I felt if I could have continued with the trip on down the Washington/Oregon/California coast, the trip would actually have been quite successful.

Having sold our home in 2013 and living in our recreational vehicle full time, we found ourselves in the Foothills of Yuma, Arizona where it was discovered there was a schedule of craft fairs at the RV parks for all the beloved “winter visitors”. The craft fairs were gleefully attended by appreciative crowds looking for unique crafts that couldn’t be found anywhere else and added a festive occasion to their winter stay. Quickly getting into the whole craft fair circuit, a happy new venue for book sales was found to be somewhat rewarding.

Fast forward to 2014 and once again hitting the road with a slightly larger RV, Class A, again loaded with books, we headed for the east coast of the United States…except that we were under the gun with our schedule to leave Yuma and return to California for my mother (and another health crisis), forcing an unwise buy decision on a Class A, Forest River Windsong. Thinking we had most of the major issues resolved prior to our exit from Yuma, we chugged along in the heat pulling our “toad”, an old Geo Tracker.Windsong Engine

Windsong Dash            It wasn’t long, however, before it was discovered most of the major issues were not resolved after all, the band-aid fixes lasting long enough to get us to California. By the time we made Twin Falls, we were baking inside that sardine can. Marooned in Twin for just over a week while the Windsong languished at Tony’s 2T, we finally gave up their ever getting the blower-a/c fixed when he pronounced we’d be spending another weekend while he waited for yet another part.

Worrying about the toad being set properly to tow without burning up the transmission, I asked another Class A owner towing the same vehicle how it was set. Following his advice, we set the Geo Tracker as instructed only to have it totally blow the motor within 2 miles. Blown Tracker Engine We limped into our son’s house in Indiana in an RV in excess of 90o, hot, tired, and disgusted. The RV lazed another week at Bill Gardiner RV in Lafayette, IN waiting on parts and getting them, failing to notify us. We’ve now been languishing in the summer heat, rain and humidity of Indiana for a month, no greater progress either with the Windsong or the Tracker. The Windsong has loose wires going everywhere and the Tracker now has a new rebuilt engine, working on the tranny and transfer case. The books are aging in the Windsong basement storage compartments and visions of selling down the east coast a distant memory.

We got lucky in that we could stay with our son while the Captain is wrenching both the RV and toad himself, but tools and parts have spent the gas money. We’re looking at September and this is Indiana. I’m getting nervous.

Shipwrecks, Pirates, Treasures in Maine

Shipwrecks, Pirates, Treasure in MaineAvast and Ahoy, Matey! The book written by Theodore Parker Burbank, “Shipwrecks, Pirates, Treasure in Maine” was an eye-opener. I can’t find the research to explain why it seems the propensity of schooners to sink is over-whelmingly more so than your average yawl, ketch or cutter, but reading his book would tend to scare me off even a multi-million dollar yacht. There were, no doubt, many more schooners plying the world’s oceans than barques or brigs.

Originally, schooners were gaff-rigged, and these were described often in my grandfather’s sailing adventures. Schooners would commonly have two masts, although there again, the schooners described by my grandfather usually noted three. Popular because of their windward ability and speed, they were used for everything from traditional fishing to slaving and privateering–(gulp!!)–also described more than once by the same Stanley McShane.

Of course, many were used to carry cargo, as varied as spices to lumber and were also comfortable on the high seas as well as coastal runs and large inland bodies of water.

Ted  BurbankTed Burbank takes us back to the beginning, describing the ships of the “Golden Age of Piracy” and debunks some pirate myths. Interesting chapters on pirates, including the famous Captain Kidd, who it turns out never really was a pirate!

Burbank then takes us through the shipwrecks from the South Coast and Mid-Coast to Penobscot Bay (New Ireland).

