Cloudy with a Chance of What? This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Cloudy with a Chance of What?

As I sit here in my big chair, Kindle in hand, dogs clustered about, I’m looking out the window and watching snow flakes fly by.  In April.  In Maryland.  In a yard that has hyacinths blooming, not to mention a few scarce cherry blossoms struggling to hold on after all the fierce winds we’ve had lately. There are violets out like mad, and a pollen count off the charts enough to keep Winston sneezing along with everyone else, now we have snow, frigid temperatures and more on the horizon.

Not just the expected frosts, but actual snow.  Sigh.

And only a few days ago it was in the 80’s, thoughts of flowers, plantings, bar-b-ques and flip flops were in my head or actually walking down the street.  My winter coat was tucked away, along with gloves, hats, and, my ever present scarves.

Now all are back and I can’t tell you for how long and neither can the meteorologists.

From day to day I never know what to expect from the weather these days. Snow, heat, torrential downpours, light rains, gale force winds to gentle lovely breezes that stir the air…we’ve had them all recently, and sometimes within a manner of a week or two.

Life feels a lot like that in many respects.  Whether its health or family issues or things like a computer who doesn’t feel like upgrading this morning and just shuts down,  the unexpected seems to rise up and then wait to see how well you deal (or don’t) with the results.   I’m still working on those.  How about you?

For now, I’m still looking out the window as the snow appears to be giving up…for now.  I do know that Spring is coming, the weather will eventually turn, finally, for the better and then we’ll all be complaining about the heat.  But for now? The forecast by looking at our skies is cloudy with a  chance of  what exactly?  Mother Nature’s not telling.  It’s a toss up here.   So I’m returning to the chair, the dogs and my Kindle for the rest of the day.  Seems like a reasonable course of action.  But here is our schedule for the upcoming week.  There is something wonderful for everyone.  Check it all out.

☁♢☁♢☁♢☁♢☁

 

 This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, April 10:

  • Cloudy with a Chance of What? This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, April 11:

  • Our Author & Book Spotlight: Meg Harding on Inspiration and ‘The Last Favor’
  • Mary Newman’s ‘A Prince’s Ransom’ Book Blast and giveaway
  • Determined Mate (Holland Brothers #2) by Toni Griffin  Audiobook Tour and giveaway
  • ‏Black Dust by Lynn Charles Book Blast and giveaway
  • An Alisa Review: Planting His Dream by Andrew Grey
  • A Stella Review: Ravel by R. Phoenix

Tuesday, April 12:

  • Cover reveal: Elizabeth Noble ‘Code Name Jack Rabbit (excerpt and giveaway)
  • Up Close and Personal with AJ Marcus on her release Moose Fever and more (Guest Post)
  • Coffee Sip and Book Break with Knit Tight’ by Annabeth Albert (excerpt and giveaway)
  • A MelanieM Review:  Knit Tight by Annabeth Albert
  • An Ali Review: Moose Fever by AJ Marcus

Wednesday, April 13:

  • Bad Magic (Spell Slave #1) by Evelyn Elliott  – excerpt and  giveaway
  • J. Scott Coatsworth’s Myths Untold- Faery Anthology  Release and Guest Blog
  • In the Spotlight: The Case of The Thwarted Lovers by L.G. Fabbo-Gonnella (excerpt and contest)
  • A Jeri Review: Pop LIfe by Ryan Loveless (a release day review)

Thursday, April 14:

  • In the Spotlight: The Dilemma by Victoria Sue (excerpt and giveaway)
  • Cornelia Grey’s Devilish Circus is back with ‘The Empty Hourglass’ by Cornelia Grey (giveaway and guest blog)
  • You’ve Never Been Hurt by Jaime Samms  (tour and contest)
  • A Paul B Review: Enemies of the State by Tal Bauer
  • An Ali Review: Better Than Safe by Lane Hayes Audiobook Review

Friday, April 15:

  • Cover reveal for North to Zombieville by Meg Bawden
  • Jay Northcote ‘Imperfect Harmony’ Book Tour and contest
  • Second Skin by Alex Whitehall. Riptide Tour and contest
  • An Ali Review: Grizzly Discovery(Mountain Spirits Mysteries book 2)‏ by AJ Marcus
  • A MelanieM Review:  Hidden Wings by Ana Raine

Saturday, April 16:

  • A MelanieM Review:  Professional Distance by Silvia Violet

 

 

 

 

More Winner Announcements….and the Week ahead At ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords

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Places to go, things to do.  Busy, busy, busy.  so short and sweet this week.

