In 1939, a sole Jewish smuggler immigrates to America to preserve a heritage Hitler hoped to erase. In 1944, two spies enter the United States on a mission to track down one man and a treasure of missing Spanish gold. In 2014, the immigrant’s son, his mind deteriorating from dementia, disappears, but not before he leaves his grandson clues, thrusting him into a mystery seventy-five years in the making. Blake Nolan and his girlfriend set out to unravel clues that could not only set secrets from history right again but also lead to two priceless treasures. With his grandfather’s life in the balance and suspects hot on Blake’s trail, will what was lost be found in time?
Jeff LaFerney is currently a full-time language arts teacher where he lives in Davison, Michigan. After coaching basketball for most of his career, he decided to write books instead and took on his new hobby. Now he spends his free time reading, writing, and editing books. He and his beautiful wife have two young adult children. His Clay and Tanner Thomas series focuses on a father and son team who use parapsychological abilities to solve mysteries. Jumper is a time-travel science fiction adventure. Lost and Found is a mystery/treasure hunt with ties to World War II. He also has a blog called The Red Pen where he usually infuses humor to share about himself or to give inspiration or writing tips.
Reviews are two sided issues. On the one hand, they're a key element for getting new readers. Reviews are recommendations that are out there for everyone to see. However, the other hand is out there with the knowledge that each review is a single person's opinion and are thus, by nature, very subjective.
Everyone loves when their book, or any other product, receives a good review. We like that people enjoy what we create, when they appreciate the work and love gone into every word. We like it even more when those people share their opinion with others. But, inevitably, there are going to be people out there who don't like it. It's not necessarily saying there's anything "wrong" with your story. You just can't please everyone. The way I look at it is, people who don't like your book are obviously not part of your target audience because you're targeting people who will like you book. (Even if they fall into the demographics of your target)
So, what is a review worth? The value is hard to measure and, like the review itself, is subjective. How much value do YOU put on the review? That is where your answer lies. If a review makes valid points, is well written, and professional... I value it more. It doesn't matter who wrote it. But if the review is inaccurate, questionably written, or unprofessional... I take it with the proverbial grain of salt.
Alright... As promised, here is the entire Kirkus review copied directly from the pdf they sent me. It's also available at the Kirkus website. Please stick with me till the end... it was a long process. LOL
First... let me say that I'm not upset about the actual review itself. It's an opinion. I don't agree with all of it, but it's not a bad review. I'm slightly annoyed about one comparison, but I can live with that. The errors and treatment by Kirkus, however... That's the issue.
TO ERIS - HUMAN
Payton Chronicles Book 1
ISBN: 978-1-4823-5141-5; March 15, 2013
In Snizek’s (Secret of the Shielded, 2014, etc.) latest YA fantasy, a 16-year-old looking for ways to reinvent herself finds out that she’s a genetic hybrid.
Eris Payton is an ordinary teenage girl…almost. Her whole life, she’s felt awkward and friendless, as she and her mother are constantly moving from place to place. Her misery is compounded by the fact that her dad left the family when she was little and her mom is an abusive drinker and drug abuser. One day, Eris sees a mysterious boy in a convenience store—a boy that no one else can see. At first she thinks he’s a ghost, but the truth turns out to be even stranger: he’s actually two beings combined. One of them is Matt, a human who disappeared a while ago; the other is Nelson, an electric being called a lucent, who’s able to join with humans in a kind of symbiosis. When Matt ran away from home and nearly died, the lucent joined with him to save his life, and now the two exist as one being. Nelson tells Eris that a virus has been killing lucents, but he was told that she could help—although he doesn’t know how. It all sounds crazy to Eris, but after a particularly bad night at home, she decides to go with Nelson to his underground community. It turns out that something in her blood might hold the cure to the lucent virus; she also aims to finally find out what happened to her dad, who genetically engineered her before her birth. Snizek creates an engaging world in her portrayal of the lucent community. The book is sometimes slow-paced, however, and there are occasional flashes of other popular YA novels: for example, lucents have skin that glows in the sunlight (à la Twilight), and they must undergo an aptitude test to learn to control their flow of electricity. However, the romance between Eris and Nelson is sweet and believable. Eris herself is a likable protagonist who always comes across as smart and capable, even when she doesn’t understand the new world she’s discovered.
An entertaining, if occasionally slow, read for fans of the paranormal and fantasy genres.
When I first read this, I had concerns.
The Secret of the Shielded isn't even part of the same series. So, why is it referenced?
2014 isn't the year To Eris - Human was published OR the year The Secret of the Shielded was published. (see pics at the bottom)
To Eris - Human is NOT a fantasy. It is a sci-fi/paranormal.