While the focus of Burbank’s book is of pirates, I loved the chapters on treasure in and off shore of Maine and the many neat pictures. It’s obvious he spent a lot of time in research and pulled it all together in a fascinating study of pirates and their ships off the Maine coast. Enjoy watching those waves hit the beach? Love watching those ships? Can you smell that sea air? This book will benefit by the help of a good proofreader, but it’s a fun read and sure gives you the taste for lobster! Elginshire

Revisit Cocos Island

It is said that Jacque Cousteau called Cocos Island the most beautiful island in the world, and the island is also on the short list to become one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World”[1]. The island has long been declared to be hiding more than just natural beauty within its rugged landscape:

William Thompson loaded jewels, gold, silver, heavily adorned candlesticks, and two life sized gold statues of the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus aboard the Mary Dear and left the harbor as expected. Thompson was overcome with temptation, however, and he and his crew killed the Spanish guards and changed their original course from Spain to Cocos Island[2], (Isla del Coco) located 340 miles off the pacific coast of Costa Rica where they buried the treasure said to be worth well over $160,000,000 (now known as “The Loot of Lima”. Whether buried above ground in the sand of one of two bays (Chatham Bay or Wafer Bay) or below the water, no one has yet recovered any riches.

But Thompson wasn’t alone in thinking Cocos Island represented a quick and safe haven for secreting away pirated treasures from the hapless ships sailing on the main shipping channels toward destinations many never completed successfully!

My grandfather, Patrick John Rose (pen name Stanley McShane who wrote “Cocos Island Treasure“), separately ventured to the island in the early 1900’s about the same time as John Keating spent nearly 12 years (from 1897 to 1908) searching for the treasures that so many pirates reportedly buried on Isla del Coco (Cocos Island). In total, it was reported that Keating eventually found 6 gold coins. (No information documented on the location of the find.)

But it was the buccaneer Edward Davis that was the subject of my grandfather’s book and goal of his trip to Cocos Island. Edward Davis was one of the earliest (1680) recorded (by writer William Dampier) buccaneers to have buried treasure on Cocos Island. According to Wikipedia[3], Davis with his flagship, the Bachelor’s Delight anchored in “Chatham Bay and supposedly left behind several chests containing ingots, pieces-of-eight and £300,000 in silver bar and plate taken from settlements in Peru and Chile.” They also go on to say that he may have been the same privateer to accompany Captain William Kidd to America after a meeting at St. Mary’s Island in 1697.

The jungle infested island described in the book by my grandfather also alludes to the waterfalls from almost perpendicular rocks and feral pigs deposited on the island by the many treasure laden visitors over the years. The shear cliffs testify to the uninhabilitability of the island though the island purportedly boasts fresh water, as well as the namesake, coconuts, lending a siren call to either bay whether for depositing ill-gotten gains or to find a safe haven from the frequent tropical storms that assail the area. The tropical trees and plants, choking vines and creepers apparently hide quagmires or deep crevices, which, following a misstep, can swallow a human whole. Millions of insects inhabit vapor laden air while the raucous cries of birds careen overhead. Patrick describes a stream west of the bay shore of Chatham Bay that they followed by laboriously hacking bushes and vines as they went. The party ascended up and over immense boulders where they eventually discovered a pool created from waters from above. It was within the pool that water also disappears into a hidden, underwater cave.

It is definitely the stories handed down from generation to generation and writers such as Dampier and my grandfather that lend themselves to the folklore of the romantized pirate legends. That and the occasional find of a golden doubloon!

Cocos Island

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] http://www.new7wonders.com/ You can view the “new” 7 wonders as listed. There are continuous feeds on Twitter, Google, and You Tube.

