The problem with writing a serial saga, as opposed to a series of stand alone books, is that people will be lost if they don’t start at the beginning with Book #1. At the very least, the reader’s enjoyment will be compromised if all the details and characters aren’t understood with the depth and complexity intended. That’s the downside.
The upside is that there is an exquisite pleasure in an ongoing story that is not available in loosely related novels. It’s swimming in the deep end instead of always standing in thigh deep water. The overarching story available to the author of saga allows for an experience of total submersion that the short starts and stops of individual novels can’t aspire to. It’s SO satisfying to write. I’m these characters’ number one fan.
Initiation into this experiment in paranormal romance begins at the beginning
…with My Familiar Stranger, the first book which is “perma-free” and available everywhere. So, regardless of my excitement about the latest installment release, it all comes back to the beginning.
My Familiar Stranger nominated in two categories:
Best Indie Paranormal Romance
Best Indie Fantasy & Futuristic Romance
If you helped nominate my book, THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.
Annnnnnnd, as perhaps the BEST surprise – my name appears in the category of “Best Friend to Readers”. I’m not exactly sure what it means. I’ll take it, but don’t call me in the middle of the night to bail you out of jail and I don’t help with moves. Anymore.
VOTING BEGINS APRIL 1ST.
LINK WILL BE POSTED.
Laurie Garrison from BITTEN BY PARANORMAL ROMANCE wrote this on Facebook in reply to my question about what it means to be “Best Friend to Readers”.
Last night My Familiar Stranger clocked the 255th review on Amazon. It wasn’t that long ago that I had just put this (my first) novel up on Amazon and was shocked that I didn’t get this many reviews overnight. Since then I’ve learned that finding readership requires patience, but that the investment in patience is WELL worth the reward.
I think some writers write because they feel driven to do so or, for the few who make a living from it, because it’s a pleasant way to feed oneself. Me? I write because there’s just no thrill like finding out that I gave somebody a thrill. It’s a natural, gratifying, smile-generating, solar-plexus-stroking high. And I’m addicted.
What’s special about the 255th review? EVERYTHING.
Any reader who spends this much time writing a review? I know she got what I hoped every reader would get – a good time.
Left me breathless.
I’ve been rummaging through most of the romance novels Amazon has to offer under $3 or so for a long while (mostly the free ones, yes I’m a cheapo). I’m going to be bold and say this sits quite comfortably in my number 1 chair. Why? Well, I’m gonna tell yah why (without spoilers of course)
1. The characters are incredibly developed and each with realistic personalities. Rarely do I come across a book where I love all of the characters. You have your serious character (Storm), funny character (Ram), the voice of reason character (Kay) and that character you just can’t help but fall in love with (Baka). Together, they’re a riot.
2. Hardly do I find an author who can make me genuinely laugh. I was reading at around 3am and some dangerously loud laughs escaped my room (and a few embarrassing snorts I will admit) and awoke my mother. Let’s just say she doesn’t like this story much…
3. THE STORY LINE IS AMAZING. Don’t let my capitals scare you off. I wasn’t yelling, I was enthusiastically talking loud. I loved it from beginning to end. At the beginning I was a little skeptical but once I got a good bite I got angry at my eyes for not being able to read faster.
4. Warning; if you get that neck/back pain from reading for too long, make sure you’re prepared with necessary equipment to ease the ache. Also, make sure it’s within your reach because you’re not going to want to get up to get them. This warning should be included in the book before the prologue.
5. It makes you argue with yourself. A good book has that ability.
-I want her to choose Storm, he saved her life and was incredibly sweet to her!
-Omg this elf is gearing me away from Storm. His sense of humor.. his accent that I can so oddly picture in my head… She has to choose the elf with the adorable accent.
-Sexy 600 year old vampire? Get the hell out of here elf, she needs some vampire loving!
Now that sounds like a lot but the story folds it all together nicely. She isn’t a slut who wants a chunk from each of them. In fact, I had zero clue who she was gearing towards for most of the book. Then it started to unravel and I started making that girly “eeee!” noise while wiggling around unattractively… it all unraveled quite nicely.
