#bookreview guidelines, updated

#bookreview guidelines, updated

bookreviews_logo

Hi, #Author,

Your book sounds interesting, but I don’t have a lot of time or interest in most reviewing activities and I am very picky. Review the below carefully.

I might be interested in reading and reviewing your novel, if your novel:
— has NO graphic or, if it has violence, it is mostly “offstage” and not often repeated (no serial killing plots)
— there are a minimum of plot-reduction devices (fights, car chases, bomb blasts, etc.)
— the character development and plot devices are good to excellent
— has no raping
— has no torture
— has no BDSM scenes
— has no romanticizing helpless women
— has no gratuitous or abusive (even if “consensual”) sex, strip clubs, boxing, mixed martial arts, car races, motorcycle races, circuses or rodeos or other such settings/activities, for “atmosphere”
— has no human trafficking
— has no mutilation of animals or people
— has no child predators
— has non-plot-advancing violence
— does not have your trying to get “inside” the mind of the villain and writing in his/her “voice”
— has any Middle Eastern, Russian or other stereotyped ethnic villains.

I AM NOT A PRUDE, and not a censor. It’s that I now consider the aforementioned to be boring and lazy writing as well as disrespectful and hate-mongering and /or these elements give me bad dreams.

If your book fits my criteria, then one final note: I cannot read a PDF on my Kindle (I can’t enlarge that document’s font size and it is always about 6-pt, for some reason). The document has to be in a .mobi format.

Finally, I only submit honest reviews. If your book is truly horrible or has severe editing problems, I may email you after reading a few chapters and ask if you want me to continue or not, since that would definitely earn it only 1 or 2 stars, at best. I do not post DNF “reviews” unless the author refuses to respond to that question in an email within 2 weeks.

So, let me know.

Best to you,

Sally

Sally Ember, Ed.D.
http://www.sallyember.com

5 Stars: Delighted to Read and #Review Mary Oliver’s Felicity: Poems

5 Stars: Delighted to Read and #Review Mary Oliver’s Felicity: Poems

Felicity Mary Oliver poems
Cover of Felicity: Poems by Mary Oliver
published in October, 2015

Mary Oliver, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for her poetry several decades ago, has long been one of my favorite poets. If you have not found her poetry, you are missing out on many delights from dozens of publications. Go catch up or start here. Either way, you’ll be glad you did.

She, like Ursula K. Le Guin and many others whose poetry I admire and resonate with, utilizes many of her walks in the natural world to populate and explain her inner experiences and outer relationships.

As I have written before (about to quote myself, here): “Poetry is meant to be read aloud. I enjoy reading poetry aloud as if I am the poet, wondering as I hear each word, line, idea, image, stanza, what the poet was imagining and how this exact turn of phrase came to capture it. Knowing how long many poets take to conjure the precise manner in which to describe and evoke every part of their intention, I want to savor it.

“I do NOT read in that artificial, almost-questioning (upturned inflection on the end of lines), drawling almost-monotone that many poetry readers make the horrible mistake of using.

“No.

“I read poetry aloud as if each poem is its own story, because this unique version of that story is interesting, new, and not mine. I use the line breaks and punctuation as suggestions to help me go with the poet’s flow. I smile, I laugh, I pause, I taste the words on my tongue.

“Try it. You’ll like it!”

As I usually do, I marked pages of this book with pieces of scrap paper so I’d remember which stanzas, poems, titles, lines caught my attention. Here are some, in no particular order. I sometimes annotate or explain. Find your own parts to love and for your own reasons.

Moments was so important to me that I gave it to my Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapist on the occasion of my last of 12 sessions with her in my TBI recovery treatment this month, as a kind of “Thank You” and a window into my psyche she might not formerly have had, otherwise. It is brief, so here it is in its entirety.

Moments

There are moments that cry out to be fulfilled.
Like, telling someone you love them.
Or giving your money away, all of it.

Your heart is beating, isn’t it?
You’re not in chains, are you?

There is nothing more pathetic than caution
when headlong might save a life,
even, possibly, your own.

As I read this collection, I realized that somewhere between her last collection of poetry and this one, Mary Oliver seems to have fallen—quite unexpectedly, to her—in passionate love in her 70s. That gives me hope, long single myself at the age of 61 and not having met anyone suitable for many years; I had given up. Thanks, Mary!

Many of the poems in this new collection are about that first wonder, doubt, then acceptance of her “condition,” being in love again at her “advanced” age, and then some extremely sweet descriptions of their relationship’s minutiae and tender times.

Here is a short poem like that, This and That:

This and That
In this early dancing of a new day—
dogs leaping on the beach,
dolphins leaping not far from shore—
someone is bending over me,
is kissing me slowly.

Oliver divides this collection into three parts, like a symphony or play. Part I, “Journey,” is followed by Part II, “Love,” and is capped by Part III, “Felicity.”

Very intentionally, Oliver begins this collection with Don’t Worry and ends with A Voice From I Don’t Know Where—the only poem in Part III. The two pieces she chose to sandwich these romantic but challenging years do it quite elegantly and sweetly. This "voice" tells her to be happy with this new love, but in much better language than that. The book ends with a strong acknowledgment, giving her permission to enjoy her life:

A Voice From I Don’t Know Where

It must surely, then, be very happy down there
in your heart.
“Yes,” I said. “It is.”

During this “Journey” (the title of Part I), Oliver ruminates on trees, meadowlarks, storms, swans and many other beings and land formations that give her pause and inspiration, show her delight and her curiosity at her state of affairs (pun intended).

I love this metaphoric romp a lot, given her (and my) ages, especially this part, from Cobb Creek:

Cobb Creek

I jump
and for the first time in seventy-seven years
I fall in.

What a beautiful splash!

She uses epigrams to start each section from Rumi, which I appreciate, but I like her own pithy quotes the best. Here is my favorite, from A House, or a Million Dollars:

a House, or a Million Dollars

Love is the one thing the heart craves
and love is the one thing
you can’t steal.

Thank you, Mary, for sharing your thoughtful and joyful moments with us all.

Poet-Mary-Oliver
image from Oliver’s appearances/reviews in several newspapers

May your contributions to our literary and emotional landscapes always be known as blessings while you still live and after you die, and may all beings benefit.

Find this collection and all of Oliver’s other work here: http://maryoliver.beacon.org/

Reluctantly, I give this mess of a book 2 stars, but buyer beware!

I am sorry to have to post this review, but I have given the author, Amy Collins, over a month to make this right. Despite many emails preceding and after the one I quote, below, including promises of payment by a certain date and apologies for its lateness and a new promise, she has posted no payment and provided an unusually bizarre response to my having given her the deadline to respond by the end-of-business yesterday (Thursday, January 28)—see below.

I am appalled and surprised that someone who is publishing a book on writing entitled The Write Way: Everything You Need to Know about Publishing, Selling and Marketing Your Book, would unironically send out ARCs and then another version pre-publication that are both riddled with errors for reviewers.

Know this: the Author and her “publisher” (which I now think is comprised of Collins and one other person in the business) INVITED ME TO REVIEW THIS; I did not solicit her and I rarely do reviews.

After I had read about twenty pages and marked up every page, including the cover, with up to 15 errors PER PAGE, I sent her emails, left voicemails, asked her to communicate with me before I continued. I couldn’t believe this was her final draft. Maybe there was another version, I hoped?

She wrote to tell me that she had had a death in her family and while she was out, that “someone at her office sent out the wrong ARC” (there are two?). Then, for many days, she mostly did not respond (except via automated emails saying she would respond within 24 hours) for this entire communication stream.

She did send me a PDF of another ARC version which was supposedly “the right one,” but it, too, was filled with most of the same errors and some new ones. I read about twenty pages into that and emailed her back, telling her that this PDF ARC was a “new” but not a better version.

I asked for a newer, final ARC; no response. I now think there isn’t a better version (yet).

I waited a few days and sent the email, below. After reading my proposal, the author wrote back to say that she knew that I had given her a break on my editing rate (I did have sympathy for her at that point). She wrote to say that she was very grateful for my offer and agreed to pay me for my editing and postage for me to ship the marked-up edition back to her upon receipt of payment. She promised to pay “by the middle of January.”

I told her that I didn’t want to post a negative review. I’d rather that she revise and improve the book before publication: win-win. Plus, I had already completed reading and marking up the book and had marked up every page. I would be happy to get paid for my work.

January 15 came and went; no payment. More emails, more promises, and no payment, and here we are, January 28: nothing. The author said on January 18 that she had been traveling (and still is, apparently; now she’s on a cruise with other authors and publishers, publicists, etc.), but has she obviously access to the internet, since she’s live tweeting from the cruise ship!

I sent her this on Twitter yesterday (1/28/16):

from Sally Ember, Ed.D. ‏@sallyemberedd
to @NewShelvesBooks AMY: Deadline is EOB today Central USA time. My review goes live at 2 AM CST USA Friday, 1/30/16 if no payment is posted

She responded, astonishingly and terribly unprofessionally:

from Amy Collins ‏@NewShelvesBooks
Hi @sallyemberedd Grateful for all the time you put in. Had to redirect the $ to a project I am afraid. I know your review will be spot on.

To which I replied, with a quoted retweet of the above:

from Sally Ember, Ed.D. ‏@sallyemberedd
Sally Ember, Ed.D. Retweeted Amy Collins
This is known as “breach of contract” by professionals. We had a written agreement. #Youoweme #Payup

I won’t bore you with all of our previous correspondence.

In this post, then, the review occurs, starting with the email I sent the author in which I detailed for her many of her book’s most frequent and egregious errors.

Dear Amy,

I don’t know who your developmental, copy and proofreaders/editors are, but they should all be fired.

Here are a sampling of the errors I’ve found, so you know I’m not being a “troll” or pretending to know what I’m doing. You have these types and/or numbers of errors:

—3 errors ON THE COVERS (back and front and spine) in that your formatting is inconsistent (font color, size, style)
—1 error on the TITLE page (do not capitalize “by” or use it at all, actually; this is not a college essay)
—5 errors on the copyright page (no city of publication is listed; no proper copyright symbol was inserted; no need for “by”; missing colons)
—up to 15 errors(!) per page, with at least one and usually more errors on every page throughout the entire book
—TOC has no page numbers in either version, or the page numbers are wrong, and is on the verso rather than recto side
—Some pages have no numbers (the entire Glossary; all front matter)
—paragraphs and some sentences inexplicably start and end mid-sentence on many pages
— bullets are not formatted in a standard fashion within your own book; most of them are formatted incorrectly; AND, you inserted rhetorical questions within them while you BULLETED those questions(!?)
—seem to have no idea how to use (or when to use) the Oxford comma, apparently, and neither do your editors
—random sections (not consistent as to which or why) in italics
—show no permissions granted from the original authors, nor even where the pieces end, when you quote entire articles within your book
—repeating entire sentences and/or paragraphs and/or concepts from one page to the next within the same chapter, sometimes on facing pages. Word for word, sometimes
—use “so” over a hundred times, mostly inappropriately and without proper punctuation
—no standardization I could fathom for/ among and between your levels of headings regarding font, font size, font styles, alignment and/or purposes
—chapters do not all start on the proper side and you have random blank pages between some chapters (which do not result in their staring on the proper side—recto)

This and much more are wrong. I can’t even group or list all your errors.

All unacceptable, wouldn’t you agree?

I had one idea: You could use this as an opportunity to discuss the very things you warn other indies against within your book, and I would work with you on that if you choose to be honorable and do that.

Or, you could pretend it’s all fine, try to fix the errors yourself (good luck with that; you obviously have no clue how to edit your own work), and hope my review sinks to the bottom beneath all your sycophants’ fake ones.

Anyone who gives this book more than 2 stars (and that would be for content, not professionalism), is lying or has no idea how to read or what to expect from a professional nonfiction book.

I actually got quite a lot of good information from this book and do not want to slam you, but your whole “death-in-the-family—someone sent the wrong version” (in a two-person office?) sounds to me, now, like “the dog ate my homework.”

I am sorry for you any anyone who buys a poorly edited version of this book.

Here is another idea: if you pay me $400 (which is low-balling my rates, considering how much time I put into my mark-up and these emails), plus $5 shipping, I will send you my marked-up copy.

Then, when you complete all the revisions, send me a new one and I’ll review it at that point.

And, now, as we know, I will not receive any payment for my work, despite her emailed promise to do so. I still have the edited copy.

Here are some photos of the mark-ups:

write way cover
front cover of The Write Way with font, color, size errors and inconsistencies.

write way 1
There are multiple errors on almost every page and not one page without an error.

write way 2 upright
Apparently, can’t even keep paragraphs together; this occurs on several pages. How on earth does a copyeditor/proofreader not see these types of formatting mistakes?

write way 3 upright
There are up to 15 errors on some pages; this one has only 8.

Believe me, I take no pleasure in this.

I would certainly have preferred to have been paid for my time and expertise and to have had a positive relationship with this author.

I also wanted this book to be everything it said it would be and for it to live up to its title and promises. Many other authors would then be able to benefit from it.

However, since Ms. Collins doesn’t keep her word and seems to be clueless as to how to behave professionally, I am no longer surprised by the poor quality of the writing, the editing and the proofreading. Very disappointing, though, wouldn’t you agree?

Whoever did the editing and proofreading should have to refund their money to Ms. Collins. If she or anyone else continues to hire them, s/he/they should fire these horrible excuses for professionals immediately.

As I already stated, there are many great points, tips, ideas and resources in this book, if readers can ignore or get past all the mistakes and problems with the formatting, writing, proofreading and repetitions.

Especially for amy writers who are new to self-publishing, such writers would benefit from reading this book and taking notes. Do as she says, not as she does!

Try to borrow it; don’t buy this version!

Reluctantly, I give this mess of a book 2 stars, but buyer beware!

Definitely do not hire the author or her team for anything at all, ever. She calls herself a “teacher” and an “expert,” but I also found mistakes on her website (no surprise, now), which is: http://www.newshelves.com/ Do not contract with New Shelves for anything since they seem to have with no respect for agreements, unless you’re willing for her/them to decide arbitrarily to put time and money into other projects.

Sorry to have to post this saga and review. I would vastly have preferred the other plan to have occurred, as we had agreed.

When you get back from your cruise, fix your book and try to behave more professionally in the future.

proofreading-details-1
image from http://www.michellerenegoodhew.com

Homage to and Review of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Finding My Elegy: New and Selected Poems

Homage to and #Review of Ursula K. Le Guin’s
Finding My Elegy: New and Selected Poems, 1960 – 2010

Finding my Elegy cover

Ursula K. Le Guin is my favorite writer. No contest.

I have enjoyed, admired, appreciated, envied and learned from her novels, novellas, short stories, essays, and poetry for over forty years. She is about my mom’s age (in her early 80s, now) and still going strong. She is my idol, my mentor, and my role model. I also found out, after reading this collection, that she and share not only a love of writing, speculative fiction, feminism, social justice, pacifism and environmentalism, but Buddhism and meditation. Ah, pure bliss!

This latest collection of her poetry so delighted me that I had to write not just a short review on Amazon or Goodreads, but an entire blog post, complete with images, video, quotes. I hope you run right out and buy, borrow or sit and read aloud from this collection ASAP. You will be glad you did.

Poetry is meant to be read aloud. I enjoy reading poetry aloud as if I am the poet, wondering as I hear each word, line, idea, image, stanza, what the poet was imagining and how this exact turn of phrase came to capture it. Knowing how long many poets take to conjure the precise manner in which to describe and evoke every part of their intention, I want to savor it.

I do NOT read in that artificial, almost-questioning (upturned inflection on the end of lines), drawling almost-monotone that many poetry readers make the horrible mistake of using.

No.

I read poetry aloud as if each poem is its own story, because this unique version of that story is interesting, new, and not mine. I use the line breaks and punctuation as suggestions to help me go with the poet’s flow. I smile, I laugh, I pause, I taste the words on my tongue.

Try it. You’ll like it!

Le Guin has many poems rooted (pun intended) in nature. This little bird caught her attention several times. She mentions the Swainson’s Thrush by name; sometimes it is unnamed and alluded /referred to throughout this collection.

I had to find what the Swainson’s Thrush looks and sounds like. Enjoy!

I marked pages of this book with pieces of scrap paper so I’d remember which stanzas, poems, titles, lines caught my heart. Here are some, in no particular order. I sometimes annotate or explain. Find your own parts to love and for your own reasons.

I want to give this poem, For the New House, to my son and his wife when they find their first home to purchase. I adore the entire poem, and here are my favorite lines:

For the New House
And may you be in this house
as the music is in the instrument.

I also welled up with tears reading this next one, Song for a Daughter, imagining myself as a new mom hearing this from my mom, and sharing this with my son’s wife should she/they be lucky enough to have a child. Le Guin captures so much of the complexity of these relationships elegantly and succinctly, with beautiful turns of phrase, like these from the first and final stanzas:

Song for a Daughter
Mother of my granddaughter
listen to my song:
A mother can’t do right,
a daughter can’t be wrong….

Granddaughter of my mother,
listen to my song:
Nothing you do will ever be right,
nothing you do is wrong.

Soldiers perfectly depicts the horribleness of most wars, particularly our most recent USA-led wars, in which the military industrial complex—to enrich corporations—sends/inspires young men (and women) to go to their deaths or disfigurements with lies and for specious causes. The anguished images of this powerful poem end with this, which completed the breaking of my heart:

Soldiers
And soldiers still will fill the towns
In blue or khaki clad,
The brave, the good, who march to kill
What hope we ever had.

