• Tag Archives Books
  • Book Reviews for the Rest of Us ~ A Step by Step Guide

    How many readers have seen graphics like the following on social media?

     

    12932763_10209383807651196_5001078754661547866_n

     

    I’m sure many people, both readers and authors, have seen these messages. And I must admit, what is described above is right on the money. We authors do need a certain number of reviews in order to advance our careers. Though sometimes I hesitate to share these messages, since I have no wish to nag readers, or try to guilt folks.

    Still… we have to acknowledge that we need the reviews! What are we to do?

    I propose the following: Instead of asking readers for “reviews”, which may make people feel like they need to write an essay, we can simply request a short comment on Amazon, along with a fair rating in stars.

     

    SHORT COMMENT

     

    For example, I’ll link to one of the first reviews I ever received.

    Really enjoyed this and am looking forward to the next book……..good read!!

     

    I felt so darn happy and appreciative when I read the above comment. As authors always say — these are the reviews that hold a special place in our hearts. Of course we need and appreciate critical reviews, but comments such as this one mean a LOT more than the commenter or fan may realize.

    So, without further ado, I would like to get the point.

    Some people (I was one of them) are not really computer savvy, and the task of going online to write a comment can seem almost impossible.

    There is certainly no shame in that. Eight years ago I wouldn’t have had any idea whatsoever of how to navigate the internet. My mom is still learning. Lots of people don’t own computers at all, and I can understand why.

    Sometimes computers make me want to pull out my own hair.

    Ditto for my husband. Please look at the following pictures to get an idea about the man to whom I am married.

     

    Tom2

     

    My husband. A good provider. A great family man. A wonderful friend. And…a man who doesn’t like computers!

    I can’t stress this fact enough. He doesn’t like computers. Or printers. Or smart phones. Or text messages. I have asked him numerous times to set up a Facebook account so he can reconnect with old friends, and he has laughed in my face.

    He will not do it. He reads email only because he’s forced to at work, and learned rudimentary computer skills for the express purpose of buying and selling guitars and amplifiers on Ebay.

    Yet he managed to write reviews for both of my books. This was because having read the books, (besides telling me flat out which parts stunk and needed to be changed) he wanted to give his opinion on Amazon. So he managed to do just that.

    And it wasn’t impossible, even for him.

     

    TOM4

     

    So, here we go. By the end of this post, many readers who want to give the gift of a comment or short review on Amazon to authors whose work they enjoy, will be able to navigate the system.

     

    Step 1. Set up an email account if you don’t have one already.

    Many people already have email, but for those who don’t, it is necessary to set up an account in order to leave a book review. This is because reviewers must have email to set up an Amazon account, which we’ll get to shortly.

    For folks who don’t have email from a company like Verizon or Comcast, here’s a video tutorial on how to set up a Gmail (Google) account. And if you don’t like Gmail, there’s always Yahoo. Both are free.

     

     

     

    Step 2. Create an Amazon account.

    Creating your own Amazon account is necessary if you’d like to leave a comment about a book. And also, Amazon is a great company! I love Amazon. I like to shop online, and in addition to books for my Kindle, I can shop for just about anything. I would rather shop from the comfort of my own home and have my purchases delivered to my door than fight crowds in malls, so Amazon is my kind of company.

    The first step in creating your account is to find Amazon online. To do this, simply log onto the internet with whatever browser you use. Mine is Chrome. In the search bar (url bar) at the top of your screen, type the word Amazon. Several options should appear. Just click an option (red arrow below) or hit “enter” on your keyboard.

     

    Google AmazonThe next screen you will see is the Amazon home page. In order to create your account, you need to go through some other pages. To get to the screen where you can create an account, hover your cursor over the words: “Hello, sign in” and click on the pop up which will appear. That will take you to the screen below this one.

     

    Create acct

     

    This is the screen which appears after the one above. It gives the option of signing into an existing account or creating a new account. Click the button.

     

    Create2

     

    And here we are on the Create an account page. You’ll need to fill in your name, email, and a password which you create. For password ideas click here, or make up your own. I have mine written down and keep them stored in a safe place. You can always get a new password if you lose yours.

    Once all the information is entered, click the button. You now have an Amazon account.

     

    Create account4

     

    Following is a video that might also help.

     

     

    Step 3. Buying books and merchandise.

    Again, Amazon sells products other than books. You can find almost anything by typing it into the search bar, but for the purpose of this post we’ll stick to books.

    Say you’re looking for books by a particular author. I’ve been wanting to read the work of Dean Koontz for awhile now, so I typed his name into the Amazon Search box. You can do the same with the title of a book, or a genre, like Mystery or Science Fiction.

    As you can see, Koontz’s latest book appeared on the screen, along with a link to his Amazon Author’s page. The complete works of any given author can be found on their Amazon page.

     

    Koontz

     

    I decided to click on Ashley Bell for the purpose of this post. You can decide which, if any, editions interest you. Many people buy paperback & hardcover books. I usually buy the Kindle version, since I like reading on my Kindle.

    The red arrows on the photo below show that you can buy the book with one click, or have a free sample sent to your device. And for folks who don’t have a Kindle but would still like to read on a laptop, tablet, PC or phone, there’s a solution to your dilemma. Look at the arrow, bottom left, and you’ll see that Kindle offers a free Kindle app. You can download the app and read Kindle books from Amazon without having to own a Kindle.

     

    Koontz2

     

    Step 4. Reviewing or commenting on a book.

    The book I just reviewed is Fugitive From Asteron by Gen LaGreca. I took screenshots of each step. It’s not difficult at all.

    My first step was to sign into my Amazon account using my email and password. Then I typed the book title into the search bar and clicked.

     

    Fugitive From Asteron 1

     

    The following screen appeared. I clicked on the title, printed in red next to the thumbnail of the book cover.

     

    Fugitive1

     

     

    Next, the screen below appeared. As you can see, the option to buy is listed. To write a review, you need to scroll down the page.

     

    Fugitive From Asteron purchase

     

    I scrolled down. Gen’s author bio appears under the book title and description.

     

    Gen LaGreca 1

     

    I scrolled further down. A link to Gen’s author page is listed. And directly below are customer reviews. The red arrow shows the button which reads “Write a customer review.”

