At Josette Reuel Author Page - Click Giveaway Post
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/VH7D0e
Amazon CA: http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00MV94JX2
Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00MV94JX2
Amazon DE: http://www.amazon.de/dp/B00MV94JX2
Signed copy from the author:
So, I have a question? I will be the first to admit that I really dislike whiny female leads in books, movies, etc. However, when writing "Finding the Dragon" I realized that a story requires some flaws, insecurities, etc. The hero and heroine need to have room to grow. While developing Kai and Alvena, I had certain characteristics in mind. Actions and preferences that make them uniquely them. However, some readers don't see these characters the way that I do. They find them weak and very non-heroic.
My question is: how do you find the balance between weakness and strength to create that character that a reader will want to root for? The hero/heroine that will provide a connection between the reader and the story without making it exactly the same as every other paranormal romance that is out there.
Some back story: The Dásreach series is special. The characters are based on real people, real flaws. As an author I have taken poetic license - it is a paranormal piece of romantic fiction - but in general these characters do exist in the real world. A group of friends helped me refine the storyline and define the basic character descriptions for the the whole series. It has been a relationship growing experience for the group.
Review and feedback: I have had a lot of positive feedback for "Finding the Dragon" - reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, Blogs and comments made directly to me. But, there have also been the ones that twist my gut as a writer. You brace yourself, because you know they are coming, but when someone puts down a character that is so real to you and calls her names... well, it hurts. I will say that I'm striving to make notes and use the feedback to improve this series. This is my debut book, so I know that there is room for growth.
However, Alvena is very close to my heart. Alvena. Is. Me. The flaws, the insecurities, the wishy-washy attitude is all me. At 41 years of age I have serious trust issues due to events from high school. I have been told many times to "just get over it" because it happened 20+ years ago. Those people don't understand how deeply imbedded those events are in who I have become. Each and every event has been experienced and evaluated using the person I was at the time of the event. Teenagers are irrational and moody. I know this, but I still struggle. This is why Alvena struggles. Did I mention that I'm practically agoraphobic? Yep, I prefer to stay in my house away from other people. The stress of dealing with others, gauging their thoughts (what do they truly mean by what they say and do), dealing with the hate, anger, and indifference of the world... I have severe anxiety issues, acid reflux, and at times panic attacks. Furthermore, Mr. Reuel can attest to my back and forth when it came to our early relationship. I really put that man through the ringer and I'm one lucky woman because he stayed with me. We have now been married for 21 years. They haven't been easy, but they have been good.
Personally, I find strength in weakness. Those that can overcome themselves and do what is right are true heroes in my mind. That is who Alvena and Kai are to me. Examples of this undefinable characteristic of the human spirit. We, the human race, are very emotional - love, hate, anger, revenge, compassion, loyalty - and despite our trials we continue to accomplish amazing things.
One last discussion point...
I recently read a review for another author's book where the person disliked the book partly because she said that someone as scarred as the heroine would never allow someone to touch her without years and years of therapy. She was a social worker and felt she had the education to make the statement. This bothers me because each of us are unique. We handle things in our own way. I was always taught to not make generalized statements (saying every, all , everyone), but I feel this person has done this.
This review made me wonder if this is why Alvena has seemed "whiny" and Kai "weak" by some of the readers. Maybe I was too honest about their weaknesses and should have made them stronger, maybe it would have been more believable when they became who they were at the end of the book. When writing this story the concept was for the "Book Worms" to be just like us, every day people that we would find at work or a book store. Therefore, they do have varied personalities and issues. I also felt that I needed to make sure that each character was unique, so some things may be slightly exaggerated - I didn't want the readers to feel like they were reading the same story over and over.
Now back to the review and the scarred heroine that the reviewer couldn't believe. I do not have extensive medical or psychological education, what I have learned is from living and observing. In my experience, humans search for a connection. They want love, understanding, and to be touched by those they love. I read somewhere that a 15 second hug a day can significantly reduce stress. That being said I will provide a real-life story.
