Goodreads Book Giveaway – Many Kinds of Unforgettable

Well, who doesn’t want a good giveaway? A paperback book for free, what can be better, right?

If you agree, just follow the link bellow and enter the Many Kinds of Unforgettable Giveaway (sorry, folks, only for the US…)

Meanwhile, buy the first book in the series, Myself in Blue, and start falling in love with these characters. Oh, and you can always buy the ebook version of Many Kinds of Unforgettable as well, if you can’t wait for the Giveaway! 🙂

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Many Kinds of Unforgettable by Renata F. Barcelos

Many Kinds of Unforgettable

by Renata F. Barcelos

Giveaway ends September 10, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

My 5 star Review of ‘Fallen Men’, by Brian O’Hare

I love reading, and love even more to find a good story and help spreading the word about it. That’s why I review books here, on Amazon and on Goodreads. I’m truly glad that Amazon is [apparently] not going to forbid me of doing that… (read more here)

(*I’ve just joined Readers Favorite’s Review team, so in the future my reviews may also been there too)

I  finished “Fallen Men”, by Brian O’Hare yesterday, and really liked it.

Even though it talks about three Catholic Priests, I don’t believe it can be simply defined as “religious fiction”. It’s way more than that.

It’s more a study of how faith can both save or destroy you. Of how morality and honesty are relative concepts depending on one’s point of view or interests at the moment. It’s also a study of how depression can lead to unthinkable decisions.

Brian O’Hare has talent to describe people and situations without boring the reader. He can also make you enter the characters’ thoughts so you are deeply into the situation with them. And he creates real people, defected, sometimes weak, sometimes strong people. Priests, lay people… they are all real in a way you can relate to them here. And about Father McGennity… Boy, I know a Father really similar to him. Well, the truth is, Fathers are men, and men come in all sizes and kinds; O’Hare presented it greatly in this story.

I thought the way the forbidden relationship was presented was both tender and disturbing, which was perfect  for the story. The gray areas that can surround even a Father’s life were very well described, even with Father Dan, and his black or white view of the world.

As a Catholic myself, I must say that I can relate much more to Father Dan than to Father Ray. What Ray did was inexcusable to me and even though the surroundings (internal and external) might help explain in some level his actions, I still believe his mission as a priest was exactly to avoid temptations at all costs. In my Parish we have amazing examples of Fathers so I may be too biased in my opinion… But I still believe he should have been better. I would prefer at all choices to be publicly accused as Father Dan, of following the Church’s Laws to the end than as Ray.

I may sound too harsh, but the priesthood path is not for the faint of heart. It means an entire life of dedication to others and the Church. The Parish is your family, and God must be in your thoughts at all moments. Sure Priests sin too, but to an extent… Mortal sins in a Father shake the Church’s core. I can understand some falls, but Ray fell too much for me.

You see, O’Hare’s great skills as a writer are still making me think so passionately about Ray’s story… All the moral dilemmas stay with you long after finishing the reading. And that’s what makes me say this book is a must read. It doesn’t matter your religion or even if you believe in anything… Fallen Men is an excellent, well-written story that raises great questions and gives a lot of food for thought.

Find out more about Brian on his blog: http://brianohareprofessor.blogspot.co.uk

 

A NEW [and better] official response from Amazon regarding its Review Policy for Authors!

It seems to be every author’s biggest concern lately that Amazon has been removing reviews according to their new guideline. Said guidelines, according to some emails received and shared by authors, indicate that Amazon considers authors to be direct competitors of other authors, and therefore, not allowed to review their books.

It was really heartbreaking to imagine that my opinion wasn’t wished by the big retailer now that I’m an author. I mean…I’ve been writing reviews on Amazon for a while, and have lots of helpful votes. Does Amazon really wanted me to give up reading since I started writing? It really didn’t seem right…

Well, instead of keep thinking and moaning about it, I decided to ask them directly. I emailed them today, and received a different answer, that I’ll share with you. This answer seems logical and straightforward enough to calm me down. I’ll even post a review on Amazon later today of a book I finished yesterday.