     

    Write a review

     

    Next you’ll see a screen which asks “How was the author’s writing?” Sometimes that will be the only question you’ll see, but once you give your opinion, other questions will open.

    As you can see, I answered the first question with “great”, because Gen’s writing is awesome. And I answered the rest of the questions honestly. Fugitive from Asteron is written in first person, so I clicked that button, however, sometimes books are written in a combination of the multiple answers listed, so if you’re not sure,  click I don’t know.

    Below the questions, you’ll see that you can rate a book from 1-5 stars. I have my own criteria for rating books, which anyone can see if you click on the book review tag on this blog. Fugitive from Asteron earned 5 stars from me.

    NOTE! If you happen to have a Kindle, and you finish a book, you’ll be given the option to rate the book directly from your Kindle. This is a nice feature for readers, however, the rating in stars does not count as a review. The author will be happy to get a good rating, but in order for us to advance enough for Amazon to begin promoting our books, we need actual reviews or short comments.

     

    Writing

     

    Finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Time to comment or review the book.

    The first sentence of my review of Fugitive from Asteron was: I really enjoyed this Science Fiction story. I went on to write more about why I liked the book, but that short comment was nice in itself. One or two sentences with an honest star rating is all readers really need to write in order to help the authors they admire.

    And you have no idea how much we appreciate your effort. In addition to reading our books, you care enough to help us with encouraging comments. Or, tell us honestly what you might not have liked about the book you’re reviewing.

    All feedback is helpful. We always want to improve our writing, and we want to please our readers, who make it possible for us to do what we love to do.

    As you can see below, there’s also a space for a review header. It’s not necessary, but if there’s one thing that you really loved about the book, you might write it there.

     

    Write in box

     

    Once you’re finished commenting, hit the yellow “submit” button and you’ll be taken to the following screen. As you can see, your public name is displayed with the review. You can change what the public sees by clicking “change”. Some people use only their initials, or a nickname, etc.

     

    Thank You

     

    Amazon will process the review and notify you by email as soon as it’s live. Then you can go to the site and see it. Sometimes other people will find your review helpful, and up-vote or comment on it. It’s always great to see that your review helped another reader make the decision to read a good book.

    So, that’s all there is to it.

    I hope this post was helpful. Please share far and wide, and know how much you, as readers, mean to us. If not for you we’d have no reason to keep writing.

    You may also enjoy:

    36 Years of Cars ~ The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

    I Love Dogs

     

     


  • The Notice ~ A CLFA 2015 Book Of The Year Nominee!

    A proud moment for me. The Notice, Storms Of Transformation Series, Book 2, has been nominated for Book of the Year by members of the Conservative Libertarian Fiction Alliance.

     

    From the official press release:

     

    (April 5, 2016) – The Conservative Libertarian Fiction Alliance (CLFA), a network of authors, readers, editors, publishers, reviewers, artists, and cultural leaders who read, write, and promote pro-liberty fiction, has released the list of the ten Finalists for the 2015 CLFA Book of the Year award. They are (in alphabetical order by author’s last name):

    The Notice by Daniella Bova

    The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher

    Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia

    Honor at Stake by Declan Finn

    By the Hands of Men Book Two: Into the Flames by Roy M. Griffis

    The Devil’s Dictum by Frederick Heimbach

    Amy Lynn, Golden Angel by Jack July

    Amy Lynn, The Lady Of Castle Dunn by Jack July

    Her Brother’s Keeper by Mike Kupari

    The Violet Crow by Michael Sheldon

    (All titles are available in the Amazon Kindle store.)

    To qualify, books had to be novel length (minimum 50k words) fiction first published in the calendar year 2015. Self-published, small press and traditionally published works are all eligible, including e-book and audio formats. Authors need not be members of the CLFA or even consider themselves to be politically aligned with the CLFA in order to be nominated and win. Books were nominated by members of the CLFA closed Facebook group. The top ten nominees are the finalists.

     

    As you can probably tell, I am beyond excited. I am also humbled and thankful to God to be nominated along with the above authors. And I’m eternally grateful to all of my friends in CLFA, who have provided more love and support than I ever thought possible.

    May the best book win!


  • Book Review ~ Domino, by Kia Heavey

    Kia’s Heavey’s  new book, Domino, published by Kindle Scout, is truly a wonderful piece of art.

     

    Dystopian Fantasy

     

    I feel quite emotional after reading it. I will not give anything away, because not all readers are the same, and each person will find something different to inspire them while reading this book.

    I will only say that I was completely immersed in the story, which took on a dreamlike quality. It’s been quite awhile since I read Watership Down, by Richard Adams, but I seem to remember the same sort of feeling from that book.

    It’s hard to explain. Readers should hurry to get this book, and find some quiet hours to enjoy it. Then you’ll come back to reality, and wish that the book wasn’t finished.

    Following is my review. (5 Stars on Amazon).

     

    A timeless tale of courage, love, sorrow and loyalty, Domino is a book that you’ll read again and again.

    Kia Heavey’s Domino is, in a word, timeless. It’s one of those books that make you stay up all night reading, while at the same time wishing it would never end. Few books affect me, as a reader, in this way. Heavey’s prose draws in the reader, and her descriptions of various farm scenarios, such as tool sheds and rock walls, make you feel like you are there in the story.

    Domino the barn cat, though seemingly living the average cat life, becomes a hero, larger than life. His ordinary days on the Brown family farm, keeping vermin away from the chickens and garden, show him to be a cat who desires to pull his own weight. His courtship of a female who lives in the woods, combined with nights on the prowl with friends, show him to be a real tomcat. And his sorrow when friends are harmed because they fall under the spell of a haughty new cat lets readers know Domino has a heart.

    This isn’t a children’s fairytale, but a story that might well become a classic. High schools in need of new and innovative literature would do well to assign this book for summer reading, or in the classroom.

    I know that I will never forget Domino the barn cat, and once you read the book, neither will you.

     

    BOOK 3

    Above is my criteria for rating books. However, I must say that Domino met all four on the list. It truly is a wonderful book.