6. The author doesn’t spend pages upon pages dedicated to boring opinions / thoughts the characters have about every miniscule thing like why the damn sky is blue. I have found that many books are prone this this horrendous disease. Quite sad actually…
7. The main character doesn’t make you want to rip out every organ in her body and feed it to vicious animals. She’s very laid back, real, selfless, and yes… I’m going to say it… FUNNY. Funny? A paranormal romance novel with the lead female character wielding a sense of humor that can make you laugh? Not one of those try-hard sense of humors that just make you cringe? I know I’m shocked too.
As part of my morning routine, I look at reviews and check my rankings in various categories on Amazon. After being out there in authorland for seven months, I had begun to think perhaps there were no more ANTICS for reviewers to get up to. I was wrong.
This morning My Familiar Stranger got a four star review from someone who downloaded A FREE COPY. I could editorialize, but have decided to simply cut and paste.
4.0 out of 5 stars Looks like a good book, January 5, 2013
This review is from: My Familiar Stranger – A Paranormal Romance (The Order of the Black Swan, BOOK ONE) (Kindle Edition)
I download a lot of books to my Kindle Fire, but since I work full time I don’t get to read as much as I would like to. Therefore I have not read this book as of yet, but am looking forward to doing so. I would not have purchased this book without reading the description of the book, so feel this will be a good one when I get around to reading it.
A 4 star review goes down a lot easier when the reviewer actually read the book and cites reasons why they are giving the rating they’re giving. When I looked at this person’s other reviews on Amazon, I found no books (other than M.F.S. – which wasn’t read) and a total of three DVD’s (2 Sons of Anarchy and 1 Vampire diaries).
Like I said, reviewers say the darndest things.
– Victoria Danann
GIVEAWAY: One Set of Signed Paperback Copies of ORDER OF THE BLACK SWAN, BOOKS ONE and TWO plus a gorgeous BLACK SWAN mousepad. (U.S. only!)
WINNER is Larissa Rodgers. Congratulations. You have ALSO been entered in the GRAND PRIZE raffle.
WHAT’S MY FAVORITE PARANORMAL ROMANCE NOVEL WITH A HOLIDAY IN IT? This does not have to be a holiday book – just has to have a holiday in it.
Why, that would be My Familiar Stranger, of course. Christmas expressed as Yule because it is an alternate dimension.
My Familiar Stranger can be downloaded for FREE at any of these links:
HAPPY HOPPING and visit all these blogs participating.
If you’ve been reading my blogs for a while, you know I don’t publish a lot of reviews. In fact, out of the nearly 200 combined reviews I have received in less than six months, this will be the third time. When I came in this morning, there were new reviews for both My Famliar Stranger and The Witch’s Dream, written by the same blogger, Gaele, for Booked and Loaded Blog and it gave me the idea of doing a best/worst post.
I’ve been blessed with a lot of attention for my books. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that it’s an Amazon record for a first book of an unknown Indie author.
Now that The Witch’s Dream has been out for a week and I’m starting to get some feedback from people who read both books back to back, it’s very gratifying to learn that the flow is seamless.
So, what’s so special about these reviews? Well, see for yourself and then I’ll share the worst.
5.0 out of 5 stars Elves and Vampires and Knights – Oh My !, October 23, 2012
Take one parallel universe jump, an elite paramilitary company of knights who are tasked with eradicating vampires, a vampire with a `life wish’ and then blend in a liberal sprinkling of characters drawn from old European religious idolatry, superior advanced medical technology and a touch of humor and you start to define the basics in this book.
Created with a deft hand, each character is so well developed and defined that their voices are unique and specific, although their development is gradual, as befitting of plot and action. The rest of the story is just as well-crafted, almost to the point that you aren’t 100% certain that the world described is not just outside your door. The author has done a stellar job in creating the world, those who live within it, and a story-line that both compels you to read as you rush through to see just what happens next, and who gets the girl.
Reviewed for Booked and Loaded
5.0 out of 5 stars I am now purchasing the paperbacks…. to read repeatedly., October 23, 2012
Picking up momentarily after the close of My Familiar Stranger, this book also manages to encourage the page-turning, what comes next of the first. Adding to the already established mix of Beserkers, Elves, Demons, Vampires and the Order of the Black Swan, we find touches of majik and mysticism in the form of a lovely witch, and a werewolf to fill in those spots that you didn’t realize needed filling.
