Saturday, January 24, 2015

Reviews & Some Potential Spoilers: Read Cautiously

It's the moment every writer holds their breath for... they spend countless hours pouring their heart and soul into writing a story, trying to find every single free moment to dedicate towards it. They finally publish it, and then you wait... wait for other people to read it and for the reviews to come pouring in. Or trickle in, as in my case, which was bound to happen since I self-published and am trying to figure my way around the marketing world.

It's been quite an interesting ride with the few reviews I've received so far from people I don't know, except through connecting us. It definitely shows the reason why so many different books are written: they can appeal to different people in various ways.

Again, with the limited review numbers I have to work with here, my research on this isn't vast by any means, but I'm noticing a trend between each star rating thus far.

Let me also preface this by saying that I know my book is by no means perfect. And by book, I'm focusing specifically on The Remedy Files: Illusion since that's the one I've been trying to market the most. That was a tough book to write, starting it over 5 years ago where I completed the beginning, middle, and end with some filler parts... then trying to pick it up 4 1/2 years later to officially finish it. It was difficult to connect everything after sitting untouched for so long. I can edit it as much as I possibly can, I've had a few other people try to edit it, but things are still going to be missed because we are not professional editors, and I, as the author, am so invested in it that I tend to look over grammatical issues.

So, yes, there could be some improvements and I will be the first to recognize that and completely agree with anyone else who points that out. Now, moving on to the other details of the reviews, and my data so far.

5 Star Ratings: These are the people that I've been so blown away with. As they're recapping my story, and throwing in their own theories, I'm just "wowed"... in fact, when I received one of the first ones, I remember thinking, "Oh geez, I'm being too predictable. She totally sees through everything I'm planning." But then as other reviews came in, I realized it wasn't me being predictable, these 5 star raters just "get it".... they get my vision, they get the underlying themes I'm throwing in there, they get me and my writing... which is absolutely incredible. To feel that connection with a total stranger who has read your story is one of the best feelings in the world.

4 Star Ratings: Another group that I'm "wowed" by every time I read their review. I almost grouped this one with the 5 Star ratings, but there is a very slight (incredibly minor) distinction. They are 95% there with "getting it", but aren't 100% aligned with it. I'm a believer that most of this group will bump up to the 5 star raters when they get the sequel and have some light shed on some of their theories. I also have respect for this group because I know some people hold their 5 star ratings to the books that have ultimately changed their life; but again, I feel like if people fully understand all the underlying themes, it has the potential to do that. It's always going to be a preference thing, which is why there's diversity in books, and much needed to have the difference in opinions.

3 Star Ratings: I completely get that these are still good ratings so I'm not knocking them by any means. But the definite trend I've noticed is their theories about the book are off by quite a bit. They aren't seeing the whole picture as I wanted it to be seen by them. I'll describe what I mean by that a bit more below.

2 & 1 Star Ratings: I haven't had any yet, I'm sure they're bound to come in; but for now, I don't have any data to go off. What I enjoy about using as a way to connect with reviewers is that ALL of these people really appreciate the power of writing, and reading stories from people who have poured themselves into it. When I read 1 star reviews on Amazon for other books, I get so frustrated because people have no clue what it takes to put yourself out for the entire world to criticize. It is one of the MOST vulnerable actions you can ever take in your life. There are people who will say awful things about the book, not once taking into consideration that this is someone's dream that they're bashing for really poor, not even well-thought out reasons.  Again, to me that's the big difference with it's a community of people who understand the reading/writing world, which makes it really special.

Okay, on to my continuation with 3 Star Ratings... When those come in, it's really hard to not send an email back to the person correcting them on all their assumptions. I mean, REALLY hard. Because you want people to get it. But it's like any work of art: a hundred people could look at a masterpiece and have a hundred different perspectives on it. Even if none of them hit on the artist's intent, you just have to let it be. Because they can still appreciate the artwork, even if they don't completely understand it, and appreciation can go a long ways. With these reviews, people are taking the time out of their lives to read your story, and give a detailed write-up of it. That is special in itself because they never had to agree to take the time to do that.

I know if they choose to read the sequel, they will see their theories about the first one were off, so I have to be patient in that. In the meantime, though, I thought I would take it to my blog to talk about some of these things as I'm sure other authors can relate.

