• Tag Archives Independent Publishing
  • Guest Post: Author Dawn Witzke ~ Society Gone South

     

    Today I’m pleased to have Dawn Witzke, author of the debut novel Path of Angels (Underground Series Book 1) as a guest on D Street.

    Dawn writes about one of the many traditional institutions that has been compromised by the American Left.

     

    Society Gone South.

    Boy Scouts Cave…Again

    Not so long ago, I saw an announcement that said BSA would now allow girls who are under the misguided assumption that they are boys to join Boy Scouts. I used to support the Boy Scouts. In fact, I was a leader of both a Troop and a Venture Crew. My last year of volunteering came when they caved on “gay” scouts. I still would buy popcorn from the local troop, but I couldn’t bring myself to be an active participant in the decay of a once laudable organization. That time has passed.

    I was involved when the first battle was being waged. There were other things happening at the time as well. Money and membership had been going down for years. When the proverbial shit hit the fan and donations by large corporations were threatened, BSA did everything they could to save those funds, including throwing their organizations principles under the bus.

    Some in the leadership had tried a couple years before to get the BSA to change their stance on “gay” scouts and leaders, but it failed miserably because they tried to make too many changes at once.

    So, they backed off, split the issue of “gay” scouts from “gay” leaders and couched it in terms of “you’re evil for wanting to kick out boys who discover they’re gay.” Notice the wording choice. They didn’t say you want to keep out homosexual activists bent on destroying the BSA. No. It was “kick out.” Of course, the majority didn’t want to see boys who had been in scouts their entire life be kicked out just because of something that was beyond their control. It was an easily killed straw man.

    After “gay” scouts were accepted in 2013, the hard liners had left for other organizations that held the principles that BSA had once espoused. In 2015, “gay” leaders were accepted and now in 2017, “transgender” scouts.

    Each year, the enrollment numbers have been dropping. Rather than sticking to its principles, BSA elected to commit suicide by caving to those who want to see traditional morals destroyed.

    The attack on the BSA and eventual caving is a symptom of the wider culture. Long gone are the days of convincing people to change through logic and reason. Today, anyone who dissents from the left’s view of right and good is to be figuratively beaten into submission or eliminated entirely. And they will use any means necessary, including lying, cheating and stealing.

    We’ve seen it time and again. Chic-fil-a, Firefox, photographers, cake bakers, gamergate, Hugo Awards, Bram Stoker Awards and the latest – – Milo. No one is safe from the attacks. It doesn’t matter if you’re left, right or center, you will be vilified if you even suggest that anyone be allowed to hold any opinions other than the leftist line.

    Those who want to tear apart every institution that stands on moral or religious principles have been advancing and destroying those institutions. Gradually at first, but once they realized that people would cow to their demands, they became more forceful. They began winning the war, because good men chose not to fight.

    That is starting to change. People are starting, however small, to fight back. Trump’s win was a hard shock for the left who thought that they had cowed everyone into submission. (Okay, it was a shock to everyone, but the left felt it the hardest.) Little by little the ground lost can be recovered as long as people continue to fight back.

     

    Please check out Dawn’s new book! (I already ordered my copy).

     

    It is year 63 of the New Era. Nacerma has rid itself of societies ills – homelessness, hunger, suffering and religious differences – becoming a country of peace. Seventeen-year-old, Aadi seeks something deeper than the life Nacerma offers. When her former lover, turned priest, asks her to risk her life for her faith, she accepts the meaningful quest.
    Mischa Truin is wanted by the Guard and needs to get out of town for awhile. When he’s asked to keep his best friend, Aadi, safe, he jumps at the chance. Together, their faith and friendship are tested as they face thieves, highwaymen, the Red Guard and their own inner demons as their feelings for one another are revealed. Will their friendship survive the quest? Will they?
    Dawn Witzke is a freelance writer, graphic artist and master level procrastinator. She can be found over at her blog, Books & Art, where she randomly posts artwork, book reviews and writing.

     


  • Tears of Paradox #FreeKindle Giveaway ~ A Success!

    My free book promotion for Tears Of Paradox got over 1700 downloads.

     

    Thank You

     

    This was the best promotion I have ever run, and to everyone who decided to take a chance and download Tears, I’d like to say Thank You!

    For those who open the book on their Kindle someday and decide to give it a try, Thank you, too!

    For all of my friends who tweeted, shared Facebook & Gab posts and helped spread the word, Thank you!

    To vm, blogger at Bookhorde who placed my book in a Valentines Day post, Thank you!

    And finally, to the Conservative Libertarian Fiction Alliance, Thank you! The placement of Paradox in the CLFA February Booknado helped more people find my book.

    I hope readers like the book and the entire series. 🙂

     

    A note for new readers.

    My books are near future dystopias told from the POVs of Catholic/Christian characters. On Amazon they are categorized as Christian Fantasy and Futuristic Christian Fiction in addition to other categories.