The spells are all as close to real as one will find in any careful writer’s book, the language is poetic and the characters are even more intriguing and palpable than before. Readers who are introduced to this series with this volume will find themselves wondering, the author has specifically created these stories to read in order to best follow the action. It is no hardship to read the two, believe me – the writing is tight, descriptive and flows neatly along a path that often is twisty, but always seems to resolve with a satisfying feeling of “what will they get into next”.
This world is so unique and the writing so constant and detailed with little pieces of information drop like breadcrumbs until the loaf is completed. You will be turning pages as you need to get to the end – and then re-reading as you await book 3 in this series.
I was provided an eBook copy from the author for purpose of review for Booked and Loaded. I was not compensated for this review, and all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Thank you for noticing that every character is an individual personality. My M.A. in psychology doesn’t help with creating them, but my interest in people, how they behave, and trying to sort out why they do what they do has been a help.
Thank you for saying the language is poetic. Sometimes I rework a single sentence several times because I’m not satisfied with the way it “sounds”.
The spells are close to real, but with enough detail disguised, withheld, or scrambled so as not to endanger a misguided reenactment. Thank you for noticing the authenticity.
Thank you for noticing that the world of Black Swan is unique. Before I started writing, I spent two years reading everything PNR that had garnered success so that I would know what had already been done.
Bread crumbs along the way… Thank you for noticing the complexity of the weave of the story. It takes a lot of organization to make sure the timeline is correct and all the details hold together on close examination. In order to be sure that everything makes it into the final cut I have to write the book and then let it simmer in my subconscious for four to six weeks during which I will wake nightly with a thought about something else I want to include. The Witch’s Dream was 70,000 words that expanded to 100,000 during this process.
I don’t think there could be any greater compliment than to say that you’re also buying the books in paperback form and that you plan to reread. Thank you for that as well. (Truthfully, I reread these books once every couple of months. After enough time has lapsed I find myself stopping after a passage thinking, “Did I really write that? It was pretty good!”)
I personally plan to follow your reviews and seek out books you recommend. -V
NOW FOR THE CASTOR OIL PORTION OF THIS POST… ugly, uglier, ugliest.
2.0 out of 5 stars Very poor writing and character development, July 8, 2012
Obviously I’m in disagreement with most other reviewers here, and I’ll be up front: I couldn’t even finish it, probably made it about a third of the way through the book. The plot sounded interesting, and as a frequent romance reader of all sorts from historical chaste novels to the down & dirty stuff, I usually make it all the way through. I just found the poor writing too distracting. Character development was terrible and everyone was two dimensional. I’m all for the sudden soul mate stuff but Ram didn’t even know her or try to get to know her, and his thought pattern was juvenile. Storm was the most interesting and authentic character. Elora herself was an unlikeable character, and the construction itself was just really bad, even for a free book. This is the type of book that makes me miss bookstores, where you rarely found a book that wasn’t at least worth reading all the way through instead of today’s self-published and ratings-manipulated lists. sigh.
Yes. I’m super sensitive as you would expect any author of intense emotion-driven plots to be, but even I laughed out loud (literally) when I read the title of this review. I did find it alarming that 4 out of 9 people found this “helpful”. YIKES! Really?
Shortly thereafter one reviewer admonished this person by saying that s/he didn’t think it’s fair to an author to leave a review when you didn’t finish a book, particularly when many of your complaints would have been addressed and resolved had you read further.
Seriously, one of my favorite all time reviews is the one that begins, “I didn’t finish this book so I’m not going to leave a review.” I’ve thought about sending that one in to Jay Leno.
me: Sir Hawking, it’s such a pleasure to get to interview you in person.
Ram: (third finger)
me: (sigh) Okay. What is this about?
Ram: Well, forgive me if I do no’ sound polite, but I can no’ say ’tis a pleasure bein’ interviewed by you.
me: Why not?
Ram: Why no’ indeed. I only agreed because of the chance to say fuck you in person.
me: Okay. What exactly is the problem? You did end up with everything you ever wanted, didn’t you?
Ram: Aye. No’ denyin’ that. My problem is not with endin’s. ‘Tis with the bloody well fucked up middles.
me: I see.
