I know it’s inevitable. Every author gets their share of bad reviews. You know, those one-star postings and half-baked opinions of “chosen” readers, indicating that you, as an author, haven’t got a clue how to write a simple phase, how to plot a mystery, or create a believable story. Obviously, we can’t all be as talented as Agatha Christie, John Steinbeck or F. Scott Fitzgerald. We’re simply members of the Homo sapien writing tribe with more than our share of weaknesses, imperfections, and fragile reactions. Quite often, we find ourselves typing non-stop for days on end, allowing trapped emotions and caged creativity to escape in equal portions. We offer ourselves up to the world’s judgment, begging for acceptance—for someone to see the merit of our artistic efforts. But then it happens in an instant, even to the best of us. Critics and wannabe writers take careful aim, releasing venomous words, killing a novel purely for the pleasure of doing so.
I understand that not everyone appreciates the written word and the painstaking effort that goes into fully developing an idea. However, for an author, it’s tedious, time consuming work, and the act of writing can become an obsession in the art of perfection. Every word, scene and character on the page has value, and the ability to bring a story full circle can feel like a miraculous achievement at times. And yet, a single insult has the ability to take down not only an individual’s self-esteem but also their ability to write…at least for the time it takes to recover.
The solution to this madness? I’ve been told the most powerful action you can take to neutralize your brain’s wiring is to prove it wrong. Your brain fears being cast out of the “qualified” author circle, so calm it by connecting to your personal tribes—family, friends, other struggling writers. See brain? I’m not being thrown to the dingos—I have love, talent and the ability to carry on. Once the brain calms down, you can use reason and logic to center yourself. You can also talk to authors who have drifted in the same boat, bordering on the brink of despair.
Writers, like myself, fall into two groups. Those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review and those who hide their reactions well. Usually, I fall into the second group, holding my breath and looking away until the shock value wears off. But when a new book is released, it becomes a balancing act between elation over great reviews and irrational anger for the vicious ones. Some of Stephen King’s latest novels received up to 500 one-star and two-star reviews on Amazon. Was this done out of spite for his success as an author or simply a way to demonstrate powerful opinions?
Book stores are packed with best sellers that have a lot of bad reviews. Prove it to yourself. Do this: Go to idreambooks.com, the “Rotten Tomatoes” of the book world. They aggregate book reviews from important critics like the New York Times and rank best selling books according to the percentage of good reviews they received. Notice anything? Almost all the best selling books have a significant number of bad reviews. Imagine that.
Now think about this. How much could bad reviews affect sales if they’re all best sellers? I’m not ignoring the aftermath of cruel intention—bad reviews are undesirable. But they’re not necessarily the deal-breakers you think they are. Well, that’s what I continue to tell myself anyway. And even more interesting…bad reviews can actually help sell books.
What do you think of a book that has nothing but five-star reviews? I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit suspicious. Just like restaurant reviews, if you see nothing but 5 stars, I’m thinking the author or restaurant owner got all his friends, family and associates to write the vast number of reviews, delving out glowing praise. In a twisted way, bad reviews give a book legitimacy because their very presence indicate that the good reviews must be genuine. Right?
Well, I have to admit that all this venting has helped a wee bit. The sting of the cursed one-star review has eased a bit, and I’m reminded that the toughest critics are often the worst writers. That’s why they criticize, don’t you think? So now it’s time to laugh, enjoy a glass of wine, and move on until the next zinger comes along, and then maybe I’ll have the commonsense to look away.
A lone figure stood in the estuary lookout nestled in the trees above the North Sea on the Holderness Coast, waiting with restless anticipation as Gwen Gallagher approached the cliff’s edge. A quick adjustment to the night- vision binoculars allowed the watcher a closer view of the twenty-eight-year-old secretary as she savored the last autumn sunset she would ever see. The crisp, cool air picked up speed, leaving her long black hair sailing like a ghostly pirate’s flag behind her. It lifted the hem of her black skirt slightly, exposing her white, shapely legs and black suede booties to the wintry elements. Her blue eyes sparkled as they swept across the landscape, appraising the beauty surrounding them. She raised her chin toward the darkening sky and smiled, obviously believing the note she had received, inviting her here, had come from her married lover.
As Gwen moved even closer to the edge, the watcher took a deep breath. All that remained between this ludicrous woman and the vividly blue ocean was two meters of solid rock. From the lookout vantage point, there was barely enough light to confirm that she was staring down at the tossing sands and churning water, mesmerized by the early evening breeze. All it would take was one push, and she would feel the rush of wind through her hair and see the crystal-blue sea one last time as she slammed headlong into the jagged rocks.
Interested in reading my latest release and providing your honest to goodness review? Much-anticipated Banished Threads– the third book in my Threads series, featuring treasure hunters and adventure seekers Rachel Lyons and Chase Cohen, will be coming to Amazon, B&N and independent book stores this spring (Creative Edge Publishing LLC, March 20, 2016). If you’d like to receive an advance copy, please let me know and I’ll try my best to accommodate the hosts of review sites willing to spread the word.
Book Summary: While vacationing at the Cumberforge Manor in Bellwood, England, Rachel and Chase attend an elegant dinner party hosted by her uncle, Paul Lyons, and his aristocratic wife, Sara. Before the evening ends, a priceless collection of Morris Graves’ paintings are stolen from her uncle’s popular gallery, throwing all suspicion onto his wife’s troubled granddaughter Sloan, and turning Rachel and Chase into crime-stopping sleuths. Determined to clear Sloan’s name and, in the process, win Paul’s favor, Chase scours the countryside looking for answers. In his absence, the police accuse Rachel’s uncle of an unsolved murder and secrets surrounding her grandmother’s death and the deaths of Sara’s former husbands turn his wife into the most likely suspect.
With the true villains hell-bent on destroying Paul and his family, solving both crimes while ensuring her uncle’s freedom not only endangers Rachel’s life but that of her unborn child. Will Chase save them before the kidnappers enact their revenge or will the ultimate price be paid, as predicted by a vagabond fortuneteller?
Read the book to find to out! Send your request for Banished Threads to Kaylin@kaylinmcfaren.com.
“A psychologically thrilling and adventurous story that includes surprising twists and turns sure to keep its readers at the edge of their seats. The novel will delight readers of all ages with interesting characters, clever plotlines, and an engaging combination of romance, villainy, and the supernatural. Highly recommended!” The Columbia Review.
SEVERED THREADS – A NOVEL
REVIEWED BY: EDITORIAL BOARD The Editorial Board of The Columbia Review accepts submissions from authors, publishers, directors, agents, producers and fans. http://www.TheColumbiaReview.com
“Severed Threads” by Kaylin McFarren is the first installment in romantic suspense series. It provides an engaging mix of mystery, action, and drama that readers are sure to enjoy.
The story’s protagonist is Rachel Lyons, who is devastated after her father dies from a terrible diving accident. Rachel copes as best she can by choosing a life path that seems safe and comfortable. Her path soon becomes not so safe and comfortable, however, when she is drawn very reluctantly into an endeavor to recover a priceless relic from a sunken Chinese merchant ship. Because a former love interest named Chase Cohen is involved in the adventure, Rachel strongly desires not to be involved:
“Word had it, Chase Cohen, the renowned treasure hunter, was more determined than ever to leave his mark. He’d rifled ocean plots stretching from Spain to Key West, selling off remnants of other people’s lives. She had hoped their paths would never cross again.”
Despite her adamant hope to stay away, however, Rachel finds herself pulled into the situation as a result of yet another traumatic event. A drug-dealing gangster kidnaps Rachel’s brother and holds him ransom for $2 million. After learning about this horrific situation, Rachel determines that she has no choice but to become involved in the recovery of the ship’s relic…because it also holds the Heart of the Dragon, which she must steal to save her brother. The whole process forces Rachel to relive the circumstances of her father’s death, an experience that she finds incredibly challenging:
“She pulled the covers under her chin and longed to be lulled to sleep by the ship’s rocking motion—to be transported to a peaceful place. However, whether her nightmares were triggered by being aboard Stargazer or in the proximity of the place where he had met his untimely death, they had grown in intensity. They had become so horrifying and real with each passing night that she got little or no sleep at all. She closed her eyes and concentrated on the sound in the room.”
Through this adventure, Rachel must overcome her greatest challenges and biggest fears and ends up learning more than she realized about herself and her father’s death along the way.
“Severed Threads” offers a psychologically thrilling and adventurous story that includes surprising twists and turns sure to keep its readers at the edge of their seats. The novel will delight readers of all ages with interesting characters, clever plotlines, and an engaging combination of romance, villainy, and the supernatural. Highly recommended!
The saga of Chase Cohen and Rachel Lyons continues in book three of the Thread Series! The inimitable treasure-hunting business partners sail to England in the hope of asking Paul Lyons, Rachel’s uncle, for his blessing. Rachel, on the other hand, is not only dealing with morning sickness atop thoughts of her soon-approaching marriage, she is also riddled with a flurry of “what-ifs.” Chase’s relationship with Paul is rocky at best. Yet that pales in comparison to the serious family issues—more like skeletons in the closet—that are at stake in the Lyons household, especially when Sloan, Paul’s step-granddaughter, and Rachel are kidnapped.
Mistress storyteller and award-winning author Kaylin McFarren spins another action-packed adventure shrouded in mystery in her latest sequel. McFarren opens with a supposed tryst that morphs into an unexplained death. Grabbing her audience’s full attention, McFarren quickly shifts gears to the emotional and sexual tension brewing between Chase and Rachel, her two featured characters. Critical to McFarren’s writing style is how she slyly weaves in an array of colorfully complex characters—many of which function as foils for the purpose of building her dynamic cast—while undergirding her story with themes of the lovers’ anxiety and their unfolding relationship. Equally critical is the inclusion of a handful of supportive characters that play distinctive roles in the development of both the storyline and series.
Lightly punctuating her third person narrative with omniscient viewpoints, McFarren provides readers with windows that take snapshots into her character’s thought processes and inner turmoil, especially when she places them within life-threatening scenes. Although the bulk of her story is grippingly fast-paced, McFarren keeps readers engaged by throwing in a variety of sexual scenes that range from steamy to downright disturbing, as well as off-the-wall unexpected moments. Great “unexpected” examples include Chase inadvertently overhearing a sexually skewed hypnotic session and artistic representatives attending a posh dinner with bags on their heads, just to name a few.
Amid chapters replete with alternating character scenes, plenty of un-clichéd scenes, and romance—all set within suspenseful environs, McFarren’s tale would be incomplete without the infusion of a bit of history. Inspired by her love of the arts as well as owning and operating her own art gallery, McFarren aptly sprinkles in elements of art, giving particular attention to the works of the eccentric abstract painter Morris Graves. Also of interest is the way she portrays aspects of London, such as the infamous Soho district.
As with Severed Threads and Buried Threads, book three closes on a cliffhanger—one that indubitably will keep readers on edge anticipating its sequel. Well written and absolutely enthralling, Banished Threads is a wonderful addition to McFarren’s award-winning series!
The last three months have been filled with excitement, travel and fun developments. First if all, Severed Threads was officially released on July 18th and continues to receive rave reviews. This first book in the Threads series garnered a number of new awards this season, including:
2012 Indie Book of the Day Award Winner for 22nd of September 2012
2012 Golden Acorn Excellence in Writing Contest – 2nd place
2012 AKRWA’s best Break-up contest – 1st Place
2012 Central Ohio Fiction Writers’ Ignite the Flame Contest – 2nd Place
Next, with the wonderful blessing of having a second home in San Diego, I find myself visiting there at least once a month to enjoy the sights, sounds and incredible food – all within a short five-minute walk. The addition of a new writing desk and internet hook-up will continue to keep me producing all year-long and finding inspiration in the views and from the people I’ve become acquainted with during my stays.
Lastly, if you haven’t had a chance to visit my new website, be sure to do so. You’ll find news about upcoming releases, new excerpts, reviews and trailers…as well as easy-to-buy links. If you’re a new author or have been considering self-publishing your work, also visit my publisher’s website atwww.creativeedgepublishing.com. You’ll find helpful suggestions and details about my journey from concept to print.
Kaylin’s Best Review Contest:
From September 1st – 30th, I hosted a Book Review Contest on Amazon.com. My congratulations to “WaFire” (aka Jay Farrell) for the best review of the month. Hope you enjoy your new Wi-Fi Kindle and gift certificate! They’re on their way…
And here’s his winning review:
“Severed Threads – an exciting action adventure into the world of salvage diving, treasure hunting, gangsters and Chinese art history is also my first foray into the literary genre that includes ‘romance’. The story grabbed my attention from the first air bubbles on the tragic initial dive excursion resulting in the untimely death of Rachel Lyon’s father. Author Kaylin McFarren then has your attention wrapped tightly by the throat like the gangster Pollero torturing Rachel’s brother Devon. Explosions, wild seas and unexpected character revelations layer the action, and, yes romance, further into the story like thermal layers on a hundred foot dive.”
Now be sure to visit my website home page at www.kaylinmcfarren.com for new, upcoming contests that you can participate in as well!
Kaylin’s Work In Progress:
At this time, I’m working diligently on the next book in the Threads series: Buried Threads
Here’s the summary and a fun excerpt to enjoy:
With news of their recent success spreading, Rachel Lyons and her deep-sea diving crew accept a contract to recover a lost sacred treasure in the Sea of Japan. Arriving in Tokyo, she and her partner Chase Cohen soon learn their romantic exploration is more complex than they originally believed and are determined to break their agreement – until the Buddhist monk who hired them turns up missing. In order to rescue him from certain death, Rachel must depend on her buried instincts, form an alliance with one of Japan’s most feared mafia leaders and convince her partner to dive into shark-infested waters to search for the Heart of Darkness.
Rachel arched a brow. Who the hell was this guy anyway? And why would he refuse first class when given the choice? As Helen stepped away, she eyed the stranger, more mystified than ever.
“I don’t know why you would order food for me when I don’t intend to eat it. That’s a very odd thing to do, Mr. Shinji,” she said.
He shrugged a shoulder. “I suppose I am a bit odd. But I guarantee you’ll change your mind.”
She huffed. “Not likely.” She considered standing up and halting the stewardess’ progress but the drink cart was blocking the aisle.
Within seconds, Helen returned with an assisting attendant holding two filled trays in her hands. More than anything, Rachel wanted to issue a verbal protest, but it seemed she’d already drawn the attention of the Asian couple seated across from her who were glowering for some unknown reason.
The petite blond leaned down, draping napkins across Rachel and Shinji’s laps. She waited for them to lower their tabletops before setting down two plates filled with cheese omelets, blueberry yogurt cups, croissants and strawberry jam. Then she returned again with a fresh pot of coffee and requested mango juice.
Unbelievable. Rachel stole sideways glances at the peculiar man. He picked up his fork and shoveled bread and a sizeable portion of omelet into his mouth. Her cheeks warmed at the practically pornographic noise that came out of her seatmate, as Shinji threw his head back and munched gratifyingly, his eyes closed in contentment. She noticed a spot of jam on the corner of his mouth and looked away determinedly.
“There’s nothing better than warm bread and eggs in the morning,” Shinji said, recovering from his omelet orgasm. “I suggest eating your meal before it gets cold, Miss Lyons. You’re going to need every ounce of strength you can muster to get your job done.”
Rachel glared at the impertinent stranger, willing him be sucked out the window. But then she’d never know his whole story – why he felt entitled and insisted on behaving so inappropriately.
“You’re not a private investigator, are you, Mr. Shinji?” she quipped.
He picked up his torn roll and smeared it with more jam. “I never said I was.”
“But you inferred as much.”
“That was never my intent. If you recall, I didn’t tell you what I actually recover.”
“So, what is it then? If you travel all over the world to find these things, they must be valuable or have some significance.”
“I think you’d have a hard time believing me if I told you.”
“Try me,” she said then inwardly cringed on her insistence.
After another well-chewed mouthful, he gazed deep into her eyes and answered in a calm, matter of fact tone. “Souls.”
On the Lighter Side:
Stuffed deer heads on walls are bad enough, but it’s worse when you see them wearing dark glasses, having streamers around their necks and a hat on their antlers. Because then you know they were enjoying themselves at a party when they were shot. (Ellen Degeneres)
A newlywed couple moves into their new house. One day the husband comes home from work and his wife says, “Honey, you know, in the upstairs bathroom one of the pipes is leaking, could you fix it?” The husband says, “What do I look like, Mr. Plumber?” A few days go by, and he comes home from work and his wife says, “Honey, the car won’t start. I think it needs a new battery. Could you change it for me?” He says: “What do I look like, Mr. Goodwrench?” Another few days go by, and it’s raining pretty hard. The wife finds a leak in the roof. She says, “Honey, there’s a leak on the roof! Can you please fix it?” He says, “What do I look like, Bob Vila?” The next day the husband comes home, and the roof is fixed. So is the plumbing. So is the car. He asks his wife what happened. “Oh, I had a handyman come in and fix them,” she says. “Great! How much is that going to cost me?” he snarls. Wife says: “Nothing. He said he’d do it for free if I either baked him a cake or slept with him.” “Uh, well, what kind of cake did you make?” asks the husband. “What do I look like,” she says, “Betty Crocker?”
Kaylin’s Favorite Recipe:
Butternut Squash Apple Soup Recipe
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Note that the smaller you chop your vegetables, the faster they will cook. We like to finely dice the onion. celery and carrot, and cut the squash and apple into 1/2-inch chunks. For a variation add a couple dashes of smoked paprika and/or swirl in a little sour cream at the end (off the heat).
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 rib of celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 Tbsp butter
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, chopped
1 tart green apple, peeled, cored, chopped (squash and apple should be at a 3 to 1 ratio)
3 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth if vegetarian)*
1 cup water
Pinches of nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper
*If cooking gluten-free, use gluten-free broth.
1 Set a large saucepan over medium-high heat and heat the butter for 1-2 minutes. Do not let it turn brown. Add the onion, celery and carrot and sauté for 5 minutes, taking care to turn the heat down if the vegetables begin to brown.
2 Add squash, apple, broth and water. Bring to boil. Cover, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until squash and carrots soften. Puree, and return to a clean pot.
3 Add salt and spices to taste, and garnish with chives or parsley.
Yield: Serves 4-6.
Well, hope you enjoy our late summer weather and have an awesome, productive autumn!
So excited by the new 5-star review I received today for my latest release – Severed Threads. When authors receive positive feedback like this, it only encourages us to return to the typewriter to conjure up more adventures and dramatic story lines. So I thank you, Suzanne Gattis, for your non-basis appraisal and vote of confidence in my writing ability. Kaylin
“Sometimes it is only when you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders that you really see what it is you want and what it is you are missing out of life. Such is the epiphany that Rachel Lyons comes to in the ever-suspenseful Severed Threads. Kaylin McFarren’s novel takes the reader through twists and turns as the story navigates romance and adventure, murder and mystery. With a central theme of guilt and deception, throughout all the action of the book, the reader sees the redemption of several of the characters; lessons are learned and bridges are built and crossed.
Believing herself to be the reason for her father’s death, Rachel has withdrawn from the world and the life she once knew to play it safe. With her last words to him replaying over and over in her head, playing it safe still wasn’t bringing her much happiness. She is stuck on this track until an old flame comes back into the picture, with tales of sunken treasure and undersea adventure. Forced into taking part in his quest because of the kidnapping of her brother, who has himself created a world of chaos after the passing of his father, Rachel sets out on a journey to discover hidden secrets, buried treasure, and herself. Throw in a little paranormal activity, curses and ghosts and such, and some strong sexual attractions, and the book will keep you on the edge of your toes throughout.
With so many plot turns and the many characters’ underlying stories, this novel is a true treasure unto itself. As a reader, I couldn’t put the book down because I constantly wanted to know what was going to happen next. Many of the ups and downs were not obvious, and I enjoyed the surprise as each revelation was made. The characters are extremely complex but real, and I found myself being very involved in their thoughts and actions. I felt for each character, questioned their reasoning and cheered them on.
It is easy to see through reading this book that McFarren familiarized herself with the information she was presenting in her book. The time and information she put into the history and the undersea world lent depth to the book and helped to present a very genuine story. I enjoy nothing more than a well-researched, thought-provoking read, and Severed Threads definitely found itself in that category for me.” • SUZANNE GATTIS, Pacific Book Review
Received a 5-star review today from the UK’s leading book recommendation website: LOVE READING. Based on this response, this wonderful reading group (ladies and gentlemen, I assume) will be adding SOUL SEEKER to the LoveReading website and into their Indie Books We Love section. WOOHOO!! This totally made my day and merits repeating.
So here is their awesome review:
“Soul Seeker is a complex thriller packed full of tension, drama and the supernatural. I liked that this book starts off with a poem, almost like an old shakespearean narrator introducing the plot-line and what’s about to happen. We are first introduced to the story of Benjamin Poe, A death row inmate finally sharing the twisted events that led to a shocking murder.
After reading the synopsis for the book I was eager to start reading and I soon became engrossed in Benjamin’s story. I like the small town that the author creates and the variety of characters that live in Lochton. I also liked that it wasn’t stereotypical quaint and peaceful, with a brief shoplifting incident early on. I think that this added an underlying realism and grittiness and was a solid foundation to build the darker aspects of the story. Even early on in Soul Seeker we are aware of evil events and non-moral actions which I think set the tone for later on in the novel and provide an interesting environment to introduce the supernatural characters. I found the characters interesting and I enjoyed how the characters are developed alongside plot twists. These plot twists kept me guessing throughout the book, with more questions than answers and a need to find out more.
I liked the supernatural element of this story, I think it really helps to ramp up the suspense that builds throughout the novel while also maintaining a sense of realism and moral complexity – even Crighton, a high ranking demon, is made up of more than pure evil. I liked seeing his relationship develop with Ariel towards the end of the book.Soul Seeker is the first book in a series and I look forward to reading more. I think Soul Seeker would be enjoyed by fans of the supernatural, darker relationship stories and thrillers.” – Charlotte Walker, Content Manager, LOVEREADING