I have some winner announcements to make.  All the winners have been notified.  Congratulations go out to:

  • The Winner of Leona Carver’s giveaway for No Oceans Too Deep is Hannah B!
  • *Winners of Shira Antony’s Into the Wind Tour are as follows:

Entry #992Lori P.
Entry #853Carolyn
Entry #44Shorty C.
Entry #493Chase P.
Entry #664Renee S.

  • The winner from my blog of an ebook copy of Stealing the Wind is Gabrielle Jones.
  • The Winner of John Inman’s Spirit is Joe.

 

The week ahead is full of book tours, audio book releases, reviews and contests.  Don’t miss out on a day of it.  The week ahead at ScatteredThoughts looks something like this:

  • Monday, June 9 – am:     On Tour with Brad Vance and his release, Apollo’s Curse
  • Monday, June 9 – pm:     Review:    Apollo’s Curse by Brad Vance
  • Tuesday, June 10 – am:     In the Author Spotlight with David Pratt of Looking After Joey (interview/contest)
  • Tuesday, June 10  – pm      Audio Book Tour:  Finding Release by Silvia Violet
  • Wed., June 11 – am            Stranger on the Shore by Josh Lanyon
  • Wed., June 11 – pm           Audio Book Tour:  Brokenhearted by Cate Ashwood
  • Thurs., June 12 – am         On Tour with E.M. Lynley and Out of the Gate
  • Thurs., June 12 – pm        Review: Out of the Gate by E.M. Lynley
  • Friday,  June 13- am        Quickstop Tour/Contest with Daisy Harris and Nothing But Smoke
  • Friday, June 13 – pm        On Tour with Angel Martinez and Finn (Endangered Fae #1) Contest
  • Sat., June 14 –                      Nothing But Smoke by Daisy Harris

 

 

Saturday Brings a Change in Plans and a mini rant on book endings

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So here it is Saturday and the week has gotten away from me.  Between lunch at the farm, and several trips to Sun Nursery (one of my favorite addictions), the reading and writing didn’t get their allotted time of my day.  OK, I will also have to blame it on this fabulous fall weather we are having here in Maryland.  Cool, crisp with sunny blue skies overhead, I just couldn’t stand being inside, the gardens, pond, the farm, they all called to me.  And I listened.  And went  outside.  All day long.
The dogs loved it, the birds loved the new feeders that went up and the stones got here for the new deeper winter pond for the fish, all four of them. I wonder how the Great Blue Heron will feel about having to work  for its dinner instead of just idly and with no effect at all, grabbing out my fish one after the other. But I learned and now they have places to hide from the predators that visit with the goal of takeout.  Really, can goldfish and koi taste that much better than the creek chubs in the stream down the road?
The one book I did finish so  frustrated me that I almost pitched the Kindle right out the window.  But why blame the messenger when the author is at hand? Never in my life have I read such a beautifully crafted story that the author  completely demolished in the last 10 pages.  That occupied my thoughts for quite a while.  How does that happen?
Does someone read this story of a man self destructing over a sexual compulsion and say to the author “oh, that will never sell unless you have a HEA?”  And the author listens?  Or does the author fall so much in love with her characters that a HEA becomes the overriding factor that negates everything that goes before, the characterizations as well as the legitimacy of the plot?  As you can tell, this is still bothering me big time.  I just don’t understand someone treating something so well written in such a cavalier way.  It’s as though someone took The Maltese Falcon and attached a My Little Pony ending onto it. *shudders*  If anyone out there can shed some light onto this for me, do so.  Are these behind the scene shenanigans something that happens at the publisher or the editors?  How on earth does this happen?  Inquiring minds want to know.  And then blog  about it.
So two friends are coming over for lunch, one a fellow blogger, the other an author.  I will pose the questions to them as well.  I feel a mini rant coming on.  The review for this book is coming up in the next couple of weeks. I am sure you will know which one it is.  I must get going so I will leave you with a repost from one of my favorite blogs, The Blood Red Pencil.  If you don’t know about it, you should.  They blog on writing from every aspect and its wonderful as well as informative.  It’s separate from this post so don’t miss it.
Carole Cumming’s Ghost will be reviewed next week.  This is the first in a series and I am enjoying the complexity of her world building and characters.  I hope it ends in the same fashion in which it started.  I mean really, are there ghost writers out there, lurking about, just waiting to pounce on unfinished novels and trash the endings?  That is one explanation.  Tell me what others you can think of.  I am going back outside.  It is safer there.

