Friday, September 25, 2015

Harmony Run Book series

One more guest promotional post while I am gone this week, this time its for the Harmony Run Book series - and the release of Book #4 Nacreous by Sarah Elle Emm
These books in the series will be on Kindle sale for the duration of the tour. Each book from the series will be available at $1.99.


People occasionally ask me why I write dystopian fiction. I like writing dystopian because it is a release of all of the crazy things running through my mind. Dystopian allows you to explore questions like…What if the government became a dictatorship? What if people weren’t allowed to go to school? What if teenagers could save the world because their parents have lost hope? What if?
I admit I have an overactive imagination. (I’ve seen every episode of The Walking Dead, and even though I know zombies aren’t real, I still check my closets and look under the bed for zombies after each and every episode). Anyhow, I think my parents had a lot to do with how I write today. One of their favorite dinner table conversations growing up was deciding which of their children, (there are three of us), they’d pick to be stranded on the infamous deserted island with, if they had to be stuck there with only one. They usually chose my sister because of her internal GPS system and leadership skills. They often decided on my brother because he has MacGyver-like qualities, and they were sure he could build a hut out of sand or something. And they never chose me. Though they often laughed and said they’d take me if they were interested in being entertained. 
Another usual at our dinner table was Dad asking if the “bad guys” were to enter our house at that exact moment, what item in the room around us could be turned into a weapon. My siblings were very talented at this. Surprise, surprise. Me, not so much. I usually panicked. (I’d think of a hiding place so they could do the fighting).
Another family favorite? Dad’s strategy talks about how when you enter a room, you should look around immediately, assessing the situation and room for possible exits, windows included, were any emergency to occur.
I think my parents came by it honestly. My mom’s dad was a WWII vet who fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He’d rush his family to the basement when it thunder stormed, never having recovered from the war or the memories of bombs and explosions. My dad’s parents took us on a family vacation to the Caribbean every year, and they’d try to split up flights between my aunt and my dad’s side, just in case there was a crash. They wanted some of the family to survive to take care of the family business. That always freaked me out. I’d worry the entire flight. (About not only crashing, but trying to figure out what was wrong with my family). J
My family always had movie night growing up. Every Sunday. We would either go see one at the theater or rent one and watch it in our basement. The genre of choice was always action, usually a thriller. I remember watching scenes where someone would go outside to investigate the “strange noise” in the night, and my family would be yelling at the screen. (If we were home. They were well behaved in theaters. Mostly). They’d yell for the character to go back inside. Of course, the character never would. My brother would always be the first to point out the girl character who was going to get killed by not reacting rationally. He’d yell at the screen as she tried to start her car but couldn’t even get the keys into the ignition because her hands couldn’t stop shaking from fear.
I was sitting in my driveway last week, trying to start my car. I couldn’t get the key in properly, and I started to panic. The more I panicked, the more my fingers fumbled and I couldn’t get my key in. I could hear my brother’s voice in my head saying, “Hurry up, Sarah. You’re gonna die. The bad guys are going to get you. Start the car!” After a moment, I started laughing at myself. Eventually, I pulled it together and managed to insert the key properly to start the car.
Anyhow…Why do I write dystopian? I think you get the point. I guess never getting chosen for Survival Island, never quite figuring out what to make a weapon out of, and just those what if conversations in general really stayed with me. I promise you right now, that if you were to go to either one of my parents’ houses or my siblings’, you’d find emergency supplies in their basements complete with water, food, and back up power supplies in case of an emergency. I barely have my fridge stocked right now by the way. My plan is to head to one of their houses when the world ends. I just hope I make it there in time…I guess it makes sense that I never was picked for that island.
I smile affectionately when I think of my childhood and when I think of my family. True, they may have scarred this introvert for life, ha, ha, ha, but they have to be credited for inspiring me to write some of the dystopian stories I write today. Thanks so much for stopping by the blog tour. If you’d like to risk getting inside of this head a little bit, all four books are on sale right now for only $1.99 each on Kindle. If you read any of the books, I’d be flattered if you left a review and connected with my page on Facebook, where I’ll keep you updated on future books. You just never know what this dystopian writer will come up with next. J  ~Sara
for more info on Sarah and her books: 
Official Website: SarahElleEmm.com