Now... These points have NOTHING to do with the actual review part. They are simply facts about the book that are wrong. This DOES however, cause me to think that perhaps the rest of the review may not be the honest and thorough review that I've always expected from Kirkus Reveiws. I've always dreamed of having my books reviewed by this company that has "The most authoritative book reviews, recommendations and author interviews in publishing." according to their advertising.
These errors have shaken my confidence, but I'm doing my best to accept the actual review part at face value.
So, what I did was email them. I thought perhaps it's an error as humans do (after all, look at the title of my book!)
Here is my email to them on July 8, 2015:
Dear Kirkus Reviews,
I have an issue with my review. It's not about whether the reviewer liked the book or not. But the reference within it. It shakes my confidence in the reviewer and causes me to question the thoroughness and attention to a review that was paid for.
At the top of the review it shows the following:
TO ERIS - HUMAN
Payton Chronicles Book 1
ISBN: 978-1-4823-5141-5; March 15, 2013
In Snizek’s (Secret of the Shielded, 2014, etc.) latest YA fantasy...
Secret of the Shielded is one of my books and is a YA fantasy. However, it's in a completely different series even. Also, while To Eris - Human does have paranormal elements, I list it as a sci-fi/paranormal, not a fantasy.
I do disagree with one part of the actual review, because it seems the reviewer didn't understand what was written. I realize that will not likely change the review and I'm fine with this, but I believe I need to call this to your attention.
"there are occasional flashes of other popular YA novels: for example, lucents have skin that glows in the sunlight (à la Twilight)" - Kirkus Review
Now, I realize the Twilight series is very popular and I do not entirely mind being compared in a good sense. However, here is an excerpt of my story that this comment is referring to. One line mentions the protagonist thinking about "glittery vampires", but the skin glowing itself is described in a manner that is not like Twilight and I feel it's misleading.
Excerpt from To Eris - Human:
Nelson began to talk about the music and other small talk and gradually I relaxed to the smooth sound of his voice. He told me things about the area, both outside and within the trees. Something about the way he spoke drew me in. His face almost glowed as he mentioned his favorite spot to sit in the forest. Then I realized he kind of was glowing with the sunshine falling on him. It reminded me of sticking a flashlight to my skin when the power went out, only not so red.
Thoughts of glowing angels, phantoms, and even glittery vampires from various books and movies went through my mind, and the bowl slid out of my hands onto the floor. Thankfully, it only dumped a few chips out. My jaw hung open and my eyes bulged as I stared at him. When he noticed, he stopped talking and looked at me in confusion.
I hope you will resolve the error in referencing the wrong book as I wish to publish and use the review I paid for. I'd appreciate any information about resolving any of these concerns. I hope this isn't a reflection of the standards that I am to expect in future reviews. I, like so many others, hold Kirkus Reviews to extremely high standards and my faith has been shaken by this.
Thank you for your time,
After sending this, I waited. With this tour quickly approaching and wanting to share my review I'd waited so long to get with the world, the wait was excruciating for me. Six days later, I still hadn't heard anything. So, I sent another email on July 14, 2015 at 8:16 am.
Dear Indie department of Kirkus Reviews,
Is there any particular reason why mentioning a completely different book, different copyright year, and different genre than the book submitted for review would be considered professional?
I'm shocked at the lack of response as well as the unprofessional "review" I received. If this is what I can expect from Kirkus, I'm seriously reconsidering submitting any future works to you. Or is this simply the Indie section of Kirkus? Are there lower standards for reviews of Indie authors?
I'm very disappointed in Kirkus Reviews quality at this point.
FINALLY... at 4:52 pm on July 14, 2015, I received a response from one of their interns. I've purposely left off the name of the intern.
Thank you for your patience. I discovered your first message in my junk mail today and I apologize for this belated response.
It is part of Kirkus’ established style to reference an author’s previous title in the review, regardless of whether or not we’ve reviewed other titles by the author. If you look at the other reviews published by Kirkus, you will see that this is standard for us. The intention is to give the reader some context and to highlight an author’s other work. We will not remove the parenthetical reference in the first line of your review.
Let me know if I can clear anything else up for you.
All the best,
My jaw just about hit the floor! They ignored most of my concerns. I do understand now why they referenced my other book. However, I looked up other reviews as suggested. Here are a few links to other books I found. These are random selections and I have not read any of the books.
Indie book reviews by Kirkus:
Heroes and Giantsby Douglas B. Ashby (No mention of any other possible works or statement of it being a debut.)
Mind Over Bullies by D. K. Smith (It does have the same type of book reference, but it reads more clearly to me that it's not identifying the other book as the reviewed book)
GreyNet by DS Kane (The reference to other works here is very clearly referencing another work. There is no doubt that the book in parenthesis is NOT the book reviewed)
Traditionally published books reviewed by Kirkus:
Never Ending by Martyn Bedford (Starred review; published by Random; no mention as to whether this is a debut or not, but no reference to any other works)
The Golden Specific by S.E. Grove (Published by Viking; Grove's other work is mentioned, but not formatted in the same manner)
Playful Pigs from A to Z by Anita Lobel (Published by Knopf; No mention of other works or statement of it being a debut)
My point is that NOT all of them are listed the same way. Even if they were, the copyright year is still incorrect for either book. I publish my books through Smashwords.com and Createspace.com ...
