Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Read with Me

If you love historical fiction as much as I do, you can join me in my Booklikes book club More Historical than Fiction. In April, we will be reading Black Count by Tom Reiss, which is the exciting true story of the Count of Monte Cristo.

Join me to read, discuss, and enjoy wonderful historical fiction together!

Impromptu Giveaway

I am so excited to see that over 700 people entered my Goodreads giveaway, that I decided to offer another copy for free.

Enter to win a copy of Over the Deep: A Titanic Adventure simply by commenting on this blog. Share what you love about reading or the Titanic, or just let me know that you love free books!

I will randomly select a winner on April 15th.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Book Excerpts

Are you interested in learning more about Over the Deep and No Such Thing as Perfect? You can read free first chapter excerpts now on Wattpad!

I look forward to hearing your opinion. Link your review below :-)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Medieval Cloud of Witnesses

The cloud of witnesses, as described in Hebrews 12, is the huge audience of Christian saints who have died before us but surround us and join us in prayer and worship. Never before have I more strongly felt the presence of this phenomenon as I did today when two of my great loves came together: medieval history and my faith.

I have an almost painful desire to be a participant in the reinterment of Richard III this week, but I have to settle for catching pictures and short video clips online. As I sang, took communion, and worshiped in church this morning, however, I understood that I do have a connection to my fellow Christians in history.

Maybe my mind wasn't exactly where it should have been, because as I was shuffling slowly forward to participate in the Eucharist, I imagined Elizabeth of York. First as a Plantagenet princess, then as a Tudor queen, Elizabeth would have practiced a faith much like my own. A picture of her gliding toward the altar of a soaring cathedral formed in my mind. Her gown would gently brush across the floor and rushes until she would kneel down before the revered bread and wine.

Of course, my imagination quickly expanded this picture to include other people in Elizabeth's life, including her uncle Richard. We may never know this side of heaven what Richard's relationship was with Elizabeth or whether he ordered her brothers killed, but that is part of what makes them so intriguing. I do not have any more answers about Richard than anyone else, though many will claim to know more, but I am excited about this unique opportunity to witness the burial of a medieval monarch. 

Many history enthusiasts will enjoy being a part of Richard's reinterment services though they do not share his faith. While I cannot be there in body, I am certainly there in spirit as I imagine the medieval people that I almost consider friends surrounding me as my prayers join with theirs. 

Loyaulte me lie.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Do we need a review process for reviews?

You may have heard that some organizations are calling for Amazon to be more proactive in deleting inappropriate book reviews. The Horror Writers' Association (disclaimer: I neither read nor write within the horror genre) has defined those reviews that should be up for deletion as follows:

  • "indicates the customer has not read the book, but only a small portion of it, such as a free electronic sample;"
  • "includes spoilers which, once revealed, could significantly reduce interest in the work;"
  • "includes negative personal remarks about the author"
  • "is focused on the work's price rather than its content."

As an avid reader who reviews approximately 100 books per year and a writer starving for book reviews, I understand the motivation here but not the result. I would argue that some reviews should be removed from Amazon, and there is a link with each review that allows any Amazon user to report those that they find inappropriate. However, I don't completely agree with what is being proposed by HWA.

Their first point would have reviews deleted because a person confesses that they did not read the entire book. I would argue that if the free electronic sample of a book is abysmal enough that a reader gives up, they have the right to share that opinion. It is clearly stated that they did not finish the book and those reading the review are likely to take that into account. I do not believe these should be deleted.

Reviews that are irrelevant or make it clear that the reviewer has read none of the book are a different story. Book reviews in which customers complain about their Kindle or shipping delays should be pulled. Those are reviews of Amazon, not the book.

Spoilers, while annoying, also should not cause the elimination of what may otherwise be a valuable review. Anyone who reads reviews understands that there is a chance that a reviewer may mention more than they wanted to know.

The problem with addressing comments about the author is that you wind up with the same issue that caused the Goodreads revolt. How much is too much? Can I say that I have tried several books by this author but I never will again? Sure, threatening violence is inappropriate, but there is just so much grey area here.

