Baby, it’s cold at Christmas-time these days

Have a holly, jolly holiday and be very careful to maintain your politically correct language if you want to continue to hand out your bona fide liberal card. Because there’s a very thin line liberals must walk these days. And for this blog entry, I’m going to wobble off it a bit.

Please understand, I’m a Democrat. I’m liberal. I have a woman card and I voted for Hillary Clinton, and not just because she was running against the worst human being on the planet, either. I honestly believed she would do the best job. With all that said, I’m getting really tired of the liberal war on Christmas this year.

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Photo by Meve R. on Pexels.com

You can’t watch Charlie Brown because the kids yell “Merry Christmas” and read about Jesus’s birth from the Bible. You can’t listen to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” because it’s a trigger for some people who have been date raped (I know. It’s creepy. But just don’t listen, maybe?). You can’t watch “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” because Santa (and most everyone else at the North Pole) is kind of a dick. (Please note I realized this when I was a kid but I was—and still am—more bothered by the fact that the dolly on the Island of Misfit Toys had NOTHING AT ALL wrong with her.)

It reminds me of some recent feedback I’ve received on Becoming Magic. Readers are not all happy I took on a #metoo storyline with this one. And some are not happy that (slight spoiler here) I didn’t have my character report her assault from the beginning. I’m not saying these readers are wrong…completely. Maybe I should have written this story from the POV of a strong woman who reports her assault and brings her attacker to justice.

But is that the only way to write a story from a strong woman’s POV? Isn’t it possible that you can be a strong woman who is attacked and is so shocked by the fact that you were attacked that you don’t immediately report it? Isn’t it possible that you can employ all your strength into rebuilding your life and moving on after the attack?

Isn’t it possible that every survivor has a right to their story the way they wish to live it—not just the way liberals tell us is the correct way?

And by that same token, maybe you need to stop and think about Rudolph. Rudolph is a freaking survivor if ever there was one. He is bullied by everyone from Santa to his own father, and he still battles the yeti and saves his friends and Christmas. And I got all this when I was about eight years old, so I’m thinking  there’s nothing wrong with the way the story is told.

That doll still bugs me, though. She’s too perfect. I’m thinking she’s a spy.

First Review of Becoming Magic: 5 Stars on Amazon!

Real reviews mean a lot to authors. Think about that. We actively encourage others to tell us what they really think. And no author I know would ever consider helpful any review that was less than honest, no matter how much it stroked their ego.

With that said, I was thrilled—and relieved—that my first review for Becoming Magic on Amazon was five stars. It comes, full disclosure, from an acquaintance who is a very talented magician and writer, Arjay (R.J.) Lewis. Arjay was the magical consultant on Becoming Magic, and he’s helped me design a magical holiday show for my next book Dickens Magic—plus I’ve read several of his books. So when I read his review of Becoming Magic, it was a little bit like both Stephen and Mac King had combined into one joint force to praise my book. You can read the whole thing here, but here’s the part that meant the most to me:

…Flye boldly takes on a #metoo concept, which not only explains why our heroine is reluctant, but makes understandable the hero’s confusion as to why his advances are being rejected. It was a difficult choice, because in the hands of lesser writer, it could’ve been a cheap and tawdry device. But in Flye’s excellent craftsmanship, it is handled artfully and the reader understands both sides of the conflict.

This book means a lot to me because in a way it marks my own rebirth as a writer. When #metoo came along, I realized I was guilty of perpetuating in my writing what could be seen as dangerous situations for women—in Island Magic, the heroine is actually kidnapped by the hero. Though I’ve never gone for rape fantasies and my only bondage romance (Escape Magic) was actually pretty positive in that the heroine was the escape magician, I’ve sworn off some of the favorite tropes of romances and am striving to rebuild my own corner of the romance genre with more positive heroes, heroines and romantic situations.

Time will be the only thing that will tell if romance readers are willing to accept a new kind of romance. But at least one reviewer thought it worked, and that means a lot.

Thoughts and Reviews

I do a lot of thinking. Some might say too much. I’ve been thinking a lot recently in light of the Time’s Up movement in Hollywood and around the nation about how my genre of writing needs to evolve—if at all.

I’m a romantic who’s been blessed in the love and family department. It’s not always easy to see life from the viewpoint of the victimized when you live in a safe bubble. I’ve never really needed to be feminist, though I’ve had my own small #metoo moments. Still, I’ve been wondering…how do I as a romance writer make this situation better? How can I write about the flirtation and romance between men and women when so much negativity is associated with such flirtation and romance crossing a line into something much darker?