A young woman becomes pregnant and marries young. She is disowned by her family. Her husband is worthless and they soon separate. She struggles to take care of herself and her child. Eventually she finds a new husband, who turns out worse than the first. He is abusive and an alcoholic. Her next husband is much the same and seriously injures her. Her last husband molested her young daughter. You would think this woman would have decided long ago to stay away from men. She is now disabled because she has medical issues and seizures caused by the abuse. She has raised five children from different fathers mostly on her own. However, she still dreams of that loving connection and is once again trying to find it. Her new boyfriend is a good guy and has asked her to marry him. She is wary, but willing to try. She has not had extensive counseling. She has fought every day of her life and continues to do so. She has continued to allow men close. There are many woman and men out there that have been through similar situations. Many would have collapsed on themselves and never let anyone close, but many like this woman kept trying.
The Moral: Each of us decide who we are, each of us sees strengths and weaknesses differently, and not every story or every character will resonate with a reader. Please give Alvena, Kai, and the rest of
indie.) After writing and editing an author pay's someone to edit their book. They pay for someone to create a cover. They pay for the images to use in publicity and on the cover. They pay someone to publicize their book. They pay for giveaways to generate interest in their book. They then spend more time editing and preparing the book. Eventually they pay someone to format their book and create the files for print and ebook. All of this time and money are spent before they have made one dime on a book.
Then the book is released, but the authors job isn't done. They spend hours on social media sharing the teasers, book covers, blurbs, etc. The author communicates with their readers, works with their street teams, and works with bloggers and publicity teams to get the word out. They host giveaways and donate to other giveaways. More money leaves their hands and they still haven't received any money for their book. Personally, the only money that I have in my pocket from my first book release is from the print books that I purchased and sold myself. But, with the giveaways I've hosted it's a wash at this point. I'll have a small amount once I receive my first payout from Amazon, but it won't be much when we factor in the costs of my time and what I've spent already.
Here's a comparison for you. I currently have a total of 93 eBooks sold through Amazon. The sales have slowed down considerably since my release 11 days ago. But when I ran a search on Google, I found this:
This is an unauthorized distribution of my book. If you notice, downloads today 67 and over a thousand this week. Is this true? I couldn't tell you. When I tried to go to the link my virus software squawked that there was a virus. So, I have no way to really research this further. However, that is the title and cover for my book. Those downloads don't indicate people that "would" have spent money on my book, but they do indicate people that have read my hard work for nothing.
As a new author who has just published my debut book, this is frustrating. I never expected my books to make me rich, but I would like to be paid for those that are reading my work. "Finding the Dragon" is a 116K book (365 pages) and the ebook sales for $2.99. I think that is pretty reasonable. It is also lendable on Amazon, so why not chip in with a friend, each can pay part and the one who purchases can lend it to the other. You just knocked the price in half and you're not breaking the law.
My friend Kris posted a very good description in a comment:
"If you buy an e-book from Amazon and you want to loan it out, you can. To one person at a time, just like a physical book. I have no problems with you loaning out your one copy of the book you purchased to someone via the loan program, just don't copy it and distribute it. Keeping a copy for yourself, making another for your buddy, and another for your sister is the electronic equivalent of taking a paperback to work and photocopying all the pages. You wouldn't do that, would you? Then please don't copy the e-files!"
Other Examples of Pirating
So, please feel free to talk like a pirate, but don't BE a pirate. Thank you.
My Thoughts on Reviews
As a reader I always struggled with reviews. It’s not easy to write a review without regurgitating the book or the wording coming off harsh. It is something I worked hard to do a good job with. I always wrote honest reviews. I always tried to make sure that I posted the good and bad. Basically my reviews were a thorough review of my thoughts on the book. That’s right, my thoughts.
I know not everyone likes the same books. Two people can like book A and totally disagree on book B. So, I felt that my reviews could help those that look at books the way I do. I know I didn’t want to waste my hard earned money on a book to find that it wasn’t a good fit for me.
However, have you ever really stopped to look at the reviews on a book. The ratio of good to bad? I mean, I seriously can’t believe that there aren’t more people dissatisfied with books out there.
