Amazon trolls

I've become a victim of Amazon trolls.

I just became a Vine reviewer about a month ago. Somehow or another enough people marked my reviews as helpful. I was surprised because I have a pretty low ranking: somewhere in the 5000's.

But now, trolls have targeted me. They're visiting all my reviews and marking them as unhelpful, just because they can. And said trolls have several accounts and are marking me as negative several times.

This is ridiculous. There's really no way I can stop them either.

Another thing that has been happening to me lately: people are e-mailing me and asking me to mark their reviews as helpful because they want to "impress publishers" or something. I think this is silly: asking for people to rate your review so you can have a higher ranking. (Which is one of the reasons why I don't link my reviews on here directly to Amazon).

And of course when I started an Amazon discussion about the above paragraph, trolls took over and hijacked it so now it looks like a dumb discussion board post.

Trolls need to stop targeting poor broke college students. the only way poor broke college students get books is if people offer to send them. I will die without books. Please stop hurting my account… and really. I'm not proud or vain, but my reviews are not bad. They are good.

So stop.

Anyone else have this problem?

Review: Ada

Ada: Legend of a Healer by R.A. McDonald
Genre: Young Adult
ISBN: 9780615412580
Published: January 1st 2011 by House of Lore

Rating: 4.5

Ada has the unique ability of being able to heal anything she touches. Having lived in the foster care system her whole life, she finally gets the opportunity to live with her aunt, Jessie, who is also a healer, and explains her special ability. But Ada and Jessie have different viewpoints on a healer's responsibility, and Ada decides she's had enough. She takes off on her own heading to Paris with only an address and a photograph to attempt to find her mother, who she discovers isn't dead.

There's just one problem: There's a man who wants to find her and use her as his personal fountain of youth.

Reviewing self-published books is a tricky business. There's a wide range of them: the really crappy ones that make the editor inside me want to cry, the mediocre ones that are just missing a story, and then the occasional gem that I'm so glad I managed to get my hands on. I've had one or two other gems: Ada makes the list, and is pretty high up on it.

I loved Ada's story. I read it almost completely in one sitting. I liked Ada, and admired her will power and strength. We didn't see eye to eye on everything, and I thought she was immature and disrespectful at times, but I could still relate to her well enough that I couldn't hate her for it. About halfway through the book, some characters were introduced that I didn't expect to stay in the story, simply because of the way they were brought in. But isn't that the way our lives work? We meet someone and aren't sure if we'll ever really see them again, but they end up as our friends, and sometimes it's someone really special? That was Ada and Daniel. Daniel is going to have to be added to my list of literary crushes. Not only is he good looking, he's a "bad boy" and a sweetheart at the same time. And he's got a delicious smile. And he does Parkour. And he's French.

The writing was clear and descriptive and easy to understand. It wasn't perfect and there were a few irritating sections with poor grammar, but it didn't distract from the overall piece enough to bring down the star rating.

One of the things I really liked was the pacing. Sometimes a book has an interesting plot, but it takes way too long for things to actually happen that you fall asleep, or have to read an entire series just to get the same amount of plot you're looking for in a single novel (coughtwilightcough). The pacing was really fast in Ada, almost to the point where I wished it was just a little slower so I could really concentrate on what Ada was thinking and feeling.

There was one very tiny part that I didn't like. At one point, Ada tries to practice healing herself, so she takes a pair of scissors to her arm. I thought this was completely inappropriate and very risky, because through Ada's interior monologue, it almost seemed to show self-cutting in a good light. Yes she was practicing healing herself and learning to ignore pain, and trying to figure out her power, and Ada thought it through well enough that the reader would understand why she was doing it, but it just seemed bold and risky. Because of that, I wouldn't want young young adults to read it—I feel like it would make them uncomfortable. I also can't help but wonder what kind of influence that will have on young readers.

Scattered through the book were some truly beautiful illustrations. I found myself flipping through them and just staring at them. They have a pen-and-ink with watercolor sort of feel to them: very lose and impressionistic, almost dreamlike, but with wild pen and scratches thrown through to add definition. Here are two of my favorites (very poor quality photos, though, so I apologize ahead of time). bridgechurch

All in all, I was very pleased and excited about Ada: Legend of a Healer, and I can't wait for the next book in the series.