If some of you continue to receive the other formal response (the one that states they are not even going to explain their policies and that you should not go further into the matter or your account will be removed!!), as Robert Chazz Chute [hilariously] wrote on his great blog post, we’ll have to assume that Todd is still on the loose! 😀

But seriously, since what I was told today makes sense, I prefer to think that Amazon has rethought and that this is the [New] official response about our right to review other authors! Let’s see…

So, here are the emails:

Me:

—————
11/13/12 09:47:06
Your Name: Renata F . Barcelos
Comments:I’ve been reading authors talking about Amazon new Review Policy, and that some of their reviews are being removed… I don’t want to believe that Amazon would take arbitrary actions like forbidden authors of writing reviews just for being authors themselves.

However, I’m afraid of posting reviews on Amazon now, and unwillingly cross some sort of new line here… So, I want to know for sure if I can review books on Amazon, whatever category they are in or if I should refrain from posting reviews on Amazon altogether and posting just on Goodreads and my blog.
—————

Amazon:

From: Amazon.com Customer Service
Subject: Your Amazon.com Inquiry

Hello Renata,

Thank you for your inquiry regarding what is acceptable for reviews.

We try to encourage our customers to give their honest opinions on our products while staying within our guidelines. As a retailer we are interested in cultivating a diversity of opinion on our products. Part of that is allowing our customers to air their honest thoughts on items they have received. Here’s a link to our guidelines for reference:

http://www.amazon.com/review-guidelines/

I hope this helps. We hope to see you again soon.

Thank you for your inquiry.
Best Regards,

Amazon.com
Your feedback is helping us build Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company.

Since this was such a generic answer, I wasn’t at all satisfied… so I asked again:

—————
Hi,

Thanks for answering so quickly, but I’m afraid my doubt persists…

As an author published through KDP, I’m still not sure if I fit in this part:

“Sentiments by or on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product (including reviews by publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product”

So, just to clarify it completely: even being an author and having books published on Amazon, can I still review other books, no matter in which category they are?

Sincerely,
Renata
—————

Their final [and most important] answer:

Hello Renata,

You can review other books as long as you do not review your own book, or promote your book within your review.

I hope this helps clarify and relieve your doubts. Have a great day.

Thank you for your inquiry.
Best Regards,

Amazon.com
Your feedback is helping us build Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company.

Now I guess I can click the ‘Yes’ answer to their question: ‘Did I solve your problem?’

Related articles

Author, please read this and NEVER EVER publish without professionally editing your book!!

When I first published Mean: A Psychological Thriller Novelette”, I was young and naïve. Okay, it was only four months ago, but when it comes to the publishing world, it’s more than fair to say I was like a child.

I’ve learned more than I could have imagined since June. With the help of several wonderful authors from the amazing Indie Community, I learned about editing, formatting, publishing, marketing, etc. Of course there’s a lot more to learn—learning is a never-ending job, thank God!—but I now know enough to get me started.

When I finished “Mean”, I hurried to publish, because I was too excited about the idea. I thought it was ready. I had asked a friend to look at it—he called himself an editor, so I believed in his powers…—and then went over it again myself. “Perfect,” I thought. Ha! Presumptuous little foul, Renata!! 😀

Well, the truth is, “Mean” was NOT ready. It had typos and grammar glitches. I, however, had no idea. Friends and strangers bought it. Then, I did a KDP Select Free Promo and hundreds of people downloaded it! I was happy and confident.

Then, I saw my first review. On Goodreads.

I remember that day clearly, a Sunday, when my fantasy world crumbled into pieces. Martha Bryce—who is now a dear friend, but who I wasn’t familiar with at the time—reviewed it as an excellent story, but in urge of an editor. Boy, was I devastated…

I opened my book again and saw what she was talking about. I was so embarrassed, I took it off Amazon and wrote to Martha, thanking her honesty and explaining I had taken it off and was hiring a new—serious—editor. She was the most amazing friend, helping me with edits, and re-reading the book once it was—really, this time—done. Then, she rewrote her review, and I finally republished “Mean”. Since then, the good reviews keep piling up, and I’m so absurdly grateful for that.

Martha Bryce became a friend and my beta-reader, and that’s why she was the first one to readMy Sore Hush-a-Byeand deserved so many words of gratitude on the Acknowledgments page.

The point is…I committed a terrible mistake, but life was easy on me about it. It could have been a disaster. I could be finished as a writer right then.