So, I never read reviews when looking for a good book. I didn’t trust them to be an honest representation of the reading population. But, this also made me feel strongly about posting my unbiased thoughts on my own reviews, because I know many people DO use reviews.
My Thoughts on Bullies
I grew up an excessively shy introvert that spent my time in books to escape the reality of my life. I had low self-esteem and was terrified of new situations and people. Not a good mix when you leave everything you know and move to a new town and school. I was bullied. I was called names. It was not a good situation, but I know others that had it much worse.
Jump forward, now I have kids. Much like me, my kids are unique and don’t quite fit the mold of what everyone else thinks is the right way to be. As my previous blog post shared, my kids are both diagnosed with ADHD. Due to the way that others treated them, my daughter was depressed as a kindergartener and again as a 4th grader. My husband went to school with many of these kids’ parents and informed me that the parents were just like this in school. My husband was also made fun of as a kid. So, my thoughts… a bully isn’t born, a bully is made.
What does this have to do with books? Well, a lot I’m afraid. I have met so many wonderful, caring people through books; however, not all of them have been. I’ve heard of authors attacked my people with a personal vendetta against them, I’ve heard of authors being attacked by other authors, and I’ve heard of readers being attacked by authors and other readers. How many stories have you heard of an author quitting because of someone who treated them so poorly that they lost their zest for writing. How many times have you seen someone attacked for posting a preference or belief in a book related group? I personally have seen it happen a lot. I have a friend who was attacked by an author for her review and now refuses to leave a review for anyone but those authors that she knows and trusts.
This frustrates me. No one should be afraid to voice their opinions. One of the base principles for our country is the “Freedom of Speech.” But, let me also point out that it does not give someone the right to verbally abuse someone else. That does not give someone the right to tell someone else what they should think or feel either.
Why This Post?
So, while my first book was in edits I decided to catch up on some reading. I also had a friend who was having a birthday and I went out to her Amazon wish list to look for a book or two that I could get for her. While there I noticed that a book on her list was free. I clicked on the book and read the blurb. It sounded like an interesting story and was right up my alley at the time. Besides, it was free. Why wouldn’t I give it a try, right?
So, I downloaded the book and while I was waiting on my daughter with her friend, we had hours, I sat down to read this book. The book read like a first time author’s book. In my opinion, the book had issues – for me it was dry and confusing. I struggled for hours to get through 21% of the book, at which point I couldn’t stand it anymore. If you know me and my reading habits, you would know that I read pretty quickly (a book a day in some cases) and I always finish a book. After hours, I just wanted it to be over. So, I stopped reading. This book was on my friend’s wish list and I felt the need to write a review to let others know of the issues I found. I posted a 2-star review. I clearly stated that I did not finish reading the book and why.
Now, jump ahead about 2-months. Out of the blue, right before my book released, I receive a PM on Facebook from an author accusing me of “slamming” her book. She called me a “newbie author” and flat out told me I was wrong. She went on to say I lied.
This flabbergasted me. I do not slam, I do not lie in my reviews. I admit I responded back. It went back and forth a few times. I realized that it wouldn’t make the situation better and I asked her to not message me again. When she did, I blocked her from my account. The next day I received another message on my author page. I did not respond, just marked the post as spam.
This was days before my book released and I was already an emotional mess. I could not handle this woman’s drama. However, I did go back and read my review. One thing she had said was that the review was condescending. If you remember, I stated that I thought this was a “newbie author,” so I could understand why she felt it was condescending. So, I re-wrote my review to take out that language. I left my review, because my opinions were my opinions on what I had read. If she had approached me with the respect she was adamant that I wasn’t showing her, then I might have updated my review sooner for her. As it was, it took a few days as I tried to understand why this author felt the need to send me such awful messages.
As I said earlier this book was on a friend’s wish list. And, a friend of mine gave the book a review after I had posted mine. This is a good friend and I had discussed this lady with her and she had agreed to read the book and let me know if she felt the same way I did. Her review was lower than my own. My friend does not like to write reviews and only left a star rating. So, now we are at this past week. I once again received a message from this author. This time on Goodreads where she accused me of having my friend “bash” her book. She also tracked my friend down and not only messaged her on Facebook (she had to friend her first – after she posted her message she revoked the friend request and blocked my friend) but she also messaged her on Goodreads.
