Amazon’s Negligent attitude is killing more than just my career.
Let me start off by saying that I adore my readers. I am in love with any person who takes time out of their schedule to pick up one of my stories and spend even the shortest amount of time in my worlds with my characters. As an author I love reviews, I love hearing about what you liked and even what you didn’t like about my stories, because most of the time we’re on the same page. But when your reviews become punishments for your personal preferences (the story wasn’t long enough, it wasn’t written in a style I liked, the woman on the cover is too light-skinned etc), they become a problem that affect me as an author and you as a reader of my future work.
Reviews are lifeblood for authors. They effect algorithms that put our books in front of more people and they give you, the reader, a voice when it comes to our work. But in this age of social media and being able to anonymously vomit opinions onto the internet, it’s becoming a trend to mindlessly bash, attack and demean authors and their work via “reviews”. Which is not okay, especially if you LIKE said work.
Yes, a review, whether positive or negative is your right as a reader to leave. But not reading descriptions and going on to leave off-base negative reviews on work that someone slaved over is just plain wrong. If you’re going to leave a review, at least have an informed opinion about the product. Because while it may have taken you ten seconds in a fit of anger to write, it will haunt and affect that authors career and future work for a lifetime. Let’s put it this way: if you worked hard on building a toaster and I told people not to buy it (by leaving a one star review) because it wasn’t a refrigerator, you would probably be upset.
Take for example my most recent Dragon God Erotic series. It’s my first real foray into the erotic short hemisphere and I genuinely enjoyed writing these four short stories. That being said, plenty of people are responding positively to them as well. Like all erotic stories they are meant to tease, to stir up emotion and get the blood pumping. They’re not really something you sink your teeth into story wise. But I pride myself on my world building and my character creation which means you’re going to get a bit of both in anything I write. Even if it’s only 8k words. And most of my readers new and old understand that.
Except for a few reviewers who don’t seem to get that they are not full length novels. I use the description and the “from the author” section of the amazon page to explain that they are indeed short stories. Amazon even has a handy little section beneath the description that tells you the page length of kindle books. You have plenty of warning before you buy and start reading the work. You even have the option of refunding the title.
That being said, why leave a negative review behind on a story that you admittedly like but want to see more of? That’s really not going to make me, or any author want to keep putting themselves in a position to be exposed to such devastation. And it’s not going to help the stories you love see continuations or expansion either. Quite the opposite, actually.
I said all of this to say that, reviews are wonderful things, ESPECIALLY when they are scathing and pointing out every plothole, annoying character, flaw and instance of purple prose. But when they are used simply to lash out at an author, to punish them because something didn’t go your way, they’re really affecting us both negatively. So I implore you, be constructive, but think before you review.
Author: C.M. Bowen
Genre: Erotica, Romance
Publisher: Lillium Publishing House LLC
Summary: Outspoken Executive Business Manager Brianna Richards walks into work one morning after a night of wine and her favorite books, only to find that not only is she in the wrong building, she’s in hell. From the shark-like demon secretary to a bullheaded Demon Lord with a death wish, Brianna finds herself in hot water with the head honcho of the Underworld, Lucifer himself.
Overworked and undersexed Lucien, also known as The Morning Star, has watched his employee Brianna run his business from a distance, only getting to see the woman he secretly harbors feelings for once a year. When she dies in a car crash and lands herself in hell, he see’s the perfect opportunity to fill an open position, and make her his.
My Review: This is an excellent first release for a budding erotica author. Testing the markets with short stories is definitely the way to go for newbies and seasoned authors alike, but whether or not the stories stick and garner an audience is up to the content of the story. I enjoyed the interaction between the main characters and the smut was phenomenal. I honestly can’t wait to have another one of these sexy little shorts on my digital bookshelf.
Bright light burned Brianna’s eyes as she tried to bring her vision into focus. Tears pricked at the corners from the strain. Taking a couple steps back, she bumped into the wall, her hands finding the smooth handrail. Soft, somewhat familiar music caught her attention as she rubbed the bleariness away. She groaned, her vision slowly focusing on her surroundings. She took her glasses off and gave them a quick wipe on the inside of her blazer, then looked around.
“I really need to stop reading in bed, one more chapter my ass. I’m spacing out so bad I’m forgetting I’m in the damn elevator.” Brianna looked at herself in the polished reflection of the stainless steel doors and sighed heavily. Dark curls had escaped the bun she’d thrown her hair in, and she tried to in vain to smooth them back. At least she didn’t look like she’d gotten to bed at 4 A.M.
