Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Review - Broken Pieces

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Baring your soul... reading from your diary aloud... all your fears, pain, sorrow, anxiety… dealing with death… standing completely naked, bathed in stark light, in front of a judgmental public eye.

The author does this with a natural, stumbling, honest voice. She shares with us more than most are comfortable with ever sharing and does it in a formidable, “in your face”, way.

There isn't an easy way to explain the experience of reading this work. Much of it doesn't read easily. By that I don't mean it is difficult to decipher or understand, but the emotional resonance of the work has a certain 'punch-you-in-the-face' brutal honesty that is rare to find.

As this isn't a work of fiction the depth of the work is far beyond light reading. You have been warned.

It's common for me to say, in reviews that write, that I don't give spoilers... and I won't give spoilers here either. What I will say is that there is raw, honest looks into the human condition, and it can, if you allow it to, affect you on a highly personal level.

I will happily read and recommend this work of truth to any and all who will read it. It is simply amazing.

- Dennis Sharpe

Broken Pieces on

Broken Pieces on (kindle)

Broken Pieces on Facebook

Click here for Rachel Thompson's Website

"Cool Kids?" This is no cool kid.

I don't normally get involved in societal commentary on my blog. This is a case, though, where I didn't feel I could rightfully keep my mouth shut.

This guy, Mike Jeffries - the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch said this:

"In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids," the clothing retailer explained. "We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don't belong [in our clothes], and they can't belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely."

That's a direct quote. Look it up if you don't believe that anyone could be such a jackass in this day and age.

My day was made then by Larry Wile, who posted this gem on Facebook as a response:

"To paraphrase: "Fat people suck," said Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch. An acquaintance said the following which made me laugh. "Have you seen his face? He looks like Nick Nolte and botox had unprotected sex behind White Castle after a bee sting incident." I would agree with that assessment."

Was this a nice thing to say? No. Was it funny to me? Hell, yes it was.

It wasn't said by a CEO. No, it was the response of an offended 'person on the street', as it were, to the asinine comments of a CEO in a interview by the press. It was one of the people hurt by the public figures slurs trying to strike back... and it was funny.

What this led me to think about is all the talk of bullying in our media today. How many times I've read about kids who were bullied for one reason or another, and suffered in silence, hurt themselves, or ended their lives. Then I see this pop up in an interview, and in the news all over the place, and I see a rich man directing a major retail outlet who is not only promoting elitism that leads to bullying... but being smug and unapologetic about it.

Abercrombie & Fitch clothing isn't for the "not-so-cool" kids... it's only for the "attractive kids"...  and the kids with enough money to afford their inflated prices... and by buying their clothes and supporting this sort of corporate bullying (on an economic level, a social level, a class level, and other superficial levels) customers are telling people like Jeffries that his attitudes and behaviors are rewarded.

We want the kids of this country to realize that bullying is wrong. We want them to understand that discrimination is bad. And what do we show them that those sorts of attitudes and behaviors do for you? We show them that if you behave that way as an adult you can be a rich CEO of a company to help promote those same negative attitudes and ideals.

I don't even know if a boycott of Abercrombie & Fitch is enough for how strongly I feel about what this man, and his statement represent. This cannot be allowed to happen without blow back... without some form of "societal punishment". I have never before wanted to see the bankruptcy and complete failure of a company as badly as I do in this case (and granted, there have likely been as bad or worse before... but I was likely younger, more naive, or not yet a parent at that point).

I want to believe that people care enough about the anti-bullying talk, and enough about the children of the world, that they can come together and wipe the smug smile of this scumbag'd face. I'm boycotting Abercrombie & Fitch and will actively and verbally stand against them.

Who's with me?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Publishing Fiction and Crossing Your Fingers (Observations From the Trenches)

Writing really is only about 5% of the work, and it really is the only truly fun part. The rest is all work.

I’ve been mulling over ideas for marketing lately, trying to find what I’m missing in my attempts to get my books in the hands of readers… and thus accomplish the elusive goal of “finding its audience”.