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cocos_Island

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Davis_(bucccaneer)

 

Calvin Many Wolves Potter

Calvin Many Wolves Potter

goodreads_icon_32x32-032d59134a33b2b7a83151dec051b8f3Twelve year old Calvin Potter had had enough of his abusive Pennsylvania father; he couldn’t stand it any longer. Stealing quietly out of the door early one morning with little more than the clothes on his back, Calvin begins a journey into another life punctuated by the walk of his life, incredible endurance, and unbelievable pain. Calvin awakened to the care of the gentle Falling Star and attentive Spirit Wind and began the change from white to the Dakota of Minnesota. Running Fox quickly becomes a boyhood friend and mentor and the young boys of the tribe enfold and foster a bond of friendship and respect. Calvin is adopted into the family of Strong Eagle and White Cloud and their daughter, Red Leaf, and slowly and carefully learns the language, the ways, and the respect of the rest of the tribe as he is indoctrinated into the tribe and leaves Calvin behind to become Many Wolves. Many Wolves participates in tribal activities as seasons and years evolve until it is apparent the very way of life of “the people” is threatened by the encroaching white man and the severe negative impact their civilization has on the native peoples. Strong Eagle has wisely forced Many Wolves back into the white population to help salvage the situation between the peoples, to get Many Wolves out of harms way, and to bring about his assimilation into the growing white population. Failure to follow through with agreements to alleviate hardships and misunderstandings produce hard feelings on both sides, until the situation becomes so dire that flash point occurs. The native peoples are starving and have few options open to them as their centuries old way of life begins to unravel. The situation deteriorates into forced massive movement and exodus of large populations of all tribes of the Dakota Nation while 38 of their young men are brought up on charges in acts of retaliation and face an incredibly sad ending to a remarkable life. Many Wolves as Calvin has been unable to salvage the situation to his overwhelming sorrow and finds himself neither red nor white. Lost between worlds, Calvin begins a journey back to his “borning” family to try and discover where he belongs. But after so many years, a journey of boy to man to another world, can he ever go back?

What Makes a Survivor?

Free My Heart of Grief to Love

Featured on Ezine Articles

I had a chance to interview Sandra Moore Bernsen in Quartzsite, Arizona, where she was hosting an author signing event at Readers Oasis Books. Sandra wrote Free My Heart of Grief to Love-A Journey from Loss to Joy, a memoir of devastating loss and recovery.

Born in Minnesota, the financially stressed family moved to Montana where she later found the “bad boy” to whom she gave her heart. The antithesis of Sandra, she and Rich married and eventually moved to Idaho where they established a life of their own after welcoming their two sons. Ray was their first born son. Patrick followed, but at 8 days old went from being a happy, healthy boy to one of multiple and massive health issues–forcing the family for an extended period of time to concentrate on acquiring his care where they could and eventually losing him to the devastating illness that ravaged his little body.

Ray had his own issues, but borne of the eventual loss of his younger brother and that of his beloved German Shepherds, Sam and Alf, he turned inward for solace and took it upon himself to garner the protection he felt he needed. The protection accidentally turned deadly one evening in the kitchen as he fixed himself a late-night snack. Roused by the sharp report in the kitchen, both mother and father discovered their son had suffered a fatal head wound. Within 10 short weeks of the loss of Ray, Sandra’s mother succumbed to her own health issues.

Devastated, both parents grieved in their own way until Rich was discovered to have contracted acute leukemia–one so rare his doctors were at a loss to create an appropriate treatment regime. Sandra took her husband home and once again faced the emotional turmoil of laying to rest another loved one. Continue reading “What Makes a Survivor?”

Just the Pits–Isn’t!

The latest in a Hetta Coffey series, Jinx Schwartz has done it again with “Just the Pits“. Hetta is a single female engineer who tends to get in over her head after being hired to investigate what appears to be over-whelming expenditures on an already expensive mining operation. That she quickly begins confronting problems is apparently not wholly unusual, but she has a super network of friends who are ready and willing to come to her aid including a long-distance boyfriend somewhere mysteriously off on his own classified missions. Among the comical sub-plots is her struggle to come to terms with turning the big 4-0 and granting her BFF Jan the lavish male attention her stunning long-legged, blonde good looks garners without rancor. Endearing is her plot to rescue (and keep grounded?) a dog she names Po Thang whose major force in life is to find and devour his next meal. Her general obvious love and appreciation of the local Baja location and population stems from her extensive real life experiences while piloting a 45′ yacht she calls home. The mine that is the subject of the plot is but one of many in the area and her failure to see any masculine dominated industry or activity as being a challenge includes a hilarious description of her maneuvering a monster dirt hauler in the middle of some serious seismic activity. She wraps it all up in snappy, witty and downright laugh-out-loud dialogue and concludes with a satisfying ending. I figured if I enjoyed reading it that much, so would my hubby and got him to read it as well. He loved it! Now, how can we score another of her “Just” Hetta books? They are too much fun!