     

    Author Kia Heavey

     

    Kia Heavey was born and raised in the suburbs of New York City. She graduated from Barnard College with a degree in German Literature and went to work as a creative professional in advertising. Her hobbies include fishing, music, reading, hiking, and most of all, being with her family. Her husband is Chief of Police in their hometown. They have two children and a cat.

     


  • Thanks, Readers

    This week three great things happened with regard to my writing.

    First, my 20 year old niece finished reading The Notice, and told me the end made her cry. (In a good way). Here’s a screen shot of  our back and forth texts:

    11006453_1164886873537370_2995655905847841072_n

    Second, a longtime twitter friend, who is also an author, finished reading Tears Of Paradox. She also gave me great feedback, saying that my writing gave insight into the lives of practicing Catholics. Reading her review was the highlight of my day yesterday.

    Third, this morning at Mass, I ran into a lady who has read both Tears Of Paradox and The Notice. She told me she absolutely loved book two, and could not put it down until she finished. Hearing feedback like this makes all the hard work worth it.

    I am so grateful to the folks who enjoy my work. Almost everyone asks me this question: “Will Jason and his father finally meet in book three?” The answer is: Yes, they will. I truly hope I can do this reunion justice.

    I have done lots of research and planned many plot lines for book three. I don’t know the title yet. Titles are very difficult for me. I have written less than a chapter so far, but I plan to hit it hard over the summer. I am not the fastest writer, but I am a thorough one.

    In the meantime, if you are a reader who has enjoyed my work, please tell a friend. I’ll sign off with the following video. Click here, please, to watch and listen to the man who inspired much of my work. You Tube does not allow certain videos to be embedded.

    This song is part of my inspiration for Michael Sean, Jason’s father, This particular version is from a bootleg which was released with Springsteen’s Darkness On The Edge Of Town boxed set. My husband gave it to me as a gift a few years ago. This 1978 show must have been magical for people lucky enough to have been there.

    Here are the lyrics:

    “It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City”

    I had skin like leather and the diamond-hard look of a cobra
    I was born blue and weathered but I burst just like a supernova
    I could walk like Brando right into the sun
    Then dance just like a Casanova
    With my blackjack and jacket and hair slicked sweet
    Silver star studs on my duds like a Harley in heat
    When I strut down the street I could feel it’s heartbeat
    The sisters fell back and said “Don’t that man look pretty”
    The cripple on the corner cried out “Nickels for your pity”
    Them gasoline boys downtown sure talk gritty
    It’s so hard to be a saint in the city
    I was the king if the alley, mama I could talk some trash
    I was the prince of the paupers crowned downtown at the beggar’s bash
    I was the pimp’s main prophet I kept everythning cool
    Just a backstreet gambler with the luck to lose
    And when the heat came down it was left on the ground
    The devil appeared like Jesus through the steam in the street
    Showin’ me a hand I knew even the cops couldn’t beat
    I felt his hot breath on my neck as I dove into the heat
    It’s so hard to be a saint when you’re just a boy out on the street
    And the sages of the subway sit just like the living dead
    As the tracks clack out the rhythm their eyes fixed straightahead
    They ride the line of balance and hold on by just a thread
    But it’s too hot in these tunnels you can get hit up by the heat
    You get up to get out at your next stop but they push you
    Back down in your seat
    Your heart starts beatin’ faster as you struggle to your feet
    You’re outa that hole and back up on the street
    And them South Side sisters sure look pretty
    The cripple on the corner cries out “Nickels for your pity”
    And them downtown boys they sure talk gritty
    It’s so hard to be a saint in the city.

    Lately, the title of this song describes me, trying to live my life and be a good person. Being a follower of Christ is difficult at this time, with all the unrest in America and the world. Times are hard all over. It’s so hard to be a saint in the city that is this world. But just the same, we have salvation, if only we stay with Him.

    all-things-work-together-for-those-who-love-god-all-we-have-to-do-is-love-and-live-for-god-he-is-with-us-and-promises-he-will-give-good-to-us-and-has-a-plan


  • Gratitude

    My free book promotion for The Notice is running through Sunday.

    My first free promotion, last year for Tears Of Paradox had a total of 300 downloads. I expected about the same for this promotion. Imagine my surprise yesterday when I saw that the Notice had been downloaded over 400 times on only the first day of the promotion.

    Now this may be a drop in the bucket to what a well known and traditionally published author would get in free downloads, but to me, a struggling unknown independent, it means a lot.

    IMG_1566

    I decided to check my Amazon ranking last night, just for fun. I was met with the above sight. The Notice is #2 in Christian Fantasy free books in Amazon’s Best Sellers.  It’s also #2 in Religious Science Fiction, and #568 in free overall. Again, this may seem small when compared to traditionally published authors with houses that help with marketing, but for lil ole me it’s a big deal.

    So, I feel the need to say thank you. Thank you to God for his grace in allowing me to pursue this dream. Such a thing seemed out of the realm of possibility a year ago. It’s reality today. I couldn’t have done this without Divine inspiration and help. I admit that.

    Matthew 19:26New International Version (NIV)

    26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

    Speaking of inspiration, I must mention someone else. Tears Of Paradox and The Notice were written during a period of darkness in my life. I found comfort, understanding and inspiration in the music of Bruce Springsteen, particularly my favorite album, Darkness On The Edge Of Town.

    My genre is Classic Rock, and while I listen to many artists, some of whom also inspired characters and scenes in my work, DOTEOT (and Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ) spoke to me in a way I can’t really describe with words.

    I’m working on finding a “song” for each character in this series. Following is Something In The Night from DOTEOT, which, to me, is protagonist Jason’s “song.”

     

    I’m riding down Kingsley, figuring I’ll get a drink

    Turn the radio up loud, so I don’t have to think,

    I take her to the floor, looking for a moment when the world seems right,

    And I tear into the guts, of something in the night.

    You’re born with nothing, and better off that way,

    Soon as you’ve got something they send someone to try and take it away,

    You can ride this road ’till dawn, without another human being in sight,

    Just kids wasted on something in the night.

    Nothing is forgotten or forgiven, when it’s your last time around,

    I got stuff running ’round my head That I just can’t live down.

