Books by Melissa Bowersock

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

First Impressions Count — Big Time

So you’ve written the next Great American Novel and you’re ready to publish. Now you’re down to the silly details that try your patience. You have to choose your categories and then come up with a short description, almost every writer’s bane. How do you distill 600 pages down to six sentences? How do you convey all the passion and wisdom and inspiration of your story into one or two paragraphs?
Careful. It’s tempting to throw down a few sentences and call it good.
Don’t do it.
In a recent discussion with other authors, we talked about errors in books both traditionally-published and self-published. It’s an age-old problem that we all face. We re-read, edit, re-read, edit, send out to beta-readers, re-read and edit again and still we miss something here or there. I am guessing it would be more difficult to find a book with absolutely zero errors than it would to find them with one or two if not more. I am actually wondering if there are any books out there without a single error. Maybe, but it’s doubtful. None of us like it, but it does seem to go with the territory. Doesn’t mean we don’t work hard to correct errors, but I don’t think any of us are going to commit hari-kari over it, either.
However, there are two areas where errors are positively absolutely never forgivable. I’m talking about the cover and that description you just tossed up on Amazon.
Spelling errors on covers are just the most inexcusable thing ever, so I don’t even think it requires a discussion. On the lighter side, here’s a web page with famous covers with one letter missing. Makes all the difference in the world, doesn’t it?
But now back to that description. My friend author K.S. Brooks talked about how to write a good one, so I won’t rehash that here. But once you’ve got yours done, don’t just slap it up there. Look at it through a magnifying glass. Check each word. Seriously. Every word. Because this, along with your cover, is the first impression the prospective reader gets of your writing talent and style. If a reader sees an error in your description, what does that say to them? That you’re … lazy? Uneducated? Incompetent? Certainly not conscientious and thorough. Many readers will not — will not — buy a book that has a mistake in the description. If you’ve thrown that description up there with only a cursory glance and there’s a misspelling or a punctuation error there, you’ve just lost the opportunity for a sale not just once, but over and over and over. Is it really worth that five minutes of time you saved yourself? What good is writing that Great American Novel if readers can’t or won’t even get past the description?
One last area to think about is the first chapter. This first bit is what the reader can access via the Look Inside feature, so it likewise needs to be top notch. The entire book, of course, should be as error-free as you can possibly make it, but especially these first impressions.
As the old saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression.
Make it a good one.
Originally published by Indies Unlimited on October 21, 2014

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Valentine's Day Sale!

In the mood for Valentine's Day? If not, I've got the solution. I'm putting all of my romance novels on sale for just 99 cents through February 19, 2017. I've got contemporary romances, historical romances, and a romance satire. Get 'em while they're hot!

Lightning Strikes (Contemporary Romance)Jessie Evans is a free-lance journalist, emphasis on the "free," with no plans to tie herself down. While researching a story in Flagstaff about Indian influences in Arizona, however, she encounters Lucas Shay, a smoldering paradox who is part Indian, part architect and all man. Whether igniting her temper with his arrogance or challenging her beliefs with his laser-like insight, Jessie can't deny that Lucas sets fire to her soul as well.


Remember Me (Contemporary Romance)Elly Cole wakes up bruised and battered in a hospital-and has no idea who she is or how she got there. Her brooding giant of a husband informs her that she had been fleeing with her lover who was killed in the car accident that left her injured, that she is pregnant with that lover's child and that she has nowhere else to go but home-with him. Struggling against the threat of her husband's dangerous rage and jealousy, Elly strives to regain her memory and reconstruct the life she left behind, wondering how she could ever have loved this man who hates her.


Superstition Gold (Historical Romance)Married and widowed within a 24-hour period, beautiful Leigh Banning watches as her storybook New Orleans life crumbles away piece by piece. In a heartbroken attempt to start over, she travels to the wilds of frontier Arizona in an effort to understand the father she never knew and is rewarded with gold from the legendary Lost Dutchman gold mine in the Superstition Mountains. The gold comes with a price tag, however—the murder of innocent people. Leigh’s quest for justice leads her to a remote Apache camp in the company of a proud Pima Indian and a handsome cavalry officer. Torn between the fiery kisses of the Major and the respectful love of the Pima, Leigh joins forces with the Apaches to battle gold-hungry killers and in the process discovers her true self and her one true love.


The Rare Breed (Historical Romance)The daughter of a white woman and an Indian brave, Catherine Boudry had spent the first thirteen years of her life among the Cheyenne. Restored at last to her mother’s wealthy parents, Cathy blossomed into womanhood surrounded by all the “civilized” comforts of the white man’s world. But at the age of twenty, the lure of her Indian heritage drew her back to the western plains. It was a journey that would awaken her to the joy and agony of passion in the arms of two very different men—Jory, the virile young trapper, and Barred Owl, the Cheyenne brave to whom she had been pledged in marriage long ago.