    But my books are not what many Christian Fiction readers might be used to. I made it a point to model my characters on what I see and hear every day from my own husband, family, and other working class people. We are devout Catholics, yet my husband is not a saint.

    I have read that much of Christian fiction forbids any use of swear words (even mild ones) and sometimes the characters are not portrayed as gritty sinner types.

    If you downloaded my book and find that it’s not what you thought it would be, I hope you will give it a try anyway. I explain my thought process and the time I spent agonizing over the way I portrayed my male characters in a blogpost I wrote. Click here.

    But back to the question at hand. Should we or shouldn’t we write characters who actually do and say the things we ourselves do and say? My answer is: How could we not? After all, we are following Christ for a reason. We are all sinners. If we weren’t we wouldn’t need Christ. What good would it be to write characters who don’t sin and struggle? After all, if they were perfect they would have much less need of Christ’s light. I’m sure some folks would disagree with me, and of course that is their prerogative, but I must admit that I like a certain amount of true to life grittiness in the fictional books I read. This includes books with Catholic or Christian themes, precisely because such works show the world realistically.

    IMO writing realistic characters can actually be a boon. If Jason had been a choirboy while getting ready to begin serving overseas during the Global War On Terror, it would have seemed fake, fake, fake. He had just left the girl he loved behind and his future was uncertain. Such a man, though a believer and even a sporadic churchgoer, simply wouldn’t have not gotten drunk at least once, and probably many more times. The same goes for Brad, a student of pharmacy in Memphis TN. A product of the times, living in an old dump of a house with a bunch of roommates. Of course Brad sowed wild oats.

    However, during the course of the book, times begin to change. It is made clear in early chapters of Tears Of Paradox that both Brad and Jason were given a moral upbringing in the Catholic Church. Though they did drift away for a time, they found the “world” to be not of their liking. This makes their ultimate return to the Faith and Jason’s treatment of Michelle all the more satisfying. When Brad finally marries he too becomes a changed man, in part because of his faith, even though he doesn’t see it at the time.

     

    monstrance and Blessed Sacrament

    By the middle of the book both men are married to women they love and treasure, and Jason, due to his struggle to cope with circumstances beyond his control, is spending time in Adoration of The Blessed Sacrament.

    Such a transformation — from lady killer to a man relying solely on Christ — would have meant much less if Jason hadn’t been portrayed as a sinner. And in fact, he continues to fall and fail and ask for forgiveness throughout the series. I use the word transformation deliberately. Tears of Paradox and The Notice are part of The Storms of Transformation Series. As usual there is irony, or perhaps paradox, because not only is America being transformed, but the characters are as well.

     

    Above is my outlook on things.

    Again, thank you to all! I’m feeling pretty good today, knowing that 1700 potential readers have a copy of my book on their devices.


    For a sneak peek into book 3, Cadáin’s Watch, check out the book trailer below. 

     

    Now, back to work.

     

    Related Post:

    Patience

     

     

    Check out the free preview of The Notice, above. 🙂


  • #BookReview ~ Amy Lynn 3, The Lady of Castle Dunn by Jack July

    Today I’m reviewing The Lady Of Castle Dunn, book 3 in Jack July‘s Amy Lynn Series.

     

    Read my reviews of books one and two here.

    Today I’m posting reviews of the first two books in Jack July’s Amy Lynn series. The books are unique. Both revolve around  heroine Amy Lynn Braxton, however the stories are quite different. In book one, we meet the child Amy, and follow her through her coming of age. In Golden Angel, Amy has matured, and strikes out on adventures that don’t include her family back home in Black Oak, Alabama.

     

    Before today’s review I’d like to share some reflections on the way Castle Dunn affected me.

    As is the case with many books, this one brought on a deep sadness. This was because the story juxtaposed Amy’s close knit traditional Southern Baptist family–one that reminds me of my grandmother’s family in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina when I was a child–beside the terrible evil that seems to be overtaking the world at large, and in some instances, America itself.

    When reading of Amy’s Alabama family I was wishing for the old days, those that will never return. I understand that the south during the 1960s when I was a child visiting “the Mountain” as we called it,was not idyllic.

    Everyone knows that the South spawned horrible prejudice and discrimination against black people. For this there is no excuse.

    But when I visited my family once a year or so, I saw none of the ugliness. It was just a loving family that did many of the same things Amy’s family does in July’s series.

    Going to church, family dinners, playing with cousins on rope swings, going to Uncle John’s garage–where he lovingly maintained his 1960 Plymouth Galaxy for 40 years–to get a Mountain Dew are what I remember.

    Not to say that it was the best of times for my mountain cousins. My great uncle, who fought in WWII and was a part of DDay, lived in a rather poor home. He had four children and no indoor toilet. They had an outhouse. Indoors they had running water, but no water heater. The family suffered from diabetes. My aunt had her leg amputated and passed a few years later, and two of her sons also died of diabetes.