When the rubber hits the road that’s what every writer wants, right? I mean, of course, they want to get their work finished… and after that get it edited into its best possible form… and most want to see their work published… but what does any of that mean if it isn’t picked up and read by the audience it was written for?

I’ve spoken to Rachel Thompson, a verified social media success story with the publishing of her last three books, and from her I’ve gotten tips on how to streamline my approaches to social media in my (all important) “Author Platform”. Overall, what I’ve learned is that I am a creative writer and not a marketing wiz. These days authors are required to be both. It’s really not an option. Such is the way of the industry.

I had a conversation with a fellow writer, and friend, S.K. Whiteside recently that went like this:


S.K. : I'll be honest. The only reason you are not (with 'Blood & Spirits') a bestseller is because of the MILLIONS of "authors" out there right now. You are just getting overlooked. Hang in there. Persevere! It took J.K. (Rowling) nearly 20 years.

Me : I'm not a bestseller because I tell average stories... in a small sliver, of an over-saturated genre... I have poor cover art, and I use my own name (not a female pen name).

S.K. : Female pen names don’t sell unless you are doing romance. I agree about over-saturated, but it’s not the genre. It's the scene period.

Me : Female pen names sell in paranormal. Fact.

S.K. : EVERYONE is an "author".


This led me to further examine what I thought was simply an issue of marketing. Perhaps it’s just as much an issue of trying to stand out as that one awesome grain of sand on the beach; a daunting prospect to be sure.  

Do I still need a great paced story, well told, with fully fleshed out and original characters that speak in their own distinct voices? Yes. Do I still need good editing, and an eye catching cover that not only fits in on the shelf with other books of my genre but really pops as something a reader can’t pass by? Yes. Do I still need to market myself and my work, getting the word out about my release, my promotions, and make sure book bloggers and reviews have my work in hand to rate or recommend? Yes. 

The issue… the big, fat, punch-me-in-the-face issue is that all of that isn’t enough.

I also have to find a way, after doing all that (which thousands – if not millions – of other people are doing, and doing it just as well as I am) to stand out. I have to get noticed to get read. I have to get read to build my audience. I have to build my audience to get recommended to friends (and strangers) by readers who will want to come back and see what other tales I have to tell them.

What does all this mean to you, my faithful reader?

It means you’ve been warned. You’ve been informed, and therefore you’ve been armed with this knowledge.

The market for books, and eBooks for that matter, is densely packed. It’s not enough to be imaginative and talented anymore. From what I can understand it hasn’t been enough for a long, long time… but it’s harder today, and it’s going to be harder as every day passes.

Keep that in mind when jumping into publishing with both feet. People will tell you to expect rejection… but what they usually don’t tell you (that is just as true) is to expect to work yourself into exhaustion to earn your sales.

Don’t get discouraged by having to slowly grow your readership.  It’s a relationship you have to build… one person at a time. It’s not easy, but it doesn’t have to painful or make you crazy. 

Look at it like a crowded dance floor in the most enormous school in the world, packed with millions of 10-year-olds who want to dance with the popular kid and really fear rejection…  your book is a 10-year-old and the popular kid is the all-important reader.  How are you going to make sure your 10-year-old stands out, and gets noticed by that popular kid?

I'd also be able to read minds and see the future.
There is no universal answer. When and if you find the answer, rest assured that it will only work for you. Moreover, it may well only work for the current project you are marketing. But once you find it… and with it you find your audience… and you start to get the feedback that your work has earned from readers who understand and are moved to respond to it…  then all of that mind-numbing, backbreaking, tedious, awful , unforgiving work will pale in comparison. 

If you can stick it out and you find your formula to locate your readers… your people... it is so very worth it.

Places I recommend to help you along your way: - Editor and writing coach. - Graphics and cover design. - Social media and author marketing/branding consultant.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Recent Reading - Noteworthy eBooks

If you're looking for eBooks on Amazon that you might like... You'll likely find a plethora of suggestions. So many so, that it might seem a little dizzying. 