Content/Recommendation: Some swearing, small reference to self-abuse. Ages 16+

Learn more about Ada here.

Review: Balanchine's Complete Stories of the Great Ballets

by George Balanchine and Fredric Mason
ISBN: 978-0385113816
Published: Doubleday; Rev Enl edition (November 1977)

Rating: 5

I love this book! It' about three inches thick and loaded with ballet stories, photographs, and really interesting details about the ballets.

Each ballet is in alphabetical order, and has a paragraph explaining how many acts/scenes, who wrote the music and did the original choreography, where it was performed, who danced it etc. and other interesting facts for all you history buffs out there. Then each act and scene is explained. If the ballet has different versions (like Swan Lake or The Nutcracker) each different version of the story is explained too! This is great for Artistic Directors who are trying to pick which version to go with, or dancers who want to know all the different variations of the same story.

This is a great book. I have the Revised and Enlarged edition. I found it years ago at my local library and I checked it out constantly. Only recently did I decide to buy it for myself.

Stephenie Meyer

This right here says it all. Thanks Mina.

(She's a friend of mine at college and I encourage you to follow her. She did a letter to Westboro Baptist Church too, and will, more likely than not, continue to do more.)


I'm curious: If I created an event that involved getting and writing to a penpal, who would sign up and participate? it would be international.

leave a comment and tell me what you think.

Review: Slave

Slave by John Macarthur
Genre: Christian Living
ISBN: 978-1400202072
Published:Thomas Nelson (December 28, 2010)

Rating: 5

John Macarthur has gone through meticulous study and research to uncover a truth about our relationship with Christ to a degree we have not exhausted as thoroughly as we should. Because of words being translated differently, we have lost a dynamic of that beautiful relationship: Now Macarthur has explained what it truly should look like.

Reading Slave has been truly convicting and enlightening. It gave me a whole new perspective on my relationship with Christ, and a fresh sense of peace. Christ is our Master and we are His slaves, and by explaining the culture and the true definition of the words that were originally written, we see salvation in a new light.

Not only was it engaging and convicting, it was easy to read. I've gotten Christian books that felt like I was reading college text books. And trust me when I say I don't like college text books—I have a bunch of them and I avoid them at all costs. But MacArthur's writing was clear and concise yet thoroughly explained and can be easily understood by a wide range of readers.

Recommendation: all ages

Interview: Ruth J Hartman

Today I have Ruth J. Hartman, author of Flossophy of Grace, visiting The Life and Lies! Here's a little bit about her book:

What happens when a dental hygienist falls in love with her patient? That's what Grace Hart discovers when she meets Bruce Gardener. The problem? Grace's boss has a strict policy against relationships with patients. Can Grace and Bruce find a way to be together without her employer finding out?

1) Why and when did you begin writing?

I’ve always enjoyed writing, but didn’t get serious about writing for publication until 2008. I’d taken a course on writing for teenagers years before, but didn’t do much with submitting to publishers until then. But instead of children’s books I mainly write sweet romances.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I’m a dental hygienist. One day I was cleaning a patient’s teeth and just wondered: what would happen if a hygienist fell in love with her patient? Flossophy_of_Grace_Front_Cover

3) How did you come up with the title?

The floss in Flossophy comes from the dental theme. Just a silly play on words.

4) What books or people influenced your writing? Was it positive influence, or negative?

I’ve gotten positive influence from Debbie Macomber for always having a happy ending, and from Janet Evanovich for her humor.

5) How do you go about researching for your books?

I guess my research for my dental-related romances just comes from the job I have. Stuff that I deal with on a daily basis.

6) Did you base any of your characters on real people?

Most of the time, the heroines in my books are at least somewhat based on me. And often, the hero resembles my husband. Some of the secondary characters are based on conglomerations of patients I’ve had. I never use real names, of course :)

7) What’s the most exciting part about being a published author? What is the hardest part?

The most exciting part is having someone tell me that they enjoyed my book. It made them laugh, or escape from their daily problems for a while. The hardest part is when someone downplays what an author goes through to write a book and have it published.

8) Do you have any other books planned in the future?