Unsurprisingly, given the title, and with Le Guin’s being both a Buddhist (we meditate daily on impermanence) and in her 80s, much of the poems in this collection are concerned with the end of life: the end of her own life, the changing of the seasons, the ruination of nature and places. She draws upon rich and varied imagery from many religious/spiritual traditions, employing words and phrases from several languages and invoking aspects of the rituals of Native Americans/Native Canadians and other indigenous peoples (harkening to her anthropologist father’s influence, as always), among others.

I especially liked Every Land (which starts with an epigram from Black Elk), in which she repeats this line, “Every land is the holy land,” at the end of each of the three stanzas, like a wistful refrain.

From one of the longer poems, At Kishamish, which is divided into named sections, these lines from “Autumnal” were quite moving. They eloquently evoke the juxtaposition of being somewhere now, when we’re so much older, suffused with so many memories of having lived and been at that same place so many times with our children as our younger selves:

At Kishamish

AUTUMNAL
It’s strange to see these hills with present eyes
I hold so clear in my mind always, strange once more
to hear the hawk cry down along the meadows
and smell the tarweed, to be here—here at the ranch,
so old, where I was young—it hurts my heart.

One of the “good-bye” poems here could make a statue cry: Aubade, which means “a song or poem to greet the dawn.” The term is unironically used here as the poem’s title. Le Guin simply depicts what might be said between lovers or long-time intimate friends or family members who must now part due to death. She frames it perfectly in two gorgeous stanzas, which I quote here in their entirety:

Aubade
Few now and faint the stars that shone
all night so bright above you.
The sun must rise, and I be gone.
I leave you, though I love you.

We have lived well, my love, and so
let not this parting grieve you.
Sure as the sunrise you must know
I love you, though I leave you.

Tibetan Buddhists talk about the “between place,” the Bardo, the state between a person’s pre-birth to our birth, and of the time between our body’s death and the shifting of our consciousness to our next incarnation. Le Guin speaks to this and illustrates her readiness, willingness, almost eagerness to “move on” to be In the Borderlands. Fittingly, this poem is placed on one of the last pages of this collection. Le Guin leaves us considering her perspective in this way, putting her thoughts of yearning to leave her body into this poem in the form of a conversation between her soul and her body, ending it in this final stanza with gentle humor and grace:

In the Borderlands
Soon enough, my soul replies,
you’ll shine in star and sleep in stone,
when I who troubled you a while with eyes
and grief and wakefulness am gone.

Thank you, Ursula, for sharing your deep and soulful moments with us all. Once again, due to your artistry with words and your generosity and intelligence, you have paved the way for me and others to follow with some surcease from pain and lighter hearts as we face our own partings, disappointments and deaths.

Ursula K Le Guin photo
image from her website, photo ©by Marian Wood Kolisch

May your contributions to our literary and emotional landscapes always be known as blessings while you still live and after you die, and may all beings benefit.

Find these poems, this and all her other work here: http://www.ursulakleguin.com Her latest poetry collection, Late in the Day, is my next poetry read!

New Reviews for Volumes I, II, III in The Spanners Series

New Reviews for Volumes I, II, III in The Spanners Series

from “Aly” on Amazon, 3 Stars for Volume I, This Changes Everything, The Spanners Series, posted 1/1/16
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0996999809
This book has a good storyline but for me it was a little hard to follow. I enjoyed the idea and I think I understood the book in some instances but others lost me. But I think Sci-fi sometimes will do this to me anyway. * I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

from “Allie” on Smashwords and “Aly” on Amazon, 4 Stars for Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, The Spanners Series, posted 1/1/16
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/424969
http://www.amazon.com/This-Want-Things-Change-Spanners/dp/0996999825
“This book helps me to understand book 1 better. I enjoyed this book more. I got introduced to more of Clara’s family in this book. There are many people in this family. I think you should check out this series. * I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*”

final cover print

from “Allie” on Smashwords and “Aly” on Amazon, 4 Stars for Volume III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, The Spanners Series, posted 1/1/16
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/588331
http://www.amazon.com/This-Changes-Family-Forever-Spanners/dp/0996999817
“This series is very interesting to me. It has it ups and its downs. But I think so far I am enjoying the adventure whit the family and there friends. You should check out this series if you like Sci-fi and see what you think. * I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*”

51VBvfiZxAL._UY250_


For more reviews, book trailers, author interviews, all download links (Volume I is free as an ebook) and purchase links, go to http://www.sallyember.com Look right; scroll down.

logoAuthorsDen

All covers and logo art by WillowRaven.

Preorders @50% for #ebook This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, Volume III of The Spanners Series

#Preorders @ 50%, $1.99, for 11/1/15—-12-7/15 on #Smashwords, #Kobo, #iBooks and #nook as well as #Amazon is Sally Ember, Ed.D.’s third #scifi/ #romance/ #paranormal #ebook, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, Volume III of The Spanners Series, which releases 12/08/15 @$3.99.

Spanners - volume 3 cover final

Getting 4- and 5-Star #reviews in pre-pub: see snippets from reviews, below and links to reviews on http://www.sallyember.com (look right; scroll down).

Volume III, This Is /Is Not The Way I Want Things to Change
Pre-order and Purchase LINKS HERE
SMASHWORDS (all ebook formats): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/588331
AND
AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0177Z1KRM

Clara, Moran, Espe, Epifanio and the alien Band of holos are back in This Is/Is Not The Way I Want Things to Change of The Spanners Series. The Psi-Defiers launch increasingly violent protests during this five-year Transition, attempting to block Earth’s membership into the Many Worlds Collective. To join, Earth’s nations and borders must dissolve and the Psi-Warriors must prevail in their battles against the rebels.

Clara, continuing as Earth’s first Chief Communicator, also juggles family conflicts and danger while managing and being one of the instructors of the psi skills training Campuses to help Earth through the Psi Wars. Clara timults alternate versions of their futures as the leaders’ duties and consciences force them each to make difficult choices across multiple timelines while continuing to train and fight.

Will the Psi-Warriors’ and other leaders’ increasing psi skills, interspecies collaborations and budding alien alliances be enough for Earth to make it through The Transition intact? If there is no clear path for Clara’s and Epifanio’s love, does she partner with Steve or go it alone?

What do you do with wanted/unwanted changes?

Volume III Book Trailer

REVIEWS of Volume III:
“Because this reads like documentation of actual events, I came away from it feeling like my own little life is petty and trivial and a waste of ‘time.’ Like, I’m not part of The Movement and I ought to run right out and start a victory garden or a recycling program or find an ESP trainer and get started learning how to TK or….
“The entire series is such an astounding creation it amazes me that it’s the production of just one person.”

—Devorah “Dee” Fox, Dee-Scoveries, fantasy/thriller author, journalist, columnist, 9/25/15

http://devorahfox.com

ALSO: Volumes I, II and III are soon available in both PRINT and ebooks versions by 12/8/15!

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This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series, is Permafree in ebook format and $POD

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

Volume I, This Changes Everything
PERMAFREE ebook LINKS HERE:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HFELTG8   
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/376197

Dr. Clara Ackerman Branon, 58, begins having secret visits from holographic representations of beings from the Many Worlds Collective, a consortium of planet and star systems in the multiverse. When Earth is invited to join the consortium, the secret visits are made public. Now Earthers must adjust their beliefs and ideas about life, religion, culture, identity and everything they think and are. Clara is selected to be the liaison between Earth and the Many Worlds Collective and she chooses Esperanza Enlaces to be the Media Contact. They team up to provide information to stave off riots and uncertainty. The Many Worlds Collective holos: train Clara and the Psi-Warriors for the Psi Wars with the rebelling Psi-Defiers; communicate effectively with many species on Earth and off-planet; eliminate ordinary, elected governments and political boundaries; convene a new group of Global Leaders; and, help Clara deal with her family’s and friends’ reactions. 

In what multiple timelines of the ever-expanding multiverse do Clara and her long-time love, Epifanio Dang, get to be together and which leave Clara alone and lonely as the leader of Earth? This Changes Everything spans the 30-year story of Clara’s term as Earth’s first Chief Communicator, continuing in nine more Volumes of The Spanners Series.

Are you ready for the changes?

REVIEWS for Volume I:
“[This Changes Everything] is highly-imaginative, but for so many different reasons, and outside of the normal scope. There are times when I felt that I was reading an actual research report of true to life events. Honestly, I’m sitting at my laptop, questioning if Clara has provided this work to Ember, or if the two are one in the same. The experience is mind-altering, and would challenge readers to think beyond the bubble that we live in. I would surely recommend This Changes Everything to anyone that enjoys a a well-written and researched Sci-Fi series. I will point out that it pushes the envelope, and toys with one’s perception. Well done! 5 Stars.”

–Janice G. Ross, author, 11/11/13

http://jgrwriter.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/review-this-changes-everything-by-sally-ember-3/

This Changes Everything by Sally Ember is a well-written, complex work that is going to add a strong title to a genre that can sometimes become bogged down with the same old, same old. This Changes Everything is a book that I am very happy to have had the chance to read and I would recommend it to any sci-fi/fantasy fan.”

–Zach Tyo, Indie Reviews, 10/4/13

http://indiebookreviewer.blogspot.com/

“You have created your characters very well. I feel for Clara, I imagine her alienating a lot of people because her enthusiasm and drive and ability to push herself makes her someone who doesn’t suffer fools gladly. I would have liked more of the reporter’s life and I didn’t like Epifanio at all. He sounded arrogant and selfish. I loved that the aliens were chosen by lottery. You had so many good touches like that, which made the book a continuing surprise. I…have to say it is one of the most challenging, exciting and original books I’ve read.”

–(Mary) Josephine O’Brien, author, Sharing Skies, 9/14/13

“You have written a wonderfully imaginative and original story with plenty of twists and turns. I really like your multiuniverse setting with different timelines and the concept of the ‘Many Worlds Collective.'”

–Sophekles, author, The Serotonin Transfer, 10/8/13

“I love your sense of humor. I literally laughed out loud when Clara said that she had given him the name ‘Led.’ I also like that this is an alien story where the aliens are helping, rather than trying to take over the world. It’s a refreshing angle.”

–S.M. Koz, author, Pangalax, 9/4/13

[after reading 1st 20 pages only] “…In a lot of ways I’m at a loss to critique this because it’s quite different than what I’m used to encountering. It’s a more immediate version of Stranger in Strange Land by Heinlein. Now, what I say next is strictly speaking off the cuff at 11 PM after a couple of rum and cokes, but as it stands I’d probably rate this either three or four stars, depending on how it develops. Once I got into the ideas behind it all, I found it personally fascinating. I’m not sure how that would translate to a broader readership, but it’s nifty stuff. I like alternate timelines and the like…”

–Alexander Crommich, reviewer @ Crommich Industries

“The writing is complex and done extremely well….There were times when I almost forgot I was reading a work of fiction and not a news account of real events, and I would consider that to be skilled writing indeed….[D]id I enjoy more of it than not? Yes. Four stars. Did I like the overall content? Most of the time. Three stars. Was the writing of good quality? Oh, definitely yes. Five stars. My overall rating: four of five stars.”

–Lynda Dietz, Easy Reader

ilovetoreadyourbooks.blogspot.com, 11/4/13

Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, is $3.99 for ebooks and $POD.

final cover print

Volume II: This Changes My Family and My Life Forever [released 6/9/14, Smashwords, Amazon and elsewhere]
Ebook LINKS HERE:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KU5Q7KC
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/424969  

Intrigued by multiple timelines, aliens, psi skills, multiverse romances and planetary changes? Clara and the alien Band of holos are back. As Earth’s first Chief Communicator, Clara leads the way for interspecies communication on- and off-planet and for figuring out how to deal with simultaneous time and multiple timelines in the ever-changing multiverse.

Fighting to support these changes are the Psi-Warriors, led by its reluctant leader, Chief OverSeer Rabbi Moran Ackerman, against the Psi-Defiers, led by one of the oldest friends of the Chief. Moran reveals his struggles and successes with his Excellent Skills Program training experiences on the new Campus and at home.

Stories in This Changes My Family and My Life Forever come from younger Spanners as well as Clara via “Snapshots” of her earlier life with anecdotes from Epifanio Dang, her on/off lover, and Esperanza Enlaces, Earth’s Chief Media Contact, and others about the first five years of The Transition.

What would you do with the changes?

REVIEWS for Volume II:
5 Stars for This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, Volume II, The Spanners Series
“One thing I like very much about The Spanners Series is the message that we can all live together in peace, learn from each other, be there for each other. All differences (religious, racial, gender, and even between species and inhabitants of other planets) are overcome. I mean, how cool would that be to be able to communicate with animals – and not in a jokey, Eddie Murphy-Dr. Dolittle-kind of way, but accept them and their needs / interests as equal to humans? And those people who resist change (yes, there will always be those, even if it is clear that the change is for the better) will not be eliminated, but gently persuaded to recognise what is best for them.”

–Peggy Farooqi, The Pegster Reads, 5/31/14

http://thepegsterreads.blogspot.co.uk

About the Author
Sally Ember, Ed.D., has been passionate about writing since she was nine years old. She’s won prizes for her poetry, stories, songs and plays. She began meditating (right after The Beatles) in 1972.

Now, Sally delights fans of paranormal and romance by blurring the lines between fact and fiction in a multiverse of multiple timelines, often including exciting elements of utopian, multiverse, science fiction and Buddhism. Her sci-fi /romance/ speculative fiction/ paranormal ebooks for New Adult/adult/YA audiences, The Spanners Series, are unique, exciting, thought-provoking and amusing.

Visit her Youtube Channel for book trailers, author readings, and a live Q & A with Sally plus more: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqnZuobf0YTCiP6silDDL2w

Born Jewish on the cusp of Leo and Virgo, Sally’s life has been infused with change. She is a long-time Buddhist meditator who writes, swims, reads and hosts her Google+ Hangout On Air (HOA) CHANGES conversations with authors, LIVE almost every Wednesday (but on hiatus for November & December, 2015), 10 – 11 AM Eastern time, USA. Join in the fun by commenting and asking questions during the live show on G+ or Youtube, or visit archived CHANGES shows: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPbfKicwk4dFdeVSAY1tfhtjaEY_clmfq

If you are an author or know one, learn more about and get yourself scheduled on or recommend someone as a CHANGES guest: https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d

Sally blogs regularly on wide-ranging topics and includes reviews, interviews, guest blog posts, and excerpts from her ebooks. Visit and comment, follow, “like,” and share! http://www.sallyember.com/blog

In her “other” professional life, Sally has worked as an educator and upper-level, nonprofit manager in colleges, universities and private nonprofits for over thirty-five years in New England (every state), New Mexico and the San Francisco Bay Area before returning to live in St. Louis, MO, in August, 2014. Sally has a BA in Elementary Education, a Master’s (M.Ed.) and a doctorate in education (Ed.D.).

Interacting With and Finding Sally Online

Please write a review and give Volumes I and II and then this one, III, a rating on SMASHWORDS, iBooks, Kobo, nook, Amazon, whatever retailer you use for ebooks, as well as many other sites that bring readers to this book: Library Thing, Wattpad, Indiebooks, Goodreads, Booklikes, Shelfari, and her blog, http://www.sallyember.com/blog. Help bring people to The Spanners Series via any other website that invites readers to post comments and reviews of Sci-Fi novels, especially if you LOVE it!

Thank you for reading and considering the implications of The Spanners Series. Talk it up! Tweet! Post! Write to Sally! Blog your opinions and responses!

Sally wants her readers to know: ‘”I change my books based on readers’ suggestions! Also, I would be delighted to visit your Book Club or class if you are using one or more of the books in The Spanners Series. Ask me to co-develop curricula, projects and activities for your group/class members!”

You will want to visit on Facebook, where she is known as “Sally Sue Fleischmann Ember,” and has a Spanners Series page: https://www.facebook.com/TheSpannersSeriesbySallyEmber
or her website to find out when the next Volumes will be available.

She is also very active on Google+ as “Sally Sue Ember” and on her Spanners Series page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/115730970500394047116/115730970500394047116/about

Follow Sally on Twitter @sallyemberedd and please Tweet about this book and The Spanners Series!

For photos, images, music, bios and other memes relevant to Sally as an author and directly to The Spanners Series, please visit her boards on Pinterest: “The Spanners Series includes…”; “Inspirations for the Earth locations in The Spanners Series“; “Music of The Spanners Series“; “Space Shots I like”; “Books that changed my life”; “TV shows and movies I actually like”; “Writers I Love”;”Resonating Pins” (from others’ boards); “Blog Posts”; CHANGES Episodes; and, “Flora and Fauna that amaze me.” She also puts up promos for her own and other authors’ books on occasion via “Book Billboards ” and other sites favoring Indie Authors. Please follow her Boards on http://www.pinterest.com/sallyember.

News and Other Information

Sally is experimenting with CROWDCREATING sections or upcoming Volumes VIII (for and seeking youth and New Adults) and IX (for and seeking adults) of The Spanners Series. If you’d like to participate by making story or character suggestions, writing a portion or an entire chapter, or collaborating in other ways, please email sallyember at yahoo or ssfember at gmail and tell her a little about what Volume or portion you’d like to help create! Put “CROWDCREATOR” in the subject line.

