Sunday, August 18, 2019

Kind Words

Getting feedback is an important part of life. It can be a parent giving praise and encouragement to a child. A teacher sharing advice.  A coach offering guidance. Or even hearing from a supervisor or coworker about your efforts on the job. Those words can have a significant impact on your efforts, no matter what the situation.

The same holds true for writers.

There are few professions where someone can put in countless solitary hours, slaving away to craft a story that will enthrall or entertain the reader. Between multiple drafts, revisions and editing, it can become a labor of love before you ever dare show your work to another person.  While there may be support in the form of workshops or writer’s groups, it still all comes down to the individual.

Which can be daunting.

Most writers will agree that the feedback about one of their stories can be priceless. A verbal comment can be music to the ears. But when someone takes the time to write and post a review, that’s enough to keep me smiling for days. It’s also motivation to get back to the keyboard and keep working on the next story. Because there’s always another one.

This week I was delighted to discover a 4.5- star review on Amazon for “Fleeing Beauty” the third book in the Jamie Richmond series.  This reader went into great detail to support the rating.  Here’s a clip of the kind words from the review. 

Jamie is a talented author with a tight schedule, a hot boyfriend, and close friends who love her attention. As good as she is as a writer, her talent is vastly overshadowed--even in death--by the inspirational and charismatic sculptures of her biological father. To everyone's surprise, long after his death, a hidden workshop is discovered, filled with never-seen-before pieces of his art that are worth millions. 

Though Jamie will inherit her father's multi-million-dollar estate when she's 35, she performs the work more to get to know a father she never knew. With each piece, she digs a bit deeper into his background, his personal history, and what made him tick. What she really craves to understand is why he was always so distant during his life and whether he ever loved his only daughter. 

Following Jamie as she documents every step of this massive collection while juggling a writing career and a full life kept me turning pages. The pacing is excellent, no wasted words, the story always moving forward with interesting tidbits that add to the characters, ultimately growing into a mystery that could cost lives.

Overall, a well-constructed novel with interesting characters, fascinating information about the art world, and an enjoyable read. 

Not every review is so positive, but it’s rewarding to hear from someone who enjoyed the story.  It’s someone’s way to say ‘thank you’for a few hours of entertainment.  Anytime you write a review, you’re giving feedback that can help an author.  Even if it’s just a line or two, it can add up. And that might lead to someone else taking a chance on my books.

Since “Fleeing Beauty” was featured, here’s an excerpt from that novel. In this scene, Jamie, Malone and her step-father Bert are meeting with attorneys Lincoln Banning and Helen Gaines to view the collection of artwork that has been discovered in the studio of Jamie’s late father.

I don’t know what anyone else was expecting, but I was stunned by what I saw. There was no haphazard jumble here. What welcomed me was row upon row of wooden crates. Some were so big I couldn’t see over them and I was wearing two-inch heels. Others were small cubes, about two feet in every direction. Some were stacked on top of others, some were standing alone. There were five rows here. Each crate was identified with some kind of code. And each one was coated in a thick layer of dust that would have made an archeologist giddy with delight.

    “Holy crap,” I whispered. Malone was standing close by. I felt his hand squeeze mine. It took me a minute to realize I was shaking.

    “Peter was always creating,” Banning said quietly. “We spoke often about his work. He would have multiple projects going simultaneously. Some were pieces he’d designed and was commissioned to create. Others were something that struck his fancy. He suffered from insomnia, as so many creative types do. I think that just allowed him more time to work.”

    We walked around the rows of crates. Absently I trailed a finger along the wood. I realized everyone else was quietly following my lead. Bert stopped beneath the windows, arms folded across his massive chest. I followed his gaze. The ceiling was probably twenty feet up. Across the beams were a row of lights, large bulbs inside metallic shades. They easily threw a large circle of light down on the crates.  The back wall, which faced north, was solid cement for the first fifteen feet. The last section, five or six feet tall, were heavy windows reinforced with metal in the glass. 

    “This will be no easy task,” Banning said as he moved back to the entrance in the wall.

    “It’s safe to assume these crates have been untouched for more than twenty years,” Malone said, brushing the dust off his palms.

    Gathering around one of the worktables, Helen brought out a copy of the list. “I’ve taken the liberty of making a few calls. There are not many firms that specialize in artwork. So far I’ve been unable to find one that would be willing to do the inventory. But I intend to keep trying.”

    “What about some college students? Maybe we could line some up while they are off during the summer,” Bert suggested.

    “This is going to be an interesting project,” Banning said. “Perhaps we could find an art history professor who would oversee the efforts. The curator at the Detroit Institute of Arts may be able to recommend someone.”

    Somehow Malone was standing across the table from me. His eyes were on mine and I watched the beginnings of a low voltage smile touch the corners of his mouth.  I was no longer listening to Bert and Lincoln Banning discussing options. Malone’s eyes burned into mine. He nodded once. His lips silently formed two words.

    “No,” I said. “We’re not doing it that way.”

    Banning seemed startled by my comment. “But, Jamie, we will need an expert’s opinion on these works in order to determine their value.”

    “Yes, we will. But I’m not having a bunch of strangers going through this. These could be priceless works of art that no one has seen in twenty-five years.”

    “What do you propose?” Helen asked.

    “I’m not proposing anything. I’m going to do it.”

    I glanced around the table. A wide smile split Bert’s face. The two attorneys looked like I was suddenly speaking an alien language. Malone winked at me.

    “Here’s my plan. I will bring in the equipment to make a video of each crate as we open it. I’ll take still photos as well, from every angle. Each one of those crates has a code or unique number on it. We’ll document everything. I’ll use the same codes and create a catalog with detailed descriptions. We can measure the pieces. Then when we have everything ready, you can arrange for an expert to come in and set the value.”

    Bert raised two fingers. “Two experts. Or maybe three would be better. That’s a good plan, Jamie.”

    “There is ample money in the estate to pay someone to do this work,” Banning said.

    “That’s good to know. I’ll have to buy the video and camera equipment, along with some tools and other equipment for the project. I’ll keep a register and all the receipts.”

    “Surely you’re not planning on doing this alone,” Helen Gaines said.

    “No, I’m going to have some help.”

    Malone’s smile grew. “I think I know who you have in mind.”

Here's a shot of what a thoughtful Jamie may look like!

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Music this week comes from Bob Seger.

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