I’m working on another dental themed one right now. It will be released this July from Turquoise Morning Press, titled “Grin and Barrett” [Haley: I love it!]

9) Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

I don’t think I have a favorite. In “Flossophy of Grace” her boss, Dr. Beeth, is extremely easy to dislike.

10) What advice can you give to young writers who want to publish their books?

Check out small, independent publishers. They have more time to devote to authors than a large house, plus, you may have a better chance of getting published with them. And always check out their individual submission guidelines. They’re all different.

Just for fun:

1) What are your ten most favorite things?

God, My husband, my cats, my family, our home, 80’s rock music, chocolate, laugher, romance books, chick flick movies

2) What do you do when you’re not writing?

Listen to music with my husband. Play with our cats. Read. Paint or draw.

3) Do you have any pets?

Our two cats. Maxwell and Roxy. They’re my furry children.

4) What are your favorite (and least favorite) foods?

Favorite: pizza, pasta, pancakes. Least favorite: lima beans, liver and onions (ick!)

5) Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?

I always write in our workroom. We do everything in there. Read, watch movies, listen to music.

6) Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?

Caffeine-free Diet Mountain Dew.

7) If you could go anywhere in the whole world, either for a vacation or to live there, where would you go?

I’d love to visit Scotland and Ireland. Some of my family roots are there.

8) What was your favorite and least favorite subject in school?

Favorite: English/Literature. Least favorite: math!!!

9) What book are you reading right now?

A mystery by Iris Johansen.

10) Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I’m left-handed, but do dental hygiene with my right.


Thanks for stopping by Ruth! Click here to learn more about Flossophy of Grace, read an excerpt, and purchase the e-book.

I'm famous.

Well not really. But I was interviewed by The Gatekeeper's Post here if you'd like to check it out.


busy as a bee

So I've been lazy lately (or rather I've been focused on "important" things like school and…school…and more school…) but today I broke down and read books, reviewed stuff, and updated things.

so for updates:0405111529-00



Interview: Debbie Sue Williamson

Today I have Debbie Sue Williamson, author of Journal of the Big Mouth Bass at The Life and Lies!

1) Why and when did you begin writing? Picture 8

I have always had a journal so writing wasn't new to me. It was putting my stories into a book that was new. I did it because my husband encouraged me too. He watched our grandchildren light up when I told them stories and thought I should share with kids everywhere.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

Gary did, he wouldn't let up on it. He knew I wanted to be a children's author so he kept pushing me.

3) How did you come up with the title?

It was my nickname when I was a kid.

4) What books or people influenced your writing? Was it positive influence, or negative?

Jerry Spinelli was a huge influence. His books are about his childhood and they are wonderful. He gave me hope when I was terrified. My mother, she had always dreamed of being a writer but was too afraid to share her work. She regretted this for her entire life. Not a positive influence but a strong one never the less.

5) How do you go about researching for your books?

I take full advantage of the internet. I travel when necessary and rely heavily on my memories.

6) Did you base any of your characters on real people? Keeping Secrets

Yes all of them.

7) What’s the most exciting part about being a published author? What is the hardest part?

Knowing I had made it. Waiting to see if your book sells.

8) Do you have any other books planned in the future?

Yes this book is the first of a five part series and I have the second part of my memoir I am working on.

9) Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

My favorites are Jessie of course and Eddie. I don't like Finn much but that is what makes him Finn.

10) What advice can you give to young writers who want to publish their books?

Keep believing and never, never give up.

Just for fun:

1) What are your ten most favorite things?

Buttons, puppies, sand dollars, rocks, sea shells, turtles, hats, pennies, scrapbooks, books and pictures.

2) What do you do when you’re not writing?

Read, walk with my schnauzers, visit with my grandkids, travel, research, garden, spend time with my family, scrapbook, cook and tell stories.

3) Do you have any pets?

I have four schnauzers, Gerte, Frodo, Daisy May and Tubby. I never refer to them as pets though, they are part of my family.

4) What are your favorite (and least favorite) foods?

Spaghetti is my all time favorite food. I detest pees and will never eat them.

5) Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?

My first choice is always near the ocean. My office is second best.

6) Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?

