Review, review, where art thou?

“Writers live or die by their reviews” is an expression that’s often tossed around. It may be an exaggeration, but there are certainly a few kernels of truth in the saying. Today, with the abundance of books available online, both published and self-published, (I believe there is somewhere in the vicinity of 12 million books for sale on Amazon) it’s very difficult for an author to stand out in the crowd. Thus, the need for reviews.
We all do it. I do it. When I shop online for a product, I check out the ones with the most reviews. I read them. I evaluate them. After all, we’re not standing in a store, touching the product, seeing first-hand if it’s something that we need or want. We rely on the experiences of others. And, the same applies to books.
With the help of my publisher, Black Rose Writing, we’ve been trying various promotional activities. One was two days of free e-books on Amazon. The idea was to get the book into the hands of readers and hope they leave a review. Another was to make it available on NetGalley, a site with members who read and review books that interest them.
Recently, I received an e-mail with a copy of a beautiful 5-star review from a NetGalley reviewer. I was so proud and happy. I couldn’t wait for the review to show up on Amazon and/or Goodreads. But, no one has control over where, when, or if the reviewer decides to publish their opinion, and obviously this wonderful reviewer hasn’t had time to take care of it yet. So, I decided to take the bull by the horns, pat myself on the back, and publish it on my blog. If you’ve read Sins of the Fathers and enjoyed it, feel free to mention it on Amazon. In the meantime, Happy Reading!


Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Full Text:
I was given a free ARC in exchange for an honest review. I was not familiar with McCarthy’s work prior to my reading of Sins of the Fathers, though after reading I can say I will be looking for more work from her. The writing style made this a page-turner for the majority of the book. I don’t always pick up mysteries, but in this case, I am glad that I did.

Charlie Butler is on the receiving end of some strange mail. The letters that she are receiving are more creepy than anything, but that doesn’t matter because the police don’t take her seriously anyway. This leads her to seeking out a private investigator. Simm and Charlie don’t get along well at all in the beginning. It isn’t until things get worse for Charlie that the two begin to work together for the greater good.

The investigation will take them all over the world and will be more dangerous than they ever could have anticipated. What Charlie learns is something that she never could have imagined. I enjoyed the edgy writing style and the variety of twists and turns that ensued. As a mystery, it ticks all of the most important boxes. I loved the characters and couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next.

If you have the time, I definitely recommend picking up Sins of the Fathers. It’s a great read.

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‘Twas the day after Xmas…

As we don our stretchiest, most comfortable and roomy clothing, some people are thinking of hitting the stores for the best bargains, while others are catching up on some sleep. At our house, everyone has left to hit the ski slopes. Not me. I can live without the heart-pounding fear of heights on the chair lift, and the equally fear-inducing sensation of putting the safety of life and limb into the metaphorical hands of two sticks strapped to my feet.

Instead, I’m finding that the flow of excess calories through my veins has proportionately increased the flow of ideas for my writing. My current manuscript has been battered, twisted, torn apart, put back together, torn apart again, and for the past few days, has been hiding in a corner, shaking in terror. Today, I will try to calm its fears, showing it that my actions were well-meant and, in the end, will be for its own good.

Sins of the Fathers was released and launched a few weeks ago, and some very favourable reviews have come in so far. My plan is to add an excerpt to this blog some time in the next week or so. I probably should have done it sooner, but all this holiday preparation took its toll on my available time.

So now, I will get back at it. Armed with a computer and a cup of tea, I will tug the manuscript out of its hiding place and wrestle with it (as gently as possible) until I convince it that we have to move its status from a draft of somewhere in the negatives to an actual first draft.


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The Day After…

Wow, time has really flown. I see that my last blog was September 24th, when I was sending off my final draft to the publisher, and I was promising to keep everyone up to date on the progress of the publication of Sins of the Fathers. Now, suddenly, it’s the day after my official book launch and signing, and I’m finally getting back to you with that update. Oh well, you all know about best-laid plans.

Yesterday was a great day. At times, during the weeks before, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with everything that had to be done, but it went off without a hitch. There was a good turnout, and there was a lot of food and conversation for everyone. Some people were buying books for Christmas presents, or they were buying them for themselves, which is a very worthwhile reason.

The administration of the municipal library was gracious enough to loan me the use of their facilities, and people were able to mill around, catch up on the news, and make new acquaintances. For me, I was fortunate enough to know everyone who walked in the door. We’re a small community and we try to encourage everyone’s endeavors, and yesterday was no exception. I’m sorry I don’t have more photos. I took my camera, but it was difficult to find time to use it, and I forgot to ask anyone else.