You gotta check out this book–either in print or digital download! Just the Pits

“Crystal Clean” – A Mother’s Struggle Out of the Meth Drug Under-World

Kim is not a stupid woman. She is not the product of a severely abusive childhood. Kim is the girl next door or your daughter’s BFF. It’s impossible to discern, looking at this unpresupposing person, that she is a hard-core meth addict and a drug dealer of some stature, smoothly negotiating meth buys. She is a respected and financial force to be reckoned with in the under-world and can hold her own dealing with small or large time drug operators.

Kimberly Wollenburg unfolds the story of her growing addiction in her biographical memoir, “Crystal Clean,” laying bare her motivation as she gradually escalates into the active and upper echelon drug under-world of Idaho, introducing us to each successively flawed character in her drug oriented world with unerring descriptions of dealers and users in graphic detail.

Kim is a single mother of a special needs son who becomes the driving force that helps her fight demons most of us cannot fathom. Separate from her beloved son, is it possible to hold a love interest based on the love of drugs rather than each other?

Can you actually survive a highly elevated tolerance for such a devastatingly pervasive drug as meth and still triumph in a new life? “Crystal Clean” will have you on the edge; you must know if she can pull it off–one more time–and survive.

crystal_clean

Book Review – What Is So Hard About That?

I’m onto the next phase in the science of marketing, promoting, and publishing industry and that appears to be reading and reviewing books either in your own genre or that of the others in your group. As I’ve mentioned before, I joined the Idaho Author Community (IAC) this year as I’d hit the wall in my limited ability to find avenues to market and promote the sea-adventures I’d published posthumously for my grandfather.

Apparently not the only one lacking years of publishing industry and marketing knowledge, the exchange of thoughts and suggestions at our bi-monthly meetings have been an invaluable source of ideas. It’s okay that I’d exhausted my source; everyone there has another.

Reading voraciously has always come easy, so it was the suggestion of exchanging, reading, and evaluating each others books that came as a welcome solution to the one common problem many of us share–lack of reviews for our own works. The authors in the Community each have a genre of their own from (my own) historical fiction to fantasy to children’s books. Fiction and non-fiction, memoirs, and science fiction all take center stage from time to time depending on the IAC venue.

How can you have a downside to an unlimited free supply of books readily available on most any subject? Uh Oh…..now comes the hard part–the review! Yes, I know most of these authors. We’ve all struggled mightily bringing our books to the market. They are our babies. We powdered, fed, and carried our babies close to our hearts until they were delivered into the hands of the unbiased reading public.

So, to conscientiously deliver a dispassionate, neutral review of another’s book may not be all that simple. I’ve had to employ “tough love” with a consistent, impartial criteria.

 What do I specifically look for when analyzing a book? Continue reading “Book Review – What Is So Hard About That?”

#ThrowbackThursday – “Broken Things” a Dystopian Thriller

Renee began the Throwback Thursday meme on her blog, “It’s Book Talk” to share some of her old favorites. Sounded like a good reason to join! My TT posts will not come from current ARCs or new releases. I’ll be going back over some of my oldies but goodies, my favorite authors, and some of my favorite stories from authors you might not have previously experienced. Hopefully, you’ll find either a story or author that interests you and you’ll check them out.

OrBroken Things by G. S. Wrightiginally posted May 25, 2013.

Book Blurb: “The world has changed. People live forever, but children are a thing of the past. To meet the demands of want-to-be parents, children have been replaced with androids… very life-like androids.

Josh, a twelve-year old boy, is hit by a truck, leaving him badly damaged. Instead of paying the outrageous cost to fix him, they dump him in the wilderness…His only salvation may rest in finding a single person that cares.”

