Sunday, July 30, 2017

What to Read? Part 3



Rogue Wave was #3 on the Top 100 Free on July 27th. Today it sits at #15. 





I chose it because it’s not a romance, but a book that anyone, female or male, young or old, might enjoy. It’s by author Christopher Cartwright, book #4 of his Sam Reilly series, which I have never read or even knew existed until I saw the book on the Top Free list. I noted that this is the only free book he offers, but it’s not first in a series. 

The book starts with a prologue. The prologue is quite effective at creating suspense and mystery. Five days before the main story starts, a wealthy, handsome, thirty-eight-year-old engineer Luke Eldridge gets ready to compete in a regatta. He has been threatened by a mysterious conglomerate not to sail until he has made a decision on a billion-dollar offer for a scientific discovery he and colleagues have made. The scientific discovery will change the world, and this evil conglomerate wants it. 

The writing is concise; the short, clear sentences will appeal to those looking for action-clad, to-the-point reading. The writing moves quickly and is mostly dialogue based. The setting is present-day, starting out in Colorado, moving out to a research vessel in the Caribbean Sea. The main character is Sam Reilly, a billionaire oceanographer hired to look into death of an old-school-friend: Luke Eldridge was killed by a strange rogue wave that hit only his racing yacht during the previously mentioned regatta! 

On to the rest of the book! 

Well, I finished reading Rogue Wave in record time. My opinion: this is a fast, shallow read with a great deal of pseudo-science built from a few scientific facts. Every character is either a billionaire, a genius, stunningly beautiful, or all of these. There are no love or sex scenes, no deep characters, and by the end of the book, I still had no idea what the main protagonist looks like. 

Is the book worth reading? IN MY OPINION, if it's free and you’re looking for a quick read to see you through a few hours on a plane or a book that will not tax your emotional state much, you might give this book a go. It’s the equivalent of an Indiana Jones movie without the adorable Indiana Jones. There are tantalizing glimpses of the previous adventures of Sam Reilly such as the finding of Atlantis, proving the existence of “The Master Builders,” and saving the world from a deadly virus. You might be better off trying the first book in the series.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Took or Baggins? Part 2

I am reading The Fellowship of the Ring, which is the first of the LOTR trilogy. (ISBN 0-345-33970-3) At the time I bought it, years ago, it cost $6.99 for the paperback copy. It's the Ballantine edition, containing a foreword by Tolkien himself. 

One thing that drew my attention is that toward the end of the foreword, Tolkien complains about other paperback editions being published without his consent. He states that only the Ballantine edition is the one he approved and encourages readers not to buy any other! And here I was thinking that stealing authors’ work was a recent thing born of the internet. Obviously not. 

While most readers skip the Foreword (I seldom pay a second’s attention to it), this time I have made a special effort to trudge through it. I’m glad I did. First of all, this is Tolkien himself talking about his work. In my mind, silly as it sounds, he’s talking from beyond the grave, as he’s been dead many years. 

Tolkien denies that his books had anything to do with the war (WWII) and points to the fact that his work’s origins go back way before the war. His main motive in writing the works was to “…hold the attention of the readers, amuse them, delight them, and at times maybe excite them or deeply move them.” Those are the reasons any true writer writes. 

The writing of the series (LOTR) went on from 1936 through 1949! Today, authors put out a book every three months. Anyone who doesn’t produce in numbers is not considered a true writer. But Tolkien, one of the most beloved and successful authors in the English language, did not write every day! His duties, his interests, and the war got in the way. It took him thirteen years, but he never gave up. 

A final point of observation I have is in the way Tolkien writes, primarily his sentence structure. His sentences are complex, often taking up the space of a small paragraph. He uses plenty of commas and an abundance of semicolons. He also does not skimp on the word "that." 

I don't find his work difficult to read.  I don't see many extremely hard or out-of-date words. Words like “laborious, decrepitude, and allegorical” are few and can be easily Googled by anyone who has never heard them. 

