Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Thanksgiving Gift from Me to You and HUGE Savings On My Website

I'd like to offer thanks for my readers this Thanksgiving. If you go to my website on Black Friday, you can buy my self published books for a huge discount and I will personally send a copy to you. the sale will continue through the holidays.


Right now I'm not sure where I'll be on this Thanksgiving Day. I'm aiming for Michigan so I can be with my two youngest grandchildren because I have plans to visit my other children in Colorado in December. Last Thursday I made a full dinner for my oldest grandson here in Texas, and the only child I'll be missing is my oldest son, who actually lives close to me. We'll get together when I return. And just so you know...I swore I wouldn't travel during the winter to visit these kids who left Florida for places like CO and MI and TX. This weather is ridiculous.  But thank goodness for technology or I'd really be devastated by the distance between us. I've been fortunate to be able to Facetime the grandchildren often so they have always known me. And we are at a point where I can also text the oldest one. I sort of love being in their lives on such a personal level, and we don't take out time together for granted. 

So as much as I'd like to gripe about social media and technology...living our lives with our faces glued to our phones...it has it's positive purpose. So this Thanksgiving not only am I giving thanks for technology enabling me to interact with long distance loved ones...I'm also thankful for the ability to work from home...or from anywhere. My next book has been brainstormed and edited in multiple airports. I'm not good at writing on planes because not all my content is rated for just anyone looking over my shoulder. Although this book should not offend anyone...there's no reason for me to share it with total strangers when I could share the new opening with you!

So my special friends, here is the first opening installment of Hair of the Were - Book 1 by Eliza March in the series As The Chair Turns. I hope you enjoy it.

Hair of the Were [copyright 2017 Eliza March] 

As the Chair Turns  Series [copyright 2016 by Eliza March]