Must contact Sally by January 1, 2017, for Volume VIII and July 1, 2017, for Volume IX to be considered for inclusion in the CROWDCREATION.

Sally is also running a CROWDFUNDING campaign to get her ebooks into print, improve the audio quality of her talk show, fund the next books covers and cover other expenses on Patreon. Donate $4 or more and get Rewards: a free ebook, discounts on her editing/proofreading/writing tutoring services and more: http://www.patreon.com/sallyember


The Spanners Series‘ covers and logo #art by WillowRaven: willowraven-illustration.blogspot.com

logoAuthorsDen

All published by logo

5 Stars***** for This Changes Everything, Vol I, The Spanners Series: “a fantastic science fiction read”!

5 Stars***** for This Changes Everything, Vol I, The Spanners Series: “a fantastic science fiction read”!

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks
Cover art and logo by Aidana Willowraven for The Spanners Series http://willowraven.weebly.com/

Debra L. Mauldin “willowtree” reviewed This Changes Everything, Vol I, The Spanners Series
Book Review August 24, 2015

EXCERPTS:
“Her characters are well-rounded and strong.”

“The reader has to think with an open mind and will find that everything flows, reverses, and fast forwards in an easy and understandable story.”

“Trust me, this book is not boring and is easy to follow if you don’t try to make it too hard.”

“I highly recommend this book to all science fiction and utopias/dystopias readers.”

read full review here:
https://mauldinfamily1.wordpress.com/2015/08/24/this-changes-everything-the-spanner-series-book-1-book-review/

or on Amazon, where you can download Volume I, This Changes Everything, PERMAFREE:
http://www.amazon.com/This-Changes-Everything-Spanners-Series-ebook/dp/B00HFELTG8/ref=cm_rdp_product

logoAuthorsDen

Vol II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, is $3.99

final cover print

Vol III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, goes into half-price pre-orders 11/1/15 – 12/7/15 for $1.99, then $3.99 on 12/8/15, RELEASE DAY!

For all links, other reviews, author interviews, updates and excerpts: http://www.sallyember.com Look right; scroll down

“Family-Friendly” is a Thin Disguise for Discrimination: They are on the Wrong Side of History

“Family-Friendly” is a Thin Disguise for Discrimination:
They are on the Wrong Side of History

Who else is on the “wrong side of history” regarding expressions of and legal sanctions toward and behaviors sourced by prejudice, bias, discrimination, hatred against ethnic, racial, religious, gender and other social identity groups?

Adolph Hitler. Austria and Germany. George Wallace. Richard Nixon. Phyllis Schlafly. Anita Bryant. The United States of America. Several Catholic Popes. Margaret Thatcher. Great Britain. Mao Tse Tung. China.

The list is, unfortunately, endless, if we keep going into history and across the globe. Humans seem to have an unlimited ability to be irrational and small-minded.

Fortunately, we do learn. We do grow. Some more slowly than others, as we see all too often, but change we do. One of the main ways people change is through exposure, a personal “eye-opening” moment that educates them (“leads them out”) away from their irrationality and biases.

The other way is through enforcement, such as the enlightened few and the majority collaborating to change the laws that require citizens to change behaviors accordingly. When behaviors change, minds can follow: not always, and not completely, as we see with the laws of integration and other civil rights for Blacks in the USA NOT eliminating racial biases and racism, but these are certainly steps in the right direction.

The current social and political landscapes—right here, right now—are changing rapidly with respect to fairness, acceptance and legal rights for those with all sexual orientations and gender identities exactly as they did with racial intolerance in the 1960s.

As usual, some are being dragged, kicking and screaming, into this new way of being. They are simply not keeping up, are they? Laws often get “ahead” of some people’s mindsets. AREN’T WE LUCKY? The haters may keep on hating, but they have no legal, moral or individual “right” to impose their “opinions” any longer.

Some definitions, for those unclear on these concepts:

3definitions
from: http://littlelaughter.wordpress.com

bias-prejudice-discrimination-5-638
from http://pt.slideshare.net

Current circumstances:
I am an author who publicly proclaims myself a feminist. Anyone who knows me or reads me online or reads my books also knows I am Buddhist, Jewish, and bisexual, and I am vocally an anti-discrimination, anti-oppression activist.

I am also a reader who occasionally does reviews. Therefore, I do agree that each reviewer has the right to refuse to review any book we do not want to review. We do not have to give reasons, either.

However, I do not agree with the opinions, prejudices and biases this reviewer expresses when she gives some (but not all) of her reasons for discontinuing her reading of and refusing to review my book.

In fact, when we allow such actions to be fueled in these ways, not commenting, not confronting, we are aiding and abetting the institutional oppression rampant in literary circles. “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem” is never truer than in these circumstances.

Some would say that she would have been off not saying anything, but since she did, here we are.

Read below and comment, please! http://www.sallyember.com/blog

After finding me on a reviews-seeking site, this reviewer emailed me, saying that she wanted to review all three books in The Spanners Series. She wrote a few days later, saying she had started and was liking my first book.

Then, the next day, this potential reviewer sent me this email:

From: xxx

I will not be able to review your books. I have just come to a part that is [sic] conflict with my site. I have a family friendly blog and your book contains content that my readers would find offensive. It would also put at risk some of my advertising spots on my site that demand only family friendly content.

I understand that you were just trying to get across the point about non-discrimination but your content concerning sexual affiliation will not work with my site.

Best of luck to you,

xxx

“Hi, xxx,

“I have no idea what you mean by ‘not family-friendly’ or ‘offensive,’ since my books are accepted by ‘[Facebook authors’ group],’ a strict group on Facebook which promises readers fiction that won’t make them recoil. For example, I use no swear words stronger than ‘damn’ or ‘shit,’ there are no explicit sex scenes, no gratuitous or obvious violence, and no traumatic scenes in my books: they are PG-13.

“If you are objecting to any mention of or acceptance of alternative sexual orientations and gender identities to heterosexual or straight people or cis-gender people, if that would be something you or your followers find ‘offensive,’ then, please: DO NOT READ MY BOOKS.

“And, by the way, discrimination, bias and prejudice are NOT ‘family-friendly’ to any families I would want to be connected with, ever. Use of that terminology to describe what you are perhaps claiming is absurd.

“Since more than 10% of every population of humans on this planet are actually gay, lesbian or bisexual and at least 5% are transgendered, whose families are you ‘protecting’?

“If what I am assuming, in fact, are your positions, I find your views to be extremely offensive, and so would most of the rest of the world, at this point in time. Marriage equality and sexual identity acceptance are legal in many countries, including this one, and discrimination is NOT.

“I welcome you and your readers into the 21st century any time you’re ready to come.

“If I have misunderstood, I apologize. Please explain. I would welcome your further description of what, exactly, is ‘in conflict with’ your site and specifics as to your presumptions about your advertisers’ objections to the content of my books.”

Sally

She responded:

From: xxx

What is offensive is that you mention any sexual affiliation at all. I would not blurt out in a book that I was heterosexual. I would not refer to sex at all. It is irrelevant and has no place in a family friendly book. You can have any sexual orientation you want and that is your business but I don’t have to and will not promote it on my site. The fact that you felt you needed to make a political statement with your book is your business but I won’t be a part of it.

As I said Good Luck to you but I will not be doing this review.

xxx

Curious as what others who might be “in her camp” would say, I posted our email exchange on the group site I am part of, the one I mentioned, above, and asked for opinions.

I received the following anonymized responses (I didn’t include them all; some are repetitive or off-topic).

Then, I wrote a few responses, below.
Why do I bother? Because Education.

stop_prejudice_now_prop_watermark
from: http://teachersteachfromtheheart.blogspot.com

“Need[ Facebook Group members]’ opinions, please! Just had this exchange with a potential reviewer and I’m burning mad. (She approached me, BTW, asking to review my books via a [reviews-seeking/reviewers-finding site] last week!).

“She emailed me this earlier today…” (same as above, posted)

FB group’s responses:

From AAA:
“She has the right to her viewpoint, and I don’t think she should be dressed down, scolded, or insulted for it. I thought your words were rather condescending and insulting.

“OTOH, she should have done her research first before approaching you, and rather than try to take YOU to task for what she didn’t agree with in your books, she should have just politely said ‘sorry, I was wrong, it’s not going to work out this time.'”

From BBB:
“The old saying I’ve tried to remember is not to lower oneself to another’s level in order to argue or debate. It’s not ever worth it.”

From CCC:
“It’s her site, she can do as she wishes, just as you are able to write about anything you want to. This enters into the forbidden realm of writers who snap at reviewers for not liking what they wrote. She didn’t give you a bad review on her site, which she could have. She simply declined to review at all. It could have gone a LOT worse for you.”

From DDD:
“Sally, I totally get where you’re coming from, having experienced this kind of reaction (my books include gay characters who are treated as normal people). I’m living vicariously through your email because I’ve wished I could say something like that to reviewers who’ve one-started me because of it. smile emoticon But I’m inclined to agree that it’s better to steer clear of these rhetorical boondoggles. I’d just let this go and get on with writing. Your audience is out there, but it’s not this lady or her blog followers.”

From EEE:
“It’s her site. She is entitled to her opinion and the way she manages her site. We have our rules here, but IMHO, even shit and damn are not family friendly. She was polite. I’m sorry that you were not.”

From FFF:
“I have to say also, the reviewer could have gone ahead with her review, as she’d promised you one. She could have been completely open and honest about her opinion, and put it on her public site.
“Instead, when she saw it was something that she didn’t believe she could endorse, she privately messaged you, letting you know that she’d have to back out.
“This was gracious of her to do.
“So to be treated badly was not something that I feel she deserved.”

From GGG:
“PG-13 does not constitute ‘family-friendly’ in my mind. I have a 9, 7 and 4 year old, and I don’t even let them watch most PG movies.”

From HHH:
“Unfortunately, I have to agree with what many others here have commented. In addition, I have to point out that you ASSUMED her problem with your book was the fact that there are gay characters. She simply wrote that she came ‘to a part’ that conflicted with her site. The thing that may have bothered her could’ve been profanity, or whatever else is in your book. It can be dangerous to reprimand someone for their stance – especially since she could always turn around and decide to write a poor review, or even one-star your book.

“On a personal note, I write both Christian AND secular stories (things that would give Junot Diaz a run for his money in the department of shock value). So I can honestly say that even the words you listed are not ‘family friendly,’ meaning appropriate for all ages. As far as homosexuality is concerned, I have a #LiveAndLetLive philosophy on life. That means that I do not judge someone else for their lifestyle choice. However, that doesn’t mean I want my six year old reading about it. Again, it’s a subject not necessarily appropriate for all ages.”

From Me:
to HHH: “She came right out and stated what her concerns were. I didn’t assume what she objected to at all. I assumed her reasons, because she did not state them. Also, I did not expect any 6-year-olds to read this book; it’s way too complicated and sophisticated. PG-13 is the rating i always state. Thanks for your comments, though.”

From JJJ:
“Wow. And she was so polite…”

From Me:
“Since when are expressions of bias, prejudice and discrimination ‘polite’??? If her objections were obviously about my having Jewish or Black characters, would you be defending her ‘family-friendly’ smokescreen???”

From JJJ:
“She made her reasons for choosing not to include your work on her site clear to you in a very polite manner. Tolerance works both ways.”

From Me:
“To JJJ and others here: I appreciate all your comments, but for some of you, I am disappointed. SOME don’t seem to know the difference between being ‘impolite’ and being against someone else’s being discriminatory, Number 1.

“Number 2, it is not the job of those who are not being tolerated to return such intolerance with tolerance. I was not ‘impolite’ to her: I was direct and I expressed my thoughts and feelings. I did not call her names, I did not insult her.

“Remember: she VOLUNTEERED to read my books and had already sent me an email prior to this saying how much she was enjoying the first one. Then, she came to a part she didn’t ‘tolerate,’ which she and her groups, of which some of you are obviously members, seem to think it’s just fine to insult and demean. That is plain wrong. She doesn’t have to like it. She could have just said “It’s not for me” and DNF or not even written me. But, she chose to ‘explain.’

“Those who are not heterosexual or cis-gender do not deserve to be treated as if we are threats, are wrong to be ‘this way,’ or by our very existence, are ‘problems’ for ‘families.’ We ARE in families!

“I will defend to my dying day the right of all who are discriminated against to object strenuously to such discrimination, wherever it appears, however ‘nicely’ it is phrased.

“Maybe some of you are too young or didn’t have these experiences, but I grew up in Missouri under Jim Crow laws. I grew up with signs on stores and country clubs that said : ‘No Dogs, No Jews, No Niggers Allowed.’ Should I have greeted those racists with ‘tolerance’????? I am a Jewish, female bisexual. Our country is in the exact same place now with LGBT rights and biases as it was then with Jews and Blacks.

“Remember when women weren’t treated as ‘humans,’ weren’t allowed to vote, sit with men, drive, own property? Would you all be so ‘tolerant’ if she had said her ‘family-friendly’ group doesn’t want to read books with autonomous female characters, that all women be subservient to their families’ males to be considered ‘family-friendly’? Whoever doesn’t see the connections, here, I’m sad for all of you.”

From JJJ:
“Comments about the relative politeness of exchanges of views are not an automatic acceptance of intolerance or prejudice. In fact they are no comment at all about the relative merits of the content of the exchange – just the manner in which comments have been delivered.”

From Me:
“Thanks for all of your ideas, comments, and responses, here. Group. I am sorry that some of you still believe that strongly worded disagreement is ‘impolite,’ but we’re going to have to agree to disagree, there. Best to you all.”

hate-crimes-305
from: http://www.calgary.ca

Okay, Followers/Readers and Other Peeps: Weigh in! What do you believe/do?

Please leave comments on this blog! Thanks! Best to you all!

1) Should we authors all just “be polite” when confronted with reviewers’ prejudices?

2) Should we authors “be silent” when potential or actual reviewers express their biases and refuse to “serve” us at the “review” lunch counter because our books or characters don’t meet with their “approval” (don’t have a right to exist)?

3) Is it incumbent upon us all not to allow any reviewer to give or imply that their personal, political, religious or other biases as/are sufficient “reasons” for refusing to review a book? Or, do you recommend letting that go unchallenged?

4) Does simply having LGBT characters make a book “unfriendly” to “families” and/or inappropriate for youth?

Why I Started a LIVE Talk Show: *CHANGES* conversations between authors on Google+ Hangouts On Air (HOA) and YouTube

“Why I Started a LIVE Talk Show: CHANGES conversations between authors on Google+ Hangouts On Air (HOA) and YouTube”
originally posted on http://www.asidefromwriting.com on July 6, 2015

CHANGES Theme Image_3

In early April, 2014, I had just completed and uploaded Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, of my science-fiction/romance/ multiverse/ utopian/ paranormal (psi) ebooks in The Spanners Series for adults, New and Young Adults, and joined two new writers’ groups in the East Bay (one in Berkeley and one in Hayward, California, where I had been living), when I was in a terrible accident. The resulting broken nose has been healing fine and didn’t require surgery; the concussion has proven to be a lot more problematic.

For several months, it was as if I were in a fog. I wasn’t allowed to do any serious computer work, reading or thinking (I had been about halfway through Volume III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, when I got hurt). Since I couldn’t wear my glasses without causing myself enormous pain (glasses would be sitting on the broken nose, right?), and I was overwhelmingly aphasic, exhausted, confused and injured, unable to process much, the respite from writing, reading and working seemed necessary. The accident had also caused extreme damage to my arms, hands, shoulders and upper back, so keyboarding wasn’t all that feasible, anyway. Plus, when I did type, I made more errors than words, typed very slowly (usually over 100 WPM; then, about 40 WPM, with numerous mistakes).

However, once the enforced hiatus was over, I still couldn’t return to my regular life. My memory was horrible, both short- and long-term. I couldn’t find words, or the right words, to speak or write. I no longer sounded as if I were drunk, but I was still extremely slower and less able, all around, than I had been prior to the brain injury. I usually function in the top 10 percent of intellectuals, with an extremely large vocabulary and many types of intelligence. I had been fortunate, up until the accident, to be a wide reader of many subjects, with both formal and informal education beyond the doctoral level and a larger variety of knowledge, experiences and insights than most people. Post-concussion, I was barely above-average and often, not even that.

Before the injury to my brain, I had been writing my fiction series quite quickly, often exceeding 2,000 words per day. My creativity seemed boundless, my energy matching it. Volume I’s first draft had been completed in under two months, and it was over 130,000 words. I had developed a spreadsheet to record my (very brief) notes on my series’ dozens of human, animal and alien characters, multiple timelines, overlapping realities, historical and future events and people, but most of the series’ details and plans had been in my brain which had been injured to the point of being severely compromised.

In July of last year, I discovered all I could create were short, nonfiction blog and other posts, and it took “forever” to finalize each one, since I typed sentences that were riddled with errors. Each post needed to be proofread multiple times. I could barely read others’ blogs and reblog/share, almost couldn’t read short pieces/stories.

Yes, after a few months I was improving and could do these with increasingly better understanding, but I still couldn’t return to my fiction series. My “executive functions” and “working memory” were still extremely low-performing due to the post-concussion syndrome I had been diagnosed with in June.

