Well, at least for me, one of my greatest fears is the dreaded review, especially when I write in a new genre. Being a multi-genre author, I have always stuck to either contemporary fiction or chick lit. However, I must confess that I've always had a weakness for the smart-talking, wiseass type of characters I watch in film noir movies. You know what I mean, the down and out detective or investigative reporter, going great guns against all odds to dig up the truth. Meanwhile, he (yes, it's usually a "he") is battling with either a drinking problem, or maybe he smokes too much, or he just cannot have that sexy dame he finds wildly attractive and who is driving him to distraction.
My love of these types of movies have led me to write the first of a modern and contemporary mystery/suspense series with a female protagonist. Right from the start of the story she's got a chip on her shoulder about men, as she has been dumped by a cheating husband; she's got the hots for a younger man (she's 48 years old, by the way); she dislikes cops because she was prevented from joining the force by none other than a man; she's assertive, sassy and a real smartass with an attitude. She's very much like a film noir hero. But I'm digressing...
I set out to blog about an author's greatest fear -- the book review -- well, at least it is for me. What will people think of my work? Oh, the nerve-wracking drama of it all as I wait for my first review!
The interesting thing is that I don't fear so much the reviews from readers; although I want those readers to like my work and become fans of my novels. This aside, however, I just need to know that my peers think that my work is good enough. Yes, this is a sign of insecurity; plus, we are usually our own worst critics. Most actors suffer from it, even the really famous ones; artists feel the same way, and so do authors. Therefore, as soon as I finished writing my first mystery/suspense with my older female protagonist, Mia Ferrari, I sent a complimentary copy to one author who I consider to be at the top of her genre (mystery/suspense), and whom I esteem greatly. Her name, Darcia Helle. Then, while I waited for her to read my story, I prayed that she would like it.
I know Darcia is a straight shooter (pardon the pun) when it comes to reviews, and she won't gloss over them. If she likes the story, she'll say so and if not, she'll tell you why. So you can imagine my relief when she gave me a wonderful review. Okay, so I was happy that I wasn't shot down (again, pardon the pun) in flames by someone who has a lot more experience than me in this kind of genre.
The big surprise, however, came when I started to get reviews from other authors who purchased my work and read it. One of them was romance author, Gloria Antypowich, who posted a wonderful review of my novel on Amazon and on her blog. Then, there was Aussie author Charles Jackson, who also gave me a great review.
My novel has been purchased by many people, some of them leave reviews and some don't, but to me the biggest honour is when peers who read my work take the time from their busy schedules to leave a review. This says they truly liked my work, and nothing could be sweeter to me ... well, it would come close to that film option from George Clooney or Clint Eastwood! Hehehehehe.
So what's my point? Personally, as an author, I find it more scary to get reviewed by my peers than by the public in general. Don't ask me why, but there it is. That's not to say that the general public are not discerning enough when they review something they've read. Don't get me wrong; I've seen some fantastic reviews posted by readers of my and other authors' work. And whether the review is favourable or not, it doesn't matter. The feedback is what is important.
Still, it's little wonder that with all this anxiety about reviews authors are often driven to drink. LOL. Thankfully, I'm not a big drinker, so I am driven to cappuccinos and pizza, just like Mia Ferrari :-)
I was watching First Wives Club last night and I thought that women just can't win when it comes to the "unfair sex", as I call men. For those of you who haven't seen the movie, the storyline is about three 40-something women who've helped their husbands in various ways while they were married; be that to build their business, their career, or bear their children; and then, when life should be sweet, these bastard men dump their wives for younger women.
I really love the part Goldie Hawn plays--she's a 45-year-old actress, begging her plastic surgeon to inject her lips with botox. The doctor tells her that she looks fantastic as she is, and that she should be happy being her age. Goldie replies: "There are three ages in Hollywood: 'Babe', 'District Attorney' and 'Driving Miss Daisy'; now, fill them up!" (She orders the doctor to inject her lips). Later, she's so depressed because she was asked to play the role of a mother in a movie, instead of that of the young protagonist, that she's at a bar getting drunk and talking to Maurice, the bartender. She says to him in tears: "They want me to play Monique's mother, Maurice. Let me ask you, is this the face of a mother?" The bartender says no, at least not his mother's. Then Goldie goes on: "Angela Lansbury is Monique's mother; Shelley Winters is Monique's mother; Sean Connery is Monique's mother..." At this point, Maurice becomes concerned and tells her he'll get her some coffee. But Goldie declines and replies: "No, forget that, Sean Connery is Monique's boyfriend--he's 300 and still a stud!"