The elevator slowed to a stop and a small ‘ding’ signaled that she had reached the target floor. Brianna stopped in her tracks as the doors slid open to reveal a pretty, darkly decorated room. This…was definitely not her office. The tile was black and silver marble, large plush couches and matching chairs lined the walls with very artistically carved tables with glass tops situated between them. Exotic looking plants accented the large receptionist desk and double doors on the other end of the room. It was a very nice waiting area, but noticeably there wasn’t a company logo or anything to advise her what business she had inadvertently wandered into.
“Janine, I have to go. The big man’s 4 o’clock is here.” Brianna took a few steps back and pressed the ‘door close’ button, groaning with frustration when nothing happened. She ran through the events of the night before and decided to cut back on her wine when she was reading. Apparently, she’d wandered into the wrong building when she was in a rush to get to work, but it was odd. She didn’t feel like she’d had that much wine, she wasn’t even hungover. How did she end up here and completely not notice?
“What the actual fuck….” The words slipped out of her mouth before she could stop them, causing the woman behind the desk to look up at her. She smiled and motioned Brianna into the room expectantly. Her brows furrowed in further confusion.
“Yes, I’ll call you back when I’m all settled here. I think this is going to be his last appointment for the day.” The woman was beautiful by all accounts, except for the fact that her mouth was filled with large serrated teeth that roughly reminded her of a shark. “Seriously, Janine. I. Have. To. Go. Buh-bye now.” The woman hung the phone up and turned her attention to Brianna. “Good afternoon Miss Brianna. I imagine you’re very confused at the moment.” Brianna just stared at the woman. 4 o’clock appointment? She would have remembered setting up an appointment in a place like this.
“You might say that. So, uh, you mind telling me where I am because this is definitely not where I thought I was going.” She nervously stepped out of the elevator and looked around. The woman behind the counter laughed, the sound was pretty but something about it made her uncomfortable.
“You’d be surprised how many people here say that exact same thing.” The woman stood and came around the desk. There was a grace with the way she moved that didn’t seem natural, and for the second time, Brianna was reminded of a shark. Her eyes were so dark they were almost black and the way she regarded her was unsettling at best. But she smiled warmly and beckoned her forward. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Brianna. My name is Divaki, but you can call me Diva for short.”
“Diva?” Brianna moved forward a little further. There was something about the way the woman carried herself and the way she spoke that made Brianna think ‘diva’ was definitely the appropriate nickname. The thought made the corners of her mouth twitch into a half smile. Diva winked at her and grinned. “So… What exactly is this place, I don’t remember ever having set up any appointments. The last thing I remember was driving to work,” she paused and concentrated on her memory of the morning. “We’ve had terrible weather lately, and I was pissed that it was raining because it was going to ruin my hair. My phone rang, but I couldn’t find it—”
“Best not to try that at the moment, you’ll just upset yourself, my dear. It will come back and it’s better to let that happen naturally than to force it.” Diva interjected and took another step toward her, her face a mask of concern. Brianna’s brow furrowed as she stepped back, ignoring Diva.
“I was looking for my phone…then the loudest screeching sound I’ve ever heard.” Her voice was barely above a whisper as her eyes widened. “And then I was in the elevator on my way here.” Realization clicked on her face.
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
1: Build a Writing Bible
- Story templates
- Settings (You can’t have every location in the world stored on your computer but a direct link to Wikipedia is a good idea)
- Conflict types
- Photo reference (either downloaded images or direct links to Flicker but not Pinterest because that is where time goes to die)
- Other useful links
2. Reconnect With Your Goals
With everything going on in the world right now, from school shootings to the blatant rejection of social and scientific progress by a particular political party, as a Romance author I believe now more than ever love is something we desperately need to cling to.
I wrote Taken by the Dragon God for a plethora of reasons, the most important being to celebrate cultural differences and explore characters of color in ways we don’t typically get to see them. American media paints both Black women and Asian men in not so positive ways. From negative stereotypes, body-shaming and flat out racism; we need diversity in character types just as much as the characters themselves. Taken challenges racial stereotypes in the most thrilling way, making the characters human first and POC second.
Taken by the Dragon God is the first in the Dragon God series and follows a Nigerian Historian and archaeologist Risa Vance as she and her team travel rural China in search of the remains of an ancient Tang Dynasty princess. When she survives a car crash that is fatal for her colleagues, Risa is left to fend for herself. But, little does she know, a sip from an midnight Well will be her saving grace.