I wasn’t well enough to return to my “regular” life of work or writing, but I was well enough to be bored. Luckily, I had discovered Google+ the previous year. During the winter and spring of 2014, I had been attending Hangouts On Air (HOAs) somewhat regularly.

After my accident, watching videos was about the only thing I could do, since reading, writing and other glass-wearing activities were excluded. I attended and participated (when that was allowed) in many HOAs by leaving comments, questions, and interactions with others also viewing or presenting, on topics ranging from books, book marketing, authors, writing, marketing, social media, spirituality/meditation and more. I watched most on Google+, but they were also archived so I could watch those I missed on YouTube, where I found even more entertaining, informative videos. (Find me on Google+ as Sally Sue Ember)

I got into watching one HOA in particular, Lights, Camera, HOA!, run by an excellent trio of women: Meloney Hall, Rayne Dowell and Sheila Strover.

After I attended a few shows, Rayne read Volume I of my series and reached out to invite me onto the show to learn more about being in/on a HOA. The entire reason for this show’s existence is to help newbies (like me) get comfortable with the HOA format and technology, both on- and off-camera. I LOVED it! What a great service this show provides. THANK YOU! https://plus.google.com/u/0/+Bigupticksociallightscamerahoa/about

As a former actor/performer, being “on camera” wasn’t hard for me. As a writer/author, being able to interact with viewers LIVE was so much better than having readers I almost never hear from or meet. I was hooked on HOAs and wanted my own. I learned everything I could in the next several months, wondering if I’d be able to manage my own show.

What could I have a HOA about, exactly? There were an infinite number of choices. By then, I had been interviewed on several radio shows online and submitted many “author interview” posts to others’ websites, so I was familiar with that format and was beginning to feel it was somewhat overused. Frankly, and no offense to the current website(!), I find most author interviews to be awfully repetitive and, well, boring.

I did NOT want to interview authors, but I wanted to meet more authors and talk about writing as well as many other interesting topics. By the end of July, four months post-injury, I still couldn’t write for my series, but I was able to talk better and listen very well. I decided to launch in August and to have a show that I would want to watch.

Since I wanted to be around other writers and hear about their experiences, hoping to be entertained and inspired until my own writing would (hopefully) be accessible to me again, I posted on Twitter, Facebook groups and in general, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+ communities to invite authors to be guests on CHANGES conversations between authors. I also ranged around to those sites that posted award winners in science-fiction, particularly, and invited many of those authors on my show as well.

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The response has been more than gratifying. I welcomed Dr. Shay West as my first guest for my August 6, 2014, premier Episode, with several more super authors scheduled to be on subsequent shows. Since then, with a few planned and even fewer unplanned exceptions, I have had an Episode each week. The live show airs three or four times per month (with one week off, to rest) on Wednesdays, 10 – 11 AM Eastern time, USA, and TODAY, August 5, 2015, I air my one-year anniversary show!

Amazing authors have been guests on CHANGES (http://goo.gl/1dbkZV on my website for full schedule of past and upcoming guests). I have had guests who joined me live and/or hail from France, Spain, England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Canada, Israel, Guyana, and many states in the USA. The authors I have talked with enrich me weekly (and my viewers as well, I hope), writing in every fiction genre and including those who also write nonfiction, plays, screenplays and poetry.

Ethnically, my guests have been American mixed-Causasian, African-American, African-Jamaican, Spanish, English, Indian (continent, not tribe), Russian, Jewish, German, Norwegian, Israeli, Guyanan, Irish, and Greek (so far). Editors, publishers (magazine and book), and translators, with an age range, as of today, August 5, 2015, of 15 – 78 years old, are in my CHANGES guests club.

Our conversational topics list is too lengthy to include here, but has been exactly as I had planned: wide variety, high-level subject discussions that are informative, entertaining, insightful, funny and poignant. My guests and I share personal and professional stories, discuss books and writing, publishing and editing, book cover artists and much more.

I am quite happy to say that, as of August 5, 2015, CHANGES Episodes (now up to 37, http://goo.gl/1dbkZV on YouTube) have garnered audiences as large as over 1000 in one day, totalling over 3600 views, so far.

My YouTube channel went from having 2 to almost 50 subscribers. I now have over 3000 followers on Google+ and Facebook, each (although some are the same people, I’m sure), and over 5000 on Twitter. Pinterest followers’ number has quadrupled; so has LinkedIn’s.

I know these are small numbers compared to many, but I’m happy that my network is growing. We receive many compliments, positive comments and excellent questions for each CHANGES Episode from viewers who watch live or later, and more watch weekly.

Since starting CHANGES, I’m delighted to report that downloads of Volume I of my series, which is permafree since I uploaded Volume II (right before my accident), are steady. I do wish for better sales for Volume II, but I’ve heard a series has to have at least three books released “to really take off.”

What’s Next?
CROWDFUNDING to meet my Goals

—I wish to convert the *CHANGES* videocasts into podcasts, for those who prefer to listen-only, but the podcast hosting sites are not free.
—I also wish to pay for my next book covers,
—I need to buy better equipment for my home videocasts, and
—I must keep writing.

However, the concussion has severely limited my ability to work and I am in deep debt. If you’d like to help, http://www.patreon.com/sallyember has a video about my goals and rewards to donors in which I sing (really; not so well, but, hey; I’m not a professional singer!), and more information.

$4 gets you a free ebook; larger donations earn you deep discounts on professional editing, proofreading and writing tutor services, all of which can do well, despite the concussion.

Concussion Recovery News
As of May, 2015, I am back to writing new parts of Volumes III and IV! Slowly, much more laboriously, with an ongoing need for referrals to notes and dictionary, thesaurus and spell-check than remembering going on, but glad to be writing!

I wish I could open up my brain and retrieve the Spanners Series ideas that had been so accessible, so easily before the concussion and look them all over, but…

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The network of authors, book bloggers, book marketers and other writers I have been developing over the last two years has blossomed into a group I can call upon for help, advice, and exchanges. That has proved amazingly gratifying as I trumpet my announcement, below, because many have stepped forward to play a role in this next phase.

Good news: I finished the Beta readers’ draft of Volume III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, in late July! Five wonderful writers are reading it right now and will offer their sage wisdom on its improvements by late September. I then hope to be finished with the final proofed version no later than mid-October. I have already begun the cover design process with Aidana Willowraven, The Spanners Series‘ cover artist. The Cover Reveal is planned to occur on Alesha Escobar‘s site in late October. Pre-orders start 11/1/15 and the release of Volume III is scheduled for December 8, 2015!

Wish me luck!

How Else You Can Become Involved
Beta readers for upcoming draft of Volumes IV and reviewers of all Volumes welcomed! Contact me: sallyember@yahoo.com

Also, watch a few Episodes of CHANGES any time: http://goo.gl/6xjSKl Please comment on YouTube or go to the original G+ Event page for that Episode and comment/ask questions, get more info and links. I will respond!

Become/Refer a Guest! #Authors and #bloggers, especially those in sci-fi/speculative fiction, but not only those: learn more about and get yourself on CHANGES, and #Readers, recommend an #author to be scheduled as a guest.

OPENINGS 8/12/15 and later this fall! For more info, schedule and past/upcoming guests list, visit here: http://goo.gl/1dbkZV.

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Also, I’ve invited former guests and others I appreciate to Guest Blog on Wednesdays, with excellent posts, so far! Check out the Guest Bloggers’ Hall of Fame on my site (see below) for previous and upcoming posts.

I strongly suggest you check out others’ HOAs as well: there are some great shows out there in Google+ land! Two good places to find them (and another great G+ community, User2User: LIVE!):
https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/101944073205735325459 for User2User-Live!
Http://www.hangouteventscalendar.com for the HOA Calendar

For updates about and links to available Volumes of The Spanners Series, me as an author, my own and guest blogger’s posts, Patreon and much more: http://www.sallyember.com has all links and info. Look up or to the right and scroll.


May all who are ill recover and all who are in pain find comfort.

Best to you all!

Looking for reviewers who like utopian science-fiction, and seeking book bloggers

PLEASE SHARE! Vol III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change of The Spanners Series, ebook by Sally Ember, Ed.D., releases 12/8/15.

Looking for reviewers who like utopian science-fiction/romance with multiverse and psi elements, and seeking book bloggers to help with Volume III’s release. ARCs and info ready in late Sept. through early December.

Pre-orders: 11/1 – 12/7/15

Release date: 12/8/15

sallyember AT yahoo DOT com if you’re interested and available!

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Cover art and logo by Aidana Willowraven: http://www.willowraven-illustration.blogspot.com/

This Changes Everything, Vol I, is a perma ‪#‎free‬ ‪#‎scifi‬ ‪#‎romance‬ ebook

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HFELTG8
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/376197

Vol 2, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, is $3.99

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https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/424969
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KU5Q7KC

Always love reviews for the first two volumes (free to reviewers), of course! http://www.sallyember.com/Spanners-2

Amazon Reviewing is Dead. OR NOT?

THE ORIGINAL POSTER OF THIS PIECE IS DOING MORE RESEARCH. STAY TUNED!
It looks as if #Amazon just shot itself in the foot, and ebook authors are also injured, because they decided to disallow any book reviews from any reviewer who can’t prove the book was acquired via PURCHASE of said book.

This COULD mean: 1) No library-reading reviews, 2) no free download reviews, 3) no gift book reviews, and, 4) no reviewer-got-a-copy review.

Number 4 is the entire reason for the new policy, but one would imagine a dozen different ways to ameliorate what has become a runaway train of fake and purchased reviews on Amazon before eliminating all opinions and reviews from everyone legitimate who doesn’t “purchase” a book before reading it.

Idiots on Amazon just gave ebook authors and readers another great incentive to use #SMASHWORDS, which offers ebooks in ALL formats!

Get my books on Smashwords! Volume I is permafree and Volume II is only $3.99. All links: http://www.sallyember.com/Spanners-2. Look right; scroll down.

Thanks for posting, Ronovan and the LWI team!


LATEST, from Ronovan: “So far the research I am finding supports being able to do the reviews of free Kindle books as long as you have made a monetary purchase of something. It doesn’t say that specifically but that is what I am gathering. You can use family and friends as an Editorial Review but not as an actual Customer Review. But they seem to mean those who are really close to you. I think like a spouse or immediate family member.
“The wording of their policies are in such a way to give them the ability to pick and choose, but so far I am encouraged.”

Critical Review of This Changes Everything, Vol. I, The Spanners Series from the Starving Reviews site: Not a Fan!

Critical Review of This Changes Everything, Vol. I, The Spanners Series
from the Starving Reviews site: Not a Fan!

I am grateful to James B. Garner and every other reviewer who takes their time, makes the effort, reads indie authors’ books and writes thoughtful reviews: THANK YOU!

This is the first careful, thorough, critical review TCE has received in a long time, so I am sharing it in its entirety: so no one can say I “cherry-picked” his sentences or phrases. I haven’t changed one word.

I also post the link to the Starving Reviews site, below, so please visit there and comment!

And, for an alternative view of the type of social/utopian/speculative/visionary fiction I write, please also visit and watch/read: “Radical sci-fi by social activists ‘decolonizes the imagination,'”
by Laura Hudson http://boingboing.net/2015/04/02/octavias-brood.html


“Every once in a while, I feel like I have to break the rules set down for me by the Starving Reviews, LLC corporate office. So far, I have restrained myself because, well, I’m starving, darn it! I need this literary sustenance to flow and I dare not cut off my biggest supplier. Today, though, I may wind up breaking that creed, as today’s long-delayed culinary snack can’t be dissected without some SPOILERS!

This Changes Everything is, on the surface, a science fiction novel talking about an alternate future where aliens approach Earth and offer entrance into a galactic collective. This sort of treat, at first glance, looks scrumptious, offering a many-layered look at the interactions between our delightfully bizarre little planet and a vast series of societies and species. In some ways, Changes delivers on some aspects of that promise.

“The writing itself is solid, at least once you get used to the various styles employed. The book is comprised of many nuggets of scenes, each written in a different style and from different view points. It can be a bit jarring at first but is easy to get a grip on once you realize what’s going on.

“The plot … has problems. The majority of the rest of this review will touch on that, but let me get one thing out of the way. If you ever wanted a true definition of a Mary Sue, read Changes. You see, the Mary Sue concept isn’t one of abilities or perfection (though those help), it is the plot black hole they represent. The protagonist in this book is the most important person in the world (literally), receives almost universal praise from most quarters, gets pretty much everything she could desire, lives happily ever after, and nothing really bad, dramatic, or dangerous really happens. There is the hint of tension at several points but, as described below, there are certain story and structure elements that destroy all the drama before it even has a chance to start.

“The problems start to come in when the concepts of the ‘reality’ of how time and history work in this universe. The core concepts of the book (that all time exists simultaneously and that time lines can be altered and culled by anyone with the appropriate psychic training) do provide some interesting promise, but the way they are actualized in the story create a rolling cascade of issues that really break the book down as a fictional slice of cake.

“It boils down to a few major, seemingly paradoxical, concepts. First, the concept of all time being simultaneous doesn’t really hold out in how the events of the book work. The aliens, and later Earthlings, can alter time by changing events (which don’t often require them actually doing the actions, which is strangely dissatisfying) … but how does that work when all time is simultaneous, which suggests there cannot be true causality? Likewise, the book repeatedly talks about the existence of free will, but how can free will truly exist in a world where others can reset and alter their personal time lines, altering entire sequences of events, thereby altering those free will decisions? Finally, there are strange arbitrary limits on how often people can alter their time lines, with no mention on how this is enforced or even known to be. Maybe it’s something touched on later in what is supposed to turn into a ten book series, but arbitrary, unexplained limits on what is essentially a ‘magic’ system in a fictional world is always a bit of a distaste for me.

“The main story issue that this concept of time and time altering brings about is the total destruction of dramatic tension. Very early in Changes, we already know, from the characters that can see the future as well as future documents included, that everything turns out A-OK. The girl gets the boy, Earth turns out fantastic, and the main character gets a healthy, happy ending. We know this by (if I remember correctly) chapter 5 of a 30+ chapter book. Yes, you can argue that the meal can be no less tasty when you sneak in dessert early, but that’s usually not the case. Knowing everything turns out great turns every attempt at adding some drama or tension to any point of the novel fall flat.

“That is a key component of what really leeches the taste out of Changes. I could excuse the very strange time alteration parts (it is a fictional universe, after all) and roll with it, but the lack of dramatic tension, the lack of any real conflict and consequences (something that the writer tries to interject with the idea of ‘Psi-P’, the emotional backlash of choosing to go with time-lines that benefit others but are not the best for you personally, something that never gets written to have the real impact it could), just makes Changes a sludge of a book. It is simply tiring to read, with no real emotional high or pay-off. It’s just not entertaining and that is the biggest sin a work of fiction can have.

“You may be wondering where the spoilers were? Well, I saved that for last because I have to take a moment to chew the fat about something that may very well be opinion. This next bit isn’t a critique of the book, which is why it comes at the end, but a critique of some ideas in the book (a very different thing). Changes has some very insulting and, to me personally, dangerous ideas about what is good about humanity. Humans are depicted in some cases as being so unable to cope with the idea of actual alien contact that they die or go crazy from the news. Like significant swaths of the population, at least before the aliens change history again. Not to mention there is an Appendix, as well as mentions in the main text, where it is shown that many human achievements in many areas, from the Underground Railroad to splitting the atom to most major religious figures (Jesus, the Dahli [sic] Lama, and others) were directly influenced by this alien collective, either through dreams or direct intervention. It frankly made my gut curdle to see so much of humanity’s accomplishments turned into the results of alien meddling. Changes pains humans with a very savage and ignorant brush, laying our salvation and much of our past good points in the hands of our alien saviors. Now, about those aliens …

“The aliens in this world alter time repeatedly to change human history to make the Earth a better fit for their galactic collective. They banish people unable to conform with their way of doing things to a ‘prison’ alternate time line until they reform or die. They alter the biochemistry of the ENTIRE human race in one chapter to make them more receptive and peaceful without the consent of, well, anyone. They are fully telepathic and casually mind-read the main character (and the rest of humanity) for most of the book. In a different book, these aliens would be the worst kind of manipulative overlords. In this book, though, they are perfect, wonderful utopians. I find especially that their methods really don’t jive with that ‘free will’ concept. How can you have free will when aliens are altering your biochemistry, psychically manipulating you, and implanting thoughts, dreams, and knowledge into you?

“Wow, that went on for a while. Okay, so, how does this come together? This Changes Everything is a science fiction yarn that just has no drama or fun in it. Regardless of how you may feel about its philosophical or moral points, Changes breaks the cardinal rule of any fictional work, and that is to entertain. If you’re looking for good, interesting sci-fi, look elsewhere. If you, however, are looking for a very unusual tract on philosophy and morals, you might want to give this a read, just don’t expect to be entertained by it.

“FINAL VERDICT: ** (Heavy on philosophy and moral tracts, without a single tasty bit of fun!)”
Link to full review:
https://jbgarner58.wordpress.com/2015/04/03/starving-review-this-changes-everything-the-spanners-book-1-by-sally-ember/

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TCE is FREE everywhere ebooks are sold: http://www.sallyember.com has links to every TCE download/sale site as well as links and more reviews for it and Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever. Volume III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, is due out some time in 2015.