Thank God I had a good story, otherwise I’d still be crying. And “My Sore Hush-a-Bye” would never see the light of day, or would have to be published under a pen name.

I’m telling this story for two reasons.

  • First, to plead…no, to BEG authors: NEVER publish a book that has not been professionally edited!! Never ever!! It can ruin your career, and gives a bad reputation to all self-published writers..

And by ‘professionally’ I don’t mean ‘expensive’. There are good, affordable editors (I can recommend mine, just contact me if you want, okay?) or even ask a friend to help you (better than the one I described here in my tale 😀 Someone good, if you’re lucky enough to know anyone like that). Go to pred-ed.com, an amazing site where you can find good info before hiring someone. But most important of all: LEARN. You’ll never be able to know if your editor is doing a good job if you know squat about grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

  • The second reason is to prevent a future disaster. I understand that most people who download a free book nowadays, with the amount of free possibilities, will maybe not even read it, or will read it months after downloading… So, you see my point, right?

There are hundreds of people out there with a terribly edited version of my novelette on their Kindles. I asked Amazon twice to inform customers about my new, improved edition. I explained the changes in detail, but never heard back from them. Therefore, I decided to do it on my own.

So, if you have a copy of “Mean: A Psychological Thriller Novelette” bought or downloaded for free BEFORE JULY, 23rd, please, please, pretty please contact me before reading it, and I’ll replace your file with the improved edition ASAP. I’ll even send it in any format you prefer (Epub, Mobi, PDF, etc.). And I’ll apologize and thank you endlessly while doing it, be sure.

Summing it up: If you want to be a serious writer, take your time to make your book the best piece possible. Do not ask people to buy your book if it’s not exhaustively edited. Don’t treat your final readers as beta-readers—that’s not what they signed for when buying your book.

 **Be sure that I’ve learned my lesson. “My Sore Hush-a-Bye” is absolutely, completely, professionally edited. I’ve spent countless hours editinghunting mistakes like a bloodhound with rabbits, or a pig with truffles. I, my editor, and my beta-reader went through my novel time and again (and again, and again, and again…) correcting to guarantee that my readers will have the best work I can provide for their money and time. (Thanks in advance to you all, by the way! 🙂 )

My 5 star Review of ‘A Cupboard Full of Coats’, by Yvvette Edwards

After posting my first review today, I had to post here my review of this book. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read, and Yvvette Edwards, the author, is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met.

I really loved this book, and I should have posted my review here and on Goodreads long ago, can’t explain why it took me so long!!

Oh my, what a debut!
This author is someone to follow. What a gift with words; so perfectly constructed characters. The whole atmosphere she creates is so lyrical, so many beautiful sentences, I had to highlight and take notes on my kindle almost in every page.

There are points through the novel where you can actually smell the food she’s describing; listen to Lemon with his thick accent; cry with Jinx.

Abuse and passion crimes, unfortunately, are not new themes to many women; the way they are told here is what makes all the difference.

There’s a beautiful Brazilian song that says, in Portuguese, something like: “Certain songs I listen to/fit so well inside of me/ that I have got to ask/ How I’m not the one who wrote it*”. Well,  this is another book that I’d love to have written. 😀 However, I don’t think anyone else would have the sensibility and talent to have written this story.

A masterpiece by Yvvette Edwards.

She’s writing a second book now, and I cannot wait to read it!

*Find out more about this song here (Milton Nascimento – Certas Canções)

Follow Yvvette on Twitter: @YvvetteEdwards

NEW Cover Reveal, Blurb and First Chapter of ‘My Sore Hush-a-Bye’!!

Okay, so let’s pretend that you all cannot wait to see the cover art for My Sore Hush-a-Bye, to read the Blurb and the First Chapter, right? (Well, a girl can dream, can’t she? ;))

Anyway, calm down people! They are all here, and My Sore Hush-a-Bye will be released next month worldwide. (The Goodreads page is already available, so you can mark it as ‘To Read’ right now! :))

Cover art and design: Ágata Maria C. Barcelos

Edit (10/13/2012): Well, some mixed reactions to my cover reveal yesterday… Some people said they loved the cover, some said they didn’t like it at all. And two beta-readers told me it wasn’t clear on their Kindles…

‘Old’ Cover

Since we had nailed down to two covers before choosing, I decided to try the second one. I have to admit that even though I loved the cover I showed yesterday (above), this one does look better, especially as a thumbnail… Plus, I absolutely adored the back cover (for the paperback edition) being really a ‘back’!