Xiao is capable and strong, but the laws that govern his kind are precise in what they expect from him. He is expected to claim a Mate, a human woman who survives the fire from the Black well, or he will lose his kingdom to his power-hungry sister forever. He may not have all the time in the world to woo his potential Mate, but he is a fearsome lover and protector of anyone he calls his own.
These characters are meant to be more than just fillers to meet some racial quota. They are real. They are whole. They are people who live, learn, love, make mistakes and most importantly remain true to themselves in the face of any adversity. This project is one that is dear to my heart and to my cause as an author of color dedicated to bringing you authenticity, diversity, and most of all love.
I look forward to your feedback!
If you want to check out the first book in the Dragon God series, check it out exclusively on Amazon.
On a quiet residential street in this small town sits an old white frame house. On a dark evening, the absence of lights and sounds are the first indication to visitors that this house is different from the other homes that surround it. Upon closer inspection, you’ll notice her doors and windows are tightly closed and covered. An outhouse in the backyard suggests that this house does not occupy a place in the 21st century but somehow belongs in another era or another story. A weather-beaten sign warns rather than welcomes. This is the “Murder House”.
The Villisca axe murders occurred between the evening of June 9, 1912, and early morning of June 10, 1912, in the town of Villisca in southwestern Iowa. The six members of the Moore family and two house guests were found bludgeoned in the Moore residence. All eight victims, including six children, had severe head wounds from an axe. A lengthy investigation yielded several suspects, one of whom was tried twice. The first trial ended in a hung jury and the second in an acquittal. The crime remains unsolved.
If you haven’t gotten your hands on Genesis: The Awakening yet I highly recommend you stop what you’re doing (yes, that includes reading this blog post) and snatch that thing up!
For those of you who have read Genesis, you’ll know that the Villisca Axe Murder house in Villisca Iowa is central to the plot of the story. A murderer is on the loose in the small collegiate town where our heroes Victoria Bouchard and Grim Reaper Kaizer Dresden reside, and if Kaizer doesn’t move quickly to eliminate the threat, the powerful immortals who cursed him to live on earth will be beating down his door looking for answers.
Despite all the interference from Archdemons and nosy siblings, Kaizer and Victoria are eventually led back to the Axe Murder house where a demon has set up camp, using the souls of the damned victims as bait. As they leap through a portal into the nightmarish realm the demon calls home, our genius heroine speculates that perhaps the original axe weilder was really a servant of the devil all along.
If you don’t know much about the axe murders, here are FIVE secret facts that they won’t tell you in history books.
5: Villisca (Wallisca) is a Native American word which means “evil spirit.”
According to “The Dictionary of Iowa Place Names” Villisca got its name from the Sac and Fox Indian word “waliska,” meaning evil spirit. White settlers of the region mistook the name for meaning “Beautiful View” or “Pretty Place”. When they discovered their mistake, they were quick to cover it up. But there’s no doubt the name left a dark stain on the town, mostly due to the brutal murders that followed.
4: The main suspect was a Reverend.
The Rev. Lyn George Jacklin Kelly, the only man tried for the eight Villisca axe murders of 1912 and a preacher with a well-documented reputation for deviant sexual behavior, served as minister at the Carroll Presbyterian Church for nearly a year following the internationally notorious slayings, as southern Iowa officials
focused on other suspects.
To be sure, the nearly century-old still-unsolved southern Iowa murder spree is one of the creepiest, compelling episodes in the history of the state, and the fact that more Iowans, particularly in the western part of the state, don’t know about this case is evidence of a breakdown in the teaching of Iowa history.
3: The murder weapon is on display.
You can view the head of the actual axe used in the murders if you visit the Axe Murder house in Iowa today. You can also book investigations and overnight stays at the house, for a fee…if you’re brave enough.
2: There were neighbors sleeping next door when the Moores and Stillengers were killed.
Mary Peckham, the Moores’ neighbor, became concerned after she noticed that the Moore family had not come out to do their morning chores. Peckham knocked on the Moores’ door. When nobody answered, she tried to open the door and discovered that it was locked. Peckham let the Moores’ chickens out and called Ross Moore, Josiah Moore’s brother. Like Peckham, Moore received no response when he knocked on the door and shouted. He unlocked the front door with his copy of the house key. While Peckham stood on the porch, Moore went into the parlor and opened the guest bedroom door, where he found Ina and Lena Stillinger’s bodies on the bed. Moore immediately told Peckham to call Hank Horton, Villisca’s primary peace officer who arrived shortly thereafter. Horton’s search of the house revealed that the entire Moore family and the two Stillinger girls had been bludgeoned to death. The murder weapon, an axe belonging to Josiah, was found in the guest room where the Stillinger sisters were found.