Won’t Retweet, Won’t do Review Swaps, Won’t “Vote Up” Reviews: Why I Don’t Automatically Play Along with Many Writers’ Groups Anymore

Won’t Retweet, Won’t do Review Swaps, Won’t “Vote Up” Reviews:
Why I Don’t Automatically Play Along with Many Writers’ Groups Anymore

As Holly Near sings in her iconic relationship-gone-sour song, “Started Out Fine,” it “started out fine; we were moving ahead.” [Great song: go watch her sing it!]

Holly’s “Started Out Fine” on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Qhxkd6Gn0E

When I first decided to become an independent author and self-publish after having gone the trad route with nonfiction and made a few attempts to go the trad route for fiction, I knew next-to-nothing about the social media circus I was about to join. I was starry-eyed, optimistic, eager and trusting.

I would get reviewers. I would network. I would make online author friends. I’d become part of communities I would find online. Yippee!

Oy.

Sure, I had a Facebook page, I had opened (and never used) a Twitter account, and I was listed on LinkedIn, for professional purposes (but hardly ever used it).

social-sites

I had found Authonomy http://www.Authonomy.com and Wattpad http://www.Wattpad.com and decided to post excerpts on these sites, hoping to begin to get readers, reviewers, friends, colleagues.

My niece set up my first website, Sally Ember, Ed.D., and I began to “blog my book,” posting excerpts there and on Facebook for weeks prior to publication (catching up with both excerpts sites, above, before release day).

I researched and decided to go with Smashwords, first, with a pre-order period (several posts about Pre-orders are on my blog, http://www.sallyember.com), then publish to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) when my first ebook went live.

That was the entirety of my social media presence in the summer of 2013, a few months before I hit the “publish” button on my first of the ten volumes in The Spanners Series. Some of these endeavors resulted in my finding exactly what I was looking for: a community of indie and/or self-pub writers, many of whom were also somewhat new, volunteering to review, comment, enjoy my excerpts and then my book! I was so delighted and grateful!

Some of these new connections invited me into groups I’d previously been unaware of, but I happily became quite active in them, for a while. These groups had members who were (and ARE) so supportive, showing me a variety of ways to be involved in cross-promoting one another’s writing.

At first, it was all sunny skies and rainbows. My ebook was gaining visibility, I was making online friends, gaining more reviews and having a good time. Mutual respect, support, encouragement, laughs, tips, ideas and more were flowing around groups and quite helpful to me. I even had some to share back to them. Awesome…for a while.

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image from: http://www.dreamstime.com

The clouds rolled in all too soon. Has any of this happened to you?
“Sure! I’ll ReTweet [RT] glowing praise for your book(s) [even though I’ve never read anything you’ve written]!”

“Of course, if you read and review my book, I’d be delighted to read and review yours [until I read a few that were AWFUL!]!”

“Please be assured that, if you vote up my book’s good reviews on Amazon or my book on Goodreads’ Lists or put my book on your “shelves” on Goodreads, I’ll do the same for yours [even though… {PICK ONE: I’ve never read these other writers’ books OR I don’t like the genre and would never read them OR I have started to read them but couldn’t continue because they were AWFUL}]!”

“Oh, great! I’d love to be part of this ‘review each other’s blog’ swap. Oh, what? You’re assigning me to an erotica site when my brand is PG-13?!?!? No can do. Oh, it’s required? Oh, you’re now calling me names, like ‘prude,’ and telling me I’m being ‘judgmental’? ‘Bye, then.”

thunderheads_canisbay
image from: http://www.artcountrycanada.com

Struck by scolding/lightning one too many times, I dropped out each of those writers’ groups that had absurd or untenable “member responsibilities.” I eventually dropped out of all but a few groups.

Whew! Relieved!

<strong>My integrity has been restored by establishing for myself some great ground rules:
1) I am not on “Tweet teams” which require members to RT every and all Tweets.
2) I do not do “obligatory” reviews or “swaps.”
3) I do cross-promoting only after I’ve gotten to know/read and respect the other person and his/her writing enough to put my name on a public recommendation.
4) I don’t “vote up” any reviews or books unless I’ve read and agree with the votes.
5) I don’t vote for book covers or books for voting-related rewards unless I actually believe they deserve to win.

The best part of being “older but wiser, now” about how writers use social media? If you see my name on a book or blog review, a promotional Tweet, a shared or reblogged post, you can rest assured I believe in what I’m sharing/promoting.

When I haven’t read the work of the authors and don’t know their blog or them at all except as members’ names, I only share or RT general promotions for the GROUP. That’s the way I handle all that social media group cross-promotion pressure, now.

Also, when an individual requests any of the actions I now refuse to take, I gently let them know I don’t do those actions and some I send to the ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors) Ethical Code, which I signed and promote on my blog, GLADLY: http://www.theindependentpublishingmagazine.com/2014/11/alli-launch-ethical-author-code.html Go read it. Sign it. Share it. We all should!

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So, however you respect my taste and/or me, you can follow my recommendations or leads as you wish.

All the best to you!

**** 4 Stars for This Changes Everything from Dee Fox!

**** 4 Stars for This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series by Sally Ember, Ed.D.
Reviewer: Dee (Devorah) Fox

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Some books are like a train. I hop on and let it take me for a ride, I just go where it goes. Spanners asked me to get in the engine compartment and help the conductor. I felt that I had to sign on to the concepts and by believing, be part of the story. I liked what the author was trying to do by writing in the present tense. It never stopped bringing me up short. However every time I had to reorient myself I found myself thinking about time and how it’s just a construct. I also appreciated the humor in the depiction of how throughout history our society’s thought leaders and innovators were participants in the Many Worlds Collective. Of course they were! The series is ambitious and thought provoking. Not an easy read. I’d even say it takes a little work but well worth it for the experience.

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Thanks, Dee! Dee Fox was a guest on Episode 18 of CHANGES conversations between authors: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPbfKicwk4dFdeVSAY1tfhtjaEY_clmfq  
#Authors, especially those in sci-fi/speculative fiction and who blog, learn more about and get yourself on CHANGES, and #Readers, recommend an #author to be scheduled as a guest: CHANGES G+ HOA  https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d/  

Read this and more reviews and download Volume I for FREE on Amazon:
http://goo.gl/0yN5GE

For other formats, Volume II purchase links, reviews, interviews and more, visit my website; look right and scroll down on http://www.sallyember.com

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All logo and cover art for The Spanners Series by Aidana Willowraven.

“Imaginative #SciFi Work of Art”: Positive #Reviews for both Vol I and Vol II of The Spanners Series!

"Imaginative #SciFi Work of Art ": Positive #Reviews

for both Vol I and Vol II of The Spanners Series!

Ashley Jacoby reviewed This Changes My Family and My Life Forever (The Spanners Series, Volume 2) and remarked about Vol I, This Changes Everything, as well. http://goo.gl/zRlvXz

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"Imaginative Sci Fi Work of Art," January 21, 2015

"Imaginative and inventive. Let me start with saying I love this book and I received this product free from Sally Ember through the BuView review program in exchange for an honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

"Now that being said, it's a wonderful story place through time and space past present future. I love that it shows there can be peace, understanding and acceptance in the worlds. Clara is a very intriguing character and I love reading her story. The second book is laid out by character and reads as such so some whom don't like this type of lay out may get a bit lost within the story. Although I'd have to say it isn't that hard to follow just isn't the classic story layout.

"My only real complaint is that at times I felt like I was reading an instruction manual or dictionary. Which is understandable as it is complex writing and the readers need to understand whats being said, it just could have been laid out better. Aside from this small drawback, this is a great sci-fi series and I highly recommend it. I downloaded the first one even before reading volume 2 so I wouldn't be lost. I'll be sure to keep up as the author continue writing; can't wait to further follow this story."


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PERMAFREE! Volume I, This Changes Everything, Blurb:
Dr. Clara Ackerman Branon, 58, begins having secret visits from holographic representations of  beings from the Many Worlds Collective, a consortium of planet and star systems in the multiverse.  When Earth is invited to join the consortium, the secret visits are made public. Now Earthers must adjust their beliefs and ideas about life, religion, culture, identity and everything they think and are. Clara is selected to be the liaison between Earth and the Many Worlds Collective and she chooses Esperanza Enlaces to be the Media Contact. They team up to provide information to stave off riots and uncertainty. The Many Worlds Collective holos train Clara and the Psi-Warriors for the Psi Wars with the rebelling Psi-Defiers, communicate effectively with many species on Earth and off-planet, eliminate ordinary, elected governments and political boundaries, convene a new group of Global Leaders, and deal with family's and friends' reactions. In what multiple timelines of the ever-expanding multiverse do Clara and her long-time love, Epifanio Dang, get to be together and which leave Clara alone and lonely as the leader of Earth? This Changes Everything begins the 30-year story of Clara's term as Earth's first Chief Communicator, continuing in nine more Volumes of The Spanners Series.
Are YOU ready for the changes?
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HFELTG8   
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/376197

final cover print

$3.99 Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, blurb:
Intrigued by multiple timelines, aliens, psi skills, romance and planetary change? Clara and the alien "Band" are back in Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever of The Spanners Series. Now as Chief Communicator, Clara leads the way for interspecies communication on- and off-planet. Fighting these changes are the Psi-Defiers, led by one of the oldest friends of the Chief of the Psi-Warriors, its reluctant leader, Rabbi Moran Ackerman. Stories from younger Spanners about the first five years of The Transition fill Volume II.
How would YOU do with the changes?
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/424969  
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KU5Q7KC

More LINKS on http://www.sallyember.com  main website: look right and scroll down. Kobo, iBooks, nook, more reviews, interviews, book trailers, more.
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HEV2UEW  author page
https://www.twitter.com/sallyemberedd Twitter: @sallyemberedd
https://www.facebook.com/TheSpannersSeriesbySallyEmber Spanners Series' page on FB
https://www.facebook.com/sally.ember
http://www.pinterest.com/sallyember
http://goo.gl/tZKQpv Spanners Series' page on Google+
http://www.google.com/+SallySueEmber Sally Sue Ember on Google+
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqnZuobf0YTCiP6silDDL2w/videos
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7237845.Sally_Ember

Cover art and logo by Aidana Willowraven:
http://www.willowraven-illustration.blogspot.com/

Dear #Indie #Authors: If You Don’t Want an Honest #Review, Don’t Ask Me to Write One

AuthorsWarning
image from: http://www.pieceofcakepr.com

If You Don’t Want an Honest Review, Don’t Ask Me to Write One

Some background…
I’m an educator and an editor: I don’t mean to be harsh, but I have a red pen in my mind when I read. Can’t turn it off. Is every piece of my own writing perfect? Not by a long shot. HOWEVER, my proofreading skills, grammar-checking and spelling are excellent, particularly when applied to others’ writing.

I used to teach English writing, grammar and spelling. I have worked as an editor, proofreader and paid writer. I also used to teach kids, teens and adults, all grades, many subjects, pre-Kindergarten through graduate school, including English to Speakers of other Languages (ESL) and literacy/numeracy to adults with severe learning disabilities. I used to train/supervise and evaluate student teachers and classroom teachers. I have a B.A., master’s and doctorate in education, specializing in multicultural and teacher education.

I have had nonfiction, articles, poetry, and short fiction published and plays produced prior to self-publishing my sci-fi/romance ebooks. I write The Spanners Series‘ ebooks intentionally in the present tense, BTW, which confounds many readers and reviewers until they understand the reasons.

Degrees are no guarantee of excellence in any area, as we all know, nor is quantity of publications any indication of quality. My education and experiences are important to note, however, for background.

As a reader: I used to read about 10 books PER WEEK for dozens of years, mostly fiction. Now I read less, but mostly fiction, with some select nonfiction and recently, online pieces and blogs.

I know some stuff.

Really.

Current state of my life…
I’m also very busy. I rarely even agree to attempt a review because I’m so busy.

I’m therefore justifiably extremely picky about what I choose to read and even pickier about what I decide to review.

So, if I agree to review your book but I find that it is not well-written, not carefully edited or proofread, or otherwise NOT going to be getting a stellar review from me, I first will email you and explain my criticisms. Sometimes, I will do your critique in detail, at no small loss to my own writing time, because I truly wish to be helpful. I might not even be able to finish your book; it could be that bad.

negative-reviews-image
image from http://www.brookeharrison.com

When I review your book and it’s not very good news for you…
I will tell you that I usually get paid $100 for these kinds of critiques. I am not joking. I am also not extorting you, just making a point and asking for you to share the wealth, if you ever have any. Paypal button is on my website. You can donate $1, out of respect.

Because, if I do deign to finish your book (because your bad writing and many mistakes hurt my eyes, you should realize that I am doing you a HUGE favor to keep reading under those circumstances; imagine a musician having to listen to someone sing who is tone-deaf!), be amazed. If I further agree to review your flawed tome, the FIRST proper response from you, the author, is: THANK YOU, Sally.

Negative reviews can be helpful

How you could best react to my comments about your book…
If you are serious about being a writer and intend to continue, you should express your eagerness to consider my critique carefully. Think about how you can try to make corrections, do revisions, improve in the future. Do SOMETHING that makes me believe that I haven’t wasted my time.

If you have received only positive reviews up to this point while my criticisms are warranted and accurate, then your other “reviewers” have a very poor professional “eye” or are lying to you to “spare your feelings.” They did you a grave disservice and misled you horribly.

That is not my fault. I am pointing this out so you’ll know whose opinions to trust.

Do not hide behind those “good” reviews and do not make excuses. Do not whine about being “new” or “inexperienced.” Do not complain to me that you did not have enough money to hire an editor or proofreader, so you did it yourself or used your cousin.

If your book is not ready for publication, DO NOT PUBLISH IT. Really.

Honestly: I have given this a lot of thought before I tell you that your book is not currently good enough to merit a positive review. I give you my professional reasons for assigning your book its low rating.

What not to do when you get my email…

  • Do not call me names. (Seriously?)
  • Do not act as though I have offended you personally by critiquing your writing professionally.
  • Do not tell me you have now gone to read my book or my reviews (but not before this???) and have determined from your brief perusal (my books are over 130K words or 300 pages long) that you do not respect me or my writing and, therefore, can ignore what I’m telling you.
  • Do not tell me not to contact you and then keep emailing me or following my blog, posting about my review on YOUR blog and “calling me out” as a bad reviewer or writer, just to make yourself feel better. Your behavior is beyond appalling. You ASKED ME FOR A REVIEW, remember?
  • Do not trot out your credentials, degrees, numbers of previously published and much-loved books: I do not care. I am reading THIS one and reviewing THIS book and only this book, and my assessment stands.
  • Do not tell me how much more you know than I do about_______________(fill in the blank). That is not relevant. This is not a competition. If you actually know that much about good writing but did not apply it to this book adequately, get going to do it better next time instead of wasting your energy deriding me for noticing all the ways that you did not apply your knowledge well in this book.
  • Do not position yourself as my enemy, my judge or my combatant. What is your purpose in doing that? If my honest review of your book inspires you to denigrate me, a fellow author who donated her time and expertise to try to help you write better, there is a lot wrong with your approach to seeking and receiving reviews that I do not have the time or interest in detailing here.

News flash: Every negative review is NOT to be dismissed cavalierly by your declaration that your book “is not for everyone,” although some reviewers’ opinions certainly can be dismissed in that way. If I took the time to read and review your entire book (and almost always, I do NOT), then I thought (I hoped) that I would like your book. By definition, that means your book was written for me.

What’s true about me and you…
I am not a “troll.” I am not being unfair. I am not “slamming” you or your book. I take no pleasure in having to write a negative or mixed review. I agonize over what I know will hit you hard, especially if you have been surrounded by people telling you, sometimes for years, how great your writing is. Your writing might be entertaining, interesting or creative, and I probably already told you that. Great it is not.

I am an ethical, hard-working author who occasionally tutors writing, edits or proofreads (for money) and writes reviews (rarely, and always for free). If I mention to you that I do this for money, the “this” is not reviewing, it is my tutoring writers and editing. By taking the time not just to offer a review, but to email you (more than once, sometimes) and converse with you about specifics and ways you could improve, mistakes you made, recommendations I’m making, I have now ventured into the arena of work I usually get paid to perform.

I tell you that not to extort money from you, but to let you know that, if you find my insights valuable and you ever have “extra” money, I’d appreciate a donation that recognizes my having GIVEN you my professional expertise, having gone above and beyond what reviewers usually do. It’s an opportunity to respond with courtesy, not a requirement.

I respect most other authors tremendously. However, I am not reviewing your ideas or taking into account your desire for success, however strong they may be. I am professionally reviewing your book, author to author, editor to author, proofreader to author, educator to author.

If I have reviewed your book and you are dissatisfied with my opinions, suggestions or corrections, I strongly recommend you let it go. I will not engage with you beyond providing my critique. I do not want to get into a “flame war,” bloggers’ conflict, take sides, or other such middle-school-era nonsense.

I have writing to do.

If you are too thin-skinned (read: unprofessional), not ready, not willing to improve, AND, if you don’t know enough to respect my opinions and experience much less my expertise, so that, really, you do not want my honesty, DO NOT ASK ME TO REVIEW YOUR BOOK.

Please.

Ask your cousin.