What I give you below are the titles that have made their way onto my kindle. 

These days, after all, I don't really need to look too hard for to find my next eBook read. My Facebook and Twitter accounts bring me more recommendations than I could reasonably ever read. I take the advice of a couple of book bloggers/reviewers whose opinions I trust, and I have more than a few authors whose work I enjoy (and who seem to produce work at an almost inhuman rate). From time to time I recommend... or suggest... an eBook based on what I've read an really enjoyed in my recent Kindle reading.

Here's a look at my Kindle library, as it appears today.

So looking at this... I guess I should list these by author, and in the order they appear on my kindle. It seems the easiest way to do it. I will note this says nothing about how they stack up against each other... only how recently I've been reading them, if I've even finished them.

Click here to view the Amazon listing 

The first offering I give you is 'The Initiate' by Megg Jensen. This is not a new book... but it is new to me. I'm a Megg Jensen fan, and I noticed recently (while checking out the new cover of Anathema, actually) that this title was free... so I literally couldn't resist.

It has a 3.8 star rating on Amazon, and a 3.82 star rating on Goodreads. It looks like a solid bet, for an enjoyable read... though I will confess I haven't finished it yet.

Click here to view the Amazon listing
Next, I give you the last book on my 'current reading' list...  which also happens to be by Megg Jensen. I've read it before, but I had to get the new cover, and that read to a re-reading of the book. Guess what? I still adore it. I rated this book 4 stars when I read it the first time, and on a second reading it still holds up.

If you find yourself looking for more titles by this author you can click here for: Megg Jensen's Author profile on

Click here to view the Amazon listing

'Sebastian' by Christoph Fisher currently holds the second spot on my Kindle. I'm still in the middle of reading it... but I can say that I have not been disappointed thus far.

'Sebastian' is a very recent release and only has one rating on Amazon so far... but it is a 5 star rating, and I'm honestly not surprised by that. Likewise, it has a 4 ratings on Goodreads and all of them are 5 stars.

I was a really big fan of the the first book in this series, 'The Luck of the Weissensteiners', so I had high hopes for book 2. If you are a fan of literary fiction, this series is well worth your time.
Click here to view the Amazon listing

If you want to see my full (and 5 star) review of 'The Luck of the Weissensteiners' you can find it on Amazon here. It's not on my current reading list, but being the first book in a series where book 2 *is* on my list, I felt I should include it.

Author Christoph Fischer is really a rare find: a modern author who writes classical literature. I can't say enough how pleased I am to have found his work.

Click here to view the Amazon listing
Emily Walker's dental themed horror is in third position on my Kindle. I've not had a chance to read much of this on yet, but I promised Wanda that I'd have it done by the end of the month. so I'll likely be posting a review for it on here soon enough.

It has a 4.2 star rating on Amazon (with 4 out of 5 reviewers giving it a solid 4 stars), so I believe I'll be satisfied, if not overjoyed, with it.

Want more info? Emily Walker's Author profile on

Click here to view the Amazon listing
Okay... next up is 'Broken Pieces' by Rachel Thompson, or "Rachel in the OC" as she is also well known. This eBook is raw. Seriously. It is a bestseller, widely reviewed, and quite an emotional piece of work. It's the kind of title that you really need to read to understand... but I'll try my best to give you a handle on it.

It's like free form thought, a set of jumbled thoughts and essays, a collection of free form poetry... it deals with death & depression, and it is unbelievably moving.

It has 4.3 stars on Amazon (out of 107 review) and 4.34 stars on Goodreads. You can see my 5 star rating and review it on Amazon.

You can also find out more about Rachel Thompson, and her other works on her Amazon Author's Profile.

Click here to view the Amazon listing
'Just Evil' is a story of mystery, romance, murder, and... well, evil. I remain glad that I had the opportunity to read it. I look forward to picking up the second book in this series to see where things go from here.

It has a rating of 4.4 stars on Amazon... with 88 reviews...  that has to stand for something, right?

