Review Highlights from this Week

During the course of my blog tour for my contemporary romance Close Up Magic, I asked for reviews as well as traditional blog stops. When I did this, I knew there were no guarantees. In fact, at the time I booked my tour, very few people other than me had actually read Close Up Magic. But I believed in it enough to go ahead and do it.

Well, this week, I braced myself as the reviews started rolling in. Five brave reviewers took a stand and offered me their opinion on my book. Thankfully, they were positive, overall, and I drew a breath of relief. Here are the highlights:

“We have all read those books where the girl is infatuated with the guy, they both have been screwed over by someone close to them and they have trust issues. But what Michelle Garren Flye has done that not many authors are capable of is, she had created incredible characters with such depth that they evoke such true emotion from the reader that you find yourself yelling at your kindle even when you knew it was going to happen.” —We Love Kink

“Michelle Garren Flye is a wizard with words and I completely enjoyed her voice. Also, I always worry about self-published books, but this one was well edited and had no overt errors. If you love fun, sweet romances with a hero you’ll fall for just as hard as the heroine does, then I recommend Close Up Magic.” —Long and Short Reviews

Ahem, a short note here. I can’t help but point out the “wizard with words” thing. Seriously, that may be the greatest compliment I’ve ever gotten on my writing! You’re all going to get really tired of that “wizard with words” thing, I think. Especially if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

“It was hard for me to pick one genre for this story. It’s definitely a contemporary romance, but it leaves just a hint of magic, just a bit of imagination which makes me believe that it is a bit of a fantasy book too. You aren’t sure if it’s saying that magic is real or not, but I can tell you that the threads of story and character were woven together..dare I say it…magically 🙂 and I really enjoyed reading it.” —Unabridged Andra

“Ms. Flye is a new author to me and I can’t get over how well written Close Up Magic was for me. The characters had depth to them, the setting was perfect and even the secondary characters were fleshed out. Also, even though I was “reading” the magic tricks, I could picture them in my mind. Great job.” —Harlie’s Books

Another note: I really, really love a good magic show, so obviously I wanted to give my reader a little taste of what it’s like to be at one, and this review confirmed I accomplished that. I’m so glad it worked, and I hope to be a well-known author to Harlie before long. 🙂

“The author has a great way with words, painting a picture so clear I could see the scenes in my mind like a movie. The characters are well drawn and three dimensional – so much so, I loved some and hated some intensely. I was so invested in the well-being of those I enjoyed I wanted to smack those I didn’t, who were interfering with the HEA.” —Straight from the Library

Now, the course of my relationship with reviewers has not always been this smooth, so I’m still waiting for the fly to land in my chocolate pudding. However, I learn so much from competent, honest reviewers, whether what they tell is positive or negative, I’m still looking for more reviews of Close Up Magic. If you’re a reviewer who’d like to check out a copy of Close Up Magic, contact me at michellegflye at gmail dot com, and I’ll be happy to provide you a copy for your Kindle. And if you’re a reviewer who’s already checked out Close Up Magic and would be interested in reviewing one of my other books, let me know that too.

Thanks to all my book reviewers, and all the other hosts of my blog tour! Tomorrow I’ll be awarding a magic basket to one randomly drawn commenter from the tour and a $20 gift card to one of my hosts (again, randomly chosen)! So check back tomorrow afternoon when I’ve had a chance to compile my list and consult Random.org for the winners. 🙂

For the love of it: Reviews and the Writer

Reviews. What would we writers do without them? It’s really the only method we have of getting into our readers’ heads for a glimpse an idea of what we’ve done that works…and what hasn’t. Just recently, I discovered a new review on my book Ducks in a Row that revealed a lot to me of how it’s been received. The reviewer wrote that the book’s subject matter put her as a reader in an uncomfortable place emotionally because it deals with a marriage in trouble and an extramarital affair. She winds up with what might be my favorite line from any review any of my books has ever received:

“I highly recommend this unsettling book.”

Why does that line appeal to me so much? One reason. I intended the reader to be unsettled. Not only by the subject matter, but by the emotions of my characters. Human beings are not perfect, and married ones can be less perfect than most. Marriage is hard work. No matter how idyllic your ideas about love and marriage might be, you remain human after you say your vows. And eventually you end up hurting each other in ways both large and small.

That was what my book was about and this reviewer got it.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been working hard to secure reviews for my contemporary romance Close Up Magic. It’s harder than you might think. For every ten people you offer a free copy of your book to, you might get three reviews.

That’s pretty darn understandable, if you consider that most book reviewers don’t actually get paid for what they do. They do it for the love of reading, whether they blog their reviews or just post them on Amazon and Goodreads. So when I ask somebody to review my book, I’m asking them for several hours of unpaid labor, for which I will pay them with my sincere thanks…and hopefully an enjoyable read.