An Open Letter to my Earlier Self about #Book #Reviews and #Reviewers Guest Post on The Book Cove goes LIVE today

An Open Letter to my Earlier Self about #Book #Reviews and #Reviewers Guest Post on The Book Cove goes LIVE today, 12/1/14, and is part of a series.

http://www.thebookcove.com/2014/12/author-sally-ember-edd-open-letter-to.html

bookreviews_logo

Check on Mondays, 11/24/14 and 12/8 and 12/15/14 for the rest of the series! http://www.thebookcove.com

An Open Letter to my Earlier Self about #Book #Reviews and #Reviewers Guest Post on The Book Cove goes LIVE today

An Open Letter to my Earlier Self about #Book #Reviews and #Reviewers Guest Post on The Book Cove goes LIVE today, 12/1/14, and is part of a series.

http://www.thebookcove.com/2014/12/author-sally-ember-edd-open-letter-to.html

bookreviews_logo

Check on Mondays, 11/24/14 and 12/8 and 12/15/14 for the rest of the series! http://www.thebookcove.com

**** for This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, Vol II of The Spanners Series

**** for This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, Vol II of The Spanners Series! by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

Review by: Brenda McCracken on Nov. 09, 2014: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/424969

and

http://www.amazon.com/Changes-Family-Forever-Spanners-Series-ebook/dp/B00KU5Q7KC/ref=cm_aya_orig_subj

I found this to book to be a very imaginative and creative story. Ms. Ember’s Jewish faith shines through her characters in this book. This is the first I have read from the series and I found the uses of telepathy within her characters and the plot interesting. I love sci-fi and fantasy and this is the real deal. Although I disagree with the cover art. As someone who has dabbled with Poser and Daz, those characters on the cover give me the willies. No offense!

Thanks for the review, Brenda! Glad you enjoyed it, but I LOVE the cover art, by Aidana Willowraven!

final cover print

Volume II is available everywhere ebooks are sold (links on http://www.sallyember.com on the right of every page) for $3.99.

Volume I, This Changes Everything, is FREE! Good idea to start with this one!

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

**** for This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, Vol II of The Spanners Series

**** for This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, Vol II of The Spanners Series! by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

Review by: Brenda McCracken on Nov. 09, 2014: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/424969

and

http://www.amazon.com/Changes-Family-Forever-Spanners-Series-ebook/dp/B00KU5Q7KC/ref=cm_aya_orig_subj

I found this to book to be a very imaginative and creative story. Ms. Ember’s Jewish faith shines through her characters in this book. This is the first I have read from the series and I found the uses of telepathy within her characters and the plot interesting. I love sci-fi and fantasy and this is the real deal. Although I disagree with the cover art. As someone who has dabbled with Poser and Daz, those characters on the cover give me the willies. No offense!

Thanks for the review, Brenda! Glad you enjoyed it, but I LOVE the cover art, by Aidana Willowraven!

final cover print

Volume II is available everywhere ebooks are sold (links on http://www.sallyember.com on the right of every page) for $3.99.

Volume I, This Changes Everything, is FREE! Good idea to start with this one!

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

“Quick Book Reviews” Gives “Thumbs Up” to This Changes Everything, Vol I, The Spanners Series!

This Changes Everything, Vol I, The Spanners Series, gets a great review from Quick Book Reviews back in January but I just found out this week!

Here are two quotes from the review:

“I found the story itself to be one of the most immersive and original ones I have read recently. Amongst the sea of science fiction novel clones, there is This Changes Everything, a book in which old ideas are taken in completely new directions (such as the whole intergalactic committee actually trying to help the humans), and new ideas are spawned by the dozens.”

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

This Changes Everything is certainly much more than what I expected from it, presenting us an enthralling and original storyline set in a majestic and extremely-detailed world, populated by many characters that will stay with you once the last pages are closed. I wholeheartedly recommend the book to science-fiction fans, especially the ones who prefer their literature to explore ideas and concepts through words rather than actions.”

This Changes Everything is now PERMAFREE everywhere ebooks are sold and Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, is $3.99.

final cover print

Volume III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, is due out early in 2015.

Read the full review here:
http://quick-book-review.blogspot.com/2014/01/this-changes-everything-volume-one-by-sally-ember.html

“Quick Book Reviews” Gives “Thumbs Up” to This Changes Everything, Vol I, The Spanners Series!

This Changes Everything, Vol I, The Spanners Series, gets a great review from Quick Book Reviews back in January but I just found out this week!

Here are two quotes from the review:

“I found the story itself to be one of the most immersive and original ones I have read recently. Amongst the sea of science fiction novel clones, there is This Changes Everything, a book in which old ideas are taken in completely new directions (such as the whole intergalactic committee actually trying to help the humans), and new ideas are spawned by the dozens.”

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

This Changes Everything is certainly much more than what I expected from it, presenting us an enthralling and original storyline set in a majestic and extremely-detailed world, populated by many characters that will stay with you once the last pages are closed. I wholeheartedly recommend the book to science-fiction fans, especially the ones who prefer their literature to explore ideas and concepts through words rather than actions.”

This Changes Everything is now PERMAFREE everywhere ebooks are sold and Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, is $3.99.

final cover print

Volume III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, is due out early in 2015.

Read the full review here:
http://quick-book-review.blogspot.com/2014/01/this-changes-everything-volume-one-by-sally-ember.html

5 Stars for This Changes Everything from “Raving in Alaska” on Amazon!

5 Stars for This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D., from “Raving in Alaska” on Amazon!

Here is his/her review:

After seeing all the other reviews why did I give this one five stars? Because it was not light entertainment and did cause me to think. Much like a role-playing video game, the entire book shifted perspective, past, present, future, within a page or paragraph. Interesting concept. And, at times I had to put it down and think about what I just read. Intriguing and with a bit of a twist. How would I react in the given premises? Very good question indeed.

Read review and my response here: http://goo.gl/e47jZ6

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

Now Permafree everywhere ebooks are available!
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HFELTG8?tag=viewbookat0e-20

More links for purchase of Volumes for the series and much more info: http://www.sallyember.com Look to the right and scroll down!

5 Stars for This Changes Everything from “Raving in Alaska” on Amazon!

5 Stars for This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D., from “Raving in Alaska” on Amazon!

Here is his/her review:

After seeing all the other reviews why did I give this one five stars? Because it was not light entertainment and did cause me to think. Much like a role-playing video game, the entire book shifted perspective, past, present, future, within a page or paragraph. Interesting concept. And, at times I had to put it down and think about what I just read. Intriguing and with a bit of a twist. How would I react in the given premises? Very good question indeed.

Read review and my response here: http://goo.gl/e47jZ6

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

Now Permafree everywhere ebooks are available!
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HFELTG8?tag=viewbookat0e-20

More links for purchase of Volumes for the series and much more info: http://www.sallyember.com Look to the right and scroll down!

“Mrs. G” Reviewed This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series

An open letter to a reviewer:

Thanks, Mrs. G., for your thoughtful review of This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series, on Amazon. I appreciate your candor, your thoroughness and your specificity of what you liked and what didn’t work for you. I wish all readers and reviewers took the time and gave the attention to their reviewed books and reviews as you have!

I am sorry the linked Table of Contents didn’t work for you. What version of ereader are you using? I haven’t heard of that problem from other readers and I wish that hadn’t happened for you.

Thanks, again, for your considered review. I would be happy to send you a copy of Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever.

Best to you,

Sally Ember, Ed.D. (author)
http://www.sallyember.com

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

P.S. I agree that The Spanners Series‘ stories would make an excellent T.V. series! I hope your wish comes true!

Here are her review and a link to it:

* * * of 5: Great concept–difficult translation into written form. September 6, 2014
DO NOT read this if you want a normal, linear story that makes complete sense and introduces ideas in a logical sequence.
DO read this if you want to try something very new and think about the universe in a completely different way.

I’m actually not even sure how to review this in a traditional way because the book was so very bizarre in its format. Let’s go with this…

What I liked:
The aliens and the whole concept of the multiverses working together to make life better.
The characters (a lot of them) and how they felt real.
The whole idea of alternate time lines–something I’ve loved since Isaac Asimov’s “The End of Eternity”.
The enormous attention to detail in the whole world-building thing.

What irked me:
The fact that shortly after meeting the aliens, we are thrust into the future (or is it a flashback–that’s how hard this is to follow) and a ton of acronyms and entities are suddenly taken for granted. There is an “appendix” with a glossary of terms. That might have worked for me except that in the ebook format at least, that meant jumping to the end and then there was no way to navigate back (no table of contents to take me back to the chapter I’d left). Perhaps in paperback form where I could dog ear the pages…?
As other reviewers have mentioned, the whole matter of tense and the writing style that makes it hard to know *when* I am. Which, yeah… Is a little moot when we’re talking about alternative timelines and the fact that time is not linear. Yeah, I get it. But the readers still are used to linear, so we need to have it explained to us in that way.

I really think this would work better as a TV series where the visual clues might make it easier to tell “when” the reader is reading. It vaguely reminded me of Cloud Atlas, but harder to follow.

http://www.amazon.com/product-reviews/B00HFELTG8/#reviews-container?sortBy=recent&reviewerType=all_reviews&formatType=all_formats&filterByStar=all_stars

“Mrs. G” Reviewed This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series

An open letter to a reviewer:

Thanks, Mrs. G., for your thoughtful review of This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series, on Amazon. I appreciate your candor, your thoroughness and your specificity of what you liked and what didn’t work for you. I wish all readers and reviewers took the time and gave the attention to their reviewed books and reviews as you have!

I am sorry the linked Table of Contents didn’t work for you. What version of ereader are you using? I haven’t heard of that problem from other readers and I wish that hadn’t happened for you.

Thanks, again, for your considered review. I would be happy to send you a copy of Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever.

Best to you,

Sally Ember, Ed.D. (author)
http://www.sallyember.com

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

P.S. I agree that The Spanners Series‘ stories would make an excellent T.V. series! I hope your wish comes true!

Here are her review and a link to it:

* * * of 5: Great concept–difficult translation into written form. September 6, 2014
DO NOT read this if you want a normal, linear story that makes complete sense and introduces ideas in a logical sequence.
DO read this if you want to try something very new and think about the universe in a completely different way.

I’m actually not even sure how to review this in a traditional way because the book was so very bizarre in its format. Let’s go with this…

What I liked:
The aliens and the whole concept of the multiverses working together to make life better.
The characters (a lot of them) and how they felt real.
The whole idea of alternate time lines–something I’ve loved since Isaac Asimov’s “The End of Eternity”.
The enormous attention to detail in the whole world-building thing.

What irked me:
The fact that shortly after meeting the aliens, we are thrust into the future (or is it a flashback–that’s how hard this is to follow) and a ton of acronyms and entities are suddenly taken for granted. There is an “appendix” with a glossary of terms. That might have worked for me except that in the ebook format at least, that meant jumping to the end and then there was no way to navigate back (no table of contents to take me back to the chapter I’d left). Perhaps in paperback form where I could dog ear the pages…?
As other reviewers have mentioned, the whole matter of tense and the writing style that makes it hard to know *when* I am. Which, yeah… Is a little moot when we’re talking about alternative timelines and the fact that time is not linear. Yeah, I get it. But the readers still are used to linear, so we need to have it explained to us in that way.

I really think this would work better as a TV series where the visual clues might make it easier to tell “when” the reader is reading. It vaguely reminded me of Cloud Atlas, but harder to follow.

http://www.amazon.com/product-reviews/B00HFELTG8/#reviews-container?sortBy=recent&reviewerType=all_reviews&formatType=all_formats&filterByStar=all_stars

5-Stars for Volume II of The Spanners Series on Goodreads!

John Betts’s review of This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, Volume II, The Spanners Series, from Aug 01, 14 on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/983982709?book_show_action=false&page=1

5 of 5 stars

Read from July 09 to August 01, 2014

I enjoyed reading this following on from book 1, book 1 give the groundwork so you really get into book 2 quickly and understand what is going on from the very beginning, if I had more time to spare, this is a book I would have read cover to cover non stop.

final cover print

Cover art by Willowraven

Thanks, John! More info about and links for author, John Betts, below.

Twitter https://twitter.com/JohnArthurBetts

LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/home?trk=nav_responsive_tab_home

Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/johnarthurbettsfantasyworld

Google+ https://plus.google.com/u/0/115539396811049169679/posts

Mia’s Legacy
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mias-Legacy-John-Betts-ebook/dp/B00MDIQ0CE

The Twin Rings of Ra https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/327514

An Adventure of Bunny Bertie and Blueberry Elf http://www.amazon.co.uk/Adventure-Bunny-Bertie-Blueberry-Elf/dp/1784075965 and
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/407885

5-Stars for Volume II of The Spanners Series on Goodreads!

John Betts’s review of This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, Volume II, The Spanners Series, from Aug 01, 14 on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/983982709?book_show_action=false&page=1

5 of 5 stars

Read from July 09 to August 01, 2014

I enjoyed reading this following on from book 1, book 1 give the groundwork so you really get into book 2 quickly and understand what is going on from the very beginning, if I had more time to spare, this is a book I would have read cover to cover non stop.

final cover print

Cover art by Willowraven

Thanks, John! More info about and links for author, John Betts, below.

Twitter https://twitter.com/JohnArthurBetts

LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/home?trk=nav_responsive_tab_home

Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/johnarthurbettsfantasyworld

Google+ https://plus.google.com/u/0/115539396811049169679/posts

Mia’s Legacy
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mias-Legacy-John-Betts-ebook/dp/B00MDIQ0CE

The Twin Rings of Ra https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/327514

An Adventure of Bunny Bertie and Blueberry Elf http://www.amazon.co.uk/Adventure-Bunny-Bertie-Blueberry-Elf/dp/1784075965 and
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/407885

Supporting gender and sexual orientation diversity is important: It’s sometimes a matter of life and death

Children’s Book Review

Made By Raffi by Craig Pomranz

by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

July, 2014

It’s not often that two people who knew each other as teenagers both become authors around the same time, but here we are, Craig Pomranz and I, both from Olivette, MO (a suburb of St. Louis), finding this new outlet for our creativity!

Craig is one year younger but was two grades behind me in our high school due to district entrance deadlines. It was quite “scandalous” at the time that I chose him to be my among my good friends, because I was a popular, powerful senior and he was a lowly sophomore in our three-year, Ladue Horton Watkins High School in 1971.

Why did I pick Craig out of and lift him from the kiddie pool? Because he was amazingly talented, charismatic, charming, intelligent, fun and earnest, even then. At our almost-clueless ages of 15 and 16, we bonded over musical and dramatic theater, party games, sex, jokes and movies.

We were also both not exactly cis-gender or completely heterosexual. In those ways, we kind of “met in the middle” and found a lot of common ground. We are still doing that, over forty years later. Craig and I both have wanted our experiences to be utilized so that we could be helpful to younger people in our professional work (as I have) and our writing.

This spring, Craig authored and this month published s wonderful, unique children’s book, Made by Raffi, that I’ll let him tell you about from an email he recently sent to me:

“I wrote the book to support young boys and girls who are perceived as ‘different’ because of their appearance or hobbies. It is a funny, colorful book with a serious message and will interest those who care about promoting diversity and embracing our differences, as well as all children seeking to fit in. This is an important topic for today…”

Craig went on to explain: “I have really become interested in the idea of how we tell our kids what is ‘appropriate’ activity based on gender. Most of the parents of young kids I know are trying, on the one hand, to let them follow their own interests, but on the other are concerned about their kid’s fitting in and not being teased. As a result, atypical hobbies and behaviors are only encouraged so far.”

He knows I AGREE with him completely, so he asked me to review and help promote his great book. Here I am, doing just that.

Buy this book. Share it with younger readers and even younger pre-readers. Talk about it. Allow Raffi’s story to raise questions and stimulate important conversations. Donate it to schools, libraries, homeless shelters, runaway hostels, children’s hospitals, youth mental wards, rehab centers.

I mean it. Made by Raffi should be everywhere so that gender disphoric and gender diverse youth can find it. It doesn’t matter that it’s a “children’s book.” That just makes it an easy read, brief but pithy. Also, the brevity and easy language mean that a young person who still has trouble with reading or whose English isn’t great could understand and benefit from it.

Why do I do this when I’m not a professional book reviewer? Because supporting gender and sexual orientation diversity is important: it’s sometimes a matter of life and death.

Craig wrote to me to share “some shocking stories”:

  • “A principal told a boy he could not bring his ‘My Little Pony’ lunchbox to school because it was a ‘trigger’ for teasing and bullying.

  • “The same week, a girl was expelled from a Christian school because of her short hair, perceived masculine look and interest in sports.

  • “A woman in Portland killed her child of four because she thought he ‘acted, walked and spoke like a gay person.'”

Craig continued in his email to me: “I would love to help those raising children—-and that includes parents, teachers, friends and relatives (the wide range of ‘families’ out there)—-who have had to deal with the issues of teasing and bullying and the difficulty we all have in defining who we are.”

From the book’s description:

Raffi is a shy boy who doesn’t like noisy games and is often teased at school. But when he gets the idea of making a scarf for his dad’s birthday, he is full of enthusiasm even though the other children think it is ‘girly’ to knit. Then the day draws near for the school pageant, and there is one big problem: no costume for the prince. And that’s when Raffi has his most brilliant idea of all — to make a prince’s cape. On the day of the pageant, Raffi’s cape is the star of the show.