The one thing that may make him difficult for today’s reader is that he requires the reader to hold more than one line of thought within one sentence. Today’s readers want to get there fast. They have little patience for the meandering way. 

Tolkien’s Foreword is not without humor. At one point, he talks about his reviewers: 

   Some who have read the book, or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, 
   absurd, or contemptible; and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions 
   of their works, or of the kinds of writings that they evidently prefer.

Here is a genius writing books that eighty years later are still selling, and he had reviewers who put him down! Some of the indies on Facebook and Goodreads should learn from him.

At the end of his Foreword, he dedicates his book to us across the water. America. He obviously knew that we, across the water, would continue to buy millions of his books for many years to come. Smart marketing move, the dedication!

On to the Prologue, where we are filled in on all kinds of background info on the Hobbits.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Took or Baggins?



This morning, early, I got a text message from my daughter. She is married to a great guy named Alex and living and working in Kendall, Florida. Kendall is a suburb of Miami, closer to Homestead than Miami proper. Miami is home to my children; they grew up there.

Anyway, she texted me the following message: "Alex just called me a Took. He says I'm a Took and he's a Baggins."

The message brought a burst of laughter to my lips. I experienced a sweep of emotion that most of you would be hard-pressed to understand.

First, you'd have to know the frame of reference. What are Tooks and Bagginses? If you ever read The Hobbit  and remembered it, you'd get it.

Years ago, when I first read Tolkien, I also quickly identified myself as a Took.

Tooks love adventures. They take chances. They get restless and shun the accepted and conventional. Tooks make a difference! They are a pain in the ass. We all want to be Tooks, but mostly, we are Bagginses.

But why did her text bring me such pleasure? Because she is carrying on my ways. She is doing something I did and thinking like I did. She is carrying on tradition. She does this also when she listens to Janis Joplin and Jimmy Hendrix, artists who were dead long before she was born.

Why is she suddenly reading Tolkien? Most of today's generation are happy to watch the movies and take the plot as true to the books.  However, my children are not your average stock. I did a good job raising them. They seldom shrink from a challenge.

A few days ago, in a telephone conversation about my writing, I said to her that most young people today cannot read the books I grew up reading. They have lost the language. To them, reading Tolkien is like me reading Chaucer or Shakespeare in the original text.

I told her that as indie authors, we are encouraged to write at no higher than a seventh-grade level because that is what the average reader is comfortable with. Classic works that have been the reading bread and butter of generations, are now considered too wordy and "purple" because they contain adjectives, adverbs, and complex sentences.

One of the biggest challenges I face in my editing is cutting down my sentences into palatable pieces that modern readers can digest. Sometimes I feel that my work looks more like a shopping list strung together than a creative endeavor.

Back to my daughter- it seems that she took my words as a challenge. She immediately picked up a copy of The Hobbit, and she loved it. Of course, an immediate discussion followed on the vast differences between the movies and the book.

She started the LOTR  series this morning. I told her that the series is quite different in tone, themes, and reading difficulty. Unlike The Hobbit,  the books that followed were not written for children. Just the foreword can be daunting. I offered to read along with her so that we could discuss as we go along.

That should be fun. For me, anyway. I will post once in a while about our progress.


Friday, July 21, 2017

What to Read? Part 2 (Top 100 Free in Kindle)

I again chose my next book from the "Best Sellers in Kindle eBooks- Top 100 Free."

The title of the book is The First Time I Said Goodbye by Claire Allan. It was at number #2 on July 19th. It has 147 reviews and with a 4.3 stars average. It's not the usual type of story I normally read. It starts out with a funeral. A funeral at the start of any book is depressing, to say the least, unless you're looking at the start of a Marvel's Avengers story.

Chapter 2
It caught my attention, and I'm definitely invested in it! The main characters, mother and daughter, are headed for a trip to Ireland. I love Ireland. (A good comeback from the funeral.) The trip is the mother's way of getting on with life after the death of her husband. Annabel, the daughter, appears to be caught up in a relationship she seems to be ambivalent about, but the story is really about her mother and the love of her life, the one that got away.