Mary slept peacefully in her bed the night before. Most historian’s find this often overlooked fact extremely strange. In the quiet early 1900’s, it’d be almost impossible to not hear a single sound when eight people are being brutally murdered.
1: Reverend Kelly confessed to the crimes but was not indicted.
One major reason students of the case today and prosecutors in 1917, including then Attorney General Horace Havner, believed Kelly to be the killer is an obvious one: He confessed to the crimes in a signed statement, saying God called him from the Villisca preacher’s house to commit the murders.
“I was lying in bed at the home of Reverend Ewing on the night of the murders and heard a voice say, `Rise, Peter, slay and eat,’” Kelly told investigators, according to Marshall’s book.
In his confession Kelly also would say: “I thought I was the grandson of God. I am ready to do it again.”
At one point Kelly told his interrogators, according to court documents, that “I killed the children upstairs first and the children downstairs last. I knew God wanted me to do it this way. `Slay utterly’ came to my mind, and I picked up the axe, went into the house and killed them.”
What do YOU think happened all those years ago? Let me know your theories! And don’t forget, you can read my take on the Villisca Axe Murder’s in Genesis: The Awakening!
I have a secret to confess. I’ve been working on a project for about six months now, steadily hacking away at it in secrecy. But, no more! I’m ready to share Winterborn with you in all its greatness and imperfection!
Winterborn was a project I started as a way to get back to my Paranormal Romance roots, so to speak. Growing up, I was enamored with Vampires, Werewolves, and Witches, the quintessential staple of Paranormal and fantasy literature. It’s been years since I’ve written about any of them and I thought it was high time that I featured them in my work. Thus, a dinky little five-thousand-word short story was birthed and promptly forgotten about. That is, until I realized the little nagging feeling I felt at the back of my brain wasn’t going to go away until I stared my characters in the face and said: “Okay, the hell do you want from me?”
Enter Winterborn’s main characters, Edna, Byron, and Seth. Old school names for an old school story and a plot rife with elements I haven’t touched for years. This blog post will serve as an introduction to the characters and plotline of a story that is not yet completed but is quickly cementing itself as one of my favorite books not yet written.
Edna Deveaux Ersland:
The great granddaughter of Evelyn Deveaux, a Haitian Mambo (Voodoo
priestess) who brought black magic to the French Creole after migrating from Haiti in the midst of the Haitian-French Revolution and slave uprising started by Toussaint Louverture. She is the subject of a “Final Destination” style generational curse that’s actively trying to kill her. Head over heels for Byron Lee since they were kids, she’s dedicated to keeping the newly transformed wolf out of trouble, even when he’s more of a danger to himself than anyone else. Edna, although an adult at twenty-three, is a classic teenager dying to escape from a controlling parent. Having no real concept of time and being an Ancient, Seth quite literally treats her like a child, which is almost entirely to blame for her rebellion and her constant need to test the boundaries of their parent-child relationship. Part of her wants to see how far she can push the Vampire, the rest of her enjoys the danger it brings because she knows without a doubt that he would A, never hurt her, and B, he’ll always be there to have her back.
In a Nutshell: Edna is an extraordinarily powerful young woman in love with a man both her controlling father-figure and the world want dead. Having the power to keep him alive isn’t the issue, it’s fighting off her own demons that will determine their survival.
Byron Lee Wallace:
Byron is the literal boy next door. He grew up in Warwick Rhode Island beside the Ersland Manor and moved back recently after his alcoholic father was murdered by Ioan Sharks. This move comes years after the drunken brute beat
his sickly mother to death. Because of his hard, strictly religious, upbringing, Byron has always longed for a normal life (white picket fence, the whole nine yards), a prospect that was stolen from him permanently when he was attacked, bitten, and subsequently transformed into a Lycan. He was found one night by his childhood friend and crush Edna, clinging to the shreds of his humanity after accidentally mauling a young woman to death, and she’s been taking care of him ever since. He openly returns the witch’s feelings but, after several mishaps where he’s accidentally scratched and even bitten her, he tries to keep his distance. Much to her dismay. Byron lives in a perpetual whirlwind of guilt, self-pity, and self-deprecation because he blames himself not only for the woman he killed the night of his transformation but for the murders and missing persons cropping up all over town. He still has a very human mindset and has not yet completely transitioned into the realm of the supernatural. Where death, missing persons, and magic are an everyday occurrence for everyone else, he still sees things through the eyes (and morals) of a mortal. He’s a welpling, a literal puppy who’s still in the midst of learning to control his transformations and will be forced to grow up very, very soon.