Thoughts On Writing Reviews and an Author’s First Book

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When I start a book and find out that it is a “first novel” for an author several things come to mind immediately.  Is this the first published book for this author? Or is this the first book for the author in every way, first book written and first book published? If the answer to either question is yes, then the headaches and twinges sets in as both my anticipation and anxiety ramp up.  In many ways I dislike writing reviews on “Firsts”.  While it is true some first books jump right out of the gate like Bear, Otter, and the Kid by TJ Klune and never look back in their race to success and great storytelling, most don’t fit into this category.  Like bike riding, jump-roping, and other activities, you take your beginner falls and make your beginner mistakes and hope you are not surrounded by onlookers.

The beginning novelist doesn’t have that opportunity.  They put their baby out there and wait for the reviews to come in. And when the reviews are less than stellar, it must feel crushing.  Amy Lane, an author I love, recently showed us a blog cartoon her daughter is launching about life with an author mother. It shows Amy upset over a 3 star rating in one section. The cartoon was funny as well as truthful.  The author pours their heart and soul into a book and then has to wait to see if they are going to get a smack down or a boatload of golden stars. This painful anticipation goes beyond categories like established or beginner but at least an established author has been there before. For a first time author, it is alien territory. Yes, there be dragons lurking there.  I can always hope that the first time novelist has a wonderful editor, a great group of concrit partners and a support system to see them through the pangs of their first publication.  Doesn’t always happen either. Sigh.

That’s the author’s side.  Now let’s flip this over. While I don’t wish to contribute to an author’s pain, I still have an obligation to the readers who will buy the books to tell the truth as I see it.  Yes, review ratings are based on the judgement and opinion of the reviewers but if the person writing the reviews taste match your own then you come to count on their reviews when purchasing or thinking about purchasing a book. If you are too kind to an author about the story you have read and don’t express your real feelings or observations about the book, then you are betraying the trust of people who count on your judgement. Say you stretch that rating out from a 3 to a 4 star rating, does it matter?  Yes, you have just said that a book that was only average is now a book you loved and would recommend. Someone spends their money thinking they have bought a book they will love only to find it lacking.  Now you have a frustrated and perhaps angry reader.  They are unhappy with the reviewer as well as the author.  Goodwill demolished on every front.

So how to balance the two? It is a constant juggling act.  Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t.  I try to be helpful but that is not always possible. I can hope that I can take away enough from the story to say something positive.  It is easy to be mean, harder to be a “force for good”. So I look to find some redeeming characteristics to write about.  Again not always possible.  Usually I go through several drafts of a review.  All the scathing things I really want to say get written first.  You know the easy caustic points you can make, sometimes it is like shooting fish in a barrel.  Just not very sporting.  Have I done it?  Yes.  I am human.  But I find that with each draft, some of those sentences get edited away. Mostly.

Sometimes upon completing a disappointing “first” from an author, I often wonder why someone didn’t help them more.  How on earth did that plot, that dialog, that choice of words in descriptions, and that very lack of characterization makes its way into publication?  Why did not someone pull that writer aside and say “that is a lovely first attempt, now let’s box it up, slide it under the bed and start on your second novel.”  Is that not done any more in the rush to publish something?  I really don’t know.  I would love to hear your opinions on this, either as a writer, publisher, or an author.

So that’s where I stand, in the middle of a teetertotter trying to find my balance.  Sometimes I teeter on the edge, sometimes I tip and totter over, and sometimes the balance is just right.  Feel like Goldilocks on those days. Good days and bad, good stories and  bad attempts.  Karma.  How do you feel about reviews?  What makes a good review for you?  And what first books have been memorable ones?  Let’s talk, shall we?  Book reviews to follow!