So what is the message here? That women in their prime (40s an 50s) are being dumped by men after they've been used up. After men have had children by their wives, or built their careers through them, or been introduced to all the right people and climbed their way to the top; suddenly, their wives become a drag. A man, even if he's as old as Sean Connery, has to be seen with a younger woman. Look at the film "Entrapment" where Sean Connery plays a master thief in his 60s, opposite a 30-something Catherine Zeta-Jones! I mean, come on! But this goes back to the days of old, so no wonder older modern women haven't got a chance.
Let's look at some old movies that have set us on the road to perdition. Sabrina--a 22-year-old Audrey Hepburn falling for a late 40s or early 50s Humphrey Bogart; Rebecca, a 20-something Joan Fontaine falling for a 40-something Laurence Olivier, and the list goes on!
But let us also look at real life in the old days of say, Jane Austen, and even hundreds of years prior to this. Young girls of 16, 17, and sometimes even younger, were married off to old guys in their 40s, 50s and beyond. Unfortunately, not much seems to have changed in this so-called age of liberated and independent women. We may not be forced to marry an old codger, but old codgers are still ending up with younger women--and they don't necessarily have to be rich or celebs either!
We may have won the right to vote, we may be breaking through the glass ceiling in the corporate world (though at a slow rate), but one thing we cannot change is this: as men grow older, they are called distinguished and no-one seems to bat an eyelid if he's sporting a 22-year-old on his arm. As women grow older, we are called hags, has-beens, used up, dried up, etc, etc, ad infinitum. And God forbid if we decided to go out with a younger man! Even Demi Moore lost her young beau (or so I heard).
Unfortunately, this is the way in modern society, and I don't think it's going to change any time soon. Moreover, it isn't only reflected in real life and films, but also in literature. Look at chick-lit. I've been reading hundreds of comments in blogs and in Facebook from women who say they cannot find a decent romance with a protagonist older than 30! (And even 30 is a bit too long in the tooth these days). But now we have "hen-lit", though not as widely known as chick-lit. Having said this, I believe that this genre is an emerging trend, as women from the baby-boomer period (those born between 1945-1964) are at the peak of their earning power, hence they tend to set the trends.
So, we might be dumped for a younger woman, though we helped our spouses to greater heights, (yes, behind every great man there is an even greater woman); we might be looked upon by our younger sisters as having passed the "use by" date; younger men might want to shag us for the experience (after all, our younger sisters couldn't hold a candle to our sexual expertise), but the young men will sooner or later flock to the babes, along with the older, middle-aged men who've dumped their wives. But I have to say that through all this, we remain strong and independent; we have clarity and focus, we know what we want and we are doing it for ourselves (as the song says). Whereas the men who've dumped us are still wading in their pathetic pool of self-pity, trying to find themselves. And you know what? Eventually, they'll be dumped by the "babes" because they won't be able to keep up. So what will you do when your ex comes knocking at your door to tell you he was wrong to leave you?
I know what I would do. As Diane Keaton tells her ex, who wanted to come back to her, in First Wives Club; she simply says: "drop dead."
Okay, this is really spooky. It seems that every time I write a novel I am either on the way to fulfilling some kind of unknown or subconscious prophecy, or my life changes in such a way that I start to become like the main character in my novel.
For instance, when I wrote the romantic comedy, The Other Boyfriend (TOB), in 2010, there were certain elements in the story that at the time were mainly fiction but partly based on an old ex-boyfriend. But lo and behold, within months of publishing TOB my marriage broke up and I discovered in my ex-husband aspects of the lying, cheating and thieving person he turned out to be--and which he shared with one of the characters in TOB! Ironically, when I started my first draft of TOB, I hadn't even met my now ex-husband. Yes, I started working on TOB about a year before I met him!