1) Unoriginal Ideas: One of the most hurtful things anyone can ever tell a writer is that their ideas are unoriginal. Granted, there are some writers who are purposely doing spin-offs of other types of books (like fairy tales); but for the most part, authors truly feel as though their ideas are fresh, otherwise they wouldn't spend that amount of time investing in it. I've heard my story is like "Matched"... which, I refuse to even look up what that book is about because I don't want to be linked to it in any way. I've never read it before, so if details of my story align with that one, it's a coincidence. I can't say in the 5 years that The Remedy Files has been in my head, I've ever thought "oh, I'm going to pull from this and bring it into my story." Writing doesn't work that way. So for one reviewer to say, "there's no way it can be a coincidence", let me tell you, that's all it is. Additionally, my story was started 5 years ago... before so many of these other ones were even created. I can't tell you how many times I wished I had just completed it when I started it. I can guarantee you these sort of comments wouldn't have occurred because it would have been before the dystopian craze, which is probably why I'm so sensitive to them: I'm mad at myself for not pushing this out 5 years ago.

2) The Giver: I will deny my book has any influence by any other dystopian book... except The Giver. That has been my favorite book since I was 9 years old.  Every musical artist has a musical influence; most writers have been influenced by other writers. The Giver changed my life and had me thinking about alternate societies for most of my life, so I can't deny its influence in my ideas for The Remedy Files because it was bound to happen when you have a favorite book. I never purposely took ideas from it, though, and still don't feel like I did. However, to say that my book had similar themes to The Giver movie?? No, definitely no. My book had the themes it did prior to that movie ever coming out. Additionally, I had received three other critiques in relating it to The Giver:
The use of "community" when naming Impetus. Impetus is the name of the community, not "the community." Sometimes Impetus was referred to as the community because it was a way of using a different term than Impetus a hundred times in the story; similar to using "she" instead of "Evie" to switch things up. Impetus isn't a town or a city, so I couldn't use those... a community is what came natural because it sounds more cohesive and collaborative than any other word to describe a place where multiple people live.
Impetus will kill anyone who rebels, like The Giver movie: ***WARNING: SPOILER ALERT*** Here's one of the things readers will find out in the sequel, but here's a glimpse... Impetus is not trying to kill its people who rebel. There's a small group of rebels within Impetus who are trying to take over. That's all I'm going to say for now, but I wanted to clarify again, the reason why my book is not like that.
Evangeline, like Jonas, has atypical eyes: She's not the only one that has those, so it has nothing to do with just the lead character; it has to do with.... ***ANOTHER SPOILER ALERT*** the effects of Remedy.

3) Jacqueline: One of the things that set the 4 & 5 Star Ratings apart from the 3 Star Ratings was the people who recognized the importance of Jacqueline's role in the story. She is/was Evie's best friend. And yes, Evie tried to rescue her and Jacqueline refused. But who was "wrong" in that rescue attempt? The underlying theme in that scene is about the difference in people's beliefs. As a society, we tend to think our individual belief is the only "right way" and we have a hard time understanding why other people don't see things from our perspective. Throughout the story, Jacqueline was a full believer in Impetus. There was a very important line she shared with Evie.... ***SPOILER ALERT***:  some truths were revealed to her in her training to be the next Doctor. (That will be explored in the sequel more.) Even with more knowledge given to her, she still chose to hold on to her beliefs that Impetus was a society with good intentions, and she stuck by that.

4) Gavin: Some people don't like his mystery, other people can relate to the dark secrets he has to keep in order to protect the one(s) he loves. That's what it comes down to, Gavin is a natural Protector. Those kind of people have to carry a lot of burdens to protect others. Right now, he is caught between 3 different worlds. The sequel will take you all through his journey a bit more, but he is a mystery because he has to be... he was given that role... and it forces him to make sacrifices. I can't give away much else, but there's a reason behind it all and some tend to understand it because they've had similar people (or are those people themselves) in roles like that.

5) The Love Triangle: I knew when writing this, that it would come up. Some people would love it, others would hate it. There's a love triangle here, but it's not the one that people tend to see right away, which I'll address here momentarily.
Evie & Gavin: I've had a couple of people knock the intensity of the love/hate with Evie and Gavin, and my question for them is whether or not they've ever felt true restricted passion before... passion where you want to do something so badly about it, but there are too many other factors that keep you restrained from acting on it like you want to. It's a very intense relationship where there are two people magnetically drawn to each other on deeper levels (emotionally, mentally, physically), fighting internally and externally on how to cope with that because they are still trying to figure out lines that have been drawn between them since they first met twelve years ago. It's like that glass box keeping them apart and they can't break through it to get to each other.
Evie & Liam: This has been referred to as "insta-love" which is "hardly believable". When I hear this, I want to ask readers to take a step back and remember the story as a whole. Evie is a young woman, eighteen years old. She has had repressed feelings since she was born, which means skipping out on the slow journey and understanding of all the emotions that hit us from a very young age. We all know the hormonal adjustment is a big part of life throughout our teenage years. Here comes an extremely attractive man that she has never met before, and when she physically touches him, that's when things completely change for her. So, is it love or is it simply attraction that two people are experiencing for the very first time with never being "allowed" to feel that way before? And if it's not love now, will it eventually grow into love? I'm posing those two questions so I don't give too much away, but I want people to remember the entire story before framing their relationship as "insta-love".
Other Triangles: When we talk "love", I'm a firm believer in that word usage... so is the love triangle between Gavin-Evie-Liam? Or is it between Marlena-Gavin-Evie? And don't forget, the people of Impetus still very much exist and will play an important role in the sequel... there's Jacqueline, Caroline, Ethan, Ms. Kay, the unknown conspirators of Impetus, and even the memory of Mr. Frank who all come back in surprising ways. So yes, there is a love triangle, but it's not the one most people seem to see right away. (Or maybe there are multiple... I just love to throw out more possibilities to you all.)