Official Blog: SarahsViewfromtheBottom.com
Twitter: @SarahElleEmm  
Sarah's Facebook pages: 'Sarah Elle Emm' and 'Harmony Run Series'

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

‘Behind the scenes at an Indian Wedding’

 I will be out of town this week so I am taking this opportunity to promote a fellow author and her new book.  Please check out her guest promotional post and don't forget to enter for a chance to win below.
 ‘Behind the scenes at an Indian Wedding’
Indians in general are deeply rooted in tradition. Our culture gives us our identity. Most of us (especially those living away from the homeland) cling to it, even though several aspects in these particularly modern times, make no sense at all. Why do we do so? Perhaps because it brings us together as a community and provides us comfort in a foreign environment. The same I think applies to immigrants from all over the globe.
Marriages in India, in particular Hindu marriages are long drawn intricate affairs fraught with age old tradition. Little has changed over the centuries except for certain embellishments due to modernization. To non-Indians these ceremonies appear just that—elaborate colorful rituals flavored with plenty of pomp and show.

In the following story I take my readers on a ‘behind the scenes' tour at a traditional Indian wedding. I’ve tried to illustrate the proceedings from engagement to the wedding ceremony with “generalized” Indians---my characters, and have also made an attempt to expound on the emotional upheavals that occur in the background and often aren’t spoken out loud. Milan is more of a ‘short story’ concept where it shows the before/during and after of an event than it is a ‘long novel’ about characters with hopes and dreams and goals. And its purpose is exactly that, to show the emotions Indian couples go through during the process of a wedding. This story may help the reader get a better insight into the culture of marriage in India

The Setting of MILAN:
Whenever I travel back to my homeland, I prepare for a culture shock. The crowds, the noise, the pollution have all increased several fold as the country races forward at breakneck speed to catch up with the rest of the world. There are very places left where it still seems like life goes on as it did a few decades ago, where people are laid back and nature is not at war with mankind.

MILAN is set in one such place; Coonoor-- a hill town located in the Nilgiri Hills, about 56 kms from the Coimbatore Airport, in the southern Indian State of Tamil Nadu. It is part way from its more well-known cousin Ooty. I spent some time there during my last trip and was so enchanted that I chose to use it as a setting for my story. Known for its tea plantations, Coonoor is a lovely, rustic little town. With its abundance of greenery and quaint architecture it is a throwback to India as it used to be. The temperate climate and serene environment help the restless soul to relax and take a few breaths of peace. When you are there, don't forget to take a ride on the Nilgiris meter gauge train, as well as a personalized tour of the tea estates.

I want to thank Debdatta for giving me this opportunity to express myself and for hosting this blog tour. I also want to thank all the bloggers who are participating in this tour and have made space for my book on their blog. Your time and generosity is much appreciated.

Please visit my website http://simikrao.com/ for more info on me and my work. You can also connect with me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/simikrao 
Happy Reading!


Simi K. Rao





Thursday, September 17, 2015

Where o where has my motivation gone?

I’m stuck!  I have really great ideas, but lately I feel very ‘stuck’ when it comes to my writing. I am having a really hard time sitting down and putting words on a page.
I have lots of excuses;
-I really have been busy planning my daughter’s wedding
-I am working a lot more hours than I did last year (which is actually a really good thing cuz we can sure use the extra money)

but the simple truth is those are just excuses.  The real problem is that I am feeling unmotivated.  Writing has become a struggle for me and I am finding it hard to even write a simple blog post, let alone work on one of the novels that I have started. 