What do you think? I would LOVE to know!

The New Cover

Back Cover

Camille is a young girl stuck in the past. Classic TV shows, old music, and dresses that never made it into the 21st century.

After her mother left a puzzling note leaving her in the care of Uncle Bob, she had a rough go of it, not wanting to conform to his rigorous rules and this new life. But she learned. She learned to love and accept her sheltered life.

That all starts to change when Camille finally goes to public school once she reaches her teenage years. She meets a friend who mysteriously disappears. She has suspicions that Uncle Bob may not be the perfect man she once thought. She starts thinking about her mother.

Most important of all, she begins to grow up, and that is what changes everything…

First Chapter:

1  – One of the Invisible Kids

School was a mess today. Everybody was crying, pretending to be Ashley’s best friend and trying to be on the news. All the mean girls at school were on it—those horrible bullies Uncle Bob had warned me about. It seems somehow ironic that I wanted so badly in those first couple of years to get out of the house and go to school, meet other people. And now that I’m here, all I want is to go back home and never leave again.

To just stay in, protected—Uncle Bob and I, watching TV and taking care of each other forever. Life was so much easier when I didn’t have so many things to sort out, so many people surrounding me. When Uncle Bob was everything and everyone, when my world was simpler, when I didn’t have to worry about Ashley’s situation.

But things are changing and I don’t know for the life of me how to change them back to the way they were…and moving on the way they are now is so much more painful than I ever expected.

People in the outside world are just mean; a lot more than TV prepared me for. Uncle Bob had told me how things were much better now, how people were more tolerant, how I don’t have to be afraid. But all I know is that I cannot help but feeling aghast every day I’m forced to be out here.

I miss being protected, sheltered. Outside, they see you’re different and you’re a walking target, no matter what you do. Whoever said to ignore the bullies so they’ll grow tired of you is either a big liar, or very naïve. They never get tired. They may choose another victim and let you off the hook for a while, but they’ll get back to you—usually sooner rather than later.

I know it’s not personal—they don’t hate me; hate is a strong feeling and no one has strong feelings for me now…not even Uncle Bob. He was the only person I thought would never abandon me, would never let me down…not even if I wanted him to.

Lately, however, he seems tired of me. My presence seems to be a nuisance to him—I’m not his precious little girl anymore. I get almost the same treatment at school. All the boys and girls mostly ignore me—I’m one of the invisible kids, either ignored or bullied.

That’s the way things at school are: they only see us—the invisible ones—when they want to have some fun picking on someone…and I’ve seen them picking on Ashley sometimes too. She was popular, but not immune to bullies, being in high school already at such a young age.

She was smart enough to be here, however, and to make loads of friends older than she. None of those mean girls, though, who were repeating to the reporters how much they missed Ashley and wanted her back—they weren’t her friends at all.

It made me sick.

Literally sick; I had to excuse myself from Mrs. Richardson’s class and go to the bathroom, where I puked soundly for more than two full minutes. Every single thing I had eaten was now floating to the ocean.

I know for a fact they don’t give a damn about Ashley…she was nothing like them. She was the only person in that hellhole who spoke to me in a friendly way. That doesn’t mean we were friends…I’m sure she would never refer to me using that word. I don’t have friends—acquaintances, maybe, like Ashley, or colleagues, if they are forced to work with me in some class. No one cares about me, wants to talk to me, to be with me.

I’m at school because Uncle Bob made me go…not to be popular, not to be normal. I don’t have such crazy desires…it would be a lost battle if I tried, anyway.

I’ve been out of the world for so long I’m not sure I’d know how to interact anymore—if an interaction were necessary or possible. All I want is to finish another day and go back to the safety of Uncle Bob’s house, behind the locked doors that made me feel so reassured, so secure.