To date, I have six reviews on Amazon and several more promised, so I’m not doing too bad. Here’s what some of the reviewers have said:

“Family and forgiveness play their own parts in Close Up Magic, both in ways that are insightful and also leave you with a sense of the good in humankind.” — Five stars

“The magic element of the book made it fun to read. I have always been a skeptic when it comes to magic, but the story had me believing that maybe Andre did have something special.” — Five stars

“Michelle Garren Flye does a fantastic job of putting her readers into the heads of each of her characters – her words making one feel so profoundly their desires, their reticence, their range of emotions as they fumble towards each other and true love.” — Five stars

“Close Up Magic is an enchanting story that will make the reader believe in romance and magic!” — Four stars

“An overall compelling and magical story that fans of contemporary romances are sure to enjoy.” — Four stars

“Whoa…I do believe in magic and the incredible ambience it creates in this wonderful romantic story.” — Four stars

My thanks to all my readers and especially all my reviewers!

If you’d like to read more from my reviewers of Close Up Magic, click here: Close Up Magic
If you’d like to read the whole review of Ducks in a Row, click here: Ducks in a Row

Ducks in a Row reviewed: “Well-written and thought-provoking novel”

When I decided to self-publish Ducks in a Row, I had plenty of occasion for self-doubt. It’s not easy putting yourself out there, but it’s a lot easier if you’ve got a publisher behind you. A publisher is verification that there’s something in the words you wrote. Somebody else read your work and found it good. Self-published authors don’t have that.

But to sell books, you have to get them reviewed so people know about them, which means asking somebody for an honest opinion about your work. I’ve done that with several reviewers and I got my first real feedback today. Check it out:

Michelle Garren Flye does not hesitate to tackle some pretty uncomfortable subjects in Ducks in a Row. This well-written and thought-provoking novel provides a realistic look into how two people who love one another can find themselves on the verge of losing everything when they stop communicating and begin taking each other for granted.

Book Reviews and More by Kathy

Many thanks to Book Reviews and More by Kathy for the honest and insightful review. I learned a little about my book from your review, and that’s got to mean something. Plus, I finally feel that putting my story out there was the right thing.

Guilty Indulgences gives 4 chocolate-dipped strawberries to Where the Heart Lies!

What better way to start out the month of December than with a little guilty indulgence? The fabulous folks over at the Guilty Indulgence Review Site just thrilled me with a four-chocolate-dipped-strawberry review of Where the Heart Lies! Here’s an excerpt:

“Romance on the softer side for readers who enjoy a more predictable, mainstream read. … Readers will feel good and happy about this story… it made me smile.”–Guilty Indulgence

How great is that? Seriously. I feel like a reviewer really got what I was trying to do. I didn’t set out to be unpredictable (although I did try to keep the story interesting). All I wanted was to leave my readers with a smile. If I accomplished that, I’m happy because it means they cared about my characters while they read the story. If that’s not awesome, I don’t know what is!

Reminder to my blog tour winners: Please send me your mailing address so I can send you your goodies! I’ve got five so far, but there were way more winners than that. 🙂

November 26: Stars aligned, NaNoWriMo complete.

It’s official. I finished NaNoWriMo a few days ago. Then I edited the novel, added chapters, formatted it…and sent it to my editor. I’ve NEVER done anything like this before. I’m one of those write-it-let-it-sit-and-then-eventually-edit-it people. I’ve got a couple of novels sitting on my hard drive that I wrote more than a year ago. I think Stephen King calls them “trunk novels”. One of these days I’ll pull them out and figure out what to do with them.

So what’s different about this one? For one thing I wrote it faster than I’ve EVER written a novel. I’ve finished National Novel Writing Month twice before, but I’ve never finished it this much ahead of the deadline. And when I finished it, I wasn’t tired of it, so re-reading and editing wasn’t a chore. Plus, I’m actually energized and excited about the ideas this novel has inspired in me. It’s the first of what I hope is a series. I’m already working on the next one. Of course, by “working on the next one”, I mean the idea is simmering in my head. I have a vague idea of who the characters are and haven’t really decided about the plot. But the ingredients are simmering and congealing and eventually will come together in a delicious stew. (Now I’m getting hungry!)

NaNoWriMo was a fast ride this year, but it was a smooth one. I guess the stars aligned just right. Now I can afford a brief breathing moment before the next novel-writing frenzy overtakes me!

Last stop of the book tour: Check out My Devotional Thoughts for an interesting, if complimentary review of Where the Heart Lies and my own description of my writing schedule. Since this is my last stop of the tour, it’s also your last chance to enter to win my great prizes! (10% off coupons to Carina Press and a copy of Bartlett’s Poems for Occasions) Also, I would like to thank Goddess Fish for organizing the book tour, all the gracious hosts who shared their blogs with me and everyone who stopped by! It’s been a blast!