Now, I have just finished writing Playing With The Bad Boys--A Mia Ferrari Mystery; and suddenly, I've started to become more like her: confident, sassy, doesn't suffer fools gladly, assertive, strong, and a whole lot more. Well, I've always possessed these personality traits, but now they have become a lot more pronounced. And what's really strange is that Mia Ferrari works for a hotel group and this is where she stumbles upon her mysteries. Now, only this week, I have started consulting for a hotel group! You see, my bread and butter comes from consulting (this is until I become famous like JKRowling. LOL), and in between my consulting I write.
One of my present clients is a wholesaler and I have been consulting to them for 20 months. But as soon as I finished writing Mia's first mystery I landed my second client, and sure enough, like Mia, I will be working within a group of hotels Australia-wide. So how's that for spooky? I only hope that when I start consulting this coming week I won't stumple upon a dead body, like Mia does in her first mystery!
I know that writers draw from their life experience, but it all starts to get a little weird when something I write about ends up happening in my life at a later stage. On the upside, this sets me to thinking that I should write about winning Lotto! Hmm. Food for thought.
Wow! I am honoured and humbled that my novel "The Soul Bearers" has not only been getting some rave reviews, but has now made it to Editor's Choice on the Breakthrough Bookstore!
I worked long and hard on this novel, which started out by being a screenplay in 1997, and which I adapted into a novel in 2000. After counteless drafts and having worked on it for 13 years, it's fantastic to see that it's getting such wonderful reviews and the recognition it deserves!
Now I'm waiting for Robert Redford or George Clooney to come along and buy the film rights to it :-)
Another great review came in today for my novel The Soul Bearers by Maria Snell, blogger and book reviewer. Her blog is called "Flair".
This is what Maria said about my novel:
The Soul Bearers by Sylvia Massara is an absolute triumph! This is the story we all wish we could write! It is one of the most deep soul touching, more profound novels I have ever read. The depth of the despair and love that these three characters feel is unequaled to anything I have ever experienced
through a book. This is a story of love and loss, of rejection and acceptance,
of life and death, of hope and rebirth. You will cry your eyes out - it was a
deeply cathartic read for me. Beautifully written, with characters that will get under your skin and you will embrace, with a depth of humanity unparalleled
to any other book I have read, poetic and raw at the same time. Hope; hope is
the word that defines this book: hope in spite of certain death, hope in spite
of rejection and abuse, hope resulting from true unconditional love. Hope that heals, hope that forgives, hope that is the way to rebirth. Love as the only important thing worth living for. Alex will find love - both spiritual and physical - through the love shared by Steve and Matthew, a love that will grow to embrace her too and help her exorcise the demons of her very abusive childhood. And healing will come on the wings of a butterfly.
This book is a definite MUST READ. No holds barred, no caveats. This book will show you pure, unadulterated love and hope through tears and loss.
Sylvia Says: Thank you, Maria, for your candid review of my novel. By the way, this review was not solicited. Maria asked for a copy of the book to review, and knowing she's an excellent reviewer, I sent her a copy hoping she would like it. Well, she did, and she's made my day! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
AND here's a peek at my book trailer:
This morning I woke up, feeling rather sorry for myself and wondering why life has to be so difficult at times. Anyway, I made myself a coffee (coffee always helps to hold misery at bay, especially if you're a writer. LOL), and then I switched on my computer to check my emails and found this lovely, wonderful message from an author who apparently read my book "The Soul Bearers". This was not a "giveaway" copy or a solicited review at all; this came from the reader's own experience after she read my book (which I assume she must have purchased). The double bonus is that she's an author herself--and I know that we authors make the hardest critics. Therefore, I am honoured, thrilled and grateful to have received this review. It certainly made my day--and made the last 13 years that I spent working on this novel worth every minute of it (yes, it took that long because I went crazy with drafts and edits and more edits. Hehehehe).