    When we found the things we loved, They were crushed and dying in the dirt.

    We tried to pick up the pieces, And get away without getting hurt,

    But they caught us at the state line, And burned our cars in one last fight,

    And left us running burned and blind, Chasing something in the night.

    I had the extreme good luck to be in the audience at Citizen’s Bank Park on September 3, 2012, (Labor Day) when Springsteen performed a 5 song set from DOTEOT. H/T SomewhereInJersey75 for the following video. (I was in the nosebleeds).

     

    I’ve seen numerous rock concerts since my first trip to the Spectrum in 1978, but this was my all time favorite. It was also my last Springsteen concert. My husband admires Springsteen’s music, but has become less than a fan over the past few years, for which I do not blame him.

    Still, I’m very grateful to Springsteen. His music helped me through an extremely difficult period of my life.

    Finally, to whoever reads this blog, and whoever reads my books, my online writing buddies who help me everyday, or anyone who encourages me in  any way… I am grateful to you, too.


  • Happy New Year

    I try not to make tons of New Year’s resolutions, since I inevitably let them go by the wayside. Instead I’d like to reflect on the year past. 2014 had its high points 🙂 Here’s a list:

    1. I remained in good physical health and so did my family.
    2. I’m at a healthy weight.
    3. I have a terrific family who love me despite my faults.
    4. I have a husband whom I adore, and who loves me even when I’m not at my best.
    5. I am blessed to still have my mother and mother-in-law.
    6. I have two cute, rambunctious, fun, happy, sweet, lovable grandchildren.
    7. Said grandchildren seem to want me around a lot.
    8. I have a part time job, despite the stagnant economy.
    9. My husband escaped the ax at work again, and remains employed.
    10. I published a book.
    11. People like my book. (A friend told me just today that she loves it and can’t put it down).
    12. I am ready to publish another book.
    13. I have made many new friends because of my writing endeavor.
    14. I still have many longtime friends.
    15. I ran a half marathon.
    16. I live in a cute, cozy house.
    17. I am blessed to have a husband who knows how to work on cars. That way we save money, which makes up for the embarrassment I feel when my brakes squeal.
    18. I have a flower garden and a vegetable garden.
    19. I have plenty of plans for the coming year.
    20. I have the love of Jesus Christ.

    If all of the above are sustained in 2015 I will have more than a great year 🙂 I wish each and every friend and reader a happy, healthy New Year.

    IMG_0295

     

     


  • Saving Nineteen Minutes (Part Three)

    Part three (and the last in this series since I’m thoroughly sick of thinking about Nineteen Minutes and its underhanded, nasty advocates) will detail the lead up to the Kennett Consolidated School District’s November 10, 2014 board meeting, the meeting itself, and the aftermath of the meeting.

    For backstory please read Saving Nineteen Minutes (Part One) and Saving Nineteen Minutes (Part Two) if you missed them.

    Though I will be linking to other editorials and possibly other news articles in this post, I will be primarily referring to this Daily Local News story. I will try to make this post as brief as possible while ensuring that all pertinent information is recorded, since the newspapers do not bother to tell both sides.

    I’ll begin with this passage from the above news story from the perspective of the KCSD.

    The book, published in 2007, can be found in the library of Kennett High School and became the hot topic of the school board meeting Nov. 10 after a parent, Angela John, requested the book be removed.

    “The parent felt the book content was not suitable for high school students,” Superintendent Barry Tomasetti said during the meeting.

    He went on to say the district followed Policy 109 and tried to resolve the issue informally, but the parent was not satisfied and completed a Request for Reconsideration of Resource Material Review Committee.

    From there, the committee reviewed the book and its merits and voted unanimously that the book remain in the library.

    The parent made a final appeal to the board and the matter was brought up at the Nov. 10 meeting.

    Policy 109, mentioned above, can be found here. The pertinent information in policy 109 regarding Nineteen Minutes or any other contested resource says:

    Procedure For Reviewing Challenged Material

    The procedure for review of resource material may be a two-phase process that can be initiated by the parent/guardian of a District student or a District employee. When a concern regarding library resource material is received, the principal will inform those staff members using the material, the Superintendent, and the librarians. Prior to any meetings, the complainant shall be given a copy of this Policy. Challenged resource material will remain in use during the review process.

    Phase I is an informational meeting involving a discussion with all people involved. The information meeting is for the purpose of explaining Board procedures about selecting and using educational resources, not a time for school personnel to make sudden, un-reviewed, and undocumented decisions about the continued use of resources. For example, there may be a temptation for a principal or a teacher to listen to the objections of a parent/guardian and agree with him/her and remove the resource on the spot rather than face the review procedure.

    Sometimes becoming aware of the need for a variety of resources to meet the needs of a diverse student population causes complainants to reconsider their actions and withdraw their complaints. A decision not to file a formal complaint frequently occurs after the explanation of procedures used to select the resource or the reasons that a resource is being used in the District are explained.

    If the complaint is not satisfied at this time, the Request for Reconsideration of Resource Material form will be offered for completion. If completed, the principal will forward the form to the chairperson of the Resource Material Review Committee.

    Phase II is a formal process involving a large number of staff members. The results of all activities will be communicated to the complainant(s). This phase begins only after Phase I has been completed.

    The Resource Material Review Committee is appointed by the Superintendent or designee after soliciting volunteers. Members should have knowledge of children and young adult literature and be familiar with the District and the community. Members must become thoroughly familiar with the resource material selection Policy and develop a knowledge and understanding of the issues surrounding intellectual freedom and censorship.

    The committee will be chaired by the Assistant Superintendent and will include one (1) elementary and one (1) secondary principal, one (1) elementary and one (1) secondary media specialist, and a teacher from each organizational level. This committee may be expanded to include instructional staff members who will act in an advisory capacity when material under review is related to their specific curriculum areas. These advisors will not be voting members of the committee.

    In order for the committee members to fulfill their obligation of becoming knowledgeable in this area, the District shall provide workshops, material, conferences, research data, and other sources of information. Prior to a meeting to consider a request to re-evaluate resource material, committee members will familiarize themselves with the material in question.

