Recommended Reads: On Hearing Of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened by Lori Schafer

On hearing of my mother's death six years after it happened

At the beginning of the year I took on a reading challenge, and I asked people for their suggestions on indie books they’ve enjoyed reading. The only rules were that you couldn’t suggest more than one (like that stopped you) and you couldn’t promote your own book. The post had a great response (and I’m still looking for more, so if you have any suggestions, please let me know). One of the books suggested was today’s recommended read, the memoir On Hearing Of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened by Lori Schafer.

The Blurb

It was the spring of 1989. I was sixteen years old, a junior in high school and an honors student. I had what every teenager wants: a stable family, a nice home in the suburbs, a great group of friends, big plans for my future, and no reason to believe that any of that would ever change.

Then came my mother’s psychosis.

I experienced first-hand the terror of watching someone I loved transform into a monster, the terror of discovering that I was to be her primary victim. For years I’ve lived with the sadness of knowing that she, too, was a helpless victim – a victim of a terrible disease that consumed and destroyed the strong and caring woman I had once called Mom.

My mother’s illness took everything. My family, my home, my friends, my future. A year and a half later I would be living alone on the street on the other side of the country, wondering whether I could even survive on my own.

But I did. That was how my mother – my real mother – raised me. To survive.

She, too, was a survivor. It wasn’t until last year that I learned that she had died – in 2007. No one will ever know her side of the story now. But perhaps, at last, it’s time for me to tell mine.

The Review

I don’t usually read memoirs. The ones I have, usually celebrity memoirs, come across as self-indulgent, glossing over darker aspects of their personalities (except the ones they are happy to promote) and promoting their virtues. You certainly couldn’t say that for On Hearing Of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened. This is a heart-wrenching look into life of the author, as a teenaged girl, being raised by a mother with mental illness, written plainly but beautifully, with no embellishment or self-justification. By the end you feel in awe of the author for having survived the ordeal, although as is made clear, it’s not clear if the effects of the experience have ever actually ended.

The book isn’t written chronologically because the author struggles to remember what happened in what order. There are some passages that have been written as fiction because after all these years it’s the only way she convey the feeling of what happened effectively. While some may find this off-putting, to me these stylistic tics only gave added weight to what I was reading.

The memoir itself is short, I read it in a day, but that breath gives it added punch. I can only applaud Lori Schafer for having the courage to write something so personal, so honestly. It’s a book that will stay with me a long time. Highly Recommended.

To buy On Hearing Of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy On Hearing Of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened from Amazon.com click here

Recommended reads are either independently published books – or those that are published via a small press – that I have bought and enjoyed. They are part of a commitment to ‘pay it forward’ to other independent authors by buying their work and promoting those that I have enjoyed, both here and on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t accept submissions but instead focus on people who have helped or inspired me through their blogging or who actively support other writers, but I only recommend those books I have personally enjoyed. If you are an independent author I would encourage you to do the same and help pay it forward to the community. For more information please see my blog post here.

To All Book Reviewers – A Thank You

Thank you

Writing book reviews is tough. It doesn’t matter whether it is a couple of lines and a rating, or a well thought out essay, it takes effort for a reviewer to translate all the emotions and experiences they’ve just felt and translate it into something concise, considered and heartfelt. Many authors complain about how difficult it is to write a plot synopsis or promotional blurb, but it can be just as difficult for reviewers to condense everything they’ve experienced, complete with explanation and reasoning, into a few paragraphs. And then there is the worry about the reaction. Every author understands the anxiety of letting their work go, wondering if people will love or hate what they’ve written, but it is exactly the same for a reviewer, especially if they didn’t enjoy the work they are reviewing.

Some, lucky few, get paid to review books, but most book reviewers do it for free. And this is important for authors to remember. The vast majority of reviews are written out of a love of books.

For indie authors especially, reviews are our lifeblood. Without reviews, nobody would know we exist. Without reviews, few would take a chance on an unknown author regardless of how tempting the blurb or cover. Yet we often view reviews as an item to attain, rather than the end product of an experience. We understand the value of having multiple reviews next to our books and sometimes struggle – in our desire to obtain more – to remember that what we are really asking is for our readers to share their personal, intimate feelings to the world, readers who often have no idea where to start when it comes to writing a review.