Raffi cover

Age Range: 5 – 9 years

Grade Level: Kindergarten – 4

Hardcover: 40 pages

Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books (July 29, 2014)

Illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain

Buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Made-Raffi-Craig-Pomranz/dp/1847804330

If you read the book, let Craig and others know on Twitter @MadeByRaffi

LIKE and comment on the book’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MadeByRaffi

I am so proud of my dear, longtime friend, Craig Pomranz! Spread the word! Visit his new blog!
http://craigpomranz.com/made-by-raffi/

Bonuses!

Craig sent me some snippets from readers all over the globe who have already shared and appreciated Made by Raffi. Here are a couple of those.

From a man in Istanbul:
Today I enjoyed to preorder your beautiful and meaningful children book for my cousin. Especially here in Turkey we need to learn respect to the one who is different than us. Thanks for your effort to make the world a better place to live.

Another fan wrote and sent Craig a photo:
I just wanted to send you this lovely picture of Isak, 7 years old, who has been inspired by Made by Raffi (Norwegian edition) to knit a scarf for his younger cousin (maybe as a Christmas gift). His mother tells me that they have been reading the book several times now, and that he’s trying to read it by himself, too. Greetings from Norway!

Isak

A DNF (Did Not Finish) Experience Does NOT Qualify for a “Review”

As a writer and as a reader, I am a genre outsider. I don’t write or read squarely within any genre except Speculative Fiction, but that is so large as to be considered a literary category and not one genre (see previous post, https://sallyember.com/2014/07/10/guest-post-the-politics-of-speculative-science-fiction/, for what belongs within Spec Fic).

Furthermore, I don’t usually like what is published in most of the #SpecFic subgenres. I don’t even like their plots or characters. Same goes for #Romance. I often have to label books Did Not Finish (DNF), although I reserve even that designation for books I read a great deal of before abandoning.

DidNotFinish_purple_Banner

image from http://www.prettyinfiction.com by Jesse Burgoyne

Here are the reasons that I often Did Not Finish (DNF) a book. Books on my DNF list feature:

  • zombies and other horror characters/plots, especially “damsel in distress”;
  • dystopian, apocalyptic downers;
  • space wars, medieval wars, any other wars;
  • combat/violence masquerading as plot points;
  • instant, superficial romance (humans with humans or humans with aliens, shapeshifters, vampires or whatever);
  • gratuitous sex or violence (meaning, does not advance the character development or plot, and appears every so many pages, anyway);
  • military characters, past/future or pretend;
  • “instant” solutions, usually involving a main character’s finding a lover, to serious grief or other problems;
  • sexist, racist, misogynistic, heterosexist/homophobic, classist, ageist and other oppressive depictions of characters, even if they’re “realistic” for the characters or eras
  • clichès, trite plot twists, 2-D characters, and /or other types of bad writing
  • too many typos, grammar or other mistakes that reveal the absence of or very poor editing
  • nothing interesting, so I’M BORED.

As you might imagine, this list includes most speculative fiction and romance books.

You now understand the main reason I almost never do “review swaps.” I so strongly dislike other people’s books/stories, even when they’re relatively well-written, that I can’t even read past the first few pages for most of them. I have tried to read and review them, especially when they are well-written or the author is someone I wish to support for other reasons, but I just can’t appreciate what I don’t like.

Unlike other reviewers who find themselves unable to finish a book because they don’t like it, I don’t post a “review” of an unfinished book unless it’s written by a well-established author whom many others are praising. In those cases, I post my dissenting viewpoint just to round out the PR for that book, knowing my minority, low opinion won’t crush or crash them.

Otherwise, I don’t post my many DNFs with ratings and I do not post “reviews.” I strongly wish other DNF readers would adopt my policy.

It is completely unfair for anyone to give a “professional” opinion (which is what a review purports to be) of a piece of literature the reviewer hasn’t completed. I’ve had some “reviewers” read a few dozen pages of my 300+-page books and then have the audacity to post a ZERO or one-star “review.” What is the justification for that? When they label a sarcastic or dissatisfied DNF response after having read only a few pages a “review,” that infuriates me.

I don’t mind that some readers DNF my books. I understand that some don’t like them. I also encourage readers to comment on any books they want, all they want. As a frequently dissatisfied reader, myself, I empathize with DNF experiences. Sometimes, I explain.

I object strenuously, however, when these DNF readers label their preliminary reactions and comments a “review.” Even more heinous is that some have the gall to rate their DNF books.

In what other profession or situation does a “professional” who has had only a brief experience with the piece become entitled to the right to judge it? Can an Olympic judge watch just a few seconds of the gymnast’s floor exercise routine, then rate it? Do we allow a jury to hear only one witness or just a few words of testimony and give a verdict? When do we ever allow a teacher to give a semester’s grade after briefly meeting the child or giving just one quiz?

DeadLast

image from mackenzian.com

Yes: not all readers finish books or even read most of a book. I am a reader who has a list of titles pages long I have done that with because they did not hold my interest. However, for fairness and professionalism, I strongly request that readers and especially reviewers who DNF not to rate or review those books. Please.

It is fair and helpful, meanwhile, for professional reviewers and avid readers to maintain a DNF list and even to share it. Better would be that we explain a little about our DNF reasons, but that is not expected or required (we’re busy!).

dnf-recap

image from mylifeinbookss.wordpress.com

I hereby proclaim: these are fake reviews, due to the readers’ DNF status. DO NOT READ DNF “reviews.” DO NOT BELIEVE WHAT THEY WRITE. DO NOT SUPPORT “REVIEWERS” who postDNF “reviews.”

One bonus: Within a DNF‘s comments are sometimes witty lines. Those I am pleased to re-post, just for fun.

Meanwhile, back in authors’ support land: please don’t ask me to do a review swap. I mostly do not do reviews, anyway. I do not consider myself a “professional” reviewer. I am just an avid reader and an author.

When I do choose to read a book and finish it, I will post a review. I promise.

Mostly, these days, #Iamwriting my books and blog posts.

Best to you all.

5-Star #Review of #THISCHANGESMYFAMILYANDMYLIFEFOREVER, Vol II, #THESPANNERSSERIES

TITLE HERE

June 4, 2014

“Clara Ackerman Branon is back, and Earth’s Transition continues.

final cover - digital and web
cover art by Aidana Willowraven

“I actually read Vol I and Vol II back to back, so for me it was like I’m reading one continuous book. I think though that one would need to read Vol I really to fully understand what is going to happen.

“In this volume, we get introduced more to Clara’s family (they are a large family!) who all get interviewed about how they experienced Clara’s first contact with the aliens and earth’s transition (when the news first broke, what changed for them, any difficulties, what are they planning for the future). One of the main narrators is Clara’s nephew, Moran, a Rabbi before Transition, who will now become the Chief in the fight against those who resist and fight the transition. There is also more info about Clara, snippets about her life from young woman to past transition, we learn about her jobs, relationships with both man and woman and in communes, what does she listen to, read etc. Though I’m still confused about her relationship with her lover / not lover, Epifanio – but hey, more volumes are to come.

“One thing I like very much about The Spanners Series is the message that we can all live together in peace, learn from each other, be there for each other. All differences (religious, racial, gender, and even between species and inhabitants of other planets) are overcome. I mean, how cool would that be to be able to communicate with animals – and not in a jokey, Eddie Murphy Dr Dolitle kind of way, but accept them and their needs / interests as equal to humans. And those people who resist change (yes, there will always be those, even if it is clear that the change is for the better) will not be eliminated, but gently persuaded to recognise at what is best for them.

“Another thing I really like is the cover artwork and I hope the author doesn’t change the cover art throughout the series, that would be a shame. It’s pretty , imaginative. once you read the first few chapters and about the first encounter with ‘The Band’, have a look at the cover again and you will go ‘ahhhh’.

“I very much enjoyed this series and the somewhat unusual structure of the book with interview. It is blurring the lines between fiction and non-fiction. One of the great pluses for me was that abbreviations or foreign language used (one of the main characters is Hispanic) are always explained in brackets straight away. Because of the non-fiction style, it does not halt the flow of the story at all, but is in fact very helpful. On the minus side, as there are several of Clara’s relatives are interviewed, it can sometimes be a bit ‘samey’ at some stage. But the writing is easy to read, so it is not a big deal and I found myself skipping over a few pages.

“A satisfying continuation from Volume I – let’s see what’s coming up in the next volume.”

[NOTE: Please forgive her English mistakes: English is not her first language.]

Visit Peggy Farooqi’s Reviews and blog: http://thepegsterreads.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/review-this-changes-my-family-and-my.html
and on Amazon.com

Her review of Vol I, This Changes Everything, appeared last month (May, 2014)!

TCE is PERMAFREE everywhere; TCMF&MLF is in Pre-Orders through 6/8/9 @$1.99 and releases @$3.99 6/9/14. Links, excerpts, more reviews and info: http://www.sallyember.com/spanners

4-Star #Review for #THISCHANGESVERYTHING, Vol I, #THESPANNERSSERIES

Sci Fi which challenges your ideas

May 26, 2014

“Finally, a Sci-Fi Series that is not exclusively aimed at teenager. Don’t get me wrong, there is a market and this book can be read by everyone. But it does challenge you mentally. What I like is that the main characters are not teenagers caught in some intergalactic wars.

This Changes Everything cover
cover art by Aidana Willowraven

“Dr. Clara Ackerman Branon, a middle-aged, Ph.D., school teacher, narrates the book (in most parts). She gets contacted by aliens from the MWC = Many World Collective. Led, Mick, Ringo and Janis – Diana (as Clara names them *geddit?*) appear to Clara in her bedroom as holograms and tell her that she is chosen to be earth’s first Chief Communicator with the MWC. They have come to prepare earth for membership of the MWC. Clara is not too spooked by their appearance, as she had visions since childhood. For me, she is a very likeable character and I took to her straight away – she has a great sense of humour.

“These aliens are actually friendly, and want to help earth and all its inhabitants (and that incl human and all other life) to live peacefully together. Reference John Lennon and “Image” here! Being aware of everything that went on at earth, they feel now the time is right to come forward and help earth with its transition to a more peaceful future.

“While the book in most parts is narrated by Clara, the chapters are also interlace with interviews, press conferences and diary entries written by others. This may sound confusing and it was at first when I read the contents pages. But the title of each chapter, whilst long, explains exactly what it is, so you will always now where and when you are. And there are a lot of ideas to take in, so a very helpful section at the end explains main phrases / concepts / abbreviations. But while it challenges your reading experience, it is not difficult to get your head around the ideas presented here.

“I found the idea that the MWC have been watching earth and are responsible for some of the disasters on earth (when things have gone wrong…) thought-provoking and absorbing. The concept of ‘timulting’ was more difficult for me to take in – Clara (and others) can see different timelines at any one stage. And than there is Clara’s love interest Epifanio whom she is / isn’t married to depending what timeline she is in and I struggled a bit with it. But I think I ‘got’ it at the end.

“I loved the idea of a ‘re-set’ on your life where you can change an event once. For Clara, that was the fact that she had a car accident as a teenager which left her with a degree of disability, which than ruled her life. When she can ‘re-set’ this event and watches how her life plays out without this disability in a different timeline, she realises that she would certainly be more outgoing, but the life of those around her (mostly her son) would also change significantly – at a price.

“Loved that. So, would you ‘re-set’ if you could?

“This book is the foundation for The Spanners Series, and while I understand that the following books can be read independently, I really think one ought to read Vol I to get the main ideas and concepts on which the author can now build upon. There is certainly a lot of scope to develop the ideas introduced in Vol I.”

[NOTE: Please forgive her English mistakes: English is not her first language.]

Visit Peggy Farooqi’s Reviews and blog: http://thepegsterreads.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/review-this-changes-everything-by-sally.html
and on Amazon.com

Her review of Vol II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, appears later this week!

TCE is PERMAFREE everywhere; TCMF&MLF is in Pre-Orders through 6/8/9 @$1.99 and releases @$3.99 6/9/14. Links, excerpts, more reviews and info: http://www.sallyember.com/spanners

Important Perspectives on #Book #Reviews for #Authors

Let me say first how grateful I am to each of the mostly self-selected, unsolicited and all UNPAID reviewers, most of whom I never met or heard of prior to their reviewing my book. Each of them gave a lot of their time and consideration and most read (or said they read) the whole book. THANK YOU, Book Reviewers!

I especially thank those who review indie, first-time, ebook authors of sci-fi (hardly any do!).

bookreviews_logo

I am a newly self-published, indie author of mixed genre ebooks. Right there, that puts my book into five categories that disfavor me in the reviews department.

Then, add that my genres are

science-fiction/romance/paranormal/multiverse/utopian/speculative fiction

and that my audience is also mixed:

adults, new and young adults

and we begin to understand how my first ebook, This Changes Everything, Volume I of The Spanners Series, could get a variety of responses and reviews.

To date (about 6 months after publication), TCE has 13 reviews on Amazon and a few elsewhere. These reviews break down roughly like this:

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

5-Stars: 25%

4-Stars: 25%

3-Stars: 25%

2-Stars: 0%

1-Star: 25%
Did Not Finish (also gave it 1-star or 3-stars, by the way): 2%, which adds up to 102%, since these are duplicates

My summary: About one-quarter of these reviewers loved my book (5 Stars); about one-quarter hated it (1 Star). Most reviewers were mixed, with the predominant attitude’s being positive (50% gave it 3 or 4 Stars) rather than negative (no 2-Stars and 25% 1 Star).

What could any author conclude from this? NOT MUCH!

Just to get some perspective, check out some well-known authors’ book review stats, for first volumes or breakout books, on Amazon: Robert Heinlein, J.K. Rowling, and Hugh Howey.

Robert Heinlein‘s Stranger in A Strange Land (his “breakout” and most popular full-length, sci-fi novel, and one of my all-time favorites/inspirations), has about 870 reviews on Amazon for this book.

Stranger cover

5 Stars: 57%

4 Stars: 14%

3 Stars: 13%

2 Stars: 9%

1 Star: 8%

My summary: More than half loved it (5 Stars). About half were less than enthusiastic, with about one-quarter liking it (3 and 4 Stars), and almost one-fifth disliking it (2 and 1 Stars).

What did one of Heinlein’s 1-Star reviewers have to say about this much-revered book? “I know it’s one of the classics, and supposedly one of the best sci-fi novels of all time, but I actually got so bored at parts of this book that I started skimming somewhere in the middle it.

How about J.K. Rowling‘s first volume of the renowned Harry Potter series, The Sorcerer’s Stone? How is this book doing? It has about 8500 reviews. Unsurprisingly, this book has garnered about 10 times the number of reviews as Heinlein’s (published in 1968).

Harry Potter vol I

5 Stars: 85%

4 Stars: 10%

3 Stars: 3%

2 Stars: 1%

1 Star: 1%

My summary: Overwhelmingly adored (95% gave it 4 or 5 Stars), this book still has detractors. Even J.K. Rowling, one of the most successful and beloved authors of all time, can’t please about 3% – 5% of these reviewers (1, 2 and 3 Stars).

One of Rowling’s first volume’s 1-Star reviewers who actually reviewed the book after seeing the movies (and was not caught up in slamming its purchase, which apparently was a problem with the Kindle and print versions), wrote: “How did this *ever* become such a phenomenon? I mean, if I think it through I can see why it became what it became but it was definitely not for the writing! The writing was soooooooo pedestrian I found myself embarrassed while reading it!

What about an Amazon’s “top 10 Best-Selling Author,” Hugh Howey‘s Wool? It has about 1750 reviews.

Wool part 1

5 Stars: 64%

4 Stars: 21%

3 Stars: 8%

2 Stars: 4%

1 Star: 3%

My summary:Well, these stats start to look more like a mid-way place between my first ebook’s review stats and Robert Heinlein’s, above, don’t they? Howey’s first volume garnered almost two-thirds of adoring (5 Stars) reviewers, but still has about 15% who disliked or are lukewarm about it (1, 2 and 3 Stars), with about one-fifth liking it but not loving it (4 Stars).

One of Howey’s 1-Star reviewers echoed my sentiments about his book (which I couldn’t even finish because I disliked it so much): “Another depressing ‘humans living underground following apocalypse / collapse of society / alien invasion / zombie epidemic, but with a really cruel. nasty plot twist right at the end.’ I had to eat a lot of chocolate to get over it.

Moral of my post? Appreciate ALL reviews, thank the reviewers, post your own reviews and don’t take any of them too seriously.

Best to you all, authors and reviewers!

The Anguish of Posting a 2-Star Review of a Colleague’s Book

As an #Indie #Author, I am keenly sensitive to the ways we are each other’s main support. We have no publishing house, no “team” dedicated to our book unless we gather that team ourselves and pay them individually. Because of this, I have made it a point to join groups on Facebook, Google+ and elsewhere in the blogosphere of fellow indie authors, bloggers and reviewers in order to support one another and be part of a “team.”

Some of these teams are better than others, and I have left a couple of them already (in less than a few months of membership) due to a lack of the very support I joined to acquire. However, some are excellent. #RaveReviewsBookClub is one of those. Its founder, president and fellow author, Nonnie Jules, and the team she has gathered to moderate and administrate the site and its activities (which are many!) are top-notch.