Continue reading “#ThrowbackThursday – “Broken Things” a Dystopian Thriller”

I’VE SEEN THE COMPETITION–AND IT’D BE ME!

As Featured On EzineArticles

Writer’s Block or Lack of Goal Setting?

Is lack of goal setting setting you up to satisfy the self-fulfilling prophesy of failure? I need to finish my work by [supply date], but just can’t finish/edit the manuscript because:

  1. I’m a daughter/mother/wife/grandmother with lots of household duties and they always seem to take precedent to the real work at hand.
  2. I’ve hit a major snag and can’t seem to get past it–now I just don’t want to work on it at all.
  3. I know it takes two hours to really get my head into the project, but I’m just not in the mood or right frame of mind right now and know there is not sufficient time today.

It was mentioned some time ago that I joined the Idaho Authors Community in the hope of finding new avenues to help with the promotion and marketing of my grandfather’s manuscripts written some 80+ years ago; most regarding the years he spent sailing the North Atlantic. You could say that’s a specific niche market and it doesn’t help that I’m crippled by working with another’s manuscript, not my own. That’s favorite excuse #1, made even more difficult by being unable to work in the head no longer available to me who actually experienced the infamous nor’easter of 1900; bow dipping well below the horizon and rolling to starboard before pointing three masts skyward again.

The last meeting dealt with goal setting and I realized that the goal I’d set for completing the project had already passed me by. But why? How? Continue reading “I’VE SEEN THE COMPETITION–AND IT’D BE ME!”

AUTHOR COMMUNITIES-Do They Really Promote YOUR Book?

          Ezine Articles

         Once again, venturing out into the community to put a spin on the marketing of my grandfather’s books, I’ve discovered a local author support group they call the Idaho Author Community.

It amazes me how apparently mystical guidance has led me from publishing several of his manuscripts to marketing and promotion in the public sector when the initial purpose of the first publication was merely to distribute the work to his heirs. That proverbial snowball has led to even more open portals which were there all along and available by simple participation. I think at one point the gentle nudge on my back was felt–propelling me through the first door, into the second, and now the third–an author community–which may be the most enlightening of all.

Comprised of all ages, both sexes (not unsurprisingly, women pen prose just as well as men), and across all genres, this support group is a happy, homogenous surprise to a life long realist–this [..→] shy of being a pessimist. Does participation in an author community spark competition conflict? Or does the participation force an increase in those most needed exposures where a normally reticent introvert would never tread? Keep Reading!

WHAT WORKS OR DOESN’T WORK WITH BOOK SIGNINGS

Book signings for those who aren’t naturally extroverted can be a difficult proposition. Why is it necessary that most human experience always works by learning the hard way? Thankfully, book signings aren’t a life or death situation, though there are times you can definitely feel shot down!

My first book signing was scheduled for a Friday night, which in a full service bookstore offering everything from video rentals to coffee happy hours, can be populated with people celebrating the impending weekend and thoughts of kicking back, relaxing, and sleeping in on Saturday morning. The sleeping in crowd are usually the younger generation with small kids and the idea is to get those kids over-dosed on late night videos so THEY’LL sleep late in the morning–just a little baby-sitting freedom for exhausted and less than well-to-do parents. They are looking for kid videos–not vintage manuscripts–nor anything related to requiring reading effort. Oh yeah, there’s more!

So What Happened to Brummagem?

In his latest book, “Lucky Joe”, Stanley McShane referred to Birmingham, England, (as the locals called it), “Brummagem”. Finding the word irresistibly magnetic, I’ve been drawn repeatedly back until digging for information, actually found it has some surprising and ancient origins.

Birmingham actually is an Irish name (Norman-Irish), according to genealogist, Eric Birmingham. Eric maintains the name Birmingham originates from a knight or knights who participated in William the Conqueror’s army that won England in 1066 and were awarded this remote Saxon hamlet as a lordship[1]. Continue reading “So What Happened to Brummagem?”