Thursday, October 24, 2013

Reviews: Everything & Nothing

Reviews: Everything & Nothing

As I sit back, read, relish and watch…I've learned a thing or two. While reading and watching, I've realized one important truth: negative reviews seem to give more insight to the reader and reviewer than it does to the author's work.

Imagine this: You've seen the preview for a movie. You anticipate the release, you make plans, you talk to friends, you discuss, you prepare and finally you schedule the perfect theater night to enjoy that one movie of the month that you've been dying to see.

Your greatly anticipated night arrives. The babysitter shows up on time, kids aren't screaming and you are ready to go. After fighting traffic, you arrive at the theater. The line winds into the parking lot. "Crap." It's not ideal, but you've waited and wondered for too long for a line to mess with your mood. So you wait. Finally you get your ticket and walk inside, eager to load up on the much awaited popcorn and soda. Again. A line. No problem, really. You can deal with it. The most important thing is the movie. You're vested in it after all. Finally, you make it through the concession line, the ticket master and now you are in your seat, ready to watch the movie you've waited for. Hopefully the kids on the third row back from you will stop barking out rude comments to one another and texting on their phones before the movie actually begins. They waited in lines as long as you did, so surely it will cease because they want to see this as badly as you do.

The theater darkens. The previews play and the movie starts. Oh, no. You waited in the ticket line and the concession line for almost an hour and you've waited for the movie to start for thirty minutes…and now you have to find a bathroom. As the cast credits role, you dash off to the bathroom, only to find another line. Ok…you've got this. The line seems fast enough, and you finally get a stall, do your business, wash your hands and run back to the movie to find your seat. Sure, you missed ten minutes, but it can't be that difficult to catch up. Right?

You absorb each visual, each word, each scene, hoping to catch up on anything you might have missed when suddenly, the person beside you needs to exit the aisle. You bend your legs back and let them pass. The teens that are three rows back comment on the size of the person exiting your aisle, while laughing, snickering and being rude. You let it go, take a deep breath and try to enjoy the rest of the show.

Three aisle exits, two bathroom breaks, five snickering teen comments, one ringing phone, and a temperature so cold it'd freeze a witch's tit later, you've had enough. You only want to get through the rest of it so that you can go home to a quiet, lovely world with screaming kids and real life, because that's where serenity happens. You might have enjoyed the movie, except the environment may have prevented it…so you really can't say. The movie was probably "so-so".

If the movie you've long awaited can be ruined by the environment you're in, can't the same happen to a book you're reading? After all, there are no visual displays. It's based entirely upon your silent reading...which requires more attention than a movie. There are NO pictures, no voices, just you and the book. Or is it you and the phone, dinner, cleaning, chores, work, meetings, screaming or sick children, barking dogs, meowing cats, crying babies, talking spouse, blaring television, running dishwasher, nosey neighbor, UPS delivery, upset stomach…etc.

So how was that book? Do you really know? Did you have time to actually read it? Perhaps it was the same as the movie?

I'd never leave a bad review. What's the old saying? Come on. You know it. Repeat after me. "If you can't say anything nice…" That's right. So, those people who don't take the time to consider that they're mad at their surroundings, their environment, their life in general and chose to leave hateful (not constructive) reviews of your work…well, consider the source. Look at the majority of the high star reviews as opposed to the minimized low star reviews. Most of the reviews that are one and two star never once mention anything significant in the storyline or book other than what is stated in the synopsis. Did they take the time to read it, or were they distracted by life? Maybe it's a scorned author that feels that another author is competition? In theory, author competition is the most ridiculous notion to exist. There is enough literature to last everyone a lifetime. EX: someone who reads YA might not read erotica or children's novels. Those that read paranormal might not care for contemporary.