Both of my books referenced were published in 2013. In fact, of my 19 published works, I published all of them in 2013 with the exception of the first one (Tunuftol's Fortress of Light) which was published 12/12/12 on Smashwords then in January of 2013 through Createspace.
So.... While I did find a few comments in my review that I feel are "quotable" and I intend to use them so as not to feel the money spent was a COMPLETE waste, I seriously doubt that I will ever use Kirkus Reviews again. In fact, I will now look upon ALL of their reviews as questionable and possibly biased.
I definitely feel reviews of my books by individuals are far more valuable to me than the one I've paid for.
My experience is just that... my experience. I cannot speak for others who have or will receive reviews by Kirkus. In my opinion, they did not behave in a respectful, professional manner. This is what I have issues with.
NOTE: For those of you who have read (and especially those who have reviewed) To Eris - Human, you may find it interesting that you can comment on the Kirkus Review page.
Meeting the characters of the Payton Chronicles also called
My process of developing characters is to build a comprehensive profile for each main character to include their personal backstory. The information contained in this profile might just stay in the profile, but the purpose of it is to get you to know your characters.
If you think of your family or best friends. How many times have you seen something or heard something and said/thought... That is just like (insert name here). OR That couldn't have been (insert name here) because they'd never do something like that.
It's because you know them. You know their characteristics.
To write believable characters that people can connect with, you need to make them real. They need to have flaws and skills. They need to have hopes & dreams as well as fears & issues. Get to know your characters and even in a scene with a group of them, you'll know which characters will do what.. and why. It provides a base for consistent reactions.
You can even use this information to make someone step out of character at times. Are they normally a calm character, but has a secret fear of clowns? If so, they could act our of their normal character in a situation with clowns. Or if your character is normally mousy and fearful, they might show their inner strength in a situation where they're friends are in danger.
I love character building. I get to meet new friends and create antagonists even. Even they have reasons for why they do what they do. Perhaps that bully is that way because she's insecure. She doesn't get love at home despite all her possessions.
Perhaps those "brats" are that way because they have just lost a loved one and blame themselves.
Perhaps that man that you hate is that way because he was forced to watch his mother killed when he was a child and has had a mental break with reality.
All of these things and so many more are elements that can make a big difference in your writing.
Some of the characters of Payton Chronicles:
In To Eris - Human, Eris has experienced domestic violence. This isn't the theme of the story, nor is she a "victim" personality. She has inner strength and does what she can to grow as an individual -- to be more that what has happened to her. Her journey to free herself and find herself starts here.
Nelson is an interesting combination. He has the memories of Matt, but Nelson is the dominant personality. In the merge, he took on personality traits that weren't his norm. So, I can use this for "out of characteristic" reactions to things and have a plausible reason that doesn't make him psychotic or have other "mental issues." Imagine what it's like to absorb another persons mind - personality, memories, fears, hopes...
Quinn, the older brother has similar traits to his brother, as you might expect in siblings that compete, but he definitely has his own personality with strengths and weaknesses. His health issues put a much different spin on his reactions than Nelson's because they're facing an epidemic from different angles. Someone suffering an illness reacts in ways that someone watching them suffer might not understand.
Even the twins, Keeley and Greeley, are different. One is obviously more dominant than the other, but both are comical. Especially together. They're a team, bonded before birth, yet definite individuals.
Eris' mom has reasons for why she does what she does too. You may or may not understand or agree with her reasons, but they're hers. So, you don't have to. LOL. You may not like her, you may get upset with her, you may pity her. If I've done my job correctly, you may feel all of this and more.
I had planned on kick-starting it with the Kirkus Review, but apparently there's some issues with it and I can't post any excerpts until they publish it. Anyway, there are other reviews coming with this tour (ONE SCHEDULED EACH DAY) as well and I'll post the Kirkus Review as soon as I can.
To Eris - Human
Payton Chronicles series, book 1
by me (Ann Snizek)
Sixteen year old Eris Payton has led a difficult life and struggles to reinvent herself. When she meets Nelson, her life changes in a way she would never imagine. Nelson needs Eris to follow him back to Downside before the epidemic gets worse, otherwise his brother will die. But he must convince her that he’s real and that her DNA holds the key in time to save his brother. How can he convince her to trust him? Facing truths that challenge everything she thought she knew, Eris discovers the hidden world of lucents and her own mysterious origins. She finds herself and uncovers answers to questions she never thought to ask.