    The following are the steps to be used to review resource material:

    Step 1 – When a principal has completed Phase I and receives a Request for Reconsideration of Resource Material form, s/he should send the form to the chairperson of the Resource Material Review Committee with a copy to the Superintendent.

    Pol. 105.2

    Step 2 – Upon receipt of the request form, the chairperson shall do the following:

    1. Request librarians and/or other staff members to secure copies of the questionedmaterial for the use of the committee.
    2. Request librarians and/or other staff members to obtain reviews and other evaluations of the material.
    3. Distribute information including copies of the material, the reviews and evaluations of the material, and the complainant’s completed form to the members of the committee.
    4. Establish a time and place for a committee meeting to be held within ninety (90) days of receipt of the information to be considered.
    5. Allow an adequate opportunity for discussion of all information pertinent to the complaint.
    6. If appropriate, arrange for expert testimony.

    After the committee has discussed the relative merits of the material and other information pertinent to the complaint, the chairperson shall conduct a written and signed vote of the committee members to determine the majority opinion. The chairperson will vote only if the vote ends in a tie. The chairperson will forward the results of the meeting to the Superintendent on the Report of the Resource Material Review Committee form with copies sent to all committee members.

    A vote of the committee shall be to recommend one (1) of the following courses of action regarding the status of the material:

    1. The material will remain in the library collection (no change).
    2. The material will be circulated only to students above the designated grade level agreed to by the committee. The staff will ensure that such material is not borrowed nor required for the fulfillment of class assignments by students who are below this level without written permission of a parent/guardian.
    3. The material will be removed from the collection.
    4. Alternative material will be offered at the request of the parent/guardian as outlined in Board Policy. Material will be retained in the collection.

    The Resource Material Review Committee will review the material in an objective manner. The best interests of the students, school, and curriculum shall be given utmost consideration. The decision of the committee shall be by majority vote; minority opinions will be attached and forwarded with the decision.

    Upon receipt of the recommendation, the Superintendent will communicate the decision to the complainant.

    If after a meeting with the Superintendent the person remains dissatisfied, final appeal may be made to the Board through the Superintendent. The Board, or a committee of the Board, shall schedule a hearing within thirty (30) days after the request has been made.

     

     

    The KCSD (as stated in the Daily Local News article) would have people believe that one lone woman had an issue with the book Nineteen Minutes. This is false. Anyone who chooses to do a bit of investigating can find stories from  other schools all over America where parents took issue with this book. However, I must state here, for the record, that Angela John, my friend, was NOT the only person in the Kennett School District concerned about this book.

    Please glance at the last paragraph of policy 109, above. You’ll see that if there is still dissatisfaction, a “hearing” will be scheduled. While my friends were trying, for months, to deal with this school and school board, we got together for coffee to discuss progress. At one of our get-togethers, Angie showed me the notice from the Superintendent stating that she could bring her concerns to the table at a hearing. The letter stated that only Angie could be present at this hearing (though she could, if she wished to, bring her husband along). Hello?

    Does this school realize how heavy handed they sound? The taxpayers, including Angie, pay their salaries, yet they must request “hearings” on important matters concerning their own children.

    That brings me to another point. After the November 10th debacle, several local papers posted links on their Facebook Pages. Angie stayed away from newspapers, since she was devastated by what happened, but I read every article and every editorial. The comments by people who may or may not know Angie were nasty and quite ignorant, but there was one in particular that stood out. On the Kennett Paper’s Facebook page, a woman commented: “The person who complained doesn’t have a child in the High School.” Excuse me?

    Number 1) Any taxpayer has a say, as long as their kids are in the district.

    2) This woman is a parishioner at the same church Angie attends. (I’m also a parishioner at this church, but I’ve never met this woman). This person and Angie are acquainted. She could have followed the advice of Christ, and asked Angie in person about her concerns instead of showing up in public and joining a group accusing a neighbor of “banning” books.

    3) There were other parents who DO have kids in the High School who were concerned about Nineteen Minutes. I know this for a fact. The night of the hearing, another friend, one who has two kids attending Kennett High School went to the hearing. When we read the letter KCSD had sent to Angie we laughed a little. Though it sounded very intimidating, we couldn’t imagine that it would come to the point of actually throwing another concerned parent and taxpayer out of the “hearing.” But that’s exactly what happened. No one else could present their concerns about Nineteen Minutes at the hearing.

    In addition to the graphic portrayal of teen sex between Josie and her boyfriend Matt, digs at traditional Americans and religion, and normalization of abortion in general, here’s something else.  Many parents might take issue with ninth and tenth graders being exposed to the following in school. In this excerpt from page 323 of Nineteen Minutes, Josie, the teen who survived the school shooting and Matt’s girlfriend, believes she is pregnant. After contemplating asking her estranged father for money for an abortion, Josie decides to google some old wives tales, just in case.

    There was something about going to a doctor, or a clinic, or even to a parent, that she couldn’t quite swallow. It seemed so…deliberate…..

    Some she already knew: the old wives’ tales about sticking a knitting needle up inside her, or drinking laxatives or castor oil. Some she’d never imagined: douching with potassium, swallowing ginger root, eating unripe pineapple. And then there were the herbs: oil infusions of calamus, mugwort, sage,and wintergreen; cocktails made out of black cohosh and pennyroyal…..

    Use 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of the dried herb per cup of water, 3-4 times a day. Don’t confuse tansy with tansy ragwort, which has been fatal to cows that have eaten it growing nearby.

    Really? Is a book containing such a passage really worth all of this? If kids want the damn book they can buy it at Barnes and Noble or borrow it from the public library. Or their parents can give it to them if they’re so hell bent on having their kids read it. Why is it necessary for this book to be paid for by taxpayers and read in class? Why is it necessary for every kid in the school to have this trash pushed on them? Apparently the Kennett librarian is infatuated with this book. She said in a meeting that she goes into classrooms and reads passages aloud to students. (One can only hope that the above passage isn’t one of her favorites).