I have to shout out a huge THANK YOU to my family. The help I had from them was unbelievable. From the setting up to the taking down, they were there every step of the way. My husband, brother, sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nephew and niece were there to lend a hand. My aunt and my mother-in-law made it out to give moral encouragement. I couldn’t have done it without them. We ended the day with a supper party at our house, and once again, everyone pitched in.

Today, I’m a little tired, but happy. The dogs are exhausted, can barely keep their eyes open for five minutes, and I know exactly how they feel.

As for Sins of the Fathers, the reviews are coming in very favorably, and that gives me a great feeling of satisfaction. If someone can read a book and escape in the pages for a few hours, and I could have a part in that, that’s all I need. I will continue to work to promote it, and I’ll enjoy doing it, but I’ll also make time to work on my next novel.

I doubt that I’ll be blogging again before Christmas (there’s still lots of stuff going on), so Happy Holidays to everyone!


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Progress is being made

Things are moving quickly. It’s seems as if every day there’s a new task, or something to think about. From all I have heard, and from my own past experience, the publishing world can move like a slug. Not so, these days. A little over three weeks ago, I sent my ‘final’ manuscript to the publisher in Word format. Last week, I received it back in .pdf with the instructions that I had to edit it and send them any format or content corrections. I immediately set to my task with enthusiasm.
Meanwhile, I received e-mails concerning covers from one person, pricing decisions from someone else, pre-orders from another, and social networking from yet another person. The Facebook author’s page is constantly throwing out ideas, news, questions, and support.
I also had my own list of homework to do, which included, among other things, getting a new author photo, updating my social media sites, and finding reviewers.
My head is spinning, but it’s a very happy spin. This is really the fun part of writing. Sitting back and looking at the whole process objectively, this is easier than struggling to get your idea onto paper in a coherent and entertaining fashion. Much easier.
The .pdf is now edited. I just have to hit the send button. I’ve checked off a few ‘to dos’, added a few others. In a matter of days, I will do my cover reveal, and I will continue updating my sites. Eventually, I will get back to writing.
All I have to add is that I’m eternally grateful to Black Rose Writing for this opportunity to have fun.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Not)

This week, I took a vacation from my real job so I could spend time on my writing job, and I wanted to share some of my experience.
The Good: My most important assignment this week was performing a final edit of my manuscript so it could enter the production queue. This involved hour upon hour (upon hour) of checking every word, researching grammar rules, making corrections, and re-reading every word once again. It’s a very long and time-consuming process, but thankfully it’s a process that I enjoy. I like picking my book apart and learning from my mistakes. From what I’ve heard, not all authors feel the same.
The rest of the week is for planning publicity, which leads me to my next subject.
The Bad: A big part of publishing a book is the marketing and publicity aspect. Publicity covers a lot of area, and includes the use of social media, websites, book signings, and so on. Unfortunately, for a lot of the publicity, and for the back cover of the novel, there is a need for an author photo. I say ‘unfortunately’ because I HATE having my picture taken. This is not something new. As a matter of fact, my mother loved to tell the story of when I was two years old, and they had a photographer come to the house to take pictures of us (apparently that was how they did it in those days). I hid under the bed and refused to come out, terrified of the camera, so my brothers had their picture taken without their baby sister. My mother wasn’t very happy, but I don’t know why she was so surprised. After all, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. She was also camera shy. All that to say, it’s the part of the process that I hate the most. Nevertheless, I should have a new author photo popping up soon.
The Ugly: This is something which has nothing to do with writing or publishing a novel, but which I feel needs to be said. I have an adorable dog, a pug/shih tzu mix, who is constantly being described as ugly. And this, by my friends and family, believe it or not. My sister-in-law said just yesterday, ‘He tries, but…nah.’. The truth is, he is very handsome and to know him is to love him.

So, what do you think? Am I right, or what?



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Western Adventures

I’m writing this while on a flight from Calgary to Montreal with a final destination to Quebec City. This is the part I dislike the most about vacations – the end travel. Once the fun is over I’d like to be beamed home without having to go through all the hassle of dragging around luggage and passing time in airports or on long flights, but this time I’ll count my blessings. This was a perfect vacation and in thirteen days I crossed quite a few items off my bucket list. I also added on a few more.