In a Nutshell: Byron takes being a good person to an entirely new level, but he’s soon to realize that being a good guy and staying alive doesn’t always fall in line. Watch him grow into a formidable force as he realizes that protecting his mate means more to him than his father’s religon ever could.
Seth is a very old Vampire. So old that his personal history is lost to antiquity. (Okay, let’s cut the crap, Seth is Dracula. Literally, the OG Vampire himself. But that’s just between you and me.) Rumor has it, he met Evelyn during the French Revolution and aided her escape to the American South. No one really knows the relationship they shared, but Seth took it upon himself to watch her cursed
family after her unfortunate passing. Some suspect that the two were lovers and her dealings in black magic allowed her to give birth to Seth’s children, thus creating the curse that has now all but wiped them out. The master Vampire has lovingly admitted to having been reduced to a “Housewife with fangs” and it is noted by Lenora Bulwer (a Huntress and agent of the Vatican) that bringing him out of “retirement” would be extremely bad for anyone who crossed his path. Lenora hints at his power and at the fact that he was born Vlad Dracul, the former ruler of Wallachia in what is now modern day Romania. Why he abandoned his life after his suspected death in 1476 is up for debate and is purely speculation. After Edna returns home covered in unexplained cuts and bruises he discovers her illicit relationship with Byron and contracts Lenora into hunting and killing the wolf. He is extremely protective over the last of Evelyn’s brood (and possibly the last of his living bloodline) and will stop at nothing to keep Edna alive. He also could or could not be responsible for all the disappearances in Rhode Island and has a fondness for burning beautiful houses to the ground.
In a Nutshell: Seth is daddy, by all meanings of the word, and someone you’ll want to keep your eye on. He loves his child, takes care of all who are indentured to him, and rains merciless hell on anyone who even thinks to abuse those he loves.
Stay tuned for more about Winterborn, including more character introductions, the Antagonists, Supporting Cast, and MUCH much more!
Until then, check out the official Pinterest Board for Winterborn! https://www.pinterest.com/KyunnieHuang/winterborn/
Winterborn Fan Casting List:
Seth Ersland: Valery Kovtun
Edna Deveaux: Amandla Stenberg
Byron Lee Wallace: Joo Hyuk Nam
Lenora Bulwer: Bryce Dallas Howard
Finn Larsen: Linus Wordemann
Nick Brawler: Froy Gutierrez
Horace Watt: Buster Keaton
George Cunningham: Adam Beach
Evelyn Deveaux: Theresa Theresa
Words that have plagued writers since the first one decided to put pen to paper. I struggle with enormous self-doubt. I’ve yet to get paid for a piece I’ve written. I’ve been published which is a huge accomplishment but not if you want to make a living at it. I’m currently writing a romance/suspense novel and I know that first drafts are mostly crap but I still wonder will anyone want to read this? Will the finished product be good enough? I’ve had enough people tell me I’m a talented writer and I’ve also gotten rejection e-mails and letters. So yes, I know what that feels like to be on the end of you’re not good enough spectrum.
I read something today that said, “it’s not the fear of writing that writers are afraid of. It’s the fear of writing bad.” I find these words to be very true. No one wants to be categorized as a “bad” writer. But what makes someone a “bad” writer? Critics? If no one buys your book? I can think of writers who have written poorly and sold millions of copies and writers whose books were brilliant and whose sales were not so great. I guess what it depends on is if your happy with your work. If you go out there and write your absolute very best then it doesn’t matter how many books you sell. Hopefully you do sell a lot.
I read something else today that said, “Self-doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” These words too, I think, are very true. You can’t let yourself get in the way of your writing. You must set aside those thoughts of self-doubt and self-criticism.
I guess the very best advice I can give you is to ignore the voices in your head that say Am I good enough? Is my writing good enough? Will this sell. And just write.
Thanks again for stopping by, Margaret!
Check out Margaret’s writing at the link below!