    Okay. Back to the lead up to the November 10th School Board meeting. At the hearing, what Angie mistakenly thought was a compromise was reached. Angie left the hearing with the understanding that Nineteen Minutes would remain in Kennett High School. The other attendees of this hearing agreed that the final vote would be on the following: Kennett High School could either place the book Nineteen Minutes in the guidance counselor’s office so younger students who might not have a good support system at home could be cautioned about what they might read, or the book could be kept without restriction. In no way does KEEPING a book in the guidance counselor’s office constitute a “ban.” So…how did the word “ban” come into play? Nobody knows, but here is a timeline of events leading up to the actual meeting.

    After the hearing which other concerned parents were not permitted to attend, rumors began circulating that “some woman” was trying to ban books. The rumor was heard at the Bayard Taylor Library in Kennett Square. The rumor was also being spread in one of the New Garden polling places on election day, November 4th. People coming into the polling place to vote were told that someone was trying to “ban” books at Kennett High School. All of this talk of “banning” did the trick.

    On the evening of November 10th, my friend Angie went to the school board meeting alone. She had asked me to go with her, and I said no. I had no idea what was going to happen and neither did she. I’m pretty sure Angie’s husband did end up joining her at the meeting before it ended, but I wish I had gone. She could have used a friend.

    The room where the school board met that night was filled with adults and students wearing “We Read Banned Books” buttons. There was quite a large group. Angie told me she was sitting quietly and wondering what the hell was going on, since the vote was to decide whether the book should be kept under age restrictions. A group of about 5-6 kids sat nearby, along with a few parents. Angie decided to ask them why they were at the meeting. Following is the paraphrased conversation:

    Angie: Why are you all here?

    Students: Our teachers asked us to come, because some lady is trying to ban books in our library.

    Angie: Oh no…that’s not what’s going on. I’m the person who’s concerned about the book, but I didn’t ask for it to be banned. I’m just concerned about kids. Some kids may be too young to read what’s in the book, so we should make sure they can be talked to by someone like the counselor.”

    Students: What? You’re the lady?

    Angie: Yes. It’s me, but I don’t want to ban books.

    Students: We didn’t know. We were told by our teachers to come tonight to support the school because someone wanted to ban books. We didn’t know.

    Angie related that the parents accompanying this group sat staring straight ahead. They heard every word she said, but they didn’t say a word to her. The group of students, however, thanked Angie.

    Back to the meeting. In the Daily Local News article above, there is not one word about the book being moved. The word “ban” was used throughout. “Moved” or “kept under age appropriate restriction” was not mentioned. In my previous post I linked to tweets between myself and Candice Monhollan, the reporter who covered the story. She tweeted to me that the school did NOT disclose the fact that the request was that this book be placed under age restriction. I don’t understand why, but for some reason this was left out. People can draw their own conclusions as to why.

    People were wearing buttons. Students spoke about free speech. Teachers spoke out in defense of Nineteen Minutes, and said “banning” books was against freedom of speech, etc. That wasn’t the worst thing, though. The worst thing was the fact that the school board played right along with these uninformed people. This meeting was mob-like. (One news article described the crowd as “civil.” Yeah, sure). The board whipped things up a bit more before they went on to other business. Following is a quote from board member Rudy Alphonso:

    “I think about the principles that our Founding Fathers laid ground for us (and) all the battles and all the people that have died over our 200-plus years to keep these fundamental freedoms in place and to allow us to have the choice whether or not we want to read something or not read something,” he said in his statement. “Banning this book, to me, would almost be like turning my back on all those hundreds of thousands of American veterans, men and women, who have died to allow us to keep those freedoms and not to have censorship. I see this attempt to ban this book as if we live in Nazi Germany. This is the United States of America. The Statue of Liberty rings for everyone.”

    This man and the other board members must have known that the book wasn’t leaving the school, yet he mentioned Nazi Germany. How unbelievably pathetic. Two other members of the school board are fellow parishioners. They also knew a ban was not requested, yet they allowed students and parents to think this was the case. I don’t know these people personally, though I do attend the same church. I must admit that I’m glad I don’t know them, and I hope I never meet them. I don’t think we worship the same God. The lone school board member who voted to place the book in the guidance office was also dissed and misrepresented by the newspapers, of course.

    In addition to my tweets to Ms. Monhollan, I ventured a couple of comments on the Facebook post from the Daily Local News, linked to the story above. I wanted to embed the post here, but I can’t find it on the DL Facebook wall at this time. I don’t know why, but it seems to be gone. If anyone reading this comes across it, let me know. Anyway, in my comment I mentioned the fact that a “ban” wasn’t what was asked for. People came back at me stating that restricting is similar to banning, or some such nonsense. One commenter stated that the Kennett Librarian was probably following recommendations from other schools and libraries and or librarians. That may well be true. For instance, look at the following article from the School Library Journal, “The world’s largest reviewer of books, multimedia and technology for children and teens.”

    This is a review of Lena Dunham’sNot That Kind Of Girl,” reviewed by the SLJ, who also put out a list of  “Best Adult Books For Teens of 2014.” Some of you may be familiar with Dunham and her memoirs. If not you can do more googling. But please understand that the School Library Journal recommends Dunham’s book for teens. If the Kennett Librarian follows such publications, perhaps Dunham’s book is sitting on the shelf. Who knows?

    Again, please read the comments following the Daily Local News article. Following are additional news articles for your perusal from The Unionville Times (Banned Books Button pictured), and The Times of Chester County. Actually this is the same article. It appeared in two different publications.

    Here’s an editorial stating that “Censorship died an ugly, messy death in Kennett Monday night. Let us hope this topic never comes up again.” Here’s a particularly snarky and ignorant post by someone named Tilda Talley-ho. Miss Talley-ho brings up Holocaust deniers. How very kind and tolerant. I could go on, but people with open minds probably get the drift.

    Here’s a word of warning. Take it or leave it as you see fit. The people behind this debacle misrepresented a good person. They probably forgot about it the next day, but it will always be with the person who was maligned. If you’re wearing blinders there’s not much anyone can say, and I doubt anyone who is wearing blinders would read this post anyway. But if you’re paying attention, take note. Some people just “don’t want to get involved.” Okay. That’s all well and good. Just remember what happens to people who continually walk right down the middle of the road. People or animals or whatever. Anything that insists on mincing down the middle of the road is going to get knocked aside sooner or later. Not standing up when good people are trashed enables the bad guys to get away with it. Someday it may be you or your family or friends who are savaged.