And for something completely different, here is my satire of romance novels. Not for the faint of heart! 




Love’s Savage Armpit by Amber Flame (Satire) (Originally published as The Pits of Passion)Young, nubile Elizabeth Montgomery is too beautiful for her own good. Accosted by lust-struck males every time she appears in public, she is profoundly grateful when sea captain Benjamin Elliott saves her from a would-be ravisher. Her gratitude, however, turns to shock when Elliott himself seduces her and ruins her chances for an honorable marriage. Sealed to the man in an arranged marriage, Elizabeth rides the surging tide of shock and denial, lust and love, as she is swept from the manicured gardens of England to the savage shores of Africa and the wilds of the New World, never quite sure which Captain Elliott is the man she loves. Caution--this over-the-top satire is NOT your mother's romance novel!







Monday, January 30, 2017

Words, Perfect Words

I love words. I wouldn’t be a writer if I didn’t.
One of my other vocations beside being a writer is being a hypnotherapist. I don’t practice it much; writing is my first love and takes up 99% of my time. As a writer, I have always been enthralled at the power of words to describe, to evoke, to inspire, to create. As a hypnotherapist, I found the power of words took on an entirely new dimension and that is the ability to induce an alternate consciousness. It still amazes me that I can lead a person into an altered state from where they might examine their psychological issues, fears, even past lives, simply with words. What amazes me even more is that I, too, can be coaxed into an alternate state, even when I understand the process inside and out, even when I’m fully aware of what is happening, simply by the use of the right words.
Words, with all their delicate meanings and nuanced emotion, can build empires or bring them down. They can harden hearts or move us to tears. They are freely available and yet only a portion of humans seem to have the will or talent to string them together in meaningful ways. Yet there is simply no denying that words can capture our imaginations and move us in ways that nothing else can.
I was reminded of this one morning as I was sitting quietly, taking a mid-morning snack break and listening to the radio when The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel came on. Now I normally have music on but I normally hear very little of it; if I’m concentrating on my writing or any other task, my ears just stop working. I have that kind of attentiveness that lasers in on one thing at a time so any other considerations (husband included; just ask him) fade into white noise. When I’m writing, people often have to call my name several times before I can drag myself up out of the depths of a story to even hear them. It irritates the hell out of some people, but I don’t do it on purpose; it’s just the way I’m wired.
So anyway, The Boxer starts to play. This is one of a handful of songs that, when I hear it, I have to stop whatever else I’m doing and just listen (or better yet, sing along) because the way the words are put together just knocks me out.
I honestly don’t know what it is. The music and the cadence have a lot to do with it, of course, but the way the words come together is just magical to me. The meter, the rhyme, the images all combine to create a beautiful soap bubble of imagination that just picks me up and floats me away from the rest of the world. It just all comes together flawlessly.
Bits of books and movies can do the same thing to me. If I’m channel-surfing and Grapes of Wrath comes on, particularly Tom Joad’s soliloquy, I cannot surf away; I have to watch. I have to listen to every word.
Then I’ll be all around in the dark – I’ll be ever’where—wherever you look. Wherever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there… I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’—I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry and they know supper’s ready. An’ when our folk eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build—why, I’ll be there.
And it doesn’t even have to be an entire verse or a long paragraph. How many of us would kill to know that the first line of our book resonated with and was instantly recognized by millions?
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, …
Call me Ishmael.
I have some favorite books that I read over and over, but sometimes I might pick one up and read just one scene, one section that stuns me with its perfection. In A Prayer for Owen Meany, I can read the part about getting the Volkswagen off the stage in the school auditorium for the 50th time and still end up crying because it’s so blessedly funny. The same is true for Rita Mae Brown’s Six of One; I can read the part about the Fourth of July parade and end up weak from laughter. These are the kinds of things that writers dream about, when all the right words come together at the right time, in the right combination, in the right meter, the right cadence and the result is absolute perfection. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it doesn’t just flash like a star; it shines like a super-nova.
And that’s when we know that, for that one moment in time, we’ve reached the pinnacle of our craft; we’ve attained the highest potential for being a wordsmith, a writer. We’ve strung a few words together that capture the human psyche and take it on a journey of the mind.
Then it’s on to the next opus.
Your turn: what lines, phrases, passages grab you like this? What are your nominees for the most perfect words ever written?
Originally published by Indies Unlimited on June 24, 2014.