And then there are the small number of authors who make reviewing a chore, or even worse a trial. Those authors who pester reviewers, believing reviews should be theirs by right because they have published a book. The authors who see a critique of their work as an attack on them as a person. Negative reviews can be painful but they come with the territory because nobody has written a universally popular book. Those authors who go to extreme lengths to defend their book after a bad review, their actions preventing many from posting negative reviews for fear of retribution, destroying the credibility of the review system on which the majority of us rely.

Some counter this by complaining about trolling, negative reviews written out of spite, complaining they unfairly skew a book’s rating. But these, while incredibly hurtful, aren’t common, and are balanced by the overly favourable reviews by friends in their desire to help an author out – and I’ve yet to hear an author complain about those.

The vast majority of book reviews reflect a reviewer’s honest reaction having read a book. It is the truth. A truth that is just as valid as the truth the author intended when they wrote their book. In fact it is possibly more true, because as authors we know that as much as we try, we can never truly convey the full experience we see in our heads through mere words. What the reviewer experiences, as every reader, is how well we’ve managed to do that, all through the own personal lens of what makes a good book. We don’t have to agree with the reviewer but we should always respect their opinion.

So, to anyone who reads this who has ever written a review, I thank you.

To every person who has written a glowing review, I thank you.

To anyone who took the time to write a review about a book that neither moved or disappointed them, I thank you.

To everyone who has written a review that contains criticism, whether you were pointing out small issues in a book you enjoyed, or major failings, I thank you.

To every person who has written a review to explain exactly why you detested a book, I thank you.

To everybody who overcame their discomfort and wrote a couple of lines on Amazon or Goodreads after reading a book, I thank you.

To the people who write reviews each time they finish a book, I thank you.

To the person who just wrote their first ever review, I thank you.

To authors who take the time to read and review the work of their peers, especially those who write both positive and negative reviews, overcoming their own fears of revenge reviews, I thank you.

To those who run magazines, e-zines and anyone else who gets paid to review books and promote the art you love, I thank you.

And finally, to book bloggers, who invest so much of their time to write about the thing they love, often despite experiencing the less attractive side of our industry through authors demanding a review or reacting furiously to a negative review, I thank you.

 

Do you like intelligent thrillers? If so, join my mailing list and get one of my 5-star rated near-future dystopian thrillers absolutely free. The mailing list is guaranteed spam free and I will only contact you if I have a new book launch or an exclusive short story to share. To sign up, please click here. 

5 things I hate about being an indie author

Writers block

Image by nate at https://www.flickr.com/photos/okaycity/ licensed under creative commons.

 

Think indie publishing is all flowers and glitter? Think again. Here are the top 5 things I hate about indie publishing*:

*warning: there may be satire ahead

1 Up to the minute stats

They say ignorance is bliss, and in this case ‘they’ are right. How am I meant to be able to concentrate when the lure of the KDP stats screen is there to feed the procrastination monster. How I yearn for being in the dark about my sales, not knowing how my book’s performing until I receive my monthly / quarterly / annual statement. How much easier it would be to sit down and work on my manuscript without the stats screen singing my name, beckoning me to take just one look to see if anyone has bought in the last hour.

2 I’m forced to write exactly what I want

Part of the fun of being a writer is trying to guess exactly what trends commissioning agents are looking for from their submissions. It’s become a lot easier recently with these agents taking to social media and letting people know the type of books that turn them on, but as many authors know, by the time you’ve written one of those books, the trends have changed. What a great game this is! Being an indie author robs me of that fun. I can choose to write whatever I want, publish whatever I want and then let the paying customer choose if they want to buy it or not. Where’s the fun in that?

3 It’s too easy to update my book

The hardest part of writing is letting go, right? But when you work with a publisher you have a cut off point. Once a book is published, the text is set in stone. Not so with indie publishing. If I want, I can change anything I want post publication. I can change my cover, my blurb, I could even replace the whole text with a completely different version if I want to. And get it sent through to the reader’s kindles automatically. It’s too tempting. How am I ever going to start a new book when I can work on my old book forever?