    It took me a month to get through Nineteen Minutes. That’s one month of reading time I will never get back. Still, I felt I had to read the damn thing, since my friend was branded a Nazi over it. I was chatting online with a young friend about this situation. (This man recently married, and the Nineteen Minutes debacle I described made him consider homeschooling any future children). My friend told me we should donate Kama Sutra to the High School Library. I told him I didn’t know what Kama Sutra was. (That’s true. I didn’t know what it was until that day). He lol’d and said he thought everyone had heard about it. I hadn’t, but for all I know it could be in some school library somewhere. I wouldn’t make a bet. As of this time, I am putting this damned book, its advocates and the rest of this behind me. I grew up within ten miles of Kennett Square, but things have changed since I was a kid. Apparently I don’t belong in this area. It’s not a very friendly place to live at this time.

    Kennett High School does hold some sentimental value for me, since my parents met there. They both graduated from Kennett. However, I’m very thankful that my children are grown and have moved away. Not very far away, but far enough that their kids will never be subjected to a school district populated with people who do what the people running that school district did to a decent, concerned parent. For that I am truly thankful.

    Update– I spoke to my friend Angie, who wanted to say a few additional words about this situation.

     

    My only concern was the safety and well being of the children of Kennett Consolidated School District.  I was disappointed to witness the vote on November 10th. The school board and the adults who spoke at the meeting acting in a non-serious manner.  They joked about having the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue in the library as well. The entire board were laughing except for the one serious, upright board member, Doug Sterling. Mr. Stirling was the only person who showed strength and intelligence by voting to have the book moved.

    I didn’t think the situation was funny. As someone who worked with inner city children in my capacity as a social worker, I was quite saddened by the  board’s lack of care and concern for the children of KCSD. I felt pity for the other adults as well. The teachers, parents and other administrators are either ignorant, or afraid to publicly acknowledge (for whatever reason) that there are some things in print that are not age appropriate. They refused to stand up and protect the kids, who may run the risk of either being harmed or harming others because of the information in Nineteen Minutes. The book detailed dangerous actions that the characters take out of desperation. How can one not see that this book needs to only be available  with adult care and guidance? Any other decision is irresponsible, and does not place the children’s well being front and center. Very sad.

     

    Her words make complete sense. However, the people running the KCSD got their way. I hope they’re happy.

     


  • Free Book Promotion

    I’m very excited about some new things that are happening. Rather than wait for January, I’ve decided to think about resolutions early this year. First on the list is reaching out to old friends and new readers. In order to do this, I started a Go Fund Me campaign for my cause. My cause is simply to “raise” Facebook likes and Twitter followers.

    I enjoy social media, and have made many friends on these platforms. However, new and unknown authors struggle to connect with readers. Many of us don’t have agents or publicists, and it’s up to us to do the work. That’s why I’m doing my best to connect with people who will enjoy my work.

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    My books are different than many offered by mainstream publishing houses. My message is one of family, friendship and tradition. It’s also a spooky tale of the future, and what might happen in America. The cover above was designed by yours truly. It will always have sentimental value, but I’m looking forward to republishing Tears Of Paradox with a brand new cover sometime in the very near future.

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    I am absolutely thrilled with the new cover, and can’t wait until it’s ready. My cover designer, Kia Heavey, has done a spectacular job. I’m very thankful to all readers, supporters and friends. In the spirit of the season, a time for giving, I want to give friends and readers both old and new a free gift. Beginning tomorrow (Saturday) and running through Sunday, Tears Of Paradox will be FREE on Kindle! You can check out the reviews on Amazon.

    I would really like to connect with new readers and friends. Please check out Tears Of Paradox and my home page/website, where you can find many links to radio appearances and reviews. And please join my Facebook page. It’s fun and happy.

    One more item of note. Today is the feast of Our Lady Of Guadalupe, who appeared to a poor man living in Mexico in the 1500s. Please click the link to read about the miracles associated with Mary, Mother of Jesus as she appeared to Juan Diego.

    If you’ve been following me for awhile, you’ll know that I’m devoted to Mary. This is not worship. We Catholics worship only Christ as God in the Holy Trinity. Still, we do honor His Mother, who endured great suffering to bring Him to us.

    I am praying today, that Jesus will allow my book promotion to bring something good to readers. I am also praying that Our Lady of Guadalupe will intercede on my behalf, and ask her Son to help me get the word out. After all, she’s His mom. What Son wouldn’t do what His beloved Mother asked of Him, if it’s His will? If you’re reading this, please send up a prayer or a good thought for a happy outcome for this promotion.

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    Of course, as always I end my petition with these words: God’s will be done.


  • Thanksgiving

    images copy 21Happy Thanksgiving. I was thinking back over the previous year and counting my blessings, of which there are many. I thought I would take a few minutes to list them here, so I can look back on them whenever I’m down. 🙂

    To begin, I am very thankful to God for all He has given me. I know I’ve been blessed abundantly.

    images-2 copy 3I’m blessed to be part of a family who loves me. I’m thankful for my mother, my sister, my kids and their significant others, my nieces and nephews, and every other member of my family. My husband and I celebrated thirty-five years of marriage in October, and this is another reason to give thanks. We are also very thankful for our little grandchildren.

    I am blessed with many, many friends. I see people online everyday. I must say that I’m thankful for social media, because if not for twitter and Facebook, I would never have met my dear friends Michele and Sharon. I’m thankful for my part time job, too, since I met my friend Vicki there. I don’t know what I’d do without my friends!

    I’ve been blessed with good health most of the time, too. I’m very thankful that I’m able to stay physically fit, and that I’m able to run.

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    I completed the Delaware Half Marathon back in May. This was my second race. I plan to train again this winter, in hopes that I can run another 13.1 miles on Mother’s Day.

     

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    I’m very thankful for being part of the Roman Catholic Church. My faith is what keeps me going during the tough times. I’m also thankful for the friends I’ve made in my parish church.

    This year brought many changes in my life. Ever since I published my first book, Tears Of Paradox, back in May, things seem to have become more hectic than they had been.