NaNoWriMo: What’s Going On? (exclusive excerpt from my NaNo novel)

No, I’m not confused. I’m updating. Finally. I feel like I’ve been in a daze most of this month, and I guess I have sort of been in a writing fever. Consumed. I’d like to credit National Novel Writing Month with this, but I’ve participated in this annual event often enough to know, if the story hadn’t been there, it wouldn’t have written itself like this. NaNoWriMo probably did help me keep going, but this story was just kind of there. The characters weren’t hard to bring to life because by the time November 1 rolled around, I already knew them well enough to write about them.

I’ve already said the story is about magic. I’ve spent most of my life looking for magic, even finding it every now and then in everyday life, trying to capture it and cage it on the page in black and white. It doesn’t work, usually. I’m not sure I managed it this time. Maybe you can tell me:

She could feel the dry desert breeze on her skin, a welcome relief after the canned air she’d been breathing all day. This far up, the air smelled fresh, free from the musty mix of sweaty bodies and sewage that often pervaded the street level of Vegas. If she kept her eyes closed, she could almost imagine what it had been like hundreds of years before when the cowboys rode through the desert…

She was wasting time. If she were going to do it, she should go ahead. She bit her lip, felt his hands on her hips, the warmth of his body behind her. As if he understood her inner battle, he leaned forward, his lips almost touching her ear, making her dizzy with desire at a time when she desperately didn’t want to be dizzy. At first she barely understood his words, but when they penetrated, she found her courage. “Sometimes you have to do something that frightens you just to be sure you’re still alive.”

Her eyes fluttered open, and she waited for the vertigo and fear to crash down on her. But with him at her back, she found she could look out at what was undeniably an amazing view. Somehow beautiful in its blatant excess, the Strip spread out below her in a medley of lights, looking like crystal and jeweled glass. She could see the people strolling along the street, slower and more peaceful at this late hour and at this great distance than she knew they would if she were among them. Light of every color bloomed and blossomed and split through the night. The light breeze brushed her hair back from her face, almost as gentle as his touch. For the first time, she could understand why Vegas had become known as the flower of the desert. “It’s amazing.”

He stood close enough so she could feel him nod. “From up here it is.” He moved to her side, and she immediately wished he hadn’t. She liked the solid feel of him behind her. He contemplated the view for a moment. “Do you know what I see down there?”

She shook her head. “What?”

“A lot of people looking for something. I’ve always believed it’s magic. Do you know what I think magic is?” He turned, searching her eyes.

Again she shook her head. A gust of wind whipped her hair across her face and he reached up to brush it back, his palm warm against her cheek. “Magic is the absence of doubt.”

So far, my magic novel is 48,000+ words. I anticipate finishing it today. It’s the first time I’ve ever finished a NaNo novel before Thanksgiving. It’s still untitled, although I have a few ideas. But if you want to help, feel free to leave a comment below with your suggestion.

And while I’m bragging, I got two reviews yesterday for Where the Heart Lies! One was from my gracious blog tour host Stitch Read Cook. Here’s an excerpt:

“Michelle has a way with words, she draws you into the small town life of these characters and keeps you hooked until the last page.” — Stitch Read Cook

The second was unexpected, however, and I found it by chance on Bookaddiction. Check this out:

“Where The Heart Lies by Michelle Garren Flye is a lovely story about guilt, redemption, and the power of love. …a well-written romantic novel with an unusual amount of depth.” –Bookaddiction

How cool is that? Makes me think my quest for magic might be progressing after all!

A Brief Announcement and Redirection…

Yes, I realize I haven’t posted anything real in over a week. (Last Tuesday’s Get Out and Vote Post doesn’t count.) Sorry about that, but I’ve been very busy with normal everyday life as well as anything-but-normal NANOWRIMO life. I’m happy to say I’ve had great success with NaNo this year, though. And here’s the big announcement: I’m up to 31,000+ words! I’m having so much fun with this one. I’ll tell you more about it later, but here’s a little hint: It’s about magic and the odd places you go to find it. It is a romance and it’s still untitled, so if anyone wants to leave me a suggestion for a title, I’d welcome it.

But if you want to read a real post from me today, I’m going to redirect you to Jersey Girl Book Reviews. As part of my blog tour, they’ve put up a very nice post featuring a little info about me and WHERE THE HEART LIES, a guest post titled “Capturing Magic: Lightning Bugs in a Mason Jar” and even a very nice, well-written, four-star review! Here’s a little tidbit from the review:

Where The Heart Lies is a poignant story of loss, grief, secrets, love, redemption and second chances.–Jersey Girl Book Review

Can you guess how much I enjoyed that review? So pop over and let JGBR know how much you appreciate their kindness to your favorite author–no, not Nicholas Sparks or J.K.Rowling. ME, silly. 🙂