So, I sit her thinking to myself, “what should I do?”
Some would argue that I should let it go. However, this lady threatened to report us to Amazon. Could I just sit back and let her do this? How many individuals like this lady are there that are getting away with similar attacks because people are scared of looking unprofessional or causing a larger stink.
For the reasons I shared with you, I don’t like bullies.
My First Review Was a 2-Star
On release day I sat in bed wanting to pull the covers over my head and hide. My nerves were a mess and I had to be careful so I wouldn’t have a panic attack. Yeah, publishing a book is that nerve wracking. Shortly after I woke up I went to Amazon and found my first review. It was 2-stars and it was harsh. The language was inappropriate in my mind, but the reader deserved her thoughts. Yes, it hurt. It hurt because it was my first. Lots of thoughts went through my head and after a bit I sent a link for the review to my beta readers. I asked them to read the review and tell me if they agreed. They agreed that the words were harsh, but they didn’t feel the same way about the book. This helped bring some airflow back to my lungs. I could breathe again. I was not a failure (then I got my first good review :D ).
I sat for hours thinking about that review. I decided that I could understand why a person would have thought some of the things that the reviewer said. I don’t agree with most, but it’s their opinion and my book, right? We don’t have to agree. However, as I go into book 2, I feel stronger and more ready to write. I took what I could learn from that review and I plan to make book 2 even better than book 1.
You will notice, I did not report the review. I did not contact the reviewer about the language they chose to use. I learned and moved forward.
I WANT You to Post a Review
As a reader of one of my books, I ask each of you to post a review. Give it a rating and tell me what you liked or didn’t like. If the characters or some part of the story made you lose reading momentum… I want to know.
I do not want you to message me privately (unless you feel more comfortable doing that), I want you to post the review on Amazon, Goodreads, Nook, Kobo… post it where you normally post your reviews. If you seriously feel the book deserves 1-star, then give it a 1-star. All I ask is that you be polite in what you write.
Le me reiterate, if you are a reader post a review. I don’t care if you write books, scoop ice cream, or eat bon bons on your couch. If you read the book, you deserve the right to write an honest review about my book. You can feel confident that I will respect your opinions and use them to make my future work better. Maybe, you will try another book I write and find that it is more to your liking.
With the release of my first book I should be jumping around with excitement, rejoicing at my first good review, and cringing at my first bad review; but, instead, I'm being surrounded by negativity. I shouldn't be surprised by the occasional human being that feels the need to attack for no reason. There is a reason I prefer my books and have practically become an agoraphobe.
**I should state right here... this isn't all about me. I have some dear friends that have recently come under fire as well.**
If you know me, you know I can be opinionated and stubborn. When I feel strongly enough about something, I can be quite blunt, straight forward, and honest. However, this doesn't always mean that I am as brave and secure in myself as I wish I could be. Small things in your past can affect every decision you make as you progress from that moment and into your future. These events may seem trivial to others, but to you they are one of the many things that have made you who you are and can seem larger than Mount Everest to climb.
So, what does this have to do with heroines? Well, as an author, many of us write what we know. That means, when we write a heroine it is either based on some aspect of our own personality or the personality of those we know. IE, Why an author can be very emotionally attached to their characters.
I know that when I read a book a whiny character can get old real fast. It's like watching a TV show or movie with my mom. You sit and scream at the character -- grow up, quit whining, open your eyes, you idiot! But, the thing I always remind myself is that fragility is reality, every human being has a weakness. We as humans are known to not see those things that are right in front of our faces. Each of us processes emotions and events differently. Each of us is unique.
My motto has always been -- "Being normal is highly overrated." We celebrate differences in our house.
When I wrote Alvena she took on a life of her own. She screamed at me. She was me. Flawed, weak in some ways and strong in others; she was real and human. She is named after Mr. Reuel's grandmother and my own grandmother. Alvena was a sweet kindly women that was meek and unassuming. Irene was a strong southern belle who helped build airplanes and knew how to point a gun when someone tried to rob her diner. To me they are the two sides of Alvena -- who she is and who she can be.