It’s my first year at school—not at this school, I mean at any school—since I was seven. It makes me different, which is ammunition to some kids’ cruelty and others’ oblivion. I’m not popular, I’m not into fashion, makeup, or anything like that. I don’t really know much about what’s going on in the world right now, and I’m not sure if I care. I dress differently, and my head is surrounded by an enormous black mane that I like to let free. I don’t talk much. I don’t have a Facebook account, Twitter, any of that. In fact, the first time I’ve heard of those things was at school just the other day. I don’t look like any of them—I don’t feel like any of them.

I enjoy studying, reading, and I grew up listening to old songs and watching old movies and TV shows. When I say old, I mean really old. As in I love Lucy, The Brady Brunch, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Gone With the Wind (my favorite movie), The Wizard of Oz, Casablanca—and many others that gave me a little light while growing up and made me smile when everything real was asking me to cry…

Since the age of seven, the only songs that have made their way into my ears were from David Bowie, the Beatles, Johnny Cash, and others from the fifties, sixties, and seventies. And most of all, there was her voice, the woman who sang to me for all those years, comforting me since that first day with Uncle Bob, going into my core and caressing my soul from the inside out…Mama Cass. Her inspiring voice is my safe place, where I can go to escape, ‘cause she makes all the darkness bearable…she puts light where there was none.

I’d love nothing more than to see her, to tell her all of it. And yet I will never be able to do so. Her hair reminds me of my mother’s, I believe. I could be mixing them together into one person, because I don’t really remember my mother much. But I remember brushing her hair once—perhaps one of the last memories I have of her before she left—and I could swear it was just like Mama Cass’ when I saw hers in a picture.

It’s not a special mother-daughter moment, this memory that I recall. But we didn’t have many special moments to remember, anyway. Our life together was more practical than nurturing.

When she left I had to find comfort in the past, with TV shows and music from a different and simpler time. Uncle Bob encouraged me to lose myself completely in that ancient world—a world closer to his own, considering his age. Even the clothes he bought, the kind I wanted, were according to this throwback world I was living in.

Therefore, my outfits resemble someone from the sixties, maybe the seventies. Like a hippie, people might say. For me, because of everything that surrounded me until now, I was absolutely normal, and thought I’d blend in with the crowd by wearing light or bland colors. However, at my first day at school, I saw the mocking faces. I looked at them, then at myself, neck to toe, and wanted to hide.

I thought about changing my clothes to something more modern the next day, to look at least a little more like the other girls, and couldn’t understand why Uncle Bob hadn’t told me anything. Why he’d let me walk out the door like that. Maybe he didn’t know, I reassured myself. What do men know about fashion, anyway? He would never do anything to hurt me, right?

It would be better to look more like one of them, but I realized I’m not like them in any way—it would have been even more ridiculous had I tried to fit in. Besides, they would mock and tease me for any and no reason, I was sure. And to be honest, I find some comfort in my outfit, some much-needed resemblance of my former, confined life. I don’t think I’d be able to handle so many changes at the same time. I need to at least recognize the person looking back at me in the mirror, no matter how sorry I feel for her sometimes.

None of my fellow students talk to me, but Ashley did. We had some common interests, and she was a kind girl. Beautiful and nice, which is an extremely rare combination, as far as I know.

When I first saw her, all I could see was how she was blonde, beautiful, bright, cheerful, and…so young—everything I’m not, and I felt my heart shrink at that.

She approached me once during lunch, interrupting my reading by partially blocking the light with her petite body. I looked up and there she was, all smiling and hair up in a loose ponytail that let locks of hair fall on her face. She said she just wanted to introduce herself and that she loved my style.

I thought she was teasing me and didn’t respond, got my eyes back to my book, pretending to ignore her entirely. She touched my shoulder and whispered, “I know you think I’m mocking you, because all these stupid people here are, but I’m not. I really envy you. I wish I were as brave. I love the way you dress and I think your hair’s amazing… I wish I could be like you.”

She seemed sincere, and she had used the proper subjunctive, which made me think she could actually be smarter than most. I nodded, befuddled, and she left, leaving her email address in a folded piece of paper near my hand. I took the paper and read it, memorizing it just in case, not sure why.