Again, many of these things I don't make clear for a reason: This is Evangeline's journey. She doesn't understand it all yet, so why should I clue the reader in on it? There are underlying themes for a reason, and again why it's so exciting when someone is able to tune into it and pick up on all those tiny factors.

I appreciate every single person who has read this story so far. Being able to see a dream I've had since I was 6 years old come into fruition is a beautiful thing. Everyone who has taken the time to read it and comment, no matter the difference in views and opinions, is incredible and mean the world to me.

Until next time...

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


I'm finally getting a handle on all this self-publishing jazz. It's taken a while, and I'm still trying to teach myself the marketing aspect... but I keep learning more and more as each week goes by which is super exciting. One of those big revelations this past week was how weak the covers on my book look. So, I went through, invested a little money, and revamped them. I'm absolutely pumped with the results!

Enlightened: Evaline's Journey doesn't look too much different but it represents the lands Evaline travels through much better.

The biggest revamp was for The Remedy Files: Illusion. The cover as a whole (back and front) represents Evangeline's confusion about her reality, dreams, & perception. I'm in love with it.

In fact, I loved it so much, I went ahead and worked on the cover for the sequel, The Remedy Files: Rebirth (to be released April 2015 unless a super wise publisher picks me up in the meantime, then they may have a different idea for the release date... and the cover, for that matter-- hey, I have to keep dreaming. Things definitely don't come true unless you dream big.). Obviously the back of the cover will have details about the book and the author (and it'll be in English) but I didn't want to give too much away yet! This cover represents a new beginning like she's coming out of the water renewed, as well as the "split" Evangeline will be battling in the sequel... some major events are going to go down. I can't wait! :)


I had a moment a little while ago that I had to catch myself in. I was in a "I want" mood... thinking about how I want my life to be, or what I feel I'm not ready to take on that's occurring in my life, and specific dreams especially that I want to happen more than anything and I feel stuck that I can't make them happen... I had several comments silently screaming in my head, one after another, about what I want or don't want.

That's so wrong.

I had to take a step back and recenter myself... realize my life will play out how it's meant to. I don't know what's best for me- that's been proven by the countless times I've tried to take control of things for it to end up messy.

There's a plan for my life, and I don't doubt that one bit. I just need to learn to trust in a lot more. Things will happen as they're supposed to, when they're supposed to... In the meantime, I will keep praying and ending everything with, "if it's your will, God."

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Free Kindle Download Promotion 1/3-1/7

I'm starting off the release of Enlightened: Evaline's Journey with another free Kindle download promotion! From January 3 - January 7, you can download it for free before it goes to it's original price of $2.99. If you don't have a Kindle, you can download the app on most devices!

Evaline has come to realize ever since her abduction, most days are going to be bad. A fatal accident allows her to escape and find the life she has always dreamed about but never knew could possibly exist. With the help of the Sun and a multitude of other extraordinary characters, she's taken through incredible lands that help her discover who she is and the greatness and beauty of life's potential. 

Based off of similar events and exaggerated versions of characters in the author's own coming of age experiences, Enlightened examines the choices and strength in becoming the very best version of yourself.

Friday, January 2, 2015

1st Release of 2015! Enlighted: Evaline's Journey

My 1st Book release of 2015! 
Enlightened: Evaline's Journey... an Alice in Wonderland-esque exploratory expedition through a fantasy world based upon my own coming of age experiences and exaggerated versions of the characters who played the good, the bad, and the ugly. This book is super close to my heart so I'm incredibly excited to start off the new year by sharing it with others!