Can Alvena's demeanor and quirkiness be a bit annoying, probably, I know I can be. She is a conundrum in some respects. She has a strength she doesn't realize and holds on to those things that help her hide behind her flaws. In "Finding the Dragon," Kai and Alvena both learn to accept and let go. That is their growth. For me, not every alpha is an overbearing neanderthal (even though I enjoy some of those too) and not every heroine is a kick-ass know-it-all. Bravery and your inner-dragon can come from unlikely places.
Differences: Weakness, Strength, or Just Who They Are?
Some things are very personal and close to my heart. Events in a persons past can affect them, shape them, and prevent them from doing the things they need to do. Past relationships affect how I process my current relationships (IE why Alvena has that issue). I'm over 40 years old, but that 14 to 18 year old girl still lives inside of me. Low self-esteem doesn't miraculously disappear just because you become an adult, get a job, have a family, and buy a house. Why else would so many people seek therapy and/or take medications for anxiety and depression? Does this make those people weak and unworthy? or does it make you want to help them find their HEA? For me, I want them to learn how special they are and find that HEA.
Maybe some of my beliefs have become colored by the struggles of my own children as well. Both of my children have ADHD. My daughter was diagnosed in kindergarten. She could have been the poster child for the diagnosis. As a 5-year old, she was depressed. She would cry almost every night and beg me not to send her back to school. This flummoxed me, because she had always been a happy, bright child who easily made friends everywhere we went. When I took her to the doctor, he diagnosed her and said that the depression is caused because the other children get tired of trying to keep up with an ADHD child. They pull away and the ADHD child becomes lonely. They don't understand why their classmates don't want to hang out with them. I watched a video that the teachers put together, "A Day in the Life of a Kindergartener." My heart broke as I watched my sweet girl walk in and out of the frame. She would look over the other kids shoulders to see what they were doing and then walk on to another. I never saw her actually play at recess in that video. I never saw her smile. If you knew my daughter, you would know - she ALWAYS smiles. Flash forward, my daughter is unable to take medication for her ADHD due to reactions to the medications. She has had to learn to handle her ADHD on her own. Her grades are good enough that she doesn't qualify for additional help, and without that the teachers treated her like a bad kid. They wouldn't repeat assignments, "you should have been listening the first time." A large part of the population don't understand the issues that some of these kids and adults go through. Having a conversation with her is an exercise in patience. You have to keep up, because she will go from one thought to another faster than Speedy Gonzales. My question to you is, does the fact that she can't focus and at times misses obvious clues a weakness? or does it make her who she is?
My son also has ADHD, but where my daughter's is the outgoing, busy, loud kind; his is the moody, introverted, OCD, focused on those things he loves and nothing else kind. He is on medication. It helps, but not completely. I have watched school officials treat my son like demon spawn. I have seen them write him off as a loss cause. My son is an extremely bright and amazing young man. Yes, I might be biased, but I have had a few others see him the way I do. There is nothing worse for a parent than to watch as others judge their child when they don't know the pain your child is suffering.
For those that haven't lived with the multitude of difficulties that others have, it can be hard to understand. I get that. That is also why I and other authors write the characters we do. We hope that some will connect with that character and know that they are not alone. We hope that others will gain understanding and insight. For those that have not had to live through ADHD, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, shyness, etc. you really can't understand how these issues and characteristics shape who a person is and how they make decisions.
I guess what I am asking is that you keep this in mind when reading a character that you may not connect with. I admit that this is something I have had to do myself, even with my background. These characters are very real to the author who created them. Alvena, Kai, and the rest of the Dásreach are my babies. They have a story that I feel the need to share. I know not everyone will enjoy the story, but I hope many will.
Pre-Order from one of these locations:
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/VH7D0e
Amazon CA: http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00MV94JX2
Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00MV94JX2
Amazon DE: http://www.amazon.de/dp/B00MV94JX2
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Josette Reuel is an avid reader of many different genres - her passion is mostly Sci-fi and Paranormal, especially Romance, but she also read's contemporaries, historicals, and much more.