A BRAG Medallion for Elsie Lenore

Last month I received notification that Sonata of Elsie Lenore has been awarded a Medallion of appreciation by indieBRAG (Book Readers Appreciation Group).

It’s encouraging to know that the second in my series of piano novels was received well by an international team of readers. They gave the novel high marks in various judging categories and recommended inclusion in the list of recommended IndieBRAG books. The medallion tells readers who are looking for a great book that Sonata of Elsie Lenore is well worth their investment of time and money. It’s gratifying to me that Elsie Lenore joins her sister book, Sundrop Sonata with this distinctive award.

Though not all of the BRAG readers leave comments, here are a few they shared.

“I found this an interesting book to read.”

“What a wonderful book. I was gripped right away and the story held me spellbound throughout.”

“I was with Stefano all the way, willing him to succeed or terrified he’d lose.”

“An original and interesting story with well developed characters and settings.”

“I loved it, loved the connection to the music, as I play piano myself, although far from concert standard, and I liked that a piano could be so loved that it had a name.”

Sonata of Elsie Lenore is a delightfully original work.”

“I found the passages of technical description of piano restoration fascinating and the settings in Cuba vivid and engaging.”

“The climax is splendidly effective.”

With humility and gratitude, I extend thanks to the team of anonymous readers around the world for endorsing Elsie Lenore. In this unprecedented year of 2020, in which the arrival of a deadly virus ground all our usual activities to a halt, it’s hard to focus on once-upon-a-different-time hopes and dreams.

And then there was the 2020 election. After the vicious campaigning, the uncertain and contested election results, the realization that we are more divided than ever before, this little award is a breath of fresh air. Perhaps we all could use a little diversion right now.

But then we must move forward and synthesize a new future if we are to survive the chaos, the crisis, the hatred, and division which plagues the world at the present time.

If you are looking for good books to read, note those adorned with the IndieBRAG seal. And be sure to leave reviews to support the work of those of us who plunge ahead, groping blindly, but with undying hope, to forge a new pathway into an unknown future. May the words of those with benevolent hearts find a way forward for all of Earth’s inhabitants.

 

 

A BRAG Medallion for Sundrop

A week ago I received notification that Sundrop Sonata has been awarded a Medallion by indieBRAG (Book Readers Appreciation Group) with consistent “very good” marks in all the reviewed categories, and some encouraging comments by readers. The event was even more meaningful when I looked up the BRAGmedallion website and learned that “April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and World Autism Awareness Month,” an uncanny coincidence since Sundrop Sonata contains elements of both. The conflicts revolve around saving an autistic child from a life of unspeakable abuse.

My evolution as a writer continues. Having aspired and dreamed of writing books since my grade school days, I was convinced the only acceptable way was the traditional way, through an agent and a publishing house. Self-publishing (indie books) has historically received a bad reputation, reserved for those who don’t make the grade. Mediocre quality at best.

Returning to writing after raising a family, as well as years spent polishing a different trade, I began again under the same illusion about indie books. I wrote seriously, studied with successful authors, revised, trimmed, polished the work. And I ended up with products that attracted the attention of some small to mid-level publishing houses. Rather than signing with them, I ended up revising my opinion of indie books. I sought professional formatting guidance and uploaded my work to the e-book industry, where one can also order a print-on-demand copy, if preferred.

Why the change of heart? I learned that the world of publishing has changed drastically with advances in technology. The big houses have to compete with easy access to online books. There are thousands of people writing books, and for publishers what counts is the return on their investment. Since I’m a nobody out in the boonies, the chances that any major publisher would accept my writing are slim to none.

Even when smaller publishers show interest, their contracts reflect expectations that their writers provide a lion’s share of the work for a fraction of any profit. They expect a lot, but offer little in return. If that is the case, why bother? Throw in the recent awareness that any request for me to speak may be channeled through a publisher who insists on high fees. Who needs that? Why make yourself unapproachable to enthusiastic readers? How much of those exorbitant fees are shared with the writer? I can only guess.

Everything revolves around money.

But that’s not why I write. I write because I have stories in me begging for release. I do my best to prepare them for others to enjoy, and to receive those sweet nuggets of appreciation when someone has enjoyed my work. I derive much pleasure from speaking to fellow writers and readers—often for nothing more than the comradery.

Considering the returns on my personal investment in time and effort, the priceless rewards connected with building new friendships, and my innate tendency to shy away from the spotlight, indie publishing makes a lot of sense. It does not have the negative stigma it once carried. Indeed, some best-selling books are indie books. What is important in reaching readers is to write quality books that readers will tell their friends about. Polish, revise, trim, and seek critical readings until you have the best piece of work you are able to provide. Offer it to the world and get started on your next book.

In promoting and spreading the word about Sundrop Sonata, I have found the growing network of readers and writers to be extremely important. One of my respected colleagues suggested I contact BRAG medallion, the Book Readers Appreciation Group. I took her advice. Sundrop Sonata was offered to a group of test readers around the globe. And they liked it. Now I can say I have been awarded the medallion. If you are looking for good books to read, note those adorned with this seal:

A few comments from Sundrop Sonata’s indieBRAG readers:

“This might be my favorite indieBRAG book I’ve reviewed so far! Title: intriguing and right for the story line. Cover: Makes me want to read the back cover. Plot: The plot and sub-plots were creative, elaborate, well-structured, and unpredictable. The fast pace kept me turning the pages, wondering where this was going. Characters: Multi-dimensional, believable, easy to picture, unique. . .”

“. . . I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s fluent writing style. Intriguing opening chapter. Minimal back story. Excellent flow. No information dumps. The change in POV worked well and was easy to follow. Loved the fast pace. . .”

“I really did like this story and it was well-told.”

“Have you ever wondered what would happen if you crossed Indiana Jones with a piano tuner? Neither had I—until I read this thrilling suspense book. . .When she shows up to tune Nola’s piano, Isabel finds herself urgently asked to take Nola’s autistic daughter and protect her from her father. With great uncertainty she agrees, thus beginning a cross country race against time that combines a bit of Indiana Jones, Deliverance, and international terrorism with a healthy dose of music, compassion, and love. I found myself literally unable to put this book down once I began. It was a joy to read and I highly recommend it.”

I am deeply grateful to the indieBRAG organization whose purpose is to highlight quality independent literature. And I feel energized to renew my efforts to wrap up the next story.