 Chapter One – Son of a Son of a…

 The sea summoned me. And an ache deep in my bones couldn’t resist the longing. I hummed along with the band at the beach bar covering Jimmy Buffet tunes while the crowd sang along. My lips curled into a wide smile as I inhaled the Pina Colada scented tanning oil and the salt-water tinged air wafting on the breeze. Mmm. This was the first day since graduation that I’d been to the beach in what seemed like forever, and I intended to enjoy every minute of it. Allowing the salt air to fill my lungs, the artificially filtered, air-conditioned crap I’d been breathing at work and at school would soon be cleansed from my being…and I could be one with the sea. Or more precisely, one of hordes of hundreds. The beach was packed.
Looking for a place to plant myself in the warm sand, I forced the ever-present tension from my mind. Tomorrow morning was soon enough to worry about my job interview. A kiss from the sun would improve my disposition and my tan and that would do wonders for my confidence. My balyage blonde highlights may be my trademark, but they looked best when I had some color in my cheeks.
“Delia.” A familiar voice called my name. My new condo neighbors, sat not far from where I stood. Jenn and Carrie were responsible for my job opportunity. Sort of. In a backhanded compliment sort of way. If I hadn’t overheard them talking about the management position opening up at Luna de la Mar International Salon and Spa…I don’t think they would have mentioned it.
“Come here,” Carrie waved me over and I carefully stepped around a few bodies in my way.
“Nice hat, Jenn.” I said but she  responded with a bored grunt. Strange girl. She hid under an umbrella with a large floppy hat, huge sunglasses, and a beach cover up. Obviously not a beach person I decided just as a teenage boy jogged by kicking up sand in Jen’s direction. Carrie chanted something in a foreign language and the sand took a sharp left and dropped like beads of heavy metal.
Jenn brushed off the imaginary sand and seemed annoyed. “This place is a zoo.” But not a speck of sand landed anywhere near her.
I stammered for a moment ready to question what the heck just happened but no one noticed and continued with business as usual. Perhaps I had too vivid an imagination. I licked my forefinger, raised it to check the wind direction, and nada. Not enough breeze to ruffle my hair.
Jenn intimidated me from the moment we met—I don’t know why—so I shut my mouth. I was genuinely more comfortable with Carrie who, to prove the similarity in our tastes, wore a bikini almost as tiny as mine and sat boldly in the full sun.
I turned my biggest grin on her and said, “That’s the cutest suit ever.” And it was. I wasn’t just blowing smoke. “I love the combination of pinks with that specific shade of green.” Reminded me of watermelons.
“Not too skimpy?”  Carrie asked.
“Not on a nude beach,” Jenn said.
I took off my beach shirt and posed. “Ya think?” Mine had half the material. Carrie and I burst out laughing while Jenn tolerated us.
 “I love it.” Carrie agreed. “Jenn thinks I should cover up. Too much tanned skin doesn’t go with her personality.”
“Ha-ha—very funny, Carrie,” Jenn said and cracked the teeniest smile. “You’ll all be wrinkled like prunes in a desert in a few years, while my skin will remain smooth as a… Never mind. I prefer a light creamy color to my complexion.” She lowered her glasses to make eye contact with me. “No offense, just forget to moisturize regularly. Your coloring is perfect.”
I wasn’t sure I believed her, but I thanked her just the same. They were both incredibly attractive in their own sultry way, and I estimated them to about mid to late twenties—like me. For some reason, they made me feel young, though, I didn’t think it was intentional.
“Tell us. Did you qualify for the interview?” Carrie interrupted my thoughts.
“Yes! And thank you both.”
“Wait…” Carrie said. “You passed the written test?” they responded in unison, staring at me incredulously.
“I’m so excited.” I may have misinterpreted the level of surprise on their faces before they concealed it. Perhaps not.  I’d seen it but I didn’t know what it meant.
“Excellent,” Jenn said carefully and gave Carrie a quick glance, the kind close friends share that make other people uncomfortable. “We just didn’t think you’d be interested.”
“Why not? It’s like my dream job. Doing hair and managing one of the most famous spas in the world? It’s everything I could hope for. Getting an extra degree certainly paid off—listen to me jumping to conclusions. I still have to interview.”
Carrie still seemed uncertain. “You were able to read and answer all the questions on the forms?” She squinted at me.
“Why yes, Of course I could read and answer the questions—” I bristled for a moment. “I do have a Master’s in Business Administration.” Her question puzzled me. Did they think I was an idiot?
“She didn’t mean to insult you,” Jenn hastily added. “It’s just, we heard they sometimes add trick questions.”
“Oh, well that makes sense.” I sat in the sun, smoothing my ruffled feathers. “Come to think of it, there was one question I’ve never seen on a job application before.”
“Really?” Carrie gulped. The two young women turned to each other then back at me. Were they holding their breath, waiting? They seemed concerned. 
Nah. What did they have to be worried about with me?
 “What in the world could they have a-added to the application since we applied?” Jenn’s voice cracked half way through her question.
I pulled my hair up into a bun to get it off my back for an even tan. Jenn paid close attention when I answered. I tapped my forefinger against my lips. “In the section where it asks for sex, religion, and race. You know the regular stuff. There was a line that asked for species. At first it threw me off.”
 “So I wrote in ‘human’. I can’t imagine what else they were looking for.” I scrunched my nose and I shrugged. “What else would go there?”
Carrie chuckled and reached over and patted me. “Sounds like that trick question all right.”
“You got the interview with Sophia de Wolfe, so it must be okay,” Jenn said, but looked astonished as she scrutinized me as if she’d never seen me before.
“What’s the matter,” I asked. Usually she was a little aloof, so I didn’t take her attitude to heart. But she did appear genuinely stunned.