Depends on the time of day, morning is coffee. Afternoon is tea and scones and evening always depends on how my day went. Tonight it's Cherry Garcia.

7) If you could go anywhere in the whole world, either for a vacation or to live there, where would you go?

The beach, always the beach. Any ocean will do!

8) What was your favorite and least favorite subject in school?

My favorite was history. I hate math, it's very difficult to like something when you stink at it.

9) What book are you reading right now?

An old time favorite, One Time I Saw Morning Come Home by Clair Huffaker.

10) Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I can milk a cow, raise a lamb without his mother, bail hay and run a web press. I don't like shoes!

Debbie Bass Williamson was born in SLC, Utah October 1956. Raised in Southern California and returned to SLC in 1973. She has four children and eleven grandchildren. Married the love of her life, Gary Williamson, in October of 2000. She loves the ocean, her garden, her four schnauzers, golf, sailing, scrapbooking, traveling and spending quiet afternoons reading with a pot of tea.

Thanks for stopping by Debbie! Check out for reviews and a purchase link.

iClue: win an iTouch

iClue: Debut Authors Team Up With Bestselling, Acclaimed Writers to Create Interactive Online Mystery


Lisa and Laura Roecker, sisters and co-authors of The Liar Society (Sourcebooks Fire, March 2011), along with 5 other young adult mystery authors, are giving readers the chance to win an iPod Touch with the launch of the online mystery they are describing as "Choose Your Own Adventure meets Clue”: iClue: 6 Authors, 6 Mysteries, 6 Chances to win an iTouch.

Starting at the iClue website,, each participating author will be posting a mystery based on the characters in one of their upcoming novels. Readers can check out the mysteries, hunt for clues on different blogs and websites, and enter to win an iTouch by correctly solving any or all of the 6 mysteries. Each correct solution is one entry into the drawing for the iTouch! The winner’s iTouch will be loaded with the books of all the participating authors. iClue will officially launch on April 1 and will run through May 13.

The impressive author lineup includes the Roecker sisters, New York Times bestselling author Beth Revis (Across The Universe), author and agent Mandy Hubbard (Prada & Prejudice, You Wish), National Book Award Finalist Adele Griffin, and critically acclaimed authors Kimberly Derting and Lee Nichols.

iClue was born from a weekly discussion with the Elevensies, a group of young adult and middle grade authors with books debuting in 2011. During one of their chats, the Roecker sisters mentioned that they were thinking of organizing an online mystery contest to promote their book, The Liar Society. Revis contacted them right away to suggest they reach out some other mystery writers to make it a group promotion. Before long they had a plan:


6 Authors

6 Mysteries

6 Chances to Win an iTouch

iClue is just one part of the social media arsenal of the Roecker sisters. Aside from their popular (and hilarious) blog, and their pink-haired Twitter followers, they were also founding members of  WriteOnCon, an all-online, entirely free conference for kidlit writers.  The inaugural WriteOnCon boasted 37 authors and illustrators and 22 industry professionals presenting to over 11,000 attendees.

Please contact Kay Mitchell for more information about the Roecker sisters, iClue, or The Liar Society. • 630.536.0563

Review and Guest Post: The Breakout Novelist by Donald Maass

The Breakout Novelist: Craft and Strategies for Career Fiction Writers
By Donald Maass
Published January 14th 2011 by Writers Digest Books
ISBN: 9781582979908

Rating: 4.5

Review: The Breakout Novelist is a fantastic handbook that should be on every writer's desk. It should be marked up, highlighted, paper-clipped, and sticky-noted (if that's a word. Let's pretend it is). There is so much great advice and information in here it would take weeks and multiple readings to really get it all: but it's not meant to be read through from start to finish. It's a handbook, workbook, dictionary type tool.

There are many categories such as plot, theme, characters, chapters on voice and hyper-reality, protagonists vs. heroes, and information about what to do when you've got your manuscript done and "ready." There are exercises questions, prompts, and examples carefully explained and outlined. It's easy to read and understand and doesn't feel like an instruction manual: it's fun and enjoyable and interesting to read.

I wholeheartedly recommend any serious writer—just starting or multi-published—to  grab a copy of The Breakout Novelist.