    Still, I remember those visits fondly. We children had no worries other than those of going home to Pennsylvania and starting another school year where we might not find friends or perhaps get bad grades.

    The childhood innocence that I enjoyed is gone forever. That ship sailed over the past 8 years and it’s never coming back, at least in my lifetime, and possibly that of my grandchildren.

    Nowadays children are exposed to adult subjects beginning in kindergarten, and continuing on through their childhood. It happens from all angles including their teachers, and is detrimental to them because they are too young for such complex subjects.

    But, we can’t go back. Today’s children are growing up in a different era. Some of them, perhaps more than during the time of my childhood, are exploited in horrible unspeakable ways that it hurts to think about.

    Jack July also touches upon this subject in Castle Dunn.

    Following is my Review.

    Sweet Southern girl turned CIA Superhero, Amy Lynn will keep you turning the pages.

    I read the first two Amy Lynn books and both were excellent. Amy’s world ranges from her close-knit family in Black Oak, Alabama to the halls of the CIA.

    Amy’s family is made up of finely crafted characters that can make readers feel the urge to sit on the front porch with them, relaxing with glasses of sweet tea in the heat of a summer afternoon. On the other hand, Amy’s life as an undercover agent who must confront the most horrid of evils is sad beyond belief. It would seem, perhaps, that two such interwoven tales might not mesh very well. But in Amy Lynn’s world, nothing could be more natural.

    This book was is a treasure. Amy takes us from fun episodes of brawling men at a stock car race in Alabama to scenes of darkness that show the evil in certain segments of humanity that have lost their souls if they ever had any to begin with. And throughout the comforting home-life and the dangerous missions a love story unfolds, too.

    Jack July has done it again. I am eagerly awaiting a fourth installment of Amy’s adventures. I hope the wait won’t be too long.

    Above is my system for rating & reviewing books. Castle Dunn met all four of the above, so it earned an easy 5 stars.

    Again, I hope the wait for book four isn’t overlong.

    __________________________________________________________________

     

     

    Jack July is a married father of two living in N/W South Carolina. To find out more about the author, please visit his Amazon author’s page.

     

     

     

     

    Related Posts:

    Book Review ~ Chasing Freedom by Marina Fontaine

    Book Review ~ Shut Up! by Megan Fox and Kevin DuJan

     

     

     

    Check out Book 2 in my Series, above.


  • Book Review ~ Shut Up! by Megan Fox and Kevin DuJan

    12670922_10154575314748066_7822828386102995888_n

    Today I’m reviewing a book written by someone dear to my heart–my friend Megan Fox..

    Following is the review of her new book, Shut Up! The War that One Public Library Waged Against the First Amendment, co-written with Kevin DuJan..

    61b61Vk5eWL._UX250_

    ____________________________________________________________________

    Unknown

    Having been through a similar experience with a hostile and corrupt public body, I was interested in reading this book, and the authors very kindly provided me with a free copy of the paperback.

    Where to begin? First, I must tell prospective readers to ignore the one star reviews on this book. They were obviously posted by people who were angered at Fox and DuJan for bringing to light the crime and waste that were concealed by the Orland Park Public Library, located in a suburb of Chicago.

    The book is well edited, with beautiful interior formatting. It is also well written from the alternating viewpoints of Fox and DuJan, who each have their own distinct voices. Plenty of humorous anecdotes were included, which made the book a fast read, and also made the subject matter seem less disturbing. In addition to funny tales of talking trashcans and a crazed Librarian who shrieked like a banshee at this mother of two in front of her own children, there are numerous references to American pop culture, like Star Wars, Ghostbusters, Howard Stern and others.

     

    Now for the sad part. Shut Up! is the story of a mom who discovered that porn was being accessed by men in a section of the Orland Park Public Library, directly in view of the reference section where teens did research for school projects and papers. The men who hung out in the library all day were exposing themselves right out in the open, and doing things that are against the law. There was even a case of child pornography being accessed at the library, and nobody who worked there cared.

     

    Though Fox and DuJan obtained evidence through the Freedom of Information Act, they were stymied at every turn by the Library Board of Directors. Newspapers printed false stories about them. For two long years, the library employees and board did everything they could to discredit Megan Fox, in hopes that she would just go away, because she was uncovering fraud, waste of taxpayer money and crimes in the library.

     

    What a stinging indictment this is of the library and those who aided them. Rather than admit that what was happening was wrong and could endanger children, they did everything in their power to cover up their crimes, up to and including slandering Fox and DuJan.

     

    They cared more about keeping the library open to viewers of porn than they did about possible harm that might befall children who came to the library. This case is sad reflection of our culture.

    Shut Up! contains photocopies of all pertinent documents, so rest assured that what you read is the truth. It is well worth the price, and can be used as a reference for others who are fighting similar battles with their local governments.

    Shut Up! is a sobering look at government overreach, and a local public body’s attempt to silence the free speech of taxpayers.

     

    BOOK 3

     

    Above is my criteria for book reviews. Shut Up! easily earned 5 stars, having pulled me into the corrupt world of politics stretching from top to bottom of the Chicago Democrat machine.

    I laughed plenty of times and unfortunately shed many tears, when reading of Megan’s treatment by the usual suspects: Nasty Leftists with their own agendas, including the sexualization of children, biased local media and newspapers who have not a care in the world about ruining the good names and reputations of taxpayers who speak out against abuse, and all the other ugly aspects of the Left as we know them today.

    One of the saddest parts of the book was reading of online trolling of Megan and her family, up to and including threats to have her children removed from her custody, doxxing, and even death threats.

    Following is a photo of page 404 of Shut Up!

     

    IMG_9590

     

    As you can see, Megan and her family were terrorized by out of control Leftists, some of them provably connected to the library where child porn was accessed and not reported to the police.

    Imagine going through such an ordeal while pregnant. I am extremely grateful to Megan and Kevin for sticking through this horrendous experience for two years, until the library finally admitted that porn was accessed regularly, and made settlement on a lawsuit brought by Megan and Kevin.

    This gives other parents who may be struggling with similar situations hope and encouragement.

    This book hit very close to home, since many of the tactics used on Megan were also used on my friend, Angie, when she went against her children’s school board on Common Core, and tried unsuccessfully to have a trashy and low class book put under age restrictions.

    The school board, teachers, superintendent and local media pulled the same nasty tricks on Angie as Megan described. Seems this is the Leftist playbook used to silence parents who object to a far Left agenda, whether in a school or library.

    Angie was not able to prevail, and to this day that school uses the book in question as literature in the classroom. Earlier this year, a teacher even told her class that a parent had tried to have the book (Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Piccoult) banned.

    That was a flat out lie. We only found out that a teacher had lied to her class because another friend’s son happened to be sitting in the classroom. He stood up and told the entire class that a very good friend of his family had been the one who challenged the book, and that a ban was not what was asked for.

    The teacher shut her mouth after that…but the book was still what was taught in class.

    Click here if you’d like to read about Angie’s ordeal.

    I know how grateful I am to Megan and Kevin for their hard work and perseverance. Everyone should thank them for being champions for children and free speech.


  • Book Review ~ The Wrath Of A Righteous Man by Roy M. Griffis

    The Amazon headline for my review of the third installment of the By The Hands Of Men Series reads: Some of the finest historical fiction I’ve ever read. 

    I’m not kidding. Roy M. Griffis’ writing skills are some of the best. I got lost in this book for hours, and at one point could almost feel the passengers of a train teetering on the edge of a cliff.

    The train scenes put me in mind of the film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. I have no idea why, since the movie is set in India, not Africa, where BTHOM 3 takes place. Still, it reminded me of that movie.

    What a great book. Go get it and lose yourself in Africa. My review is below.

     

    51wmrqVzo8L._SX319_BO1,204,203,200_ I couldn’t wait to get my hands on book three in this series. I honestly don’t know if there’s a better historical fiction author alive today. Roy M. Griffis’ prose is something undeniably beautiful in itself, and in addition to his sophisticated writing style, which made me feel as if I were there in the African Jungles or the streets of London and Paris, he has created two deeply complex characters, the star crossed lovers Robert Fitzgerald and Charlotte Branninov.

    The Wrath of a Righteous Man opens as Nurse Charlotte Branninov and her friends escape the Red Army after having endured the horrors of the Russian Revolution. Charlotte is a malnourished shadow of her former self, quiet, not trusting her fellow man, and determined to protect “her” family, fellow refugees Zlata, Nikolai, Indrina, and their animal companion Liberté. These refugees have adventures in London and the streets of Paris, where Charlotte realizes all their troubles are not behind them.

    At the same time, Robert Fitzgerald continues his service to the Crown. He is sent to Africa, where he encounters fierce lions and other wild animals, unfriendly natives, and other dangerous situations.

    Though separated by oceans, Robert and Charlotte can’t forget the love they shared in France during the First World War. I’m looking forward to book four in this series, since I’m hoping they will finally reunite.

    BOOK 3

    Wrath Of A Righteous Man earned an easy 5 stars from me. All of the above happened while I was reading it.

    Find out more about Roy M. Griffis at his Amazon Author’s Page.

    Related posts:

    By The Hands Of Men by Roy M. Griffis, Book One

    By The Hands Of Men, Book Two: Into The Flames.


  • Author Spotlight ~ Amie Gibbons (Part 2)

    Today’s spotlight features Amie Gibbons, author of a newly released novel, The Gods Defense, and numerous novellas and short stories.

    Last week Amie’s post explained Law basics for authors. In today’s post we learn that the 4th amendment protects Americans against unreasonable search and seizure.

    ____________________________________________________________________

     

    LAW BASICS FOR THE NON-SHARKIES – SEARCH AND SEIZURE

     

    Amie Gibbons(As always, this isn’t to be taken as any kind of legal advice, just some very simplified basics for the lay person, and a little bit of ranting lawyer.)

    We’ve all seen Law and Order, right?  Well, they don’t always get stuff right but they are usually pretty on about cops having to dance around the system to get to look through your shit.  And it’s this big pain and always seems like the 4th amendment and the getting a warrant thing is there to get in the cops’ way, right?

    If there is one of my legal posts I want you to remember, it’s this one.  Because the 4th amendment isn’t there to get in the cops’ way or to be a stupid bureaucratic hoop to jump through.

    The 4th amendment and the warrant are there to protect your rights.

    We’ll start from the top, the 4th Amendment:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    I can not even begin to describe the massive amounts of legal scholarship there is on this issue, the many thousands of cases picking at every little point possible to argue, and the millions of hours lawyers and law students have debated issues around this amendment.  So this will be a bare bones outline of the topic.

    When analyzing the 4th amendment, we have 4 basic steps we go through (4 for 4, the OCD in me loves that symmetry).

    1. To invoke the 4th amendment, what do you need first?

    Government conduct.  The Constitution only protects you from the government violating your rights.  Your boyfriend breaking in and reading your diary is not a Constitutional issue.

    And here’s the first point we debate in every criminal procedure class, what counts as government conduct?  Then we get into issue of somebody stealing stuff from someone’s house and giving it to the cops.  Does that count as government involvement?  Well, (every lawyer’s favorite answer) it depends.  Basically it comes down to specific case law in your jurisdiction and whether the judge believes in the end that the person acted alone or under a request from the police.

    1. Is there a reasonable expectation of privacy on your part?  If the following suggests yes, move to step 3.

    This first asks, was it your place that was violated?  Your house, car, apartment, private jet, body.  Was it yours?  If not, if it was something like a friend’s place, were you crashing there?  This gets messy but in TN at least, if you were an overnight guest at somebody’s place, you have some reasonable expectation of privacy.  As in, the cops come knocking on the door and ask to search, you can say no.

    And the next question is, did you hold whatever it was out to the public?  Was it in the garbage, an open field out back, or sitting on the porch?  Or was it something like a smell or the color of the car?  If it’s held out to the public, as in anyone not a cop could see without trespassing (basically, but again, this gets a hell of a lot more complicated), then the cops didn’t violate the 4th amendment by observing it.

    1. Did the police have a valid search warrant?

    They can search through your stuff with a search warrant.  That’s what the warrant is there for.  But, to be valid, it must i) be based upon probable cause (reasonable grounds to believe a legitimate item for seizure is located in a particular place) and ii) describe with particularity the person and places to be searched.  Again, it’s a lot more involved (especially in debating what counts for probably cause) but this is the basic idea.  So if they didn’t have a valid warrant, you go onto step 4.

    1. And this is the big kahuna step, it’s the one you see pop up in court and on TV most often.  There wasn’t a warrant, there was a violation of a reasonable expectation of privacy by the government, and the government is trying to keep the evidence in by arguing an exception.

    And exception to the search and seizure requires a warrant rule?  Yep.  And you know why?  Because the 4th amendment does not actually require a warrant!  Nope, go and read it again.  It has two parts.  Search and seizure can’t be unreasonable.  There’s a Supreme Court case that says it’s unreasonable without a warrant unless there’s one of the exceptions.

    As for what the exceptions are?  That’s a different legal basics post because it’s waaaaaay too involved and this one’s already pretty long.  (On my blog at https://amiecuscuriae.wordpress.com/2014/08/07/law-basics-for-the-non-sharkies-exceptions-to-the-warrant-rule-part-1/ and https://amiecuscuriae.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/law-basics-for-the-non-sharkies-exceptions-to-the-warrant-rule-part-2/ if you want to check those out.) Let’s just say, there’s a lot of them and a lot of ways to argue you are or are not in one.  This is where Prosecutors and Criminal Defense Attorneys earn their paychecks.

    The 4th amendment, it’s the big one.

    And why is that?  Why is it such a big deal?  Because if the court finds that the evidence was found in violation of the 4th amendment, the evidence gets tossed out.  Again, there’s exceptions, like if they can show they would’ve inevitably discovered the same evidence, but usually, violating rights loses cops the evidence.  It’s called the exclusionary rule.

    And I HATE this rule!

    There’s a long rant that goes with it, but the short version is: Since the rule only takes out the evidence in a trial, it punishes the system (and not the cops who did the violating in the first place) by letting the criminal go free, but provides NO remedy whenever it’s an innocent citizen whose rights were violated because that citizen is not on trial.  There was no evidence to find and to therefore keep out of a trial.

    The idea is that cops will be afraid if they find something that it will then be tossed out, and therefore they don’t violate anybody’s rights.  We wouldn’t have so many freaking cases on this if it were true, but hey.

    Moral of the story?  The law isn’t perfect, neither are cops, and if you want your rights protected you’ve got to know what they are.  You have the right to tell a cop asking you if he can search you or your place no.  If he then searches anyway, well, you might have something to hide that you can later try to get tossed out or you might have a cause to sue.

    And don’t forget to check out my new book The Gods Defense.

     

    512MrdhgZpL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

     


  • 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

     

     


  • Book Review ~ Chasing Freedom by Marina Fontaine

    This is the headline to my review of Chasing Freedom by Marina Fontaine:

    “Compelling story of the human spirit and the deeply ingrained desire to be free.”

     

    How very true this is. I was dying to read Chasing Freedom in full, because I had read bits and pieces of it in order to give Marina feedback. Knowing her dystopia was set in the near future, about ten years after my own dystopian series ends was one of the reasons, but not the only one.

    I have come to regard Marina as a friend. We indies need to support each other, be encouraging and stick together, especially we who are deemed less than optimum by those who have hijacked fiction to push an agenda. This is not news to many people, but for those who aren’t aware of it, Conservative and Libertarian artists often get the shaft, be they authors, actors, musicians or other creative types.

    In music, Rock & Roll icon Ted Nugent, one of the best guitarists to come out of Classic Rock, is despised by way too many people because he champions the second amendment to the US Constitution, while other Classic Rock artists are beloved by Americans across the broad political spectrum even though they themselves are to the Left of Bernie Sanders in ideology, all while living as part of the 1% whom they insist Americans should hate. Yet no one seems to see anything out of the ordinary.

    There are probably other examples of the double standard in the arts; I’m just listing what I know off the top of my head.

    The shaft comes from all the usual suspects: Traditional publishing houses and agents that promote a single ideology and only that ideology, therefore dismissing talented authors who believe differently, Hollywood blacklisting of Conservatives, which ultimately led to the formation of the group Friends of Abe (who have incurred shafting just for daring to join together for support), and, of course, the old stand-by: When successful authors of a certain ideology dare to question the status quo, they are smacked down as angry white men, racists, sexists and homophobes.  This despite the facts:  They themselves are men and women of Portuguese descent and not caucasians, one is married to a black woman, and the aforementioned woman, a Portuguese immigrant/American citizen by choice, is a bestselling author who writes books and stories featuring gay characters.

    For anyone who is reading this and perhaps not quite believing it, I can’t help you. All I know is what I see, which I have described above with supporting links.  And this is what is so darn frustrating.

    Despite story after story describing the lead-up to Marina’s dystopia, and also mine, some people still dismiss us as cranks. This despite the fact that American citizens who escaped from totalitarian societies (including Marina) warn us over and over that we are on the path to a place we do not want to go. They should know; they lived it. Yet few will listen, because the alternative is to be “uncool.”

    We aren’t the cool kids; we don’t agree that certain symbols representing American History, even though they offend some, should be purged. And we have our reasons. If battle flags and statues of Confederate Generals are purged from the public eye, it might be easy to purge them from the history books at some point. And, if the bad parts of American history disappear from the history books, how will future generations learn not to allow a different version of slavery to be foisted upon them?

    This is the point that people who base their ideology on “feelings” miss, time and time again. And I bring up this particular attempt to purge history because of an incident last summer, where my husband, who doesn’t have a racist bone in his body, in order to show his support of free expression and his hatred of purging, placed a small Confederate flag on his truck bumper.

    A week or so later, a crazy man was waiting for him as he came out of the bank. This man proceeded to begin the name calling of “racist, racist,” screaming at my husband that he should drive into the wrong of side of town in Wilmington, DE, so the residents there could see the bumper sticker and “f–k you up.”

    This could have ended badly. My husband does not take any shit, but that day he was forced to counter this idiot with only the words “f–k off.” He couldn’t risk any kind of altercation because he was on blood thinners, and might have incurred a brain bleed if the crazy man, who was younger then he by at least 10 years, knocked his head against the truck.

    I’m writing all of the above because situations like these, if not stopped soon, may lead us to real dystopias like Marina’s fictional one.

    This should give one pause. Take a moment to reflect on the above points, and remember the old saying: “You may not be interested in politics, but politics are interested in you.” Please, if you’re on the fence, get off. Choose Freedom, so your children and grandchildren won’t be forced to chase it.

    Below is my review ~ 5 Stars.

    Dystopian Novel, Chasing FreedomBeing quite familiar with dystopian literature, having read plenty over the years, it’s always a pleasure to find something completely different. Marina Fontaine’s Chasing Freedom is just that–completely different.

    To begin, the setting (near future America from 2040 – 2058) distinguishes this novel from others set further in the future. This is quite a change from the majority popular dystopias, such as The Hunger Games, set far away in time. The Hunger Games and similar stories, though they are compelling, don’t have the same impact as Fontaine’s debut novel. When a book takes you, the reader, to places you already know in the back of your mind are quite possibly in your future, the ride can be scary. But while certain situations portrayed are grim, the author does a superb job of conveying just enough to allow readers to know what has happened to a given character without being gruesome.

    When the novel begins, the majority of the characters are living in dark and oppressive “Cities.” The Cities are planned high-rise slums, where human beings who once lived quiet suburban lives, with jobs and families, have been forced to move by the government. The Cities, and the system, are soul crushing, hateful, and in some cases, deadly. Ordinary freedoms like music, books, religion and even creative outlets such as art are strictly prohibited. Health care is doled out by bureaucratic fiat according to “need” or “quality of life”, and children may or may not be approved for college educations, depending on their embrace of the system.

    Out of this darkness come rays of hope in the characters who begin a rebellion. Main characters Randy and Julie begin the resistance movement as teens, yearning for freedom and willing to fight for themselves and others. These characters and the other freedom fighters endure great pain–emotional, mental and physical–as their movement grows, slowly but surely.

    Loss of Freedom in America is certainly not out of the question. Anyone who is paying attention knows this. Perhaps that’s why the dystopian genre has exploded over the past five years or so. But while the subject matter portrayed in Chasing Freedom gives one pause, it also gives hope. As stated above, the course of the novel covers 18 years, the time from the beginning of the rebellion till the beginning of something better. In those 18 years we see Randy, Julie, Chris, Daniel and other freedom minded kids grow into mature leaders, parents, husbands and creative types. Fontaine’s use of mountains in New York, quiet Lancaster County Pennsylvania, and suburban New Jersey as settings enhances the story, making it relatable in additional ways, since people live and work and go on vacations in these places now, today in 2016.

    This debut novel is a great reading experience. I cared about the characters, cried with them in their sorrow and rejoiced with them in their victories. To end, I will simply say that even though America seems to be headed for exactly the scenarios depicted, I was left with a feeling of hope. Freedom is not free. It was (and is) hard won. And though it can be thrown away with both hands by some people, there will always be others who will fight to get it back.

    BOOK 3

    Above is my criteria for book reviews. Chasing Freedom earned five stars from me, and I hope others will purchase the book and read it. It really is something special.

     

    Marina Fontaine is a Russian by birth, an American by choice, and an unrepentant book addict.
    Because of her background, Marina has always appreciated an opportunity to discover, share and support pro-freedom literature. She runs Small Government Book Fan Club on Goodreads, Marina Fontaine of Conservative Libertarian Fiction AllianceConservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance group on Facebook, and a personal commentary/review blog, Marina’s Musings.
    In addition, she is a part of the Creators’ Team at Liberty Island website, where she contributes book reviews and occasional creative work. In December of 2013, she entered a Liberty Island flash fiction contest with a story that became an inspiration for Chasing Freedom, her first novel.
    Marina lives in New Jersey with her very supportive husband, three children and four guinea pigs, working as an accountant by day and a writer by night. Her other interests include hard rock music, action movies and travel.


  • Book Reviews ~ Amy Lynn & Amy Lynn, Golden Angel, by Jack July

     Today I’m posting reviews of the first two books in Jack July’s Amy Lynn series. The books are unique. Both revolve around  heroine Amy Lynn Braxton, however the stories are quite different. In book one, we meet the child Amy, and follow her through her coming of age. In Golden Angel, Amy has matured, and strikes out on adventures that don’t include her family back home in Black Oak, Alabama.

     

    BOOK 3

     

    Both Amy Lynn, and Amy Lynn, Golden Angel received 5 stars from me. Below are the reviews.

     

    Amy Lynn, by Jack July

    51BmdzCON3L._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_

     

    Amy Lynn was a terrific read. In addition to Amy, a proud, yet humble and innocent child, there are many other well written and engaging characters, most of whom I loved, some of whom I hated, and a few that I’m looking forward to learning more about, in the upcoming sequel.
    This story was engaging from the first chapter, but the twists and turns it took throughout Amy’s adolescence and young adulthood were almost mesmerizing.

    I like books that stay with me after the last word has been read, books that make me think: “What would I have done in that situation?” This book delivered. I read the second half of this book in one sitting. Jack July delivered a well crafted story that kept me on the edge of my seat.  5 Stars!

     

     

    Amy Lynn, Golden Angel

     

    5125Fw04u4L._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_

    After reading Amy Lynn, I remembered all of the characters and the stories that connected them to heroine Amy, who grew up in the South with a family who loved her through some pretty bad experiences. In addition to Amy, a wonderful multi-faceted character, the people surrounding her had interesting stories of their own.

    This continued in book two, Amy Lynn Golden Angel. Amy is a grown girl, recovering from more heartache in this fast-paced thriller. Different people with different stories enter Amy’s life in Golden Angel. Their lives are interesting and written with a backdrop of history. The author does a superb job of inserting historical facts into his fictional work.

    Golden Angel was quite different from the story of Amy as a child, yet I enjoyed it just as much as the first book. Amy seems to be character who could fill many more books. I’m looking forward to reading them, and I hope Mr. July keeps writing.