If you want to know more about the author, or her other works, you can check out her Amazon Profile here.

Click here to view the Amazon listing
S.K. Whiteside's 'Scribe' rounds out the top row of my Kindle in 6th position. I've read this one twice now, and I'll likely read it again. It's a short, and worth every penny of its 99 cent price.

The writing is cinematic literature. The word choice is often, in my opinion, stunningly perfect... if not average or run-of-the-mill.

'Scribe' has 4.6 stars on Amazon, and I gave it 5 stars myself. If your taste and mine are similar you won't be sorry you picked this one up.

More information on the author can be found on her Amazon Author Profile here.

Click here to view the Amazon listing
Ashley Chappell's debut 'Alice Will' is a book I've reviewed on my blog before. It's back up on my Kindle because this talented author is a hometown girl for me, and is doing a signing here shortly. I'm re-reading in case I get to discuss the book with her in person. Odds are, however, that being as "big time" as she is these days I won't get more than a passing gush at her fame, and maybe an autograph if I'm lucky.

'Alice Will' has 4.8 stars on Amazon, and has earned every one of those awesome reviews.

If you would like to know about Ashley Chappell you can check out her Amazon Author page here.

Click here to view the Amazon listing
The 8th title, currently, I've had on my Kindle for quite some time . I keep getting into reading it, and then life gets in my way, and 'Death's Hand' gets pushed back down my reading list.

It's really a shame because S.M. Reine is one of my favorites, as well as one of my step-daughter's favorites.

The cover featured here is not the cover I have on my Kindle, and I have no idea when it changed, but I really think I like them both... and can't quite pick a favorite.

'Death's Hand' has 4.2 stars on Amazon, and I really can't wait to finish it so that I can review and rate it myself.

S.M. Reine's Amazon Author page is here if you'd like to see more works by her... and believe me (and my step-daughter Eden) there are quite a few worthwhile reads on there.

Click here to view the Amazon listing
Angella Graff's 'The Awakening', Volume 1 of the Judas Curse, is a book I've sadly only gotten to start. I've liked what I've seen of it so far, and have been told by friends that it is very good... but I haven't read enough to get an impression of it yet.

It has 4.2 stars on Amazon, which falls in line with the praise of it I've gotten so far. I have faith that it will live up to the hype. If it does, or doesn't, you can expect to see a review of it on my blog by the end of May at the latest. If you've read it... let me know what you thought.

Angella Graff's Amazon Author Page is linked here if you'd like to see more of her works or more about her.

Click here to view the Amazon listing
Book 10 on my Kindle is Justice, the second book in Rhiannon Paille's The Ferryman and the Flame series. These books are a joy to me. Fantasy the way I like to read it. They have their faults, sure, but overall they are wonderfully fun.

I am in my second reading of Justice at present, and I've read Surrender (Book 1, which I happily own in paperback) 3 times now. They are just fun.

Click here to view the Amazon listing
On Amazon both Justice and Surrender are rated at 4.1 stars. I think that's a more than fair rating for the series so far.

Rhiannon Paille has an Author Page on Amazon that you can view here. She's well worth checking out, following on Twitter or giving a 'like' on Facebook.

Click here to view the Amazon listing

Finally my 11th title... last on this list (because Anathema got moved up with Megg Jensen's other title), but most definitely not least, is 'Leela' by K.R.Jordan.

This is a short eBook that I adore, by an author whose talent really has no limits. 'Leela' is 99 cents, and you really don't know what you are missing if you pass up this 5 star rated (on Amazon) read.

"The salty sea air wafts thickly in heavy waves around young Leela. She breathes it in and as she exhales feels the blood leaving her body from gaping wounds that reach into her very organs. No longer able to breathe normally, she takes quick shallow breaths hoping to keep the darkness from seeping into her vision. That would mean death was near and Leela was not ready to die."


I think I may well start doing an update of my Kindle top 12 every month or so...  this was really kinda fun.

So much talent, so many great books... most of them free or less than a dollar...  Wow, just wow.