RRBC GOVERNING BOARD MEMBERS:

President – @nonniejules

V. President & Mentor Program Director – @bruceaborders

Secretary & Blog Tour Host Co-Ordinator – @mlh42812

Membership Director – @kathrynctreat

PR/Marketing Director – @DanicaCornell

Newsletter Co-Ordinator – @sharrislaughter

Reviews Co-Ordinator – @voiceofindie

“SPOTLIGHT” Author Consultant – @TeriGarringer

I highly recommend joining this FREE group if you are an indie author wanting to get and provide reviews and other types of support: Nonnie’s own site (which leads to the RRBC site) is: http://ravereviewsbynonniejules.wordpress.com/

I belong to several other great Facebook groups: Clean Indie Reads, Amazon Author Support, Female Writers, Science-Fiction Romance Brigade, Gutsy Indie Publishers, eNovel Authors at Work, and more. Many have their own blog or websites and activities beyond Facebook cross-postings and support.

On Google+, I have recently joined several groups that I appreciate. Except for #BookMarketingTools, which provides biweekly Google On Air tools and info shows called “The Author Hangout,” hosted by Shawn Manahar (@ShawnManaher), I am not yet “known” or know many members since I’m not very active, yet.

I am “in” many groups on Goodreads and LinkedIn, but mostly as a reader or sometimes visiting poster/”liker”. Not active, often, as an author, yet. Very much appreciate the tips, tools, ideas and support these offer, regardless of how often I visit, comment or post.

All this is by way of saying: I am anguished to have to post a low rating and poor review of a fellow club member’s indie book. But, I just did. I had to. I do not do many reviews mostly because I am usually writing, marketing and job hunting or working as a consultant: in short, too busy. But,a requirement of joining some groups is to do reviews occasionally.

So, I recently chose a book from the options provided that I thought I’d like and began to read. You can see the results, below.

BTW: When I knew I wasn’t going to be able to give the book a positive review, I reached out to the club moderator, who was very helpful and supportive of my honesty and professional opinions. I also reached out directly to the author. I told her my dilemma and offered her some minimal feedback and also to provide more. She responded and thanked me, but declined.

Since we couldn’t communicate privately, I put my feedback into this review. I sincerely hope my comments and questions inform the author so that, when she is ready to hire an editor and a proofreader for her next book, some new team members could be hired who are better than this book had.

Review of C.E. Wolff‘s Common Denominator

Disappointing: unrealistic and 2-D characters, horrible story arc, unbelievable plot points, poorly proofread /unevenly edited

Common Denominator cover
http://www.amazon.com/Common-Denominator-C-E-Wolff-ebook/dp/B00G8SE5RC

I rarely give bad reviews and hesitate to post this one. I wanted to like this book. I was pulled in, at first. Somewhat interesting story, main characters, situations. Despite some proofreading errors, I continued. Wanted to give a new author the benefit of the doubt.

Then, the number of mistakes became ridiculous. Simple things, but signs of amateurish teamwork that are very frustrating and give indie pubs a bad name. Examples: confusions between “their” and “they’re,” “your” and “you’re,” other spelling and grammar mistakes and overall sentence structure. These all fell short of good publishing standards by a lot. Whatever this author paid the proofreader, it was too much. She should get a refund.

Not wanting to give up because I had made a commitment to review this book, I continued. Parts of the story line and the two main characters showed some promise. However, every one of the secondary characters was a stereotype, without exception. They were 2-dimensionally and boringly depicted or came across as numbingly inconsistent. Each character was an insult to some group: women, men, British citizens, gays, mothers and criminals of all kinds. “Bimbo”? Really? Calling her own sister a “wench”? Harping on age differences between lovers, then going along with it: which is it?

Why are the criminals all “sinister” with zero back stories? Why does the main antagonist have no obvious motivation? We learn more about her taste in clothes and plastic surgery than we ever do about what makes her do what she does.

The main plot, a supposed thirty-year “love” story, is flat-out ridiculous.Maybe if these characters were in their mid-twenties, we could believe they didn’t yet acknowledge/know their true feelings for each other, having been childhood friends, blah blah blah. But, they’re hovering around and over 40, have stayed “best friends” all their lives, and work together every day. Meanwhile, they continually trash each others’ dates/lovers. Unless they have recurring amnesia or personality disorders, the concept is absurd.

The female main character’s obsession with her appearance, physical attributes, clothing and underwear, even in the middle of public places, might have been funny if it weren’t so dysfunctional and unbelievable. What 39-year-old professional, educated woman, the VP of a large corporation, doesn’t know how to dress and conduct herself in public?

And, what 42-year-old male behaves sexually as if he’s seventeen? i could just be out of touch, I suppose. A president of a successful corporation who has remained unmarried and not become a parent obviously has issues.

This begs the question: what do these two see in each other? They’re each a mess. Are they supposed to be anti-heroes? Success.

Whatever she paid the editor: also too much. There is a horrible amount of repetition: I swear, the main character and her sister have the exact same conversations, about two basic topics, more than three times. So do the two main characters. Why? Does this book’s editor not know how to tell an author to CUT and when to insert new material?

The subplots are so thin as to be pulled directly from someone else’s novels and plopped into this one. Not even worth recounting. Cliche after cliche abounds without even one redeeming original moment. Could have phoned it all in.

I stuck it out to the end, hoping she would redeem it, and then POOF: it just stops. No actual ending, no resolution worth discussing.

Up until the non-ending, i was willing to give it three stars for effort and blame most of the problems on her “helpers,” but I just can’t. Two stars. Readers: not worth your time.

I was not paid to review nor did I get the book for free.

P.S. I posted the review on Goodreads and Amazon about two days prior to posting this entry on my blog. On the night of the second day the review appeared, I received this notice: “Fred liked your review of Common Denominator on Goodreads!” This book is also receiving a lot of 5-Star reviews. So it goes!

Another 4-Star Review for #ThisChangesEverything, Vol. I, #TheSpannersSeries

4-Star Review of
This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

“As I started reading this book I was extremely confused. The initial writing style is uniquely jumbled and somewhat difficult to follow. However, I believe that this is somewhat intentional based on the first concept initiated within the story—everything happens all at once. Time is not linear, but expansive. Once I understood that this was one of the major messages being shared within the book (note, I do not believe that sharing this will be giving a spoiler as it’s pretty clear within the first 25 pages) the strange manner in which the story, itself, as written, makes perfect sense.

“Although I do not predict this story will become a mainstream success, it will definitely appear to a certain subset who have an interest in discussing the possibilities of linear time and alien interaction with what Sally Ember has labeled as ‘Earthers.’

“The concepts that the author discusses certainly align with some of my own beliefs and, perhaps, this is what kept me turning the page to see the direction in which the story would lead. By page 36, I was glad that I did. It was around this time that I started to enjoy the spin the author put on past events, giving them flavor that played well into her vision of the purposes of past alien encounters.

“I will say that what I enjoyed the most about the book was the main character’s interaction with both ‘The Band’ and her fellow humans. The interactions gave ground to the underlying plot, taking it from something akin to a research paper and back to the world of storytelling. I especially liked the fact that not all of her family is receptive to the sudden announcement of the other world visitors and her realization that, perhaps, she’d best prepare some of these people for the publication of her visits to the world at large.

“Because I did have some problems following the timeline off and on throughout the book, I’m unable to give it a solid five-star rating. However, I will say that very rarely do I finish a 248-page novel in the course of two days and that, even more importantly, I’m curious to see where the author takes this series in the next installment. This speaks volumes as to Ms. Ember’s writing skills and ability to keep her readers interested in her content.”

posted by: riyanj | Jan 23, 2014 | LIBRARY THING

http://www.librarything.com/work/14662907/book/106564730

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks
Cover and logo art by Willowraven.

Available wherever ebooks are sold. Buy links, more reviews, interviews and excerpts from Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, starting March 16, on http://www.sallyember.com
Volume II is in pre-orders via Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo and nook for 50% off @$1.99, 4/18/14 – 6/8/14 and releases 6/9/14 @$3.99 on those sites plus Amazon and everywhere.

4 stars! #BookReview #THISCHANGESEVERYTHING by Nick LeVar, Free World Authors

4-STAR Review of
This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.
from Nick LeVar, Founder, Free World Authors, HIGHLIGHTS here (full review link, below)

“Being a sci-fi fan, I look forward to, and enjoy, fictional worlds that are not real, but are real, and events that have not happened, but could happen, and maybe they have happened, and we just don’t know it, yet. Confused enough? Good, because This Changes Everything is not for the fan of simplistic work. And I mean that as a compliment to the author.”

This Changes Everything challenged my sense of convention.”

“In the first paragraph, Sally immediately piqued my interest by enticing questions. Who is visiting Clara? Are they dangerous? Are they even human? Why don’t they speak when she asks questions? Getting the reader to wonder what they hell is going on is a good way to keep the pages turning. Score.”

“I got the sense that I was in the world as an Earther, feeling what Clara felt, seeing what she saw, and hearing what she heard. The world itself should become another character, and when I can experience the story rather than read it, the author will draw smiles from me.”

“Somewhere in the past, authors have gotten the bright idea to rehash other authors’ stories that have already found success. While borrowing is, in itself, a form of art, I appreciate creativity. This Changes Everything fits the bill. In it, Sally references major events in human history. But that’s not the creative part… I’ll put it this way, you will finish the book wondering what part aliens may have played in the Challenger explosion or the NSA’s invasion of our rights to privacy!”

“If you’re looking for a book that you can skim, then stick to Twilight. If you appreciate a story that reads like the author took her time and was unafraid to challenge what you think you know about story structure, then give This Changes Everything a go. I think you’ll be impressed!”

4 Stars

http://freeworldauthors.com/this-changes-everything/.html

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Cover and logo art by Willowraven.

Available wherever ebooks are sold. Buy links, more reviews, interviews and excerpts from Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, starting March 16, on http://www.sallyember.com
Volume II is in pre-orders via Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo and nook for 50% off @$1.99, 4/18/14 – 6/8/14 and releases 6/9/14 @$3.99 on those sites plus Amazon and everywhere.

Author Seeks Reviews! Please Share!

Author Seeks Reviews! Please Share!

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I seek reviews for either or both of the first two Volumes of “The Spanners Series,” which is sci-fi/ romance/ multiverse/ utopian/ paranormal for adults/new and young adults, in ebook format only.

Vol I, “This Changes Everything,” is free to reviewers via coupon through April 17 on Smashwords; and, free to the public, everywhere, after 4/18/14, when Volume II goes into pre-orders.

Vol. I, TCE BLURB: Dr. Clara Ackerman Branon, Ph.D., 58, is having the first of many home visits from holographic representations of five beings from the Many Worlds Collective (MWC), a consortium of planet and star systems all around the multiverse, over a thirty-year, increasingly Utopian period. Earth is being invited to join, formally, and the December, 2012, visit is the first one allowed to be made public. Making the existence of the MWC public means many Earthers have to adjust our beliefs and ideas about life, religion, culture, identity and, well, everything we think and are. Clara becomes the liaison for Earth, the Chief Communicator, between Earth and the MWC.

“This Changes Everything” relates the events partly from her point of view, partly from records of meetings of varying groups of the MWC governing bodies, and partly from her Media Contact, Esperanza Enlaces, employing humor, poignancy, a love story, family issues, MWC’s mistakes and blunders, history, politics, paranormalcy and hope.

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Cover and logo art by Willowraven: willowraven-illustration.blogspot.com/

Vol II, “This Changes My Family and My Life Forever,” seeks pre-pub reviewers who have read (but do not have to have reviewed) Volume I, first (using coupon, below) and then access Volume II by request.

I have it available via Google Drive. Access is granted to your email address (you email me and I’ll have yours: sallyember@yahoo.com or ssfember@gmail.com) March 15 – April 18, 2014, and reviewers are welcomed after that as well, either Volume, via Smashwords (directly from me until June 8, then via coupon).

If you want to review Vol. I, coupon works at Smashwords, any format you choose: email me for the code. sallyember@yahoo.com Coupon is solely for reviewers and NOT for public use.

Volume II, “This Changes My Family and My Life Forever,” of “The Spanners Series,” begins pre-orders via Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks, nook, April 18 or thereabouts and releases June 9 on those and Amazon and all Smashwords affiliate sites.

Vol. II BLURB: “This Changes My Family and My Life Forever” is the story of the first five years After Public Contact with the Many Worlds Collective (2013-2018), “The Transition” to full membership for Earth. Many of the changes, reactions, struggles and circumstances accompanying these years are related from the points of view of the main character, Dr. Clara Branon’s, adult son and his cousins as well as some of those cousins’ children.

One of Clara’s nephews in particular, Moran Ackerman, who becomes Chief of the Psi-Warriors and all OverSeers, tells of his experiences and training in assuming those roles for Earth after having been a Rabbi and teacher of middle school. TCMF&MLF’s content is edited/curated and also partly narrated by Esperanza Enlaces, Clara’s Chief Media Contact, a contemporary of her son’s, so some of her story and many parts of Clara’s are included as well.

Pre-order period for Vol. II, 4/18 – 6/8/14, offers the special discounted price of $1.99 for Volume II on all sites. Starting 6/9/14, Volume II will sell for $3.99.

If you do decide to review Vol. II and get your review to me prior to June 1, a snippet from and credit for your review could appear in Vol. II’s front matter.

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Thanks for your consideration and best to you all!

Sally Ember, Ed.D.

High Praise from Rebecca T for “#ThisChangesEverything”!

Here are some excerpts from the latest glowing #review, written by Rebecca T, “The Literary Connoisseur,” for Sally Ember’s original, sci-fi, romance, paranormal, multiverse, utopian ebook, This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series.

“If you’re a fan of Sci-Fi, this book was written for you!”

“If there’s one thing I can say for sure about Sally Ember’s writing, it’s that she knows what she’s writing about. She’s very, very intelligent, and so is her story. (With occasional witty humor that had me chuckling.)”

“Clara’s love life is not easy whatsoever, being the CC and all, but even though it killed me when she would pour out her emotions and heartbreak, that was my favorite part of the book. It gave a human touch to a book about aliens!”

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Link to full review here: http://theliteraryconnoisseur.blogspot.com/2014/02/this-changes-everything-by-sally-ember.html

All buy links, more reviews, Pinterest Board and other links: http://www.sallyember.com Look right and scroll! Available for $3.99 wherever ebooks are sold. Share!

4 Stars from “April” for “This Changes Everything” on Amazon and elsewhere

“April,” an author who prefers to remain anonymous when posting online, reviewed This Changes Everything (The Spanners Series), calling it “An Intelligent, Funny, Multi-Generational, Multi-Timeline, Multi-Story.” Here is her review:

“Author, Dr. Sally Ember, Ed.D., has utilized every book formatting element recommended by successful authors. She includes: an attractive cover [cover art by Willowraven], a detailed TOC, and front flap reviewers’ remarks.

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This Changes Everything is a science-fiction story about a woman who is chosen to be the main contact for ‘The Many Worlds Collective’ (MWC). The aliens she meets will provide information to her to give to Earthers in order for Earthers to become members of the MWC.

“Ember does grab my attention in the first pages with the opening scene where Clara, the protagonist, invites aliens, who have come into her home, to a late night tea.

“While I want to know more, as the story unfolds into a grand multi-story, multi-senses, multi-timeline story within a story, I get exhausted.

“As I age, I cannot read long fiction stories in one sitting, I have to read them in chunks. When I was younger, I could get lost in worlds created by others.

“Ember has a seamless writing style that flows as she goes from event to event, experience to experience, and interaction to interaction. She uses energetic, positive, imaginative, intelligent language and humor. The aliens are ‘cute,’ telepathic and funny.

“The main story is broken up by real time events and diary entries by the author covering the not just the author’s life but all of historic time.

“Ember introduces the concept of ‘simultaneous time.’ For lovers of time travel stories you will enjoy this multi-universe present time.

“I love learning new things, the author injects biological, psychological and Buddhism, technological and historical facts into the story. There is even a reference to marginalia and a discussion of the Sandwich Generation.

“Then there are the Spanners, who exist as one giant dysfunctional family. Spanners live in the best and worst of years of the modern era.

“Ember’s stories are like a brain dump of all her education, knowledge, experiences, philosophies, hopes and dreams, and observations.

“Ember is the Alice Walker of the Spanner Generation.”

Thank you, April! Glad you enjoyed TCE!

This ebook is available on Smashwords, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks and nook for $3.99. Buy links, more information and review links on http://www.sallyember.com

“Complex, Creative, and Compelling – 4 Stars” from B.C. Brown for “This Changes Everything”!

B.C. Brown’s review of This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D., is quite positive! Here are some quotes from and a link to the full review, below. Thanks, B.C.!

“Sally Ember has created a humorous science-fiction tale with This Changes Everything. Initially woven loosely, the style is a little confusing but seems to be what the writer had in mind to introduce the fact that everything in life, and the story, happens simultaneously and it rarely makes sense from the onset. The point of time being more expansive and less linear is clearly defined by this opening.”

This Changes Everything has great wit. Its writing is simple and dignified with complex ideas and theorizes on politics, science, religion, and socio-economics. While it may not be the next ‘Oprah’s Book Club’ nominee, the book certainly encompasses a wide topical range and has something for any audience. It will resonate well with thinkers.”

“4 stars = Quite Enjoyable”…”This book was solidly in the 4-star range; a recommended read.”

Link to full review: http://bcbrownbooks.blogspot.com/2014/02/review-this-changes-everything-by-sally.html

All buy links for this sci-fi ebook are on http://www.sallyember.com. Look to the right and scroll down! Spread the word!

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