So here is what author, Gloria Antypowich, had to say:
"Sylvia--I just finished "The Soul Bearers" last night. This book really touched my heart--and I want to hug you. It truly is "a story about great human courage and unconditional love in the face of adversity". It is controversial subject matter, but real life for many in this world. I think this is one of those stories that needs to be read. It is a wonderful book that should make people think about how circumstance, judgement, betrayal, deep friendship and unconditional love and great human courage can affect lives. I have a wonderful daughter-in-law who I am going to buy this book in paperback for; she will feel the same way I do about it and she will share it with many. I did leave a review on Amazon for your book. Thank you for your work."
When a writer gets wonderful feedback like this, it certainly makes the months or years we spend toiling over a book worth every second.
I wrote back to Gloria, and informed her that The Soul Bearers is not out in paperback format yet, but if her daughter-in-law wants to read it, I'll be happy to give her a complimentary copy through Smashwords and she can download it to her computer, if she doesn't have an e-reader.
Well, thanks to Gloria, I am now going to have a wonderful day! :-)
Hello, Cat Ryan here. Just wanted to let you know that I’m back in the saddle again—the saddle, that is, of internet dating.
The good news is that after a few false starts I finally made a friend. Yes, a male friend. Woo hoo! They do exist, after all. Could this be a case of “When Harry met Sally” though? Harry didn’t think that males and females could ever be friends because the “sex” thing always gets in the way. Do you agree with this? Well, I tend not to. I think that if two people have lots in common and there is no physical attraction between them, then yes, they can be friends. I also think that even with males I’m attracted to, if I take the sex out of the equation, I need to know that we can at least be friends; otherwise, once the “lust” phase is over the whole relationship will collapse.
But back to the internet dating: A couple of weeks ago, I had coffee with a rather cute younger man (don’t ask me how much younger than me he was because I won’t reveal this in public). Anyway, this guy was very engaging and we had things in common, and I found myself thinking that perhaps our new “friendship” would turn into something more intimate. I could see myself getting involved with him, even though he wasn’t as cute as Richard Gere in American Gigolo, but then, who is, right?
Our date went well, we had lots to talk about and liked each other, and I thought he was rather romantic. He paid me nice compliments and told me I looked 26 instead of 4... (well, let’s just say 40, shall we?). We parted with a lovely hug, a chaste kiss, and the promise of another meeting. I then drove home and congratulated myself on how easily I got back in the saddle again, and was already anticipating our next date when suddenly I get a text message from him to the effect of the fact that he enjoyed the coffee with me and that he thought I had fantastic boobs.
OMG! Talk about vomit! Why do guys do this? Where’s the romance in “I love your boobs?” No class whatsoever. And that, my friends, was the end of that short-lived interlude.
This turned out to be just as bad as the guy who waited until he met me before he told me he was married. Needless to say, I had a very quick cup of coffee and ran out of there.
It’s really sad that with the advent of online dating and social media it has become so much easier for people to cheat on their spouses. There is very little honour left in this world, and even less fidelity.
So there isn’t much we can count on these days, except for those Nigerian scammers who are forever after me! Thank heavens I got it down to a fine art now, and it generally takes me under 3 seconds to find them out.
They say that it's better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all. Hmm. Let's examine this further.
I think we can all agree that when we first find love (no matter how misguided or blind we are) we feel like our little friend "Super Kitty". We are faster than a speeding bullet, can leap tall buildings in a single bound; we fly through space and everything looks absolutely "f....ckng" fantastic; that is, until we crash! This is when it turns out that the object of our affection has feet of clay. In fact, it would be nice if the object of my affection had cement shoes instead (but that's another story and something for The Godfather to work out).
So, after the devastation of a breakup and the death of our dreams, we are left feeling a little bit like our friend, The Pink Panther. Oh, just shoot me! And we start asking all sorts of questions: "What did I do?" (This is a typical one asked, mainly by females. I mean, why should it be our fault all the time?). "Why did he/she leave?" And some of us get the good old: "It's not you, it's me" bullshit.
Okay, so the answer to the question: "Is it better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all?"
The answer: I DON'T FREAKIN' KNOW!!!
And you thought I was going to say something really philosophical, right? Sorry to disappoint you.