    This is another blessing. Because I took the plunge into self-publishing, I met a group of people who’ve provided friendship, support, and more kindness than I ever expected. The members of the Conservative Libertarian Fiction Alliance have helped me more than words can express. I must mention Mr. Jack July, who took an interest in my writing, introduced me to the group, and invited me to be a guest on internet radio. If not for Jack, I might never have found the CLFA.  Every member of the group has been kind, welcoming, and helpful with writing tips and promotion. Please visit their Facebook page for reading suggestions. All genres are represented, and the books are those you’ll want to read again and again.

    I especially want to thank two members of this group, Daria DiGiovanni, and Kia Heavey. Daria invited me to be on her internet radio show, Writestream Tuesday, to promote my book, We struck up a friendship after finding out how many things we have in common. Kia is a talented author and artist. She helped me tremendously by reading the manuscript of my second book, and has done a wonderful job designing new covers for both Paradox and book two, The Notice. I’m thrilled with the new cover designs.

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    To date, Tears Of Paradox has received ten 5 Star reviews on Amazon. The latest was posted just today. I’m truly humbled at the reaction to my work, and I want to thank each and every reader for their time, and for giving me a chance. 🙂

    I love the world that God created, and I try to enjoy every day. I love music, and looking at the beauty of nature while I run in the park.

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    I love walking on the beach, especially Lewes Beach, Delaware, on Delaware Bay, and I’m thankful my family has been able to hang onto our little beach place through these tough economic times. My father worked hard to give us that beach place. He wanted us to keep and enjoy what he worked for. Luckily we’ve been able to keep it, even though it’s sometimes a struggle, due to policies crushing the middle class these days.

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    This brings me to the subject of America. If you read my books, (or even the reviews), you’ll know how I feel about America. I truly believe that America is a wonderful country, and I’m tired of listening to people run her down. I don’t like the fundamental transformation America is undergoing at this time. It’s causing way too much pain and suffering. People in my family are affected in negative ways. I want America to come back. People should not be shamed because of their beliefs in a traditional American way of life.

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    I will continue to pray for our beloved country, and  give thanks to God for allowing me to be born in the greatest country on earth.


  • Patience

    Patience is a virtue, my mother always said. She was right. It is…but I have to admit, exercising patience isn’t exactly my strong suit. I tend to be impatient.

    Five years ago, I began writing what would ultimately become The Storms of Transformation Series. I worked doggedly on the manuscript, writing and rewriting, adding and subtracting, inserting curse words and removing them. I shared my secret writing project with my husband and a few close friends, who continuously gave me positive feedback, and occasionally talked me down from the ledge of tossing the project, out of fear that my work would come to nothing.

    My greatest friend, (One whom I unloaded on almost daily) was–and is–you guessed it: God. He’s always there.

    When I nagged Him in my ruminations concerning possible reasons for the indifference of agents and publishers, He listened patiently. I was only patient because I was forced to be patient; it was either that or give up. I chose not to give up, and God was forced to listen to my railing when the rejection notices arrived in my inbox. Sometimes He heard my nagging when nothing arrived in my inbox. This went on for four years.

    I thought my book had prospects. So did God, apparently, since my secret project is now reality.

    In my daily rosary intentions, I sometimes refused to ask God for success with my project, because of the many pressing concerns which require His attention. I prayed daily for friends and family; their health, well being and personal intentions. I still do. I pray for peace in the world, the salvation of America, the victims of ISIS, the unborn and their families, freedom of religion, my grandchildren’s future. I pray for a leader to manifest; one who will jolt the American people into reality, and lead us back to constitutional principles. I pray that God’s will, (whatever it is) be done, even if it isn’t what I would have chosen. I thought, perhaps, that it might be selfish to ask for success with my book endeavor. Still…I did ask. Not every day, but sometimes.

    Cana

    On Thursdays, the Luminous Mysteries of the holy Rosary, Instituted by Saint JPII, are prayed. The second Mystery–Christ’s miraculous transformation of water into wine at the wedding in Cana–sometimes gave me pause. After His Mom asked Jesus to help that poor couple who’d run out of wine, he was a bit dismissive, and told her it was too soon. She, on the other hand, had faith. She knew he had a soft spot for her; she was his mother. So, she decided to give the servants a heads up: Do whatever he tells you.

    Mary had lots of patience. She knew her son might choose to wait…but she still took a chance. Her faith was rewarded when Christ ordered the servants to fill those tall heavy stone jars. They chose to obey him, and filled them to the brim. Not halfway, or three quarters of the way, or just one bucket shy of full, but to the brim.

    This was a lesson to me. I continued my work until I knew it was the best I could do. There didn’t seem to be any way to fit another drop of creativity into the jar of a book I was working on, so I decided to take a chance. It felt right. I self published.

    After the servants did what Christ told them to do, as best they could, he did the rest. He transformed the water into wine. He’s also responsible for what I feel is success in my current endeavor–after the book was published, new avenues were opened. Friends and strangers began reading my book. I made new friends, in an online authors community, Conservative Libertarian Fiction Alliance on Facebook. I was a guest on The Robert Bertrand Show , on Dead Wrong Radio, with Robert and co-host  Jack July, author of Amy Lynn, a terrific five star novel.  Readers are enjoying book one, Tears Of Paradox , and are looking forward to book two, entitled “The Notice”, coming in December.

    I also had the privilege of being a guest on Writestream Tuesday  , with the founder of the Writestream Radio Network, Daria DiGiovanni. Daria’s novel, Water Signs is a terrific, upbeat love story. I am truly amazed, overwhelmed, humbled and grateful for each and every person who has helped me in my creative journey, be they friends, family, readers, constructive criticizers or people (namely my husband), who tell me to chill out, and that things will work out the way they’re supposed to work out, all in God’s time.

    Today, Tears of Paradox received it’s seventh five star review since it’s release in May. The review, by the aforementioned Daria DiGiovanni, was published on Amazonand also posted in The American Journal, a terrific site, filled with informative posts by talented people.

    Patience IS a virtue. I know it’s not my strong suit, but I’m glad I was forced to practice it, however reluctantly.