I’ve always tried to write strong female characters and caring male characters, but I’ve never considered how their romantic interactions could read to someone who has been victimized. Consider the pirate scene in Movie Magic, for instance. Or the scene in Secrets of the Lotus where the rich guy just chooses a woman at random to kiss at midnight on New Year’s Eve. In Winter Solstice, the two main characters are co-workers. Island Magic is basically about a kidnapping—a good-natured and necessary one, but still. In almost every one of my books, looking back, there is something that might be frowned upon by a feminist or trigger a victim. The only one of my books with a real feminist as a heroine is Escape Magic, which I wrote in response to my disgust over 50 Shades of Grey.

I haven’t solved this romance/feminism quandary, by the way. I’m keeping it in mind in my writing, however, so it’s most likely going to show up eventually.

On to better news. Today, in spite of its possible problematic elements, Movie Magic received TWO great reviews. See below for details and stop by to give my reviewers some love and for your last chance to enter to win a $50 Amazon gift card:

“A sudden storm brings the characters together, and very much like the Shakespearean play, “The Tempest”, the characters are introduced and the story unfolds against a background of nature, the elements, and magic. Movie Magic is a charming romance!” —Jennifer Macaire

“…for the most part I really did enjoy Mrs. Flye’s writing style as she was superior on detail.  She carefully thought-out certain passages that when I read them I wasn’t reading them – I was seeing them!  Perhaps like my own little movie magic occurring!” —Fabulous and Brunette

Snow Day with Reviews

I woke this morning to a rare sight in Eastern North Carolina:

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Yes, that is my front yard covered in 3-5 inches of SNOW, also known as white gold for its rarity in these parts of the country.

I was so excited, I NEARLY forgot the other reason to be excited about today. REVIEWS!

Today, my Movie Magic review tour continues with THREE review stops. I’m always a little nervous, in spite of my continuing faith that Movie Magic is my best book so far. However, today my faith paid off. Check out the snippets below and if you want to read more, please go give my review bloggers some love! They deserve it.

“The author has written a cute romance with just enough details about movie making and Hollywood to garner your interest. The juxtaposition with the small town North Carolina setting is nearly as entertaining as the great chemistry between the two main characters.” — Notes from a Romantic’s Heart

“I just loved how Ms. Flye writes.  Her characters are great and her imagery like I’ve never experienced before from an author.  I can’t wait to read more from her.” —Harlie’s Books

“Movie Magic was a good read. The characters themselves were good people, yet they weren’t unrealistic. I feel like I know people exactly like them. Their actions were positive and not destructive, but there was still conflict between them as they tried to sort everything out.” — Hope. Dreams. Life…Love

Many thanks to the reviewers who were willing to put my latest book on their agenda! And, hey, if you haven’t gotten around to subscribing to my newsletter, you can check out the first one here: January Newsletter.

Being a writer

What’s it like to be a writer?

Here’s the truth. Being a writer sucks.

Being a writer is glorious. Being a writer is frustrating. In today’s world, it’s nearly impossible to be successful at being a writer. You spend half your time wishing you were something else.

But it’s not like you choose to be a writer. It’s something you’re born to be, some might say a “calling.” God puts a voice in your head and your heart and it haunts you until you do your best to translate it to the written word. Then you edit and hone and rewrite and, finally, you send it out into the world where it’s mostly ignored when it’s not published with a shiny hardback cover by a huge publisher that sends you on a world book tour with big posters and lots of bling to give away at ever stop.

And yet.

Being a writer is not something you choose, and it’s also not something you can deny. I love being a writer. I love my books that are a part of me and a pale echo of that voice God spoke to me. I know I didn’t get it right because I’m human, but I do my best, and I think I’m getting better at it with every try.

So I keep trying. I keep translating and honing and editing and rewriting. And publishing.

About a month and a half ago I sent one of my books, Movie Magic, out into the world. A few people have read it. One of them was kind enough to review it and tell me he liked it. He’s a fellow writer and a magician I’ve gotten to know through our mutual love of writing and magic. He gave it five stars and a glowing review I’m very proud of.

Tomorrow I begin a review tour. These will be strangers reviewing my book. I personally think Movie Magic is the best book I’ve written so far. I guess I’ll find out if others agree.

Until tomorrow.

 

 

What a Review Actually Means to a Writer

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Review Tour of Movie Magic begins December 14. Watch my blog for details!