Lucents aren't ghosts... their energy beings that humans just can't see. With this discovery, an engaging new world emerges for Eris. One that provides hope and love in many ways that she'd lost so long ago. With her ability to see and hear Nelson, we are also able to witness the magnificence that we'd probably mistaken for ghosts or ethereal beings also.
So much is hidden beneath the surface. Beneath the translucent forms, beneath the ground, beneath the outer personas. The secrets held within change how Eris looks at everything.
Where did this story come from? I pulled from many sources for this one. The desire to disapear was a strong force in my childhood and one that so many can relate to. However, I wanted to show the strength that Eris has within her. A considerable force once unleashed.
Note: The books for the giveaway will have the new cover as shown above. Goodreads hasn't updated the cover yet. (sorry for any confusion)
Originally from Vermont, Ann now lives in Virginia with her husband. She enjoys exploring nature and the freedom to pursue the dreams of her imagination through writing. Her love of books from childhood continues today as she nurtures that love others -- always encouraging their imaginations.
Along with writing books Ann actively participates in the community, fighting illiteracy with the founding and facilitating of a creative writing club and volunteering as a certified ProLiteracy tutor at her local adult learning center. She also serves on the advisory board, marketing committee, and the committee for their used book store.
Struggling with disabilities of her own, she knows the thrill of triumphing over adversities. Her dry, sarcastic, and often corny wit finds its way into her writing where she pulls from life's experiences for inspiration... always sharing, growing, and learning.
it is easy to see details of world building when reading about Middle Earth or
Starships, a contemporary novel set in a small town also has a distinct world
that the author has created –
either by constructing a fictional setting or by choosing which parts of
a real setting to include or to omit.
world is a complex system of interdependent threads ranging from the physical
to the metaphysical and covering everything in between. Geography, population,
government, history, ethics and religion are just a few examples. The clearer
you are about the impact of each thread on your characters and story arc, the
more depth your world will have and the more alive it will feel.
as in our world, the way fictional characters perceive the world around them is
shaped by the culture they grew up in, their past experiences and their own
ideas of right and wrong. This in turn will affect how each character can
evolve over the course of the story.
worlds, even ones with magic, have limitations – and limitations are often a great starting point
for introducing problems and increasing tension. And tension, especially when
it is innate to your world’s
structure and your character’s
personal view of the world, is what makes a book something a reader can’t put down.
are your thoughts on world building? Is it something you do before your start
writing, while you are writing, or do you work on it when you are revising, or
do you do a mix of all three?
Born in the US,
Dina has lived on 4 continents, worked as a graphic artist for television and
as a consultant in the fashion industry. Somewhere between New York and Paris
she picked up an MBA and a black belt. Dina is currently the Regional Advisor
for SCBWI Belgium, where she lives with her husband, two children, three horses
and a cat.
Dina loves to
create intricate worlds filled with conflict and passion. She builds her own
myths while exploring issues of belonging, racism and the search for truth...
after all, how can you find true love if you don’t know who you are and what you
believe in? Dina’s key to developing
characters is to figure out what they would be willing to die for. And then
pushing them to that limit.
Dina is repped by
Kaylee Davis of Dee Mura Literary.
What do you get when you throw together a computer programmer/hacker working to get away from her manipulative and abusive father, the son of a disgraced diplomat trying to genetically modify illegal drugs, a talented musician who is a constant disappointment to his physician parents, and his little brother who isn't, with a derelict space ship, whose fried AI thinks the war that ended 40 years ago is still being fought?
DERELICT, book 1 of the Halcyone Space series.
If you're Ro (the programmer) and Barre (the musician), being granted a ship and the freedom to fly it only works if the ship does. At the start of ITHAKA RISING, book 2, it doesn't. And then Jem, Barre's brother, disappears. Getting Halcyone's jump drives to work again is a small matter next to the fact that Jem has contacted The Underworld, a black market where anything can be had, for a price. What Jem wants is a neural implant. The price for it could very well be his life and the resumption of hostilities in a war that never truly finished.
The Halcyone Space books are Science Fiction/Space Opera stories, suitable for older teen readers and adults and are available as trade paperback and in all eBook formats.
LJ Cohen is a novelist, poet, blogger, physical therapist, ceramics artist, geek, and relentless optimist. Her published books include YA fantasy novels (The Between and its sequel Time and Tithe, as well as Future Tense) and science fiction novels (Derelict and its sequel Ithaka Rising). Her short stories and poetry have appeared in numerous anthologies, ezines, and journals. She is co-editor of Pen-Ultimate: A Speculative Fiction Anthology. LJ is a member of SFWA, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
After almost twenty-five years as a physical therapist, LJ now uses her clinical skills to injure her characters. She lives near Boston with her family, two dogs, and the occasional international student.