    5 Stars!

     

    Jack July did indeed keep writing. He has published a third book in the series, Amy Lynn, The Lady Of Castle Dunn.

    Book three is on my reading list. Stay tuned for my review.

     


  • Book Review ~ By the Hands of Men Book 2: Into the Flames

    I reviewed Roy M. Griffis’ By The Hands Of Men, Book One: The Old World, here.

     

    Today’s review is By The Hands Of Men, Book Two: Into The Flames.

     

    Book Two of Roy M. Griffis’ By The Hands Of Men Series: Into the Flames is a book I would term “epic” — as was its predecessor.51dXVf6O8sL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_
    Into the Flames begins immediately after the First World War. Charlotte Braninov, a Russian noblewoman and frontline nurse, leaves London believing the man she loved, Lieutenant Robert Fitzgerald, is lost to her. Fitzgerald, due to injury and illness incurred by his service in the trenches, recovers slowly, and believes nurse Charlotte to be dead.

    Charlotte, heartbroken, travels across Europe to find her family in war torn Russia. What happens to this lovely woman at the hands of the Bolsheviks both brought me to tears and made me marvel at the spirit of decency within this complex and finely drawn character.

    When fully recovered from his injuries, Robert Fitzgerald continues his service to the Crown and leaves London as well, all the while pining for Charlotte. Fitzgerald’s service is of a clandestine nature, and takes him to Shanghai. There he sees poverty and excess, kindness and cruelty, charity and neglect, all of which affect him profoundly, sometimes as much as the war he had just helped to win.
    Griffis’ prose is exquisite. His descriptions of the various people and places allowed me to picture them in my mind, and I was very sorry to get to the end of the story. I want to know what happens next. I will be checking frequently for news of the next installment.
    BOOK 3

    Into The Flames didn’t make me laugh out loud.

    However, it was a completely engrossing story, well written with complex characters whose circumstances and suffering at the hands of evil men made me cry more than once.

    This book about the Bolshevik Revolution is a refreshing change, showing the evils of Communism, an ideology that, unfortunately, still rears its ugly head in the West. Instead of the questionable popular fictional books given as assignments in public high schools, why not this book? Students would be much better off reading books that incorporate real history and facts than the propaganda pushed by certain schools.

    Into The Flames is a 5 star book.

    Some of the books given as summer reading or assigned in class are simply as far below Griffis’ series as to be almost comical. It’s pretty darn sad that facts and good writing have been replaced with political propaganda and forced on impressionable minds.

    Griffis’ books are suitable for age 15-16 and up IMO. I’ll recommend them to my homeschooling friends and others who want real literature, well told in a compelling story. Let the school librarians do what they will. Independent publishing gives we who want the truth a way to learn and teach our children facts via the art of writing.

    About author Roy M. Griffis ~

    Born in Texas City, TX, the son of a career Air Force meteorologist. Attended a variety of schools at all of the hot spots of the nation, such as Abilene, Texas and Bellevue, Nebraska. Sent to my grandparent’s house in Tuscon, Arizona when things were tough at home. I was pretty damn lost, as my grandparents were largely strangers to me. My older brother, a more taciturn type, refused to discuss what was going on. Fortunately, like so many kids before me, I was rescued by literature. Or, at least, by fiction. In a tiny used bookstore that was just one block up from a dirt road, I discovered that some good soul had unloaded his entire collection of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “John Carter of Mars” series in Ballantine Paperback. Moved by some impulse, I spent my RC Cola money on the first book, “A Princess of Mars.” I think what struck me was how these books were possessed of magic: they were able to transport me far from this dusty land of relatives who I didn’t know and relatives pretended not to know me to another dusty land of adventure, heroism, nobility, and even love. It was the first magic I’d encountered that wasn’t a patent fraud, and when I closed the stiff paperback with the lurid images on the cover, I decided it was the kind of magic I wanted to dedicate the rest of my life to mastering. And, thus, I was saved. Since then, I’ve never looked back. I’ve written poems, short stories (twice runner-up in the Playboy college fiction contest), plays (winning some regional awards back East and a collegiate Historical Play-writing Award), and screenplays. I’m a member of the WGAw, with one unproduced screenplay sold to Fox Television. Along the way, I’ve done the usual starving artist jobs. Been a janitor, a waiter, a clerk in a bookstore. I was the 61st Aviation Rescue Swimmer in the Coast Guard (all that Tarzan reading wasn’t wasted). I’m also not a bad cook, come to think of it. Currently, I’m a husband, father, and cat-owner. I’m an avid bicyclist and former EMT. I live in Southern California with my lovely wife. My friends call me “Griff,” my parents call me “Roy,” and my college-age son calls me “Dadman.” It’s a good life.

     By the Hands of Men, Book Three: “The Wrath of a Righteous Man” will be released in May, 2016.