4 Losing the anticipation of publication day

Another great thing with being traditionally published is that feeling of anticipation while you wait for your book’s scheduled slot to arrive. Anticipation is a very undervalued emotion. At it’s best, it’s nearly as good as the actual moment you’re anticipating. I’m sure the submissive in my readership would agree with me. But being an indie published author robs me of that moment. Where’s the fun of waiting for something when you’re the one doing the withholding? You can push that publish button whenever you like, and in your heart of hearts you know that sending yourself an email explaining that due to scheduling issues your book won’t be out for another six months is just fantasy.

5 I can’t blame anyone else

The book was marketed wrong, not marketed at all. The book was targeted at the wrong audience. The cover didn’t sell the book. They just care about . They made me change my story. The great thing about working with a traditional publisher is that when things go wrong, there is always someone else you can blame. But if my books aren’t selling well, I can’t blame anybody else because I made all the decisions. How nice it would be to have somebody I could pass on all responsibility to (or if it’s an editor, to whom I could pass all responsibility), but I can’t. I wrote the book, I made all the decisions and the buck stops with me. It’s not fair!

 

Joking aside, there are negatives to being an indie author but these aren’t them. If you’re thinking of taking the plunge and nodded in agreement at any of these, then maybe indie publishing isn’t for you. Hopefully, however, they gave you a bit of a giggle.

Do you like intelligent thrillers? If so, join my mailing list and get one of my 5-star rated near-future dystopian thrillers absolutely free. The mailing list is guaranteed spam free and I will only contact you if I have a new book launch or an exclusive short story to share. To sign up, please click here. 

Recommended Reads: The Embers of Hope by Nick Jones

Embers of Hope

The Embers of Hope is the second book in the Hibernation series. You can read my review of the first, The Whisper of Stars, here. Warning: this review contains spoilers for the Whisper of Stars, so if you don’t wish to know how that ends, stop reading now.

The Blurb

After narrowly escaping the Shiryaevo Vault, Nathan O’Brien is on the run, adapting to life without Jennifer Logan. In his possession: a powerful mind control device known as the Histeridae and evidence of the Hibernation Program’s true agenda.

Beginning with George Mohanty and his words ‘Death is a relative term’, he must unravel the mystery of the Histeridae. But Nathan is on borrowed time, trapped inside a body that was never supposed to last. Can he bring back the woman he loves and expose the truth before it’s too late, or will the past finally catch up with him?

From the mountains of India to the futuristic streets of London and Dubai, The Embers of Hope is the thrilling second instalment in the Hibernation saga.

It features conspiracy theories, romance and intrigue and is set in a dystopian world, making it an ideal read for any fans of the sci-fi genre and also suitable for a young adult audience.

The Review

In The Embers of Hope we follow Nathan O’Brien, paranoid, alone and grieving following the death of Jennifer Logan. He is still living with George Mohanty, the only person he knows who has any knowledge of the Histeridae. Haunted by the phrase “death is relative” he finally gets George to talk, revealing that it wasn’t him who said the words, but somebody called Victor Reyland. But Reyland is a dangerous man, the man behind the Histeridae programme, a man happy to sacrifice others to meet his goals. Can this man help O’Brien bring back Jennifer?

While The Embers of Hope carries on directly from the excellent, The Whisper of Stars, it is a slightly different book. The pace is a little slower, a little more introspective, matching the more considered approach of Nathan O’Brien as he undertakes his task. Where action was high on the agenda of its precursor, in The Embers of Hope, intrigue takes centre stage. We get to learn more about the history behind the Histeridae, and how Jennifer Logan became caught up in the conspiracy. At the same time we learn more about the reason the Histeridae is so important, and a secret that affects the future of humanity.

I really enjoyed this book. While the action levels were reduced, I still found myself racing through the book as Jones expertly revealed the truth behind everything with a steady drip of information. At the start I worried that O’Brien on his own wouldn’t be a strong enough character to carry the novel, but Jones manages this cleverly through the introduction of new characters as well as fleshing out those familiar from The Whisper of Stars. This was especially well done with Zido Zitagi, whose world becomes ever less certain the more she learns about her organisation’s purpose. And while the ending is naturally open ended, there was enough closure to keep me satisfied. I just can’t wait to find out what happens next.

If you enjoy near-future, dystopian thrillers, you should definitely read this excellent series. Highly Recommended.

To buy The Embers of Hope from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy The Embers of Hope from Amazon.com click here

Recommended reads are either independently published books – or those that are published via a small press – that I have bought and enjoyed. They are part of a commitment to ‘pay it forward’ to other independent authors by buying their work and promoting those that I have enjoyed, both here and on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t accept submissions but instead focus on people who have helped or inspired me through their blogging or who actively support other writers, but I only recommend those books I have personally enjoyed. If you are an independent author I would encourage you to do the same and help pay it forward to the community. For more information please see my blog post here.

Conversation Corner with Dylan Hearn, Author of The Transcendence Trilogy

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been interviewed by the wonderful Sue from Doorway Between Worlds. I’m absolutely thrilled with the results. If you’d like to know more about me, my writing, how I approach world building, the music that inspires me or many other topics we covered, why don’t you pop over to Sue’s blog and say hello!

Doorway Between Worlds

When I first came across sci-fi author Dylan Hearn’s blog Suffolk Scribblings, I was immediately impressed with the vibrant community feeling I found in the comments. This was a place where people felt engaged. As I continued to follow his blog, I discovered that Dylan provides great support to the writing community through his insightful posts and his “pay it forward” support of indie publications. I asked Dylan if he would be willing to share his thoughts about writing and community with DBW readers. Here is our conversation about desire and opportunity, world-building, reader engagement, and electronica.

On your About page, you state that you are an author, and that “it has taken me a while to admit this.” How did you get started on your writing journey? What was holding you back?

When I was younger I had two loves, reading and music. I’ve always enjoyed reading. According…

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Second Chance (The Transcendence Trilogy Book 1) – Book Review

Another positive review for Second Chance. If you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for??? 🙂

Mama Bear Musings

Second Chance

Second Chance (The Transcendence Trilogy Book 1)

Author, Dylan S. Hearn

Synopsis

One crime, four people and a secret that could shake the world to its foundations.

Four lives become linked by a student’s disappearance: a politician looking to put integrity back into politics, an investigator hoping to atone for past mistakes, a data cleanser searching for a better life while haunted by his past and a re-life technician creating new lives for old souls.

But it soon becomes clear this is no ordinary case, and in the pursuit of the truth, long-held secrets are at risk of being revealed.

Set in the near future where everybody is connected and death isn’t final, this is the story of how far those in power will go to retain control, and the true price to pay for a Second Chance.

Book Review

Indie Author, Dylan S. Hearn, writes an intriguing dystopian future…

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Guest Post: Grá mo Chroí by Ali Isaac and Jane Dougherty

If you’re looking for a great Valentine’s Day gift, either for your partner or to treat yourself, then what better than a collection of love stories from Irish myth from the wonderful Ali Isaac and Jane Dougherty, and best of all it’s free! Anyway, rather than have me go on about it, who better than the authors themselves to explain more about it…

 

Thank you Dylan for letting Ali Isaac and Jane Dougherty (that’s us) use your blog today so we can tell you all about Grá mo Chroí, our joint adventure into the retelling of some of the great love stories from Irish myth.

 Grá mo Chroí

‘Love of my Heart’

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Love Stories from Irish Myth

GMC13

Long ago in a green island surrounded by protective mists, a people lived among the relics of a bygone age of which they knew nothing, not being archaeologists, but around whom they created a mythology. They were a volatile people, easily moved to love or war, and motivated by a strict sense of honour. They had women warriors and handsome lovers, wicked queens and cruel kings, precious heroines and flawed heroes. Magic was in the air, beneath the ground, and in the waves of the sea, and hyperbole was the stuff of stories. They were the Irish, and these are a few retellings of some of their beautiful stories.

Ali Isaac and Jane Dougherty are writers with a shared heritage. Ali has woven that heritage into the fabric of her stories about Conor Kelly and his adventures in the Otherworld. Jane consistently slips references to the old stories and the old heroes into all of her novels.

This collection of retellings of some of the great love stories from Irish mythology is our tribute to this culture which has so captivated us. Love in the Iron Age, as you will see, did not have the benefit of Disney. The Ancient Irish had to contend with far more violence than modern lovers, and their ideas of what constituted happiness were not necessarily the same as ours. An Irish princess was not going to languish at the top of an ivory tower waiting for a knight in shining armour. She was much more likely to get on her horse and drag him out of his bed with a curse if he hung about too long. But in many ways, love through the ages has not changed one iota. Grief, sorrow and passion are all there in spadesful.

If the only thing you know about Irish mythology is Saint Patrick, serpents, and Leprechauns, it’s about time you read this collection. If you like what you see, this could be the start of a life changing experience.

Here is a short excerpt from the first story in the collection, The tragedy of Bailé and Aillinn.

Bailé, the soft-spoken, left Emain Macha in the north to meet Aillinn, his betrothed. Rare was such a wedding host, and uncommonly joyful. For the king of Ulster’s only son and the daughter of the king of Leinster had made a love match. Even the sun shone bright on Bailé’s journey, the hounds danced and milled about the horses’ legs, fancy bridle bits sang silver songs in the wind, and the company was filled with joy. 

Bailé left behind his own lands of Ulster, the blue lochs and gorse-yellow hills where the eagles cried. Before him, beyond the purple peaks of home, lay the low, wooded hills and the rich plains of Leinster. He saw his Aillinn in the contours of the hills, in the white plumage of the swans on the river. She was soft as new grass and spring foals, wild as the March wind, and generous as the blackbird singing to the world. His heart was full of joy that soon they would be wed and their union would bind together her rich beauty of soft hills and birdsong, and his wild majesty of the eagle and the red deer.

If you like the sound of the world of the ancient Irish, treat yourself to a little Celtic romance for Valentine’s Day. You can get Grá mo Chroí here

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Normal price 99c/ 99p FREE Wed 11th Feb – Sun 15th Feb

To learn more about the authors:

myauthorpic

 

You will find Ali pottering about most days on her blog: www.aliisaacstoryteller.com, her Facebook author page, or tweeting. Alternatively, you can email her at: ali@aliisaacstoryteller.commailto:aliisaacstoryteller.com@gmail.com. Her books are available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

 

 

PENTAX Digital Camera

 

Jane can be found on her blog, www.janedoughertywrites.com, on her FaceBook author page , or tweeting. You can find out more about her on Goodreads, and all her books are available on Amazon.com, and Amazon.co.uk.

 

 

While you have your finger hovering over the Amazon buy button, why not splash out and treat yourselves to a copy of Ali’s first Conor Kelly story Amazon.com  Amazon.co.uk 

And/or Jane’s The Dark Citadel (only Amazon.co.uk)

Both at the knockdown price of 99c/99p until Sunday February 15th.

Recommended Reads: Beyond the Realm of Night by Jane Dougherty

btronkindlecover1

Beyond the Realm of Night is the third and final part of the Green Woman trilogy. You can read my views on The Dark Citadel (Book 1) here and the Subtle Fiend (Book 2) here. Needless to say, I enjoyed all three.

The Blurb

At the end was darkness. Now it is time to go back to the beginning and rekindle the light.

Deborah, the daughter of the Green Woman, reaches her journey’s end only to find it has barely started. Escaping Providence was the easy part. Now, as her mother’s strength fails, the burden of the Memory passes to Deborah. The Garden is waking, the Iron Horde is massing, the Queen’s host is gathering. The Fianna have sailed the western ocean and Providence is alight. But evil has put down strong roots in the hearts of the citizens of Providence and Deborah fears she has not the power to tear it out.

If she cannot summon up the green earth magic of the tree, Abaddon and his Iron Horde will trample the new shoots of the Garden. For Abaddon has the power of death with him. The weapons to defeat him are life and love, but Deborah longs to join the shadowlands, and her love is dead.

This is the final volume of The Green Woman series, in which the broken pattern will be mended and the balance of good and evil restored. Or not.

The Review

With Beyond the Realm of Night, Jane Dougherty has created a fitting end to an epic trilogy. Picking up directly from where The Subtle Fiend left off, we follow Deborah as she comes to terms with her role to confront Abaddon and his evil forces and protect the garden, the tree of life, and the future of their world.

But as the two great forces get set for their final confrontation, it is the human stories that take centre stage. Over the course of the previous two books we have been introduced to a host of characters: citizens of providence, members of the Danann, the Fianna; along with Abaddon’s evil minions; and it’s now that all their interactions, their hopes and dreams, get played out.

This breadth of scope and complexity is the book’s, and the trilogy’s, great strength, but it’s also a weakness. With so many plot strands being pulled together, as often happens in these situations I found myself caring less as to what was happening in some of the sub-plots, especially involving the Fianna, which while interesting I felt they didn’t necessarily move the story forward.

That said, this is a minor quibble on what is an otherwise enthralling trilogy. As the book heads towards its denouement, Dougherty expertly draws all these threads together into a satisfying conclusion, without giving in to the temptation of they all live happily ever after. This is especially true for Deborah’s story. While it would have been easy to have transformed Deborah into a one-dimensional beacon of good, Dougherty kept her characterisation as a complex, feisty and sometimes difficult person all the way to the end, and for that she should be applauded. While during the final stages of the book, heroes and villains emerge, the majority of players are neither or both, which is how it should be.

Overall, I would recommend this trilogy to anybody with a love of epic fantasy with substance.

To buy Beyond the Realm of Night from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy Beyond the Realm of Nigh from Amazon.com click here

Recommended reads are either independently published books – or those that are published via a small press – that I have bought and enjoyed. They are part of a commitment to ‘pay it forward’ to other independent authors by buying their work and promoting those that I have enjoyed, both here and on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t accept submissions but instead focus on people who have helped or inspired me through their blogging or who actively support other writers, but I only recommend those books I have personally enjoyed. If you are an independent author I would encourage you to do the same and help pay it forward to the community. For more information please see my blog post here.

Book Marketing Tactics You May NOT Have Considered

This is a great post from Heather Hill on different ways to market your book online, chock full of practical advice and links with further information. Thank you, Heather!

Heather Hill, Author & Comedy Writer

I’d like to apologise in advance because this is a MUCH longer blog post than I usually prefer. I don’t know about you, but I like the kind of blog I can jump in and out of, coming away with my will to live intact and plenty of time to work for the rest of the day. I also prefer to blog about life and comedy, but after my 29,000 Downloads Later blog, I’ve had so many writers asking for more information on my marketing tactics I felt I must do at least one post in a War & Peace style-e.

Forgive me *Clears throat*

You can find a lot of tips online, just by Googling ‘book marketing tactics’, yet what I’ve noticed is a lot of the advice given is the same. So I’d like to take this opportunity to try and pinpoint some you might not have considered.

Largely, this entire post is around…

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“Green Zulu Five One” Free Giveaway

I highly recommend you take advantage of this offer to download Green Zulu Five One for FREE. I loved this book (you can read my review of it here https://authordylanhearn.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/recommended-reads-green-zulu-51-by-scott-whitmore/ ). It is a thoughtful take on war and its impact on those most affected, the troops.

Scott Whitmore, writer

GZcoverfinal smallerMy Military/Science Fiction novella Green Zulu Five One and other stories from the Vyptellian War will be FREE on Amazon from Feb. 3-5.

Not sure if you like the military side of Sci-Fi? Or maybe you’re just not into Sci-Fi? You may still like GZ51 because for me the genre is simply where the characters are and it’s their stories that I’m most interested in exploring.

Here’s what a couple reviewers had to say about it:

“… The characters in GZ51 are all people you’ll feel like buying a drink for and spending hours with just listening to their war stories. They are each unique, interesting, surprising, and deeply substantive, which is a pleasant turn for a story that isn’t quite novel length about an intergalactic war.” — Tammy Salyer

” This book has a grim science fiction backdrop, reading like a collection of letters about the sum of…

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