“Nothing…nothing at all. I wish you the best.” She shoved her glasses on her nose and leaned back in her sand chair. “I can’t wait to hear all about your interview tomorrow night.”
“How did you know my interview was at night?”
She cleared her throat. “It’s too busy during the day to interview.”
“Uh—right.”
****
 Within a few minutes, the heat from the sun scorched my body. I needed to cool off in the water.
“Anyone interested in a little body surfing?” I asked as I stood. “I could use a little stress-relief exercise.”
“I’m not all that into swimming,” Carrie said but agreed to cool off by the water and watch me. “I prefer dancing to all this other workout stuff.”
“I don’t believe in doing anything strenuous,” Jenn added. “I can’t afford to break a nail.”
Her being a nail tech at the spa, I figured she could handle the repair—but who am I to judge? “Okay, then stay hydrated. It’s warmer than you think. The breeze can trick you.”
She held up her water bottle and saluted me, as Carrie accompanied me to the water’s edge. Our towels in hand, we were ready to claim an empty dry spot out of the tide’s reach.
I found my spot and walked toward the water. “I’m going in. How about you?”
“Sure, but just for a minute. Then I’ll watch you from here.”
Carrie took a quick dip, and I went out farther to catch a wave or two after she walked back to the shallows where the incoming tide washed over her. It was a great cooling off technique, but sand accumulation in private places was a devil of a problem later.
The flag claimed the surf condition was calm, yet the waves were getting slightly stronger…perfect for body surfing. I caught about four good ones before I sensed a riptide building. The life guard had her attention on a small group of young teens who’d drifted out too far. She blew her whistle and motioned them ashore. All but two managed to drag themselves back to the beach. One, caught in the newly formed rip current, headed toward me. I took the angle closest to where I estimated she’d end up and swam out, hoping to cut her off. Seeing my intension, the life guard ran into the surf after the other one.
Adrenaline gave me the burst of strength I needed to maintain my position until I grabbed the girl. “Stay calm. I’ve got you,” I gasped.
“We’re going farther out,” she screamed.
“We’ll be okay.” I lowered my voice and gave her clear instructions. “Tread water and hold on. We’ll swim out when it weakens or someone will come get us.”
Usually a riptide moves along the shoreline, and eventually you can swim out where the current abates. This one seemed to be strengthening, and we were running out of shoreline fast. The young girl was breathing hard, and I was getting worried.
“Don’t struggle. I’m a strong swimmer, but I need you to keep your head. Understand?”
She nodded.
“There isn’t a place to get inside the current. I can’t reach the beach. Our only hope is a boater or the Coast Guard.” I glanced back where the lifeguard had the others and waved for help. She looked in our direction with a phone to her ear and waved acknowledgement. Thank goodness, because the people on the beach were getting smaller by the second.
“I’m getting so tired.”
“Hang in there, sweetie, the lifeguard is calling for help. I can see her.” Then I heard the engine of the coastguard cutter coming through the pass. “Hear that, chickie? It’s our ride.”
I smiled at the kid, and when she saw the boat racing toward us she sighed.
“Okay. I can do it.” She got a second wind and grinned.
I hoped so, because the damn riptide seemed to be tugging on me even harder.
****
Two Coasties pulled the young girl aboard while I climbed the ladder. My legs went rubbery on me as soon as I touched the first rung, weakening even faster than I expected. I focused on the child getting aboard until I face planted into two nicely shaped legs and an even nicer groin covered in blue shorts.
Seriously muscular arms pulled me the rest of the way into the boat and held me up as my feet hit the deck.
“Are you okay…hurt anywhere?” a deep resonant voice asked.
My view was limited to a massive chest, and when I lifted my chin I was in for a surprise. There in front of me was the most handsome guy I’ve ever laid eyes on.
So help me god…like movie star handsome. You know…check-your-breath, close-your-mouth, wipe-the-drool-off-your-face handsome.
My noodle knees failed me a second time, but he caught me as I faltered. I hoped my bathing suit held up. There wasn’t all that much to the teeny-tiny top and floss bottom to begin with. But he did not seem to take notice, instead he appeared more concerned with my well-being.
Bless his conscientious soul.
He helped me to a seat and waited for me to sit. When he finally released my shoulders, I realized he’d been keeping me upright all along. I went all wobbly and weak in my seat. Not that I’d show it. What the experience hadn’t taken out of me…being rescued by Thor in a Coast Guard uniform did. Someone handed me a water bottle and draped a towel over my shoulders while I ogled my hero.
“Thanks,” I had enough ingrained manners to respond.
“You’re welcome,” a voice with no face replied.
Thor didn’t take allow his eyes to stray beyond my face, so I guess his concern was genuine. “You didn’t answer me. Are you injured?”
“I’m fine. Just feeling the adrenaline letdown,” I answered.
“We’ll have you both checked out onshore.” While Thor gave orders, someone reported in over the radio. They had us. We were safe.
Thor gave the order to turn the boat. We slowly maneuvered our way back through the pass to the intercoastal side of the beach. 
 “You did good,” I told the girl who I’d kept afloat.
“No…you were fantastic,” she said. “You saved my life.”
"My pleasure." I smiled. “You listened and did what I told you. Smart girl.”
Thor turned from the helm and stared at me with a deep burning heat in his ice-blue eyes. I’ve never seen eyes quite that color.
“Really, she saved me,” the girl insisted. “I was giving up, and she told me what to do.” Her eyes brimmed with tears. “I don’t even know your name.”
“Delia…” I said, never taking my eyes from Thor.
He gave me a tiny, knowing smile.  Music played in the distance. Angels sang. The sun broke through the clouds. No—none of that happened, but OMG his smile had that effect on me. All women must react to him this way. Wow.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Reviews? More FAKE News?