Guest post:

Three Story Skills that Self-Published Novelists Need

By Donald Maass,
Author of The Breakout Novelist: Craft and Strategies for Career Fiction Writers

Here are three things that glib, hasty or form declines from New York aren't telling you.The solutions can help you whether you are seeking a major imprint or going it alone:
I was able to begin skimming your novel almost right away. Ouch. That's not the effect you want.  The antidote is a high level of line-by-line tension, what I call "micro-tension."
Here's how it works: When every paragraph, if not every line, of your novel creates in the reader's mind a worry, question, apprehension or even a mild disease, the reader will unconsciously seek to relieve that tension.  The result?  The reader zips to the next line.
Constant micro-tension results in what is paradoxically termed a page-turner.  You'd think that would mean quickly skimmed but it means the opposite: a novel in which you are unable to stop reading every word.

I really don't care about your main character. 
Double ouch.  How can that be when your main character is so real, passionate and ultimately heroic?
There's a trick that top novelists use, which is in the opening pages showing why this character matters.  The trick's a little different depending on the type of protagonist you've got.  For the everyman or everywoman type, the secret is to demonstrate -- even in a small way -- a quality of strength, a minor heroism.
For already heroic protagonists, the secret is to show one way in which they're human like anyone else.  Dark protagonists need to express one way in which they'd like to change, to be more normal.  That hint of the redemption-to-come can signal to readers that this tormented character is worth their time.

Too many clichés!
A long parade of familiar phrases and purple emotions can start to pound in a reader's brain like a migraine headache.
Fresh language and imagery starts with looking at the world in the unique way that your character would.  What does your character notice that no one else does?  What details stand out for him or her?
A surprising emotional landscape can be built by working with secondary, less obvious feelings.  Think of it this way: If a character's predominant emotion at any given moment is big and universal, then the reader probably has already felt it.  Explore feelings that are less apparent.
There's a lot more to great fiction, obviously, but the three big areas for improvement above will put your novels ahead of the pack.

© 2011 Donald Maass, author of The Breakout Novelist: Craft and Strategies for Career Fiction Writers

Author Bio
Donald Maass, author of The Breakout Novelist: Craft and Strategies for Career Fiction Writers, heads the Donald Maass Literary Agency in New York City, which represents more than 150 novelists and sells more than 100 novels every year to publishers in America and overseas. He is a past president of the Association of Authors Representatives, Inc., and is the author of several books.
For more information please visit and, follow the author on Facebook and Twitter

Unfortunately, actual naked hunky werewolves remain elusive…

Today I have Molly Harper, author of the Naked Werewolf series blogging at The Life and Lies!

When I was little and came running into the house, sweaty and caked in dirt, my mom would cry, “What the- have you been rolling around with wolves?”

image001Well, here I sit, sweaty, caked in various layers of dried mud.  And I have indeed been playing with wolves.  While promoting the release of my Naked Werewolf romance series, I visited the Wolf Run Wildlife Refuge in Nicholasville, KY.  Wolf Run, a state- and USDA-licensed non-profit educational facility, provides a safe, loving and permanent sanctuary for 23 adult wolves and wolf-dog hybrids. The refuge is also home to two full-grown lions, deer, goats, sheep, monkeys, and other exotic wildlife.  And Rowdy, the most obese raccoon I have ever seen. 

Most of the animals are former pets that were either confiscated by or surrendered by their owners.  Because it turns out, wolf hybrids do not make great house pets.

As Savannah Massey, director of animal care and education at Wolf Run told me, “These animals are gorgeous, appealing and unique. But they’re also aggressive, destructive and territorial.  This is not an animal you want in your home.  Wolf genetics do not go away.  And it’s not just that they could tear up your furniture or hurt one of your other pets- you are physically in danger when you’re around them.”

Just what you want to hear when you’re sitting right next to one, and he’s been licking your face.

Honestly, Boone, a 10-year-old grey male, could not have been nicer during my visit and our subsequent photo shoot.  He was a dignified statesman compared to raucous Razz, a three-year-old tan specimen who seemed to think my make-up was bacon-flavored. (Note to Sephora, wolf-oriented face powder may be a niche market you haven’t considered yet.)

