March 26, 2014

Florida/No place like home/Spring Tonic......

Good to be back from Florida vacation! Here are a few highlights from the trip.

I came home with more than I went with. Five extra pounds and I can't figure out why. WHO AM I KIDDING??? Here I am at Goodson's Strawberry Farm with an oversized strawberry shortcake with ice cream. Hands down the best strawberries I've ever tasted! We've visited Goodson's Farm for a good many years now. It's grown from a shack along the road to a huge indoor farm market and food court. Sandwiches, drinks and their famous strawberry concoctions. Happy to see them thriving.

We had a great time visiting Sarasota and the Lipizon Horse Show. Beautiful horses. Such a great story about them being saved from Austria, in part by our own General Patton. 

Sorry no photos of the play we saw at Sun City Center - Rollings Theatre, titled Valentine's on Rt. 66, written by two members of the talented cast. No photos either of our afternoon of music, performed by the Front Porch Pickers. I forgot my camera but I managed to get lost in songs from yesterday. One in  particular, Together Again, made me feel sad. But then they switched to a lively number and the moment was gone quickly. Besides who could be sad listening to a band that included instruments from an orchestra, a cowboy hoedown and a back porch songfest - including a washboard. Lots of fun! I cught myself doing some toe tapping.

This was our lunch one day at a local donut and coffee shop. I have to say everything there was delicious. Ah ha! I believe this lunch could have been a contributor to my five pounds!!!

We stayed here for our two weeks with the perfect host, my brother in law. Who knows all the best places to eat in town and who can whip up delicious meals at a moment's notice. On St. Patrick's day he made corned beef with all the trimmings. Excellent cook and host. Thanks to him our visit was perfect.
We tried the new (to us anyway) Allegiant Airlines and found it to be very accomodating. Smooth flights, comparable prices, and friendly pilots and stewardesses.

Happy to be back home. Not so happy to be sitting by the fireplace. I msut say I expected it to be a tad warmer here in Ohio but who's complaining? There's no place quite like home.

On the writing front, I'm working on the story about Vietnam told in letter form. A fictional piece I hope to get on Amazon in next few weeks. I'm getting slower and slower! Perhaps I need a spring tonic.

How are you coping with this winter weather? Or do you live in a place that's pleasant year round?
Would love to hear from you. Comments welcome!

March 2, 2014

Book Reviews: GOOD BAD UGLY

So ready for Spring

I know when one writes a novel and puts it out there for the public to read, the writer is open to criticism, both negative and positive. I expect that. I've been writing and publishing long enough to have developed a tough skin. I've learned with my own books that for every negative review I get - I get ten glowing reviews. I'm not bragging, I'm just mighty proud. I've worked long and hard at my writing career. It's all about ups and downs. An author has to roll with the punches and know the public is not going to like every single project he or she puts out there. That's life.

I'm still growing as an author. Each time I start a project, I can tell I'm getting better as a writer, at plotting and characterization, at organizing material, being a better editor. Am I perfect? No way! But am I growing and willing to accept honest criticism? You bet!

My suggestion to anyone choosing a book is to take a few minutes before purchasing or downloading a free book and read the sample chapters offered by Amazon and many other publishers. Read the reviews if you want an indepth look at what the book is about. Example, my women's contemporary fiction, Vada Faith, now has 54 reviews. The last, a scathing review, gave an account of all the reader did not like about the book. Had the reader/reviewer taken the time to read the first three chapters offered free at Amazon they would have known the genre, the tone, the characters, storyline etc. The reader would have picked up on all the things he/she did not like about the book. Then the book could have been passed over. Sample chapters help fit reader to book. If it isn't a fit then don't buy or download free. Don't criticize simply because it doesn't fit a personal preference.

If mystery is a reader's genre of choice he/she cannot measure a women's fiction with the same yardstick. Often a women's fiction can't be measured against another women's fiction. Each story is different in its own way and usually discernible in those first free chapters. To really know if a particular book is fitted to one reader's preference, one has to look inside the book and read the reviews.

My women's fiction, Vada Faith, is a regional novel set in a small West Virginia town. It's peppered with two names for some of the characters. Vada Faith, Joy Ruth, and John "Wasper." Not all characters have two names. Some of the characters are a compilation of people I've known and loved. They came from my background, from who I am, having grown up in a small town in WV.  

If a reader doesn't view a book as humorous when many have said it's humorous, I can only say we all have a different perception of what is or isn't humorous. Same with what is or isn't romantic.

It's all subjective. I hope when you are setting off on the adventure of buying a new book, borrowing a book, or getting a book free, you will take the time to see if the book is something that fits your description of what makes up a good book. All of us are different, with different tastes, different expectations, and different views.

One bit of advice, f you don't like a book, stop reading it. Even if you are in the middle. If you are hating it, do yourself a favor and just quit. Don't feel obligated to read to the end and torture yourself (and others with a bad review!). Some bad reviews stem from a reader's need to finish a work. I quit doing that a long time ago. I give myself permission now to read only what I like and to quit anywhere in the story when it's over for me.

My first love is reading, my second is writing. I love when a reviewer gives me a positive or a negative review that is honest, to the point, and offers suggestions to make my work better. To just bash a piece with no helpful suggestions and for no reason is unnecessary and usually makes the reviewer look bad, not the author.

Good luck on your next reading adventure and I hope you'll leave a review, either positive or negative, and make it helpful. Blessings!  Here's to spring! And may this be our last ice, snowstorm here at my house in the country. Right now I feel as though I'm in the middle of a big fat snow globe! Hugs, Barb

Loved seeing this Dale Chihuly Glass Sculpture recently at Franklin Park Observatory, Columbus