Finally, I believe that price should absolutely be up for grabs in a review. I have read and said myself before that a novel was "Okay for a Kindle freebie but I wouldn't have paid for it." On the other hand, authors attempting to sell novellas at the price of full books should be called out on it. If your price isn't appropriate, I believe that reviewers, like myself, have the right to comment on it.

A review habit that is glaringly missing from those that HWA would like to see removed are those that the author has paid for. I am much more annoyed when I see a Fiverr writer with a Goodreads or Amazon profile stuffed with 5-star reviews that sound curiously like they have not read a single book than I am when I see any of the issues that HWA is concerned with. I say that Amazon should clear the landscape of these long before we begin to worry about reviewers who are a little too mean.

What do you think? Should Amazon delete reviews? Which ones? What do you look for in a book review?

Monday, March 16, 2015

History in the Headlines: Richard III

If you love history as much as I do, you have undoubtedly been following the discovery of the remains of Richard III. Whether you cringed or nodded in satisfaction at seeing the maligned king's curved spine, the excavation and research since that day over two years ago has been spectacular to follow. We have enjoyed a truly once in a lifetime opportunity to learn from King Richard's 530 year old remains.

Leicester Cathedral, where the reinterment of Richard's remains will occur in just six days, has a comprehensive website dedicated to the event. You can see it here.

Thinking about Richard, which I often do as one who is enthralled with the Wars of the Roses, leads to a multitude of historical what-ifs. I'm not one to question the change of huge events, such as "What if the South had won the American Civil War?" I prefer to question small tweaks.

What if Richard's son Edward had not died?
What if Richard had given Hastings a trial (at least what sufficed for a trial in those times)?
What if people of Richard's time knew the fate of his nephews?
What if Richard had not died at Bosworth?

I do not necessarily think of Richard as innocent on all charges and am certainly no Bride of Gloucester, but I do wonder if he was as villainous as some have accused him to have been. We will likely never know the truth for sure, but what is certain is that he managed to bring about the end of the Plantagenet dynasty after they had ruled England for over three centuries.

Instead, history gives us the Tudor dynasty through the Plantagenet Princess Elizabeth of York, who was married to the victorious Henry Tudor. Her son, Henry VIII, has surpassed her in fame, despite the exciting and turbulent times in which she lived. The Tudors would go on to decimate the Plantagenet remnant, break from the Catholic Church, and set the stage for the English Civil War.

Oh, the what-ifs we can devise with those infamous Tudors!

But back to Richard III. Whether you love him or hate him, it has been exciting to see him discovered again. After 530 years, he will soon finally be at rest.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Guest Blog at The Writing Desk

Thank you, Tony Riches, for giving me the opportunity to be a guest blogger at The Writing Desk! You can see the post here.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

More FREE Books!

No Such Thing as Perfect is FREE now through this weekend on Kindle. Click here to download it now.

You can share this inspiring story of Collette as she faces the challenges of 7th grade with your daughter and look forward to some great discussions.

Back of the Book Blurb:
Collette is starting seventh grade at a new school. She hopes to redefine herself and meet new friends, but she doesn't count on acquiring a jealous rival and attention from an older boy. When tragedy threatens at home, she leans on her faith and good friends to find her way through the struggles of junior high.

Review Excerpts:

"I gave 14 of these books to our church youth group. I was told by our youth group leader that all the kids enjoyed it, and several of them were extremely touched by it. One young girl who had been struggling, in a bad place in her life, found encouragement, she was so touched that her life was significantly changed."

"I think tween girls will find Collette to be a strong role model."

"Great conversation starter with your "tween." Issues about friends, "frienemies," boys and even a junior high perspective on adult behavior."

"It is refreshing to read a book that has christian values in it."

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Book Giveaways!

What is better than books?

FREE books!

You can enter to win a paperback copy of Over the Deep: A Titanic Adventure on Goodreads or Booklikes.

Over the Deep: A Titanic Adventure has launched!

My latest novel, Over the Deep, has recently been released. It is the story of 10 year old Edwin as he goes on an unexpected Titanic journey. I have included many historical facts and figures around an exciting story that is intended to captivate kids without them even realizing that they are learning. To learn more about Over the Deep, you can find it on Amazon or Goodreads.