I will continue to appreciate all the honest reviews that I receive. As an author, it helps future readers decide if they'll give your writing a chance. As for those reviews that are hateful, unspecific and off the mark of every other review…well…one has to wonder how crazy it was the night they pretended to give the book or movie their attention. The effort is only half the journey. Can you honestly say that your environmental surroundings or mood was not the other half? Are you absolutely sure you didn't enjoy the book, play or movie? Did it stand a fair chance? Remember: "If you can't say anything nice…"

The fireside rambling of a reader, writer and avid coffee drinker.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Hit the Road, Jack.

M.L. Stephens is hitting the road. Come meet me at my first book signing on 10/26/13 in Springdale, AR.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Step into the uncomfortable zone

Are you too comfortable?

Throughout our lives, awkward situations and uncomfortable moments inevitably happen. Your heart races, your palms grow sweaty and your mind instantly tries to scramble together a reasonable excuse to help you escape.

When you're in your comfort zone, the opposite is true. Your body is lax, your mind is at ease and you feel safe. We're creatures of habit and most of us enjoy the familiar routines we've built our lives around.

But what happens when you become too content? Do you become complacent, maybe lazy even? Do your daily deeds become thoughtless actions rather than purposeful intentions? What about family, work and friends? Have you allowed yourself to fall into a routine without considering the importance of your words and acts? How does your complacency affect those around you? Many couples have date night, poker night and various other "fun" nights to keep their relationships alive, but what about your art? How do you keep it alive?

If thoughtlessness can penetrate our daily lives, it can most assuredly infiltrate our professional ones.  When it comes to art, there aren't templates available to make your writing, your paintings or your music a best seller or hit. You've got yourself, your musings and your passion to see you through. There's no copy and paste button for life and there certainly isn't one when it comes to creating original art. Each piece should be a new beginning, a fresh start.

Does your pulse increase each time you enter your work space? Do you get excited when a new idea comes to mind? Do you scramble for ways to maneuver your non-essential tasks in order to make time to create? If not, maybe it's time to step into your 'uncomfortable' zone and reconnect with your slumbering artist. Wake up and fall in love again. The world awaits your masterpiece.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hurry up and don't die.

When will you die?

I have no idea and neither do you.

I asked that question to make you think. What happens if tomorrow doesn't happen? Will the world know your story? Did you do everything possible so that the world gained a new voice before yours expired? Did you? Or were you too busy finding the distractions needed to keep you from sitting down and typing the words?

I've heard it said, time and time again, "I'll work on it tomorrow." That sounds like a solid plan, but what if tomorrow doesn't happen? Does the world know the story that was buried inside of you? Let me answer that. "NO." There is only one person who knows the story inside of your head and that's you, so tell it. Write it. Create it.

You are your story. Your experiences are your story. Stop procrastinating and do it. If the story is in you and you have a desire to share…you will find the time. Life doesn't wait…why should you?
Shed the excuses and write!

If you're not a writer...the same applies. Shed the excuses and do what you're meant to do. The world awaits your signature piece.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Early Release!!


Everything you've ever heard or believed about witches, vampires and werewolves is about to change. How do I know? I'm Hecate—the original witch—I'm the one who created them all.

Hecate didn't dabble in dark magic. Watching her lover die at the end of another man's sword changed that. In a single act of vengeance, she turned her lover's killer into a werewolf and cursed him for eternity. It was A Witch's Curse to rival all others and it was her last act as a goddess.

Drago despised being a werewolf. He spent thousands of years searching for an antidote, only to discover that the witch who cursed him, also had to cure him. Unfortunately, that witch died lifetimes ago. Undeterred, he continued to search. Two years ago he found Hecate's remains lying in a crypt hidden deep within the Louisiana Bayou. Today, he watched a coven of witches bring her back to life.

He killed her lover. She damned him for all time. Can two souls who are destined to be eternal enemies, learn to forgive enough to live again?

A stand alone novel which takes place in the Broken Series universe, but can be enjoyed without reading the previous books.
Broken Series:
Love You More (Broken Series)
Innocence Lost (Broken Series #2)
Sacred Heart (Broken Series #3)
Eternally Bound (Broken Series #4)
A Witch's Curse (A Broken Series Novel)
Available on B&N, Kobo, iStore and Create Space soon!!