As an author, when this happens I really only have two choices. 
1)  I can choose to take a break, and not beat myself up about it.  Writing is a creative process and being able to write doesn’t always fit neatly into a prescribed schedule.  Being able to step away from your writing projects can help offer some clarity, and you can resume writing with a fresh new perspective.  As long as the break doesn’t last too long this is an option.
2)  I can try the old ‘gut it out & fake it until you make it’ approach.  I can just push through, by sitting in front of my computer each day and trying to get something on the page.   May famous writers have shared that they do set a minimum daily writing goal for themselves.  Rain or shine – just like the post office, each day they deliver. Eventually the words will come back if I just keep trying. 
Whichever method I use, it is up to me to weather this writing drought and not give up. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play? The relationship between Authors and their Book Reviews

If you are an author, you will have a love/hate relationship with your book reviews.  Every author’s heart soars when they read a glowing review – after all who doesn’t love to hear that someone liked your work.  Unfortunately, what goes up must come down, and our hearts drop like a stone when we read those negative reviews. 

Reviews are essential for an author.  They not only help us to hone our writing skills, but reviews can be an important marketing tool.  As the number of positive reviews increase, book sales and exposure go up as well. 

I really do try to listen to the feedback that readers give me.  I really do want to improve my writing. I also know that some things are simply subjective – some people will find humor where others will not.  The one thing I do not understand is reviews that are mean-spirited or just plain unhelpful. 

The good news so far is that I have only received a couple poor reviews (2 star ratings on Amazon or Goodreads) and I have not received any 1 star ratings.  That is, I guess, something to celebrate.

I wanted to take the opportunity to share some of the ‘poor’ ratings I received because they clearly illustrate the challenge that authors have with reviews. 

I recently received this review on Amazon for “The Misadventures of Me and My Uterus” along with a two star rating.
I can understand the high reviews this book has, it has great humor and every woman would relate to this book. Once I started reading the book I am not sure if this is the book that has high reviews; it could be that I my expectation was high that I was a bit disappointed. I was expecting an autobiography, but it was turning more like a medical book with some of the terms I am not familiar with. 

I admit I was confused by this review – she did say it has great humor and every woman would relate to this book, right?  I do understand she did not like the medical jargon included in this book, and that is a very valid point.  I also understand that sometimes when expectations are too high I wind up not liking something because it fails to meet them.  I did try to ensure that all medical terminology was clearly explained, but clearly this reader did not understand the material presented.  The majority of the book is a memoir of my personal experience with several healthcare issues so medical jargon was unavoidable, but I can see her point and I do appreciate her purchasing and reading my book, as well as taking the time to leave feedback. 

I did find it amusing that a different Amazon customer that I have never met actually left a comment on this review:
People ought to be willing to learn something new and not expect to merely be comforted and/or entertained by a book. Books are for mental exercise, after all.


The next review I want to share is also for “The Misadventures of Me and My Uterus” from one of the Amazon UK customers who also gave my book a 2 star rating:
I wanted to like this book I really did but I found it dull. There was some interesting info here but sandwiched by material that was highly irrelevant (such as how great her partner is). That said, writing was good and clear, although not necessarily amusing.

Once again – humor is highly subjective and while lots of readers enjoyed my sarcasm, this particular reader did not.  At least she thought my writing was good and clear, if not amusing, and I am sorry that she did not appreciate me including my then fiancé into the story, but it is MY story after all, and he really is pretty great. 


The final review I wanted to share is similar to one that many authors struggle with, a review that is too short & does not provide helpful info. This reviewer gave 2 stars for my new short story, “The Locket” and it said only:
Would of been better as a longer story.

Seriously?  Umm – it said SHORT STORY in the description.  Is that the only reason you gave it two stars?  Did you like any of it?  This is an incredibly frustrating review. It provides very little useful information.  

Reviews are essential and even negative reviews can be helpful sometimes.  Authors will always have to deal with some negative reviews, after all you can't please everyone.