Uncle Bob had never let me use the computer by myself, without his presence—and even then, all he showed me were pictures of Mama Cass and stories about my TV shows and their actors. But now that I’m back to school, he knew I’d need one. He unwillingly bought me a laptop, and put some strict parental control on it. He explained that I could check my email—one he created for me and whose password he has, of course—and go to a few web sites, but certainly not all of them. He monitors everything I do on the World Wide Web, like he always did with everything else in my life. I don’t mind, because I like when he protects me, when he cares about my safety. In fact, all I want is to be under his wings forever, I’m so used to it…but he will never totally believe that, I suppose.

I thought I had the solution to make him believe me, to make him let me leave school and stay with him the whole time, like before…but nothing changed. He seemed happy at first; he was overwhelmed by my offer, I could see. But after, he seemed even more distant.

I think I’ve made a mistake—I should have thought it through better—but I have no idea how to mend things now.

Invisible at school, a shadow at home. Someday, maybe, I’ll look in the mirror and see nothing, like they do…

*~~~*~~~*

I sent Ashley an email later that day, and we started chatting every day after school for a few minutes, talking about the old stuff she enjoyed too. In spite of Uncle Bob’s firewall, I was surprisingly able to access a chat site she taught me how to use with just an email and a username. She was really a smart girl, and she truly enjoyed the sixties and seventies. She even knew who Mama Cass was, which created an instant bond. We had been chatting for the past month, almost everyday after school, but never anything too personal.

They’re saying Ashley simply disappeared—vanished into thin air, on her way back home from school yesterday. She was supposed to be home by four at the latest. When the clock hit the five, her parents frantically called the school, then, all the friends they knew, and, finally, the police. Nobody had any information for them.

She used to walk home by herself, since her friends took the bus or walked in the opposite direction. The last time anyone claimed to have seen her was yesterday, leaving school. The police and her parents think that nobody from school has the slightest idea about her whereabouts after that…they have no idea that I know.

Nobody is going to ask me anything, because I’m not worth talking to. I’m indistinguishable mostly—until the bullies have nothing better to do, anyway. So, what I know will remain a secret. My secret…eating me alive from the inside.

I saw her mother’s tears and thought of talking. Thought of stepping forward, raising my hand and saying, “I know where she is; she’s okay, don’t worry”, but of course, if I did that they wouldn’t let it go. They’d want me to take them to her—and that I couldn’t do.

I simply couldn’t…but she was fine the last time I saw her, and I could bet her mother would like to know that—if only I could tell her…

Nobody at school has the foggiest idea about my knowing what happened to her. Not one soul would ever imagine cute Ashley and freaky me having anything in common. Apart from that one day at school when she gave me her email address—and nobody was going to remember that moment or give it too much thought—we didn’t even exchanged greetings at school. She wanted to talk to me, but I convinced her not to. I knew it would damage her reputation, and I didn’t want people to look at us together, pointing, asking her why she was wasting time with me.

No one knows about our chats, and, probably, they are not going to easily find out. I used an alias, and our Internet connection at home is very secure. I don’t know the details, or really much about Internet, but Uncle Bob says it is and he knows loads about computers. Plus, they were live chats and the site claimed to keep no records of them.

I keep talking about her in the past tense, because I know she’s not coming back…I mean, she might come back, but the person she was is never going to fully return. I know how it is.

I have no idea what I would say if the police had asked—I don’t suppose it would do me any good to tell what I know. But they don’t even look at me, going straight to the people who claim to be her friends. Then, they go to her real friends, according to Ashley’s parents and school employees.

I don’t belong in any group, as usual, so I grab my things and walk unbothered through the chaos to the school gate. It’s too soon; we only had two classes before the police arrived. The principal talked to all of us for some time in the auditorium and then released everybody, saying the police might want to talk to some of us. I had lunch at the cafeteria because I had to wait anyway. I stayed under a tree in front of the school, reading for a long time, waiting for Uncle Bob, before going to the spot where he should be waiting, as usual, to take me home.

Except he’s not there.

For the first time in all of our years, I’m alone in the street, as I’d wished with all my might for so long when I was a child. Nothing restrains me from simply running away, going anywhere I want.

Sadly, it’s too late. My desire to leave is long gone, well buried in my childhood. The only place I want to be now is at home, with him…but he’s tired of me…tired of the woman I’ve become.

Staring at the empty spot where his car should have been I feel so lonely my chest hurts.

Silently, I cry.