All I can say is that while the first phase of love can be as exhilarating as
landing a 747 airplane on your own while being guided by "ground control", and have Bruce Willis in the back of the plane shooting all the bad guys; having your heart broken is like crashing the bloody plane and killing everyone onboard--including Bruce Willis!
Is there a payoff to putting yourself through all this, only to come out bruised and absolutely crushed with disappointment at the other end? Ask the Dalai Lama.
There is only one thing I am sure about, and it is this; having gone through some harrowing experiences with the opposite sex, I've learned the following:
*If you’re an author, your writing suddenly gains more depth.
*If you’re a woman over 40, you have a higher chance of being killed by a terrorist than finding a real man.
*You get sick of people telling you that “what goes around comes around”. This means to me that I must’ve done something really terrible in a previous life (or even this one) in order to deserve meeting those #%&@#@ good-for-nothing SOBs.
*Life’s a bitch and then you die :-(
*“Eat, Pray, Love”. I tried eating and got indigestion; I prayed, but this didn't change any of the psychos out there; I didn’t find anyone to love yet, but then, I'm not Julia Roberts; however, ... I AM STILL COOL!
Hi all, Cat Ryan here. I just want to say that I have now exhausted my internet dating exploits and I just give up! I’ve had it with the Nigerian scammers, the married men posing as single men, the married men telling me they’re married and still looking for “a bit on the side”, the weirdos, the psychos, the tightarses who make you pay for your own coffee, the ones who want to make contact with you but are not prepared to send you an email through the online site because it costs them money to make initial contact—so yeah, they expect Cat to fork out. And let's not even get into the "gigolos" who tell Cat she looks like she's 25 years of age (just to get her in the sack) when she knows very well she's in her 40s--mind you, a good looking 40! Yes, I still got it. LOL.
God, you name it and Cat’s been through it. For a millisecond, Cat actually considered running off with a lipstick lesbian who propositioned her. LOL! But no, Cat’s a straight girl and she’s looking for a real man. It seems the quest is over though, and Cat hasn’t found “the one”.
The good news is that Cat is the main character in my novel “Like Casablanca”, so she’s lucky in that in the end she’ll find the prince; well, that’s if she doesn’t blow it. But what’s in store for Cat’s creator, novelist Sylvia Massara? Well, she’s now planning “murder and mayhem”, a more entertaining pursuit than trying to find romance.
This is Cat Ryan and Sylvia Massara signing off from the Cat Ryan Internet Dating Capers—and we thank every one of you who’ve left comments in the past on Cat’s posts.
Ciao for now!
Another report from Cat Ryan from Like Casablanca: Yes, I'm still in character and scouring the bottom of the barrel on 4 different internet sites. All I got so far has been a range of men from age 21 to 70 years interested in talking about nothing but sex online. OMG! These "spine donors" (for want of a better word) don't even have the guts to meet me for a coffee first, let alone use some kind of subtlety to string a woman along! Not to mention that tight fist of theirs, after all, a cappuccino in Sydney will set you back around $3.00 to $3.50 (much more than a good novel written by Cat's alter ego--Sylvia Massara).
All I'm after is some stimulating conversation over a nicely made Italian cappuccino and the promise of a budding frienship. Remember what Rick Blaine said to Louis in the movie Casablanca: "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship".
Well, Cat Ryan will battle on, but in the meantime, she'd like to leave you with a special on all Sylvia Massara novels. The novels have been repriced for a limited time to 99c on Kindle and $1.45 for all other eBook formats. Multi-formats may be found on Smashwords. For links to all of Sylvia's books go to the home page on this site or click on the above (pls note: Kindle is a bit slow processing the new price, so if the price isn't 99c yet, just wait a couple of days).
Now, please wish Cat good luck. She's now beginning to get messages from men in the States and the UK, even though she specifically stated in her dating profile that she's not into long distance relationships. Yes, you guessed it, these panting, sex starved males don't even stop long enough to read a girl's profile.
I only have one word for all this, and it's a noise more than a word: Aaaarrrgggghhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Author Sylvia Massara's: