Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My Guest: Melodie Ramone

My Guest this week tackles a subject dear to the heart of any writer... Nuclear Physics. No, seriously, Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present...

Melodie Ramone

Reviews, Nuclear Physics and cashiers!

It is such a common theme in our lives as writers. We got a bad review, it ruined our day. We went into our writer’s group and vented. Our friends came to the rescue and voted down the review. We felt better. And if we’ve got the skin it takes to make it in this business, we jumped right back into Word and began a new chapter in a new story.

I often wonder why writers bother to read their reviews. I know that seems counter-intuitive, but I rarely ever do and I’ll tell you why. It’s not that I don’t understand that most of us spend hours upon hours, days upon days, working on
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our stories. What’s a story if nobody reads it? So, of course, we want to know what readers thought. But what happens when they don’t like it? In a nutshell, it hurts like crazy and anybody who writes has trouble exactly pinpointing why.

Well, I can. It’s because those words we wrote mean so much to us. It’s like being pregnant for ten months while another organism inhabits your body and destroys you from the inside, makes your brain shrink to the point where you are clinically insane and then you spend weeks in hard labor only to end up with a c-section where the editor rips the thing out of your guts and slaps it on its brand new, pink bottom until it screams. It’s a relief to have it on sale, it’s a joy the book’s been born, but, really, it’s been such a toil. You’re destroyed mentally (sometimes physically depending on if you took the time to eat or sleep) and you’re permanently scarred from the process. But the book’s yours. You created it. You dress it in a lovely book cover that you also tormented yourself over and bring it out into public, hoping that people will see the beauty of what you have done. And then – WHAM! There’s the insensitive person who looks at it and cries, “Holy heaven! What is THAT monstrosity! Kill it before it lays eggs!”

It’s crushing. The truth is we get too close. We get too attached to our work. We fall in love with our characters (literally), we become fascinated with the scenery. We become intertwined with the meaning inside the cover. We build a home in a little fantasy world and there we escape our actuality. The story becomes our happy place and the safety of going there after a long day of reality is intoxicating. We look forward to it. We want to share it and we want people to love it as much as we do. The practicality is, not everybody is going to and that’s just not our fault.
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A bad review is genuinely no reflection on a writer. It’s more a reflection on the reader. Think of it this way. If we were at a dinner party and six of the seven guests were Nuclear Physicists and the other was a cashier, the cashier probably wouldn’t have a very good time. She’d either be intimidated, annoyed or bored silly. She’d be left out of the conversation. If it was the opposite and the Physicist was the odd man out, he’d probably pick the cashier’s conversation to bits as trivial. Point being? Inviting either was a mistake. They didn’t understand the conversation. The same goes for a book. We send an open invitation for people to come to our party and find a place at our table. Not everybody’s going to like what we serve. That’s not our fault. They just joined the wrong gathering.

I see authors all the time agonizing over what they think readers are going to like, actually catering to an anticipation of what will be demanded. It’s an energy drain. Not that one shouldn’t care what readers think, quite the opposite, but the trick about that is to find the RIGHT readers. That’s where targeting an audience comes in, which is a skill you gain along the way of mastering your marketing. Even with all of that down to a science, there will always be a party crasher who buys a book they shouldn’t have read and hates it. Occasionally, that person will fire off a horrible review. It’s their opinion, they are entitled to it, and it hurts to read it. But the truth is that you probably weren’t talking to them to begin with. They came to your table, you didn’t directly invite them and you certainly didn’t force your book on them. This being said, why should you care what they think?

The best advice I can give any author is to write what they want from their own heart and not worry about what other people are going to say about it. There are many voices out there. Some will think you are wonderful, others will hate what you do. Not all of them are trolls. Some of them were just reading a book that’s wrong for them. Again, their loss and not the author’s problem. If there are enough good reviews,
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authors who obsess over the bad ones are really only harming themselves. They are there for balance and, honestly, in this business, balance is a goal. It helps us improve. Distressing over every bad review is poison to the joy of the writing process. We need to stay in the middle and do what we do, regardless of the feedback. If we’re doing it right, we’ll land somewhere near the center, maybe a little to the high side. All that reflects is that people are buying your book and that is ALWAYS a good thing. The more that read, the closer you should fall somewhere near the center.

You own what you write the way you own your children. You can only bring them to this world, love them, put all you can into their formation, watch them grow strong and send them out into the world with the faith that you have done all you could and they have what it takes to make it in a big, messy, wonderful, topsy-turvy universe. Beyond that, what people think of them is not up to you. Love the stories anyway. Let the voices of those who don’t understand roll past. Write another book with joy. Trust the process. Look for balance with enthusiasm and no matter what comes your way, never give up. Your stories are yours and you are the only one who can tell them. If somebody can’t relate, that’s fine. Somebody else always will. You never need to worry about either, because both opinions will be there should you choose to take a peek at your reviews. But keep in mind that you certainly are never required to torture yourself. That is a choice you make on your own and may be one of the only things in this business you actually can control.   


Reviews for Melodie Ramone’s work can be seen on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.  She is currently in the editing process of her upcoming novel 'Burning Down Rome', slated for release in autumn 2014. The image for 'Burning Down Rome' is only a placemarker and is not meant to represent the book's cover.


"I'm a keeper of fuzzy critters, author, speaker and certified Kitchen Witch. When I'm not creating Culinary magic, I can usually be found writing stories, reading books, relentlessly tweeting, knitting or delving into fringe Physics. Super geek? Oh, yeah. 
I'm obsessed with the Science of Physics, particularly Particle Physics, although in the last few years I am drawn more and more toward Astronomy. I’m fascinated with Outer Space and what’s going on out there. Hubble and the Mars Rovers have sparked a passion in me that goes back to the first time I saw Star Wars. And that was a long, long time ago. I’m a curious person by nature. I want to know everything about everything, I want to see it. I want to understand it so I can understand the origins of our universe. But, then again, I want to understand everything in general.

In short, I’m a happy person. I’m not perfect and I’m not entirely sane, but I don’t pretend to be. In the end, when I look back at my life I will see an amazing smear of color. All the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the strength and weakness that was me. I’ll see all I did and all I failed at. And I will sigh and I will say that I lived. I really, truly lived. I was real. I wrote books. And that, I think, will be good enough for me."

When Melodie is not writing, staring at the stars or conjuring in the kitchen, she can be contacted at:





Thank you Melodie for a superb article which presents a refreshing look at the writer's relationship with the reviewer. Best wishes for 'Burning Down Rome'.

Eric @

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

My Guest: Yelle Hughes

This week's Guest is going to help all who have problems finding inspiration for their novels - been there, done that, right? Her approach is to look back to a time long, long ago... Ladies and Gentlemen...

Yelle Hughes

Yelle? What’s a Yelle, you ask?

Well, Yelle is my nickname, as well as my author name. It came from two sources and my family still fights over its origin: My mom says she named me Yelle because I was very loud as a child. My grandma (God bless her soul) said I was named after Ellie May Clampett, from her favorite show, “The Beverly Hillbillies”.

My uncles still call me Ellie to this day.

Now that you know this little tidbit about me, let me tell you some more.

I became a writer some twenty odd years ago and only recently became a published author. What do I write
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about? Why, I write about everything pertaining to Greek mythology. From Sci-Fi to Historical Fiction to Romance, maybe even Horror one day. I consider myself a Greek freak and have been this way since I was a kid.

From reading my first ever story, Cupid and Psyche, I became an avid reader and studier in all aspects of these fascinating myths and teachings. I learned how it influenced the English language, architecture, our daily lives, and especially, our films. I could go on for days about how the world of Greek mythology is inundated in our movies. I am an unpaid critic you know. So much so, our stars, galaxies and space movies drip with ancient names. Buck Rogers, Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars and even the USA’s own NASA program was bitten by the Greek bug.

The great visual arts creator, Ray Harryhausen played a vital role in my obsession. He brought to life on screen, the very creatures and characters I loved to read so much about. The first “Clash of the Titans” was the catalyst for my writing career. There was love (Perseus & Andromeda), there was action (a lot of sword play and flying Pegasus), monsters (Medusa, Kraken and Calibos) and there were the gods in all their selfish and foolish glory (they always meddled with mortals for no apparent reason) J

I was riveted.

But, real life made me make a choice back then. Either wallow in my fantasies or grow up in the real world. I chose to grow up. Got married, kids and a career. Now that the kiddies are grown and out of the house, it’s me time!

First thing I did, I booked a flight to go on an architectural tour of Greece and its islands. I was in heaven, I tell ya!
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It was a magical moment for me. I’ve never left the US…well, Canada, but it’s like a second home to me, and I’d been there so much. I guess I can say, I’ve never been to a country where English was not the top language. And all by myself! At first, I was too scared and then a friend of mine told me, “Stop being a little bitch. You have the money, the kids are gone…you’ve been talking about Greece for all the time that I’ve known you. If you don’t go now, I’m going to hound you for the rest of your days.”

So yeah, I went and so glad I did. I went to the Acropolis. Saw the Oracle of Delphi, visited where the original Olympics started and got to see the great Mt. Olympus. But what really brought me to tears and still does when I think about it, was when I visited Thermopylae. Now the story of Leonidas and his 300 was a true story, but there are a lot of fantastical memes that went along with this historical event.

The trip to Thermopylae was not on our itinerary, but since I talked the ears off of our guide, Michael, he announced we were making a quick pit stop, all because I asked so many questions. I have to tell you guys and I’m not kidding, I went to the monument…couldn’t read a darn thing, then I crossed the highway over to this large hill that had steps leading up. Know what I saw? I saw a large oval stone with Greek wording. Still didn’t know what it said but, I felt a quietness, a calm and something told me to honor this stone. I looked around the grass and saw a single red poppy flower among a bunch of yellow ones. That same intuition told me to place it on the plaque. I did and bowed my head for all those who lost their lives in that area. From historical maps, Thermopylae looked vastly different from before. There was no goat pass and there were no “Hot Gates”. It was all filled in with dirt and rocks, so I couldn’t grasp where the fight actually was. I felt a peacefulness the rest of the day till we were taken back to our hotel. I had internet, so I looked up the wording that was on that stone.

I freaked!

That hill I was standing on, was the actual burial mound where they buried some of the Spartans and the Greeks who helped ward off the Persians. Here’s the actual picture I took of the stone:

That was a little bit more about me, now on to what I’ve written. Jumping into the indie-publishing world was not as easy as I thought. I had to put down what was in my head in neat, coherent sentences that made sense to someone other than myself. So I joined a group of like-minded individuals and studied up. My very first, published, legit (I say legit because even though I published short stories on blogs and websites, I never actually had a published book) story was for Janet Morris’s “In Hell” series. This was dark, historical fiction and I’ve never written anything so gloomy and have it entertaining at the same time. Mrs. Morris saw my work and said to me, “I want you to write a short story for me”.

Of course, I was scared pantless and told her so. Her comeback, “If you don’t try, you’ll never know.” I did
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it, I wrote “Essence Helliance in Dreamer’s in Hell”.  I took mythological characters, placed them in hell and had a ball. In my work, my life influences the story and my character Medea in hell, ran a plasma donation center, which is what I did in real life, only, I didn’t damn people’s souls when I took their blood.
J Mrs. Morris liked it so much, that she asked me to write another story for her upcoming anthology, “Poets in Hell”.

Now my stuff? I like to have a good time and for my characters to have a good time. My first short story “Tritonium (Greek Gods in Space)" introduces you to my main guys that star in my EK Chronicles series.  It’s all in the title, the gods of Greece are sent on a mission, to save a world from the wrath of a fickle goddess. I put an astrological twist to a classic mythical tale.  If you read this first, you’ll find out why they all have nicknames.

"Triton the Aegean Chronicles" is all about romance, there’s the girl, the enemy, gods and goddesses acting straight fools, and you will be entertained. If any of you are familiar with the story of Perseus and his birth, well, you get a glimpse of what happened. How he and his mother, Danae, affect the mortal Ariadne Phillips in today’s time. From then on, I wrote, Triton, from my imagination. You’ll meet Taz “Triton” and why he’s sent to protect the little human. Once he lays eyes on her, he comes up with a crazy scheme to keep her safe and spend a little time together. They go on an adventure through Greece and the Greek Isles to keep one-step ahead of the enemy. Along with the antics of Ari’s girlfriends, and Taz’s fellow immortals, you will find yourself laughing and shaking your head.

I invite you all into my world of the Greek gods in the modern age. I want to make you laugh, cry and yell at the bad guys for being so stupid, and to enjoy my visuals I’m going to include with the books.


Hi guys. I'm Yelle Hughes, mum of three and now a proud grandparent. I'm an avid reader as well as author. I enjoy canoeing, studying the Greek myths, watching action and western movies, and I'm also an unpaid movie critic. My work is written from the heart and pays homage to people who have passed through my life, just as the seasons pass each year.

I discovered the world of Greek Mythology in Jr. High and the idea of adding the modern and fantasy worlds together began to take form. Twenty years, a marriage, three rugrats and a trip to Greece finally brought to life my series, the Aegean Chronicles (coming soon). A mixing of cultures, humor, sadness and weird sex takes you on an adventure in finding out that romance can be achieved, no matter who you are.

When Yelle is not communing with the (Greek) gods, she can be found at:

Website and Blog:

As Yelle mentions, the history of many bygone civilizations has been the inspiration for many a contemporary novel and movie. So if you're stuck for ideas, check out Homer (and I don't mean Simpson!).

Eric @