As if we don't get enough FAKE, a former reputable review site is another place where I've now had to consider the source. Two days ago, I received an email reminding me this was the final chance to sign my book up for a review if I hoped to have it considered for the annual contest. (Important award, I'd add here.) Yadda yadda and the details followed. Well not really. The links to click followed. When I clicked to see how to enter, knowing there is always a fee, I was surprised to see a reviewing fee for $425-$500 and a note that only books reviewed by them are eligible for the contest. So in essence, the exorbitant entry fee is the review fee.  I'm assuming they consider their review advertising. The author has the option of having the review posted on the site...or not. I guess it depends on the review.


I can't even offer a solution to what seems like a very shady operation by one of the most widely respected review sites over the years. Books have always been submitted for reviews to major reviewers and then the reviewers volunteered or were assigned books to review. Some of these reviewers made a name for themselves and expanded into newspapers and magazines and then websites. Many independent reviewers reviewed on blogs in return for the opportunity to read for free. One review site sells advertising and reviews entirely different books. There's a wide variety out there. 

Ads are one thing. Reviews are different. Their website isn’t a magazine. Prices for online ‘now you see it now you don’t’ content is different from a paper magazine sitting in a doctor’s office picking up new Readers every 15 minutes. Ads are pointedly paid for material ... that’s understood. A review is not supposed to have strings. Now, based on the very large fees being charged for reviews, I'd love to read the books and write reviews ... but honestly, I can't believe the fee wouldn't be an influence on me. Perhaps I'd word my review with more care, hoping the author would submit again next year. 

Since reviews are linked to Amazon rankings, which weighs heavily in book visibility, this "pay to play" system is looking ever more shady. Amazon claims they take down reviews from people with too close a relationship. Friends, relatives, FB buddies. That describes my life. I tell everyone I know about my books. How else am I going to have sales with no additional capital investment? So when Amazon takes down these reviews, it kills me. My husband didn't write one and neither did my mother, but other authors I know did, authors whose opinions I respect, and they weren't always generous with the stars. That wouldn't help the readers or me. I believe they were honest with their opinions. Those who couldn't give me at least a three stars and a positive review probably just didn't comment at all. That works for me as a reader and an author. I've had trolls who I believe didn't even read my books review them as if that was going to help their friend's book rank higher. I don't know. Maybe it will, but when all is done,  I'll be on the high road heading up looking at them heading down the low road.  I hope they can handle the heat.

I'd be naive to believe money doesn't play a large part in everything we do. Advertizing is king, right.  So exposure costs either time or money. I read the reviews on Amazon. And I usually read the bad ones first. Why didn't this guy like the computer? Keyboard. Another one star keyboard problem? And another. Guess what? If the keyboard matters to me...those reviews make a bigger difference than all the advertising in the world. So I don't want to find out they are receiving the computer for free and getting paid to use it and review it. I'm not sure I'd trust one of those reviews because the reviewer's future depends on how many "this review was helpful" checks they receive. 

Can't we all just be kind but honest? Can't we put ourselves in the other person's shoes and walk for a mile or two then write the review for the shoes? "I couldn't get the first ten feet because the backs dug into my heels, but they looked fantastic. I'm only going to wear them when I sit. I was given these shoes in exchange for an honest review. No one paid me $425-$500 to try them, but it would have helped, and if you want to enter these shoes in a contest, you'll need something for your blisters. I highly recommend..."

Anyway... this is a moot point for me. I had two books come out this year Dire Moon (awesome hot cover) and A Fae Myth (also an awesome cover) which were not national contest material, just easy enjoyable reading. Not everything I write is Pulitzer material like this blog. GRIN. But I suggest you check out some of my books and see if there's one you might enjoy. Eliza March at Amazon has them all. Except this one. It's not done yet. But it will be soooon.


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Hair of the Were will be my next book and the first in the ongoing series about Delia Belaquoit. I'm loving it so much I hope you'll at least give it a try and recommend it to your friends when it comes out.  Start looking for the first book in AS THE CHAIR TURNS, DeWolf’s Salon and Spa late 2017. Sign up and keep your eyes open if you want to volunteer to be one of the first BETA READERS for us. Subscribe to DeWolf's Newsletter for updates.