The book is well-written. The About Author states that Claire Allan is a reporter and columnist, so her writing should be good and it is. It definitely gives a sense of place, especially after they get to Ireland, and it gives hints of a mystery regarding the mother's reason for the trip. Yes, I am hooked. I will read more!

Now, wait a minute! Where has the book gone? It's no longer in the Top Free list. I do a search for the title, and see that it's back on regular price. That brings up the point that the books on the Top Free are not necessarily there by popular demand. One good promo on ENT or BookBub or Amazon's Marketing Ads can put a book at the top of the list, usually for a day or two.

This does not mean that the book is regularly popular. It means that thousands of readers are downloading anything they can get for free from the promo sites. As soon as the promo is over, the book drops off the list.

The Top 100 Free list changes constantly. The book that is #2 today, can be #40 tomorrow or disappear entirely, as this one did. The Top 100 Paid list is far more stable, and there are many $0.99 through $4.99 offerings. However, you're more likely to discover something new  and unexpected in the free list.

Now, to keep reading.

Final report: Oh, my God! I'm crying! Not a sad-ending cry but a happy-ending cry. This book is definitely worth reading, and this words are coming from a woman who does not do sappy romantic well. In my opinion, and once again- I must emphasize that my opinion may not be anything like yours, this book is definitely worth reading.

Normally, I like my reads spiked with the occasional sex scene. This book has not one of those!

I like my books to be fast-paced, full of action reads. This has none of those things.

I like my books full of vampires, tortured heroes, and sexy rogues. There are none of those hunks in this book.

This novel is a sweet, gentle, nostalgic, bittersweet tale that switches back and forth between the years 1959-1960 and 2010. Yes, the two characters whose story we're told in flashbacks are in their seventies! However, the story grabbed me and didn't let me go. I read it in two seatings. And I finished reading with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. If I ever meet the author, I will punch her in the nose for making me cry.

The First Time I Said Goodbye is well-written, definitely above 7th-grade reading level. It gives a good sense of time and place. The characters are interesting and they speak in intelligent dialogue. Finally, I could not let go until I knew what happened! By the way, it's based on a true story according to the author. I loved it!






Wednesday, July 19, 2017

What to Read? Part 1

How do we choose what to read?

It depends on the reader and the reason he or she reads. In this post, I will limit my scope to those of us who read for pleasure, specifically fiction.

As an author, I put great stock by word-of-mouth publicity. I remember vividly how a few years back, my students kept telling me about a series of books they loved and how I needed to try them. I did. That’s how I discovered the Twilight series. I also found out that YA books can be for adults too!

Another way I choose books to read is by how often I see them on display and how attracted I am by their covers. Harry Potter got me that way. After months of seeing stacks of it on display and hearing the hype on TV, I decided to give it a try. It worked for me.

A lot has changed since the early days of Twilight and Harry Potter. How I shop for books has changed dramatically. With the closing of most major bookstores, my book shopping has become primarily online shopping. Amazon has become my primary source for books. 

I still go on my semi-annual pilgrimage to Barnes & Noble each time I fly into Miami to visit my family, but Amazon is at my fingertips no matter where in the world I am and UPS delivers.

In shopping at Amazon, there are problems. There are over one million titles available, but only the ones the Amazon logarithms consider worthy are up front. You might not have a problem with that. You probably think that any book worth reading will be among the top sellers and vice versa.  

I usually head for the top titles in the categories I like. There will be a top-sellers list in each cat. I will click on the ones that catch my eye, and I’ll read the blurb. I’ll gloss over the reviews, paying attention to the average for all. If a book attracts my attention, I always download the sample. It’s free and in the two or three chapters involved, I can always decide if I want to read more. 

Do I rely on book promos that come to my mailbox from sites such as BookBub, ENT, Read Cheaply, and such? Not recently. I get overwhelmed by the promo sites. They send constant lists of FREE and discounted books. Often, these books seem to be carbon copies of the same: bear shifter romances interspersed with the billionaire’s baby romance, and the ever-present YA fantasy or the end-of-the-world newest.

Most of the sites have little appreciation for cross-genre titles. The ones that claim to be more exclusive, base their exclusivity on the number of reviews a book has and its selling rank on Amazon or the name of the author. Which brings me to the question: Is a book worth reading because it’s visible on Amazon?

The obvious answer to that is that “worth reading” is a concept totally determined by the individual reader. I will qualify my criteria for a book I consider worth reading. 

First, it must be grammatically acceptable. It need not be perfect, as many reviewers expect a book to be. J.R. Ward’s books are not perfect, but millions of fans, including me, love them. I can deal with missing commas but not with overwhelmingly bad grammar.

It must have a storyline that grabs me. It can’t be a rehash of the same old theme. If you’re writing YA, and you’re doing fantasy, it must be somehow different and original. The kids with super powers or the quest for the stone have been done to death.

It must have more than just speed, action, and short sentences. There must be good dialogue, compelling characters, and a sense of place and time.

It must hold my attention! That is the most important mark of a book I find worth reading. It pulls me in and makes me want to live in it. Last evening I sat at my favorite restaurant, all alone, twirling Fetuccini Alfredo with one hand while holding Tara Janzen's Loose Ends with the other.  I've read both her Crazy series and her Loose series many times, and they never fail to grab me. I'd rather stop eating before I stop reading.

Now, back to the original idea in my lengthy speech. Is a book worth reading because it makes Amazon’s best-sellers list?  The only way I could determine that is by reading those books. This would be beyond my scope because I can’t afford to buy them all. However, I can try the same experiment on the Top FREE Kindle downloads. 

Free books are suspect because they are free. If an author is eager to give away a book for free, then it must not be a very good book. If it were good, it would be selling like hotcakes and have a placement in the paid best sellers. Doesn’t that make sense? 

This is faulty logic. Many authors today are giving away first books in a series as a way of hooking readers into the series. That being said, some books are being driven to the top of the charts through “Click Farm” scams, as David Gaughran recently reported in his post Scammers Break the Kindle Store. This is true for PAID as well as FREE books, but it’s not a common practice. 

I intend to pick out books from Amazon’s Top Free rankings and let you know if, IN MY OPINION, they're worth reading. Remember: my opinion! Everyone has one, and mine is no more important than yours. Be warned, I'll not trudge through a book that doesn't grab me early on!  

Book for July 18th: Love on a Spring Morning. This book is #2 on today’s Top 100 Free at Amazon. It’s part of a series, but not the first. The author is tagged as a “New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.” The series is described as a “small town military romance.” This means that the setting is a small town, and the main character (male) is a soldier or prior soldier. This is in the major contemporary romance genre.


I also included the screenshot below. Interestingly, both #1 and #2 are non-fiction books. Love on a Spring Morning has 157 Reviews with an average of 4.7 out of 5 stars. I expect this book to be good!



This is my opinion: for whatever it’s worth.

Just finished Chapter 1. I had a really hard time staying with it. Main character Ryan Howard is having difficulties dealing with being a single parent after the death of his wife. The names of all the different children, the depressing topic, and the slow going are throwing me off. This read will be a good fit for readers who love extended pain. I don’t. I love suspenseful starts and beginnings that just grab me. Still, it does not mean the book is not worth reading.

Just finished chapter 2. This one introduces the female main character, Holly. She’s as tired and depressed as the male one, and she’s a movie star looking for something not Hollywood. I’m in pain, but it’s probably my fault.

Just finished chapter 3. Ryan visits his family and has a long talk with his brother. We find out that Ryan’s marriage was not happy. His wife was addicted to pot, and she was killed. He hasn’t had sex in a long time, and he’s not interested enough to make an effort. 

All right. I'm drowning here. Lack-luster writing, slow pace, uninteresting characters, and after three chapters, not a really clear sense of place. Too much minutiae and tired, unattractive personalities. We can find that in everyday life. Why look for it in books? I have to wonder how one makes it through the next chapter.

Chapter 4. Ryan sees Holly (the actress) in a sports bra and tiny shorts. His reaction? This is a direct quote: “And her breasts. Holy shit, he could see her breasts, and they were like an oasis in the desert.”  (He could see her breasts through the sports bra, of course.)

No more for me. The first four chapters were a struggle to read. It failed the biggest test: it failed to grab me and keep my attention. I am a fan of Debbie Macomber, whose small-town romances have never lost me.  Until the next book, guys!


Reminder: All my own novels, including the latest release, Thicker Than Blood, are on Kindle Unlimited. If you have a KU membership, you can read them for FREE!

If you've read Vampire, Not Monster, would you kindly log into Amazon and leave a review? I'd truly appreciate your effort. If you've not read it, you might give it a go! It's a free download and only about a 45-minute read.




Monday, July 10, 2017

The Day Has Arrived!

Thicker Than Blood has been released as of this morning! Get it now and be one of the first to review it. Thicker Than Blood is Book 2 of the Angel's Guardian series by Zeece Lugo. It's also a great stand-alone read. Packed with romance, action, suspense, humor, and eroticism, it will keep you wanting more!




Get it only at AMAZON.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Thicker Than Blood: A Tiny Excerpt!

     Beyond the shadows ahead, something moved. Angel stood still, her senses warning her. “Nina, come. Be quiet.” The girl, too smart, her survival instincts sharpened by experiences no six-year-old child should have, immediately went silent and reached for her mother. 
     “What is it?” she whispered. “Are bad guys here?” She clung to her mother’s skirt.
     The young mother felt a sudden pang of guilt. Her beautiful daughter was afraid, and Angel was at fault. She needed to be a stronger mother. She needed to stop jumping at every little noise, every snap of a branch, every scutter of a mouse. She needed to keep her children from the fears that would shackle them with invisible chains for the rest of their lives.
     Just as she was about to reassure Nina, the hairs at the back of her neck prickled. She turned quickly around to face the danger, almost tumbling to the sand.
     “Careful there,” the startlingly handsome stranger warned, reaching out to steady her. “You do not want to drop the babe.” 
     He spoke in the refined, old-fashioned, accented English that she’d first heard from Maxim. All the vamps seemed to speak that way. She’d not heard a contraction in days.    
     Angel held the baby tighter to her breast and instinctively pulled Nina closer to her. She looked up into the man’s smiling face and felt a frisson of unease travel over her body. Her senses screamed, “Danger, danger, danger!” Will Robinson would have been running for his life.
     His smile widened. He knew she was afraid. Her fear pleased him. Having had enough of men who wanted to instill fear in her, she pulled herself up tall and proud, assuming her most haughty demeanor, her “bitch” look.
     “Are you in the habit of waylaying lone women and children in the dark? Surely, a real male doesn’t need such antics to feel like a man.”
     “Forgive me,” he answered, as his gaze roamed over her body. “It is not my intent to cause you fear. I am strolling along the shore, admiring the beauty of the night same as you. Coincidence brought our paths to cross. I assure you, you have no reason to fear me. At least, not tonight.” The word tonight seemed to be an afterthought. “Besides, we both know I am not a man."  



Hello, My Dear Readers!

I am so excited! Thicker than Blood, the sequel to Angel's Guardian, was released today . I am not the writing machine that puts out a book every three months. I like to write and re-write, making sure my work is the best I can put out.

The last few weeks have been full of hard work and stress as I watch my release date get closer and closer, and last-minute editing changes pop up unexpectedly. The result, however, is worth it. Thicker Than blood will not disappoint!  

Full of the action, humor, romance, and eroticism that readers loved in Angel's Guardian, this sequel delivers on its promises. Look for the print version to come out in a few weeks after the release of the kindle version.

Please, Follow me on my BookBub  Author Page. 

Thicker Than blood is now available for Pre-order at Amazon.  

Book 1, Angel's Guardian, is available on Amazon.