I learned a lot during my visit to Wolf Run.  I was happy to find there are some definite similarities between actual wolves and the characters in HOW TO FLIRT WITH A NAKED WEREWOLF and THE ART OF SEDUCING A NAKED WEREWOLF.

image003For instance, a wolf will pee on whatever it wants, whenever it wants, to make sure you know that thing belongs to them.  It is now your tree, Boone, we understand.  Thank you for not choosing my shoes.

Wolves have to date.  There are five packs at Wolf Run, each with three to five pack members.  New wolves are matched to potential packs based on temperament when they arrive at Wolf Run.  If the initial matches don’t work, they are moved to different packs until they find a good fit. Some wolves, like Boone, don’t fit well with any group and end up being loners. (Which, I think, makes him a bit like Cooper.) 

Wolves struggle over the Alpha position.  Large males jockey for the position and it can lead to inter-pack tension.   Unlike Boone, who was an Alpha contender, Razz, just seemed to want to play, which made me think of Samson.  I did not see a real-life counterpart for Maggie, which was probably a good thing given her penchant for biting people on the butt.

Mary Kindred, CEO of Wolf Run, calls the animals her babies.  When she walks around the yard, any effort to distract the wolves is futile, because a) she is mom and b) she has Pupperoni in her pocket. Kindred noted that the sanctuary receives no outside funding, and all expenses, such sturdy fencing, food, veterinary care, and upkeep of the grounds, are paid through donations.  The facility welcomes volunteers.   And despite the love and effort Mary and her staff devote to the sanctuary, both she and Savannah look forward to the day they’re no longer needed.

“These animals shouldn’t be here,” Savannah said.  “The lions should be in Africa. The wolves should be in the wild.  Our goal is to rescue animals and educate the public, until a facility like this is no longer needed.”  




Review: How To Flirt With a Naked Werewolf

How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf
by Molly Harper
Genre: werewolf romance
Published: February 22nd 2011 by Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
ISBN: 9781439195864

Rating: 4

From Goodreads:

Even in Grundy, Alaska, it’s unusual to find a naked guy with a bear trap clamped to his ankle on your porch. But when said guy turns into a wolf, recent southern transplant Mo Wenstein has no difficulty identifying the problem. Her surly neighbor Cooper Graham—who has been openly critical of Mo’s ability to adapt to life in Alaska—has trouble of his own. Werewolf trouble.

For Cooper, an Alpha in self-imposed exile from his dysfunctional pack, it’s love at first sniff when it comes to Mo. But Cooper has an even more pressing concern on his mind. Several people around Grundy have been the victims of wolf attacks, and since Cooper has no memory of what he gets up to while in werewolf form, he’s worried that he might be the violent canine in question.

If a wolf cries wolf, it makes sense to listen, yet Mo is convinced that Cooper is not the culprit. Except if he’s not responsible, then who is? And when a werewolf falls head over haunches in love with you, what are you supposed to do anyway? The rules of dating just got a whole lot more complicated. . . .

How To Flirt with a Naked Werewolf was a cute fun quick read. I was sucked into the story right away by the fun witty voice of the interior monologue, relaxed writing style, and likeable characters (oh ok and drool-worthy male protagonist). I don't often find such a fun writing style or voice from romance novels, but Molly Harper has surprised me. She used creative descriptions, character, and personality in her writing.

(minor spoiler alert, this paragraph only!) The plot itself was a little "twilight-esque" with the whole "we can't be together so I'm going to leave and be emo" thing, the "I'm too dangerous for you" thing, and the constant nausea and realizing she's pregnant thing. But I liked Mo a lot better than Bella (who, can I just say, deserved an emo masochist) so I'm not too bothered by it. Plus, these 370 pages had just as much plot—and maybe more—than the entire twilight saga combined. Then again that's not hard to do.

I really enjoyed this book and would pick up the next ones in the series if I had money and a job. Alas, I have $0.70 in my checking account and no income. I'll have to pick it up over the summer when I get my job back…

Content: some sex, mild language. Ages 18+


Copyright 2016 Haley Mathiot. All reviews are 100% honest and unbiased. One or more items featured in the blog post may have been free or discounted. Receiving free or discounted product does not affect review. For more please see my disclaimer page.