Steve and I, accompanied by his sister Carolyn and her husband Glen, flew to the far end of Canada to Vancouver, and began our trip with a few days exploring the city accompanied by our daughter Rachel. We threw in a quick side trip to Whistler on the only rainy day of our vacation. Despite the rain we made the most of our time, visiting an old friend, and taking the gondola to a mountain peak in Squamish. With our own personal tour guide we were able to visit a few spots that we may have overlooked if we had been on our own, and since Rachel is a big fan of hiking trails and waterfalls, we saw some of the nicest.DSC_0470[2028]


After leaving our home base in Vancouver we spent a night in beautiful Victoria, taking some time to catch up with some relatives, before heading up the coast to Tofino. We enjoyed the beach, the hiking trails, and, of course, the beautiful Pacific sunset. Steve and I had already explored these areas during the winter season, but it was a completely different perspective during the summer in high season. The colours, the lush landscape, and the mountains were constantly grabbing our attention. It helped us better understand the magnetic pull of British Columbia for the citizens of Eastern Canada and many other countries. The province has a variety of landscapes, cultures, ways of life, and mindsets to offer. There’s something for everyone.


We discovered uncharted territory (for us) when we ventured toward Alberta, starting in Jasper and descending through the national parks to Banff and Canmore. It seemed that each corner we turned offered us a view more spectacular than the last. So many times I thought the landscape was so unreal that it resembled a painting by a very talented artist. Between the majestic mountains and the picture-perfect turquoise lakes our heads were constantly swivelling. I even stood on a mountain glacier!

My take-away from this trip? I came away from BC feeling dissatisfied. With the province? Definitely not. I was left with a taste for more. I know there’s a lot more to explore and I didn’t have enough time to do it. Fortunately for us, with a child living on that coast, we have the perfect excuse to return. I would love to spend more time on Vancouver Island, visiting the area around Victoria, and going up the coast to discover other small towns. On the mainland, I’d like to visit the Okanagan region on one visit, and perhaps northern BC on another. Alberta also merits some further exploration.

Any disappointments? Definitely. We never saw a bear sauntering down the main Street of Banff or Canmore despite numerous warnings not to feed them. We also didn’t see any cowboys on horseback venturing through downtown Calgary (I believe we had also been warned about feeding them). But, those are both minor disappointments compared to the abundance of great experiences we had over the course of two weeks.

We certainly have a country to be proud of and a lot to explore and discover. My advice? Take advantage of it.

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To young children, they are playmates, fixers, cheerleaders, and absolutely essential. As those children grow into teenagers and young adults, fathers become a ‘can’t live with them, can’t live without them’ kind of person. They become the watchdogs and the lecturers while still tenaciously hanging on to their role as playmates, fixers, and cheerleaders. It’s a fine line they have to walk.

I lost my father when he was fifty-six years old and I was twenty-three, still a young adult. My oldest is now twenty-three and the other is four years behind. Once we pass this stage, I will be in uncharted territory, but Steve, my husband, was fortunate enough to have a father who lived to be ninety-three, and who remained an important presence in his children’s lives.

I think most of us grow up hoping to make our fathers proud, trying to live up to their example. Whether they realize it or not, they have a powerful influence on our lives. They are often the yardstick against which we measure ourselves – our moral compass.

My husband has set a high standard for our children to follow. He has taught them by example with his dedication as a volunteer fireman and fire chief, with his hard work and his tenacity, and his ability to deal with people no matter how delicate or urgent the situation. He uses his sense of humor to amuse and defuse.

He may not know the difference between taupe and brown, but he can settle disputes with reasoning and good cheer. He may come home with cucumbers when we sent him to the store for zucchini, but he will turn himself inside out to help mend a broken heart. He will buy bus passes for a grown daughter who lives thousands of miles away to make sure she doesn’t have to walk home late at night. He will drive across town at any hour to change a flat tire, or pick up kids after a party. He’ll search for light and sound systems to make sure our girls have ‘the best party ever’, and he’ll try to teach them skills that may serve them later on in life. In other words, he will always go the extra mile for his kids.

Those are traits of a good father.

I often wonder how my life would have differed if my father had lived a longer life. Would I have made different decisions? Would I have followed a different path? It certainly would have been wonderful to have him at my wedding and to see him dote over my babies. I know I took him for granted while I had him, as my girls probably do with their own father. But I still hold my dad’s legacy inside me, and I can only hope some of it will be passed on to my children. If not, the legacy of their own father and his before him will be more than enough to help them along.





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