Monday, March 26, 2012

Besides marketing my novel, "The Silk Weaver's Daughter" and writing my new book, most weeks I set aside time to read the new novels Amazon sends me for reviewing. Here is my review of one of the latest. It's a story about the daughter of Russian's mad monk, Rasputin, "Enchantments" by historian, Kathryn Harrison. It's strange that while the book gets glowing review form many professional reviewers such as "O Magazine," "New York Times," and "Bookpage;" the reviews from the general public and some Amazon Vine Reviewers are not that good. In fact, out of 40 reviewers, only 5 gave it 5 stars. I personally didn't like it that much and give it 3 out of 5 stars. Nevertheless, if you love literary writing and mysticism, you may like the novel. -- "Enchantments"

"Although I had read Robert K. Massie’s novel “Nicholas and Alexandra,” I hadn’t remembered that the so-called “Mad Monk of Russia,” Grigori Rasputin had a family. His two daughters, Varya and Mary (Masha) were living with him in St. Petersburg when he was dramatically murdered in 1916.


After his death, the two girls are quickly spirited away and taken to live at the Tsar’s family home in the country, Tsarskoe Selo. The Empress somehow mistakenly believes that Masha has the same healing powers as her father. After the royal family is taken to Yekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains and summarily murdered, Masha manages to escape to Germany and later to North America, where she works as a dancer and later in a circus. She died in 1977.

In this clearly literary work, the first person narrative of Masha is a mixture of fact, mysticism, and allegory, and includes flashbacks to the mad monk’s life. It was often difficult to figure out where the facts left off and fantasy began. One example is the description of the accession of Tsar Nicolas. Somehow, according to Masha, the devil worked his way into the proceedings.

Although the author’s lyrical style is beautifully poetic, I found the book often tedious to read and I kept looking to see how many pages were left. There were many times when I put it down with the thought that I just can’t wade through this anymore. The best-drawn and most interesting character in the book is the young, Tsarevich Alexei Nikolayevich. He appears to have a much better grasp of what is happening to his country than his father did; and the book leads one to believe that, had he lived to rule, he might have saved Russia from its disastrous fall to communism.

As interested as I am in Russian history and especially in those last years of the Romanov family, I found this book a real chore to read."

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Cover Story or Judging a Book

Once a novel is finished and has been edited and edited and re-edited, the next step for the self-published author is to select a suitable cover. The cover is extremely important as a sales and marketing tool, and is such a significant step that it generally requires a professional eye. I was fortunate enough to have a good writing friend who is also a gifted graphic artist.

All along, I had a very clear picture of what my heroine, Louise Gurnee, looked like. For months, I kept my eyes open, searching for just the right picture that would personify her. The day I saw the stock photo below of a lovely, 17th century girl holding a rose, I knew I had found my heroine. Fortunately, for me, I was able to buy the rights to the picture to use on as many books as I could sell. The model’s face held the perfect beautiful, but sulky look that personified Louise at the time her father tells her she cannot marry the antagonist, Marc Garneau. The rose was a metaphor for the love the two shared.

As perfect as the model was, the background was not quite right. I wanted it also to portray the families’ sojourn in La Rochelle, where startling events take place before they leave France forever. My graphic friend, Jeff Fielder, knew exactly how to combine two pictures for the effect I required, as well as exactly what font we should use for the printing. Putting together everything created the exact mood I was looking for, and the exact image I wanted my cover to project. To look at more of his exciting works, his website is

Of course, the old cliché states that you can judge a book by its cover, and in the case of my novel, I certainly hope that is true. My story is about a beautiful young girl, a little selfish, as young people are apt to be, who matures into a gorgeous, selfless woman over the period of the book. And perhaps the underlying message is that love and faith can triumph over adversity.

In case you would like to know a little more about the story and the plotline, I have just received this lovely review from author, Anita Davidson on the Historical Novel Review Website. Here is the link:  

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Great Review of "The Silk Weaver's Daughter"

Every writer longs for a good review of their work. But reading is very subjective, so one person could love it while the next guy, not so much. Fortunately for me, this reviewer of "The Silk Weaver's Daughter" is English and very interested in the time period the book is set in. Here is the link to her lovely review of my novel.

Thanks to Anita Davison: author of "Duking Days Rebellion"

Saturday, March 3, 2012

My Journey to Publication

I suppose, if you follow this blog once in awhile, you might be wondering what has happened to me. I have to admit that I haven't been away; but I have been heavily involved in publishing my debut novel, "The Silk Weaver's Daughter." And, as I discovered, it takes a lot of time and energy. A little over a year ago, I decided to 'bite the bullet' and go the self-publishing route. The market-place has changed and self-publishing no longer is looked down upon. Also my target audience fit the self-publishing market better.

I had already been told by book agents that a historical fiction novel about 'love, loyalty, and faith' was probably not going to be picked up by the large New York publishing companies. So I decided to take the route that hundreds of 'would be' authors have already pioneered with a surprising amount of success. 

It takes a lot of work as one becomes his own editor, publisher and marketer, but it's an interesting route and I will be discussing my particular journey to publication in the next couple of installments. 

In the meantime, if you like to see my interview with Amazon Vine Reviewer, Ana Mardol, here is the link:  Just scroll down to her post on Wednesday, February 29th.