As I wait impatiently for more reviews for Movie Magic, I have been reflecting on the nature of the review machine. Authors are constantly asking for reviews. As a reader, maybe you wonder why. Why would we open ourselves up to criticism?

Here’s the thing, though. Reviews—even critical reviews—are not a bad thing for a writer. Sure, we gloat when we get a good review. What writer doesn’t count their five-star reviews on Amazon and feel a little gratified? But it’s the other reviews that truly reveal something to us.

For instance, my book Where the Heart Lies, published by Carina Press in 2012, has 14 reviews and a total of 3.7 stars. This book garnered me my first (though I am sure not last) two-star review on Amazon. It actually has two. Which were kind of “ouch” at the time, but both reviews are chock full of advice that I’ve put into play in my growth as a writer.

I read every review I get and I try to learn something from every review that doesn’t just say “not my cup of tea”. Because, you know, if it’s not your cup of tea, don’t drink it. If you do drink it and feel moved to say something, then say why it’s not your cup of tea. I can’t help it if you picked up the wrong cup of tea, but if I put something in your tea that you didn’t like, definitely tell me!

This is all a rambling way of saying reviews are not just status symbols for writers and we don’t just want you to write a review if you loved the book. Yes, I’d like to see a hundred or more five-star reviews on all my books, but not just because. I want them because I earned them. But if you feel I earned two or three stars instead, tell me why. Then read my next book and see if I paid attention. You might be surprised.

Would you like to review Movie Magic? Contact me for a free copy or sign up here:

Goddess Fish Review Tour

XPresso Book Tours Review Opportunity

Please note, all review requests subject to approval by tour service/author.

Review a Book, Win a $50 AMAZON Gift Card!

Last week I gave away more than a thousand books on Kindle. Free. I was astounded. Blown away, really, by the enthusiasm. Okay, yeah, this is America. Stick the word “FREE” on something and we’ll likely pick it up. Even if we throw it in the garbage can later. But this was different because there are literally hundreds—probably thousands—of Kindle books up for grabs every day. Most written by people like me who are just trying to make it in the big world.

And more than a thousand readers selected MY books from that pile of free Kindle books. That means something. To me, anyway.

Okay, so, step one for me as an author is complete. My books are out there on Kindles everywhere. Check. The next step for me is to encourage you to READ my books. I know how it is. You download a “To Read” list on your Kindle and you never quite get around to actually READING them. And certainly not to REVIEWING them (step three). So here’s my idea. How about, if you read my books by August 15 at 6 p.m. AND review them on AMAZON, you get entered in a drawing for a $50 AMAZON gift card. For FREE! Certainly makes reviewing sound a lot better, doesn’t it?

And I’m talking about a real, honest review. If you don’t like my writing, I invite you to tell me why. If you do like my writing, I’d love to hear from you. I’ve learned a lot from both types of reviews from readers. Of course, I’m taking a risk here. It’s quite possible I could get one star from someone who reads my book just because of this giveaway and posts, “I didn’t like it because it wasn’t the Wall Street Journal.” I hope I don’t get those, but I have enough faith in my ability to write well in my genre that I’m willing to risk it.

So, if you like romance and women’s literature, and if you have read one of my books, and if you’re willing to write a review on one of them before August 15, here’s how to enter:

1. Download and read one of my books or read one of the ones you got in last week’s freebies.
2. Post an honest review on Amazon about the book.
3. Email me at michellegflye@gmail.com to let me know you posted a review.
4. Winner (selected by random draw) will be announced August 15 6 p.m. Eastern!

Good luck! I’ve already got a couple of entries!

NEW REVIEW! Ducks in a Row still has it!

Ducks_CoverSaturday Love
What a great way to end the old year…especially when I’m kicking off the new one with another book. If you check this page out closely, you’ll see what I’ve been up to besides happy holidaying with my family. Yes, I’m getting ready for the release of SATURDAY LOVE (sequel to DUCKS IN A ROW), which will definitely be available for purchase on January 1, 2014.

And what better way to celebrate the end of the old year than with a FIVE STAR review of DUCKS!? Read below for a bit of what WE’RE JUMPIN BOOKS had to say about DUCKS:

One of the best books I have read this year, very thought provoking…Michelle brings you close to the characters, you can understand their logical, or what seems to be, thinking. This book has so much depth on so many levels. The thought process, and how everything played out was so great! —WE’RE JUMPIN BOOKS

You might want to pick up DUCKS IN A ROW now for only 99 cents on AMAZON…and catch up on the story before it continues in SATURDAY LOVE.

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.