Ram: No. You do no’ see. You sit there in your tidy, little, safe, air conditioned version of reality without a single bloody care for what you are puttin’ me through. Have you ever had a broken rib? It hurts! Do you know that?
me: Well, I…
Ram: You write like ’tis nothin’. And ’tis nothin’ compared to a concussion and a hundred and forty three stitches. How would you like to have to face your mother lookin’ like that?
me: Um, that doesn’t happen until Book Two, The Witch’s Dream which was just released today.
Ram: So just because they have no’ read about it yet means it did no’ happen? (chuffs) My mother cried for hours when she saw me lookin’ like this. That was a bloody fun time I can tell you.
me: I’m, uh, sorry. I didn’t realize she would take it so hard…
Ram: Come to think of it, I should have brought her with me. (evil smile)
And what about that bit between me and my da – when he asks how the other fella looks? And you make me say the other fella got away with no’ so much as a scratch? To add insult to injury you made me smile while I said it! So then he asks me to explain how it happened and I have to tell the fuck all, king da’ of Elfdom that I got a hundred and forty three stitches in a knife fight in a bar!
me: (sigh) I admit that was an understatement but, technically, it was true. You did sustain your injuries in a knife fight in a bar.
Ram: (gaping) You are cold as Paddy’s feet on a February morn.
me: Now wait a minute…
Ram: Just gettin’ started.
me: Oh here we go. (Muttering to myself at this point.)
Ram: Can you even begin to imagine that three months feels like an eternity when you’re an elf waitin’ on his mate to make up her mind?
me: Well, I have a pretty good imagination…
Ram: Oh? You can imagine how it feels to have a ragin’ cockstand for weeks on end that does no’ even wane when you sleep? Balls achin’ like they’re bein’ squeezed. Just how is it exactly that you can imagine that, Mistress? How about this one? Can you imagine how it feels to wake and find your love lookin’ back at you with vampire blues? Let me tell you how it feels. Your insides go completely cold. When that chemical hits the bloodstream it truly does feel like ice in your veins.
me: I’m sure that was a very unpleasant experience…
Ram: Unpleasant? You really are a stonehearted bitch. I feel like kickin’ the legs out from under your chair.
me: (Trying not to laugh.) I was feeling really bad for you, and a little guilty, right up until you just threatened to dump me on my can. Which was very un-knight-like behavior. I never would have written you that way.
Ram: Oh no? Well, I have a surprise or two and here’s the first. You’re fired.
me: You can’t fire me, Ram. I’m the Creator.
Ram: You know, you sounded just like her when you said that. ‘Tis very disconcertin’.
me: Well, you know there’s probably something of me in every one of the characters.
Ram: Characters, is it? “Tis all we are to you? (Looks like his feelings are hurt then curses in Irish under his breath.) Right. Well, that explains a lot. You want to know who’s the real villain in your stupid stories?
me: I see where you’re going with this, but, Rammel, writing villains is not the same thing as being a villain. My stories are just a reflection of life.
Ram: (sneers) Aye. A House of Mirrors reflection.
me: Well, yes. Otherwise, it’s called the daily news. How about this? I’ll give you a reprieve and visit the less pleasant stuff on somebody else for awhile.
Ram: You do no’ seem to be gettin’ it. ‘Tis no’ up to you anymore. Consider this an intervention. You’re hurtin’ people. ‘Tis goin’ to stop.
me: Okay, look, everything you say is true, but you’ve left out the other side. And I really do love you. Probably more than any other of you, uh…
Ram: (narrows his eyes) …characters. I might be willin’ to let bygones go, but it works both ways.
me: What does?
Ram: I know what you’re thinkin’. I heard your twisted mind riflin’ through possibles and sortin’ out what you’re plannin’ to do to us in Book Three.
me: You did? (I swallow.)
Ram: Aye. And some of it ’tis nothin’ less than sick. We’re all thinkin’ perhaps ’tis time for you to see someone.
(My husband walked in just as I was concluding this interview. He asked what I was doing and, without really thinking it through, I made the mistake of telling him the truth after which he replied that he had always wondered how I can be content to be alone for extended periods of time only to find out that I only appeared to be by myself.)