Evaline has come to realize ever since her abduction, most days are going to be bad. A fatal accident allows her to escape and find the life she has always dreamed about but never knew could possibly exist. With the help of the Sun and a multitude of other extraordinary characters, she's taken through incredible lands that help her discover who she is and the greatness and beauty of life's potential.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Musical Inspiration

So as I sit here, very impatiently (one of my greatest traits) waiting on Amazon/CreateSpace to officially approve the publishing of my next book, Enlightened: Evaline's Journey, I can't help but think about the musical influences behind them. As I've said before, I'm now married to a jukebox that never unplugs which should mean many more story ideas will be stirred up with him singing all the time and me finally making writing a priority once again. It's a good, slightly strange, team that we have going on here.

When I started The Remedy Files five years ago, I actually had the document saved under the title of the song that inspired it: "God of Wine" by Third Eye Blind. Anyone who has known me for a good chunk of my life is aware that was a very life-changing album for me which I held closely to my heart for many, many years. The "God of Wine" song was always one of my favorites. I can't believe it took as long as it did for a story to finally be born out of it, but that's how The Remedy Files: Illusion came to be. That song is one where every single time it plays, I have to stop everything I'm doing and listen because it fills every ounce of who I am. My mind shuts down and I'm 100% emotions, all heart, and have no willpower whatsoever to put up any walls. Yes, it's that powerful and with that sort of instant dramatic effect. "God of Wine" and "Motorcycle DriveBy"... ahh.. writing the titles alone gives me goosebumps. Greatest songs off that album and I would argue some of the best songs ever written.

Enlightened: Evaline's Journey (hopefully will officially be released here shortly!) was a coping mechanism to help me deal with some of the things that I was going through in my life. So it's a little different in the sense that a song didn't necessarily inspire it right off bat. But 3 1/2 years after I started writing it, I was sitting with my husband (only my boyfriend at the time) and he played Josh Ritter's "Change of Time". My heart stopped. I think I may have had him replay it over and over again several times afterwards. As soon as I heard it, it was the motivation I needed to start writing Enlightened again. It is definitely the soundtrack of the book as I couldn't imagine another song more fitting. In fact, as I'm writing this post and waiting for the book to get up on Amazon, I have it playing. Amazing song and I'm so grateful of my husband's (mostly) good musical tastes because I'm not sure I ever would have picked up Enlightened again if it wasn't for "Change of Time" reigniting the feelings that link to it again.

Aside from the musical inspiration concept tonight, I am quite excited that I was able to complete the 2nd book that I started on 5 years ago. It was incredibly tough trying to pick up stories that I started so long ago in order to complete them, but I also didn't want to totally scrap them because there were some great concepts that I wish I had completed when they were still so fresh in my head. I feel way better about Enlightened, though... it was much easier to re-enter that world since it was based on so much of my real life in a very exaggerated sort of way. Although I absolutely love The Remedy Files for different reasons, Enlightened may be the one I'm most excited about because there's more of a personal connection to it.

And, I completed my final goal of finishing both of those before the start of 2015!  (I'm not counting CreateSpace's delay in holding me up on officially getting them out to the public.) Although now it looks like the release date will be January 2, 2015 instead of January 1st. Ahh, small details. But it mentally feels amazing that I was able to push both of them out and start 2015 with a renewed passion for writing again and with a clean slate to start on all these new ideas rolling around in my head.

Today I was able to start on the next one. I won't give anything away about it yet except what inspired it was Taylor Swift's "Wildest Dreams"...  Yes, I love her. And this one is good... real good... I'm enjoying writing it. ;)

Monday, December 22, 2014

In love... with a house

I'm a dreamer. In fact, that has come to be one of Nick's pet names for me, "Dreamer." I'm glad he has caught on so early that it is indeed an integral part of who I am. At the very least it can serve as a justification for half the things I say or do. One of those, is searching for what I would deem as the near perfect home. Well, a few months ago I found one. It's what I would call (without actually ever visiting it or Seattle), my writer's haven and the perfect house. So what is my perfect house? One that has a view of the mountains, water, and lots of trees (primary factors in nature that get my creative juices pumping), is under 3,000 sq feet (I like small houses), completely open with a big kitchen yet 100% cozy and inviting. Sure, I wouldn't argue with other luxuries like an indoor swimming pool but I wouldn't consider that as a "must-have"- even in this dream of mine. So the dream home I found in Burien, WA is a bit of out my price range (by a lot) and half way across the country... but I look at it almost every single day and will be absolutely heartbroken the day it sells if the person that buys it isn't me.

Pictures courtesy of

In the meantime, I'm quite thankful for the cozy setup we have here. I'm thankful for PTO allowing me to spend the morning in my PJs instead of going to work today so I can write, being inside on a cold rainy day, having a nice fire going, two adorable cats that are passed out by it and an incredible husband that's coming home to join me later today.

But I would also like to sweep him and the kitties away and go live in that Burien house as a happy family instead. For now, that's simply another dream of mine.