When I Was Seven can now be preordered!

My book, When I Was Seven, is available for preorder NOW and ONLY at http://www.blackrosewriting.com/literary/wheniwasseven. If you purchase it before the publication date of September 29, 2016, you can use the promo code: PREORDER2016 to receive a 10% discount.

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Coming September 29th …

When I Was Seven full cover (1)

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To review or not to review, that is the question.

I have to say that I love writing. I love creating characters whose lives I care about. I want them to succeed and overcome; I want them to come out the other side of their trials better than when they began. And because I care so much about them, I’m confident that as least some of the readers out there will come to care about them too.

That brings up the other side of writing – the reader. If readers don’t like your books, they  won’t tell their friends to read your books, and they certainly won’t buy any of your other books. In the Amazon era that we live in, the view (or “review”) of other readers has become an important part of sales.

I have been guilty of asking (or encouraging, cajoling, begging) people for reviews on Amazon. Most of it came to naught. Why, I wondered, could I not get more people to post a review, even after they came to me raving about my book?

I answered my own question the other day when I was visiting a store. One particular employee had been quite helpful. So, I made a point of hunting down the manager to tell him about his stellar employee. He thanked me and then asked if I had gone to their website to post a review. I had not. He then informed me that it really made a difference, and he hoped that I would do so. I dismissed that thought … until I got home. How could I deny the very thing that I desired from others?

Everywhere we turn these days we are asked for feedback – from our doctors (necessary with Obamacare), grocery stores, online merchants, mechanics, gas stations, and so on. We are inundated with requests for our thoughts. I know I hesitate because I don’t want to take the time and I don’t think it will make a difference. As far as the time issue, I have to say one of my favorite five-star reviews was a single word: “Brilliant.” And I’m rethinking that it will make a difference, especially for some small fry. So I’m making an attempt to provide more feedback.

So, here’s the end of the story. (To forewarn you – it’s a surprise ending.) I went back to that store on a small errand but with the intention of writing down the employee’s name who had been so helpful. I ended up having a colossally terrible customer service experience. So, I figured this time around, the best thing I could do was let my experiences cancel each other out, and I did not write a review. However, I did post a book review last week. Does that count?

What do you think? If you don’t mind leaving a comment – I know it takes time – I’d love to hear about why or when you do or do not leave reviews.

 

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Are you happy to be you?

It’s been an interesting week. Since my BookBub ad ran last Monday, I’ve had a lot of activity with my ebook – a large number of downloads and a jump in the number of reviews on Amazon. This is good.

So, here’s the thing – I’ve been reading all those reviews. They are, by in large, very positive, with the majority of them being 5-star reviews. I like that. Who wouldn’t? But I also read the 3-star reviews and the one 2-star review. They weren’t so flattering (even if the 2-star review actually made me laugh). How should I feel about those?

As we go through life, a test of our character is how we respond to criticism. I don’t think anyone likes it, but are we willing to learn from it? I tried to read those reviews with that in mind. Was there something I could glean to apply to my second book (and my third)? Is there improvement that can be made? The answer is, of course, yes. But I went beyond that. I started to feel discouraged about those reviews. They had morphed from something that could help me to something that just brought me down.

I had to take a step back and remind myself that those negative reviews were a very small percentage of the total reviews. Not everyone is going to love my book, right? So, was I going to pay more attention to that small percentage or the much, much larger percentage of positive comments?

The answer was – neither.

Yes, I’ll still read the reviews and see what there is to learn, but I had to remind myself of something I decided or accepted when I first began this journey. It came about because of a conversation I had in my head. As I wrote that first book I wondered and worried about how it would be received. I recognized it was a good story, but that it wasn’t Pulitzer material. Then I thought about the Pulitzer winners that I’ve read. Those books have struck me with their mastery of words, but I have often disliked the story. It dawned on me that the books I enjoy the most are more about the story than the words.

As I realized this, I accepted the fact that I will never win a Pulitzer. Wow! I said it. And it’s not even a shock to anyone. So, that’s what I had to remember, to tell myself all over again. And, once again, I knew that I was okay with that. I recently won a prestigious award for my writing which does give me some validation, but it’s not the final say on who I am or what I think of myself.

What matters to me at the end of the day is whether I did my best. My best writing will never win me the Pulitzer, but that’s okay because I’m still doing the best I know how. I’m working hard – writing, rewriting, editing, reading, writing some more. I’m focused and determined. I am Mary Ellen Bramwell – nothing more and nothing less, and that’s going to be good enough for me.

 

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FREE through March 31

Take a peek at the ebook of The Apple of My Eye. It’s free on Amazon for the next few days. Share with a friend, post a review, and ENJOY!

http://www.amazon.com/Apple-Eye-Mary-Ellen-Bramwell-ebook/dp/B00NJ5CL9Q/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1459171472&sr=8-2

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In Memory of a Friend

I’ve been a reluctant blogger of late. For my readers and fellow writers who follow me, I haven’t wanted to bog you down with unnecessary drivel. And so, when I haven’t felt I had something important to say, I just haven’t said anything. Today, though, I want to share with you the story of a friend. It’s worth something.

A friend of mine, I’ll call him D., recently passed away, and I was fortunate enough to attend his funeral. Funerals are full of wonderful stories that we’ve never heard before, and his was no exception. During the eulogy, this story was related:

D. was an Eagle scout who loved the outdoors. On one particular scouting trip, his younger brother J. was also along. When the scouts reached their campsite, D. noticed that J. was not with them. So, D. hiked back along the trail to look for him. Sure enough, J. had gotten lost. As D. got ready to guide him to the others, he offered to carry his brother’s heavy pack for him, an offer that was accepted. They made their way back up the trail, but just before coming within sight of the other scouts, D. returned J.’s pack to him, to carry into the camp himself. D. never told anyone that his brother had been lost, nor that he had been the one to shoulder the heavy pack.

This story about my friend touched me. He had suffered from Parkinson’s Disease for 20 years, although I had only known him for 15. I knew him to be a kind and patient man, but I didn’t know the depths of it.

There are many people in our paths that we can help. The first challenge is to make sure we help them, but the second is illustrated by my friend. Do we help them and allow them to maintain their dignity? I’m not sure that we do or that we even consider it. My friend, in his passing, has just taught me to be more aware of that very thing, and hopefully by being aware, I will do something about it.

 

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How resolute are you?

It’s been a week and a half since the beginning of the year. Are you the type who sets New Year’s resolutions? If so, how’s that working for you? Have you kept your resolutions so far? I hope so, and I applaud your efforts.

I have to admit something here. I, for one, don’t set resolutions – never have, don’t think I ever will. At this point you’re probably either thinking, “Hurrah, she’s one of us,” or “What a loser.” The truth is somewhere in the middle.

I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to be told what to do. This can be a problem, and I try to temper it, but it’s a fact all the same. So I wonder who decided that just because it was the beginning of a new year, that I needed to set some big lofty goal? I don’t know, and I’ll tell you, if I don’t like being told what to do by a person standing in front of me, I certainly don’t like it from some unnamed, unidentified source.

Let me tell you what I like instead. I actually like to set goals, but I set them as needed. Trust me, that happens way more often than once a year. Sometimes I set goals for my day or my week. With my novel it’s often a certain number of words to write in a day or how long I should take to finish a first draft.

Despite my earlier statement about not liking being told what to do, I’m actually a very religious person. I understand the value of commandments and often make goals associated with that, such as being quicker to love than to judge.

If you like to make resolutions, and that works for you – who am I to judge? For me, don’t ask me about my resolutions, but if you ask about my goals, be prepared for a long answer.

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