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Reviews make an authors day

Starting the week with a five star review is wonderful and I am sure every writer can identify with that. But, what keeps our readers from posting their reviews? Especially after they have told you how much they enjoyed reading the book via email or social media.

Why readers don’t review isn’t a new debate so, don’t worry, I’m not going to go on about this. Except to say:

  • Your words to an author are just as important as the words in their books are to you.
  • What you say about a book you’ve read can make a huge difference to the success of an author. Especially to those who aren’t yet getting their books reviewed in the mainstream press.
  • Leaving a review is kind and the world definitely needs more of that.
  • Reviews encourage others to read the book

 

There’s no need to write a lengthy work of art. You could simply say,

‘Beyond The Pyre was a great story, I loved the characters and will look out for more from this author.’

Once done, you can copy and paste to Amazon, Goodreads and any other review platforms you are aware of.

If you would like to write something more detailed, you might want to consider the following template. You don’t have to answer every question; they’re suggestions!

Points to Ponder:

  • What was the story about?
  • Who were the main characters?
  • Were the characters credible?
  • What did the main characters do in the story?
  • Did the main characters run into any problems? Adventures?
  • Who was your favourite character? Why

 

Your personal experiences

  • Did you relate to any of the characters in the story?
  • Have you ever done or felt some of the things the book raises?

 

Your opinion

  • Did you like the book?
  • What was your favourite part?
  • Did you have a least favourite part?
  • If you could change something, what would it be? (If you wish you could change the ending, but don’t reveal it on a public forum! Authors eyes only.)

 

Your recommendation

  • Would you recommend this book to another person?
  • What type of person might like this book?

 

I love to engage with readers and other authors. Don’t hesitate to drop me a line. I will always respond.

Now on to the review that launched my Monday. A big thank you to Remmy Meggs in The USA for this.

Title: Beyond the Pyre
Author: Steve Costello
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Austin
Release Date: June 20, 2017
Format: Paperback, Kindle, hardback
Pages: 366
Source: Amazon.com

When I read a book about a country that I am not familiar with, I always open a map, so I can follow along with the story line. In this case it was France. As a child a few years ago I went to France, however I do not remember much of the trip. I do remember the boys wearing shorts and of all things either long sleeve shirts or sweaters. Since it was warm out, that didn’t make sense to an eight year old American boy.

I do the same with history, not to prove the author wrong, but to follow his lead. So in this case I looked up the word Cathar, and found as much detail as I could on the subject. To me dates are important in history, not that I memorize them, but there is a difference between Pope Innocent and Pope Alexander.  These are important details for me.

Now about the book Beyond the Pyre by Steve Costello (June 2017) I was told I was pronouncing Pyre wrong by one of my Anglo Saxon friends in Northern England, (South of Scottish England). That is because of the English spelling, the same English that type tyre instead of tire. Confusing.

Now that is out of the way, I found this book a lot different than any other book I have read the last five years. Yes, it is that different. True it only has one goal, and I do not think it is supposed to be scary story, however several times the hair on the back of my neck stood up, and a few times chills went down my spine.

The history of almost any church, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, is full of atrocities, including current events.  However as I read this book, I found so many fascinating things. First of all the characterizations. They were three dimensional, similar to how I write, I do not find three dimensional characters in books very often, so that is a plus. Just about every character was true to life.

The protagonist, actually I was not sure who the main character was because it seemed to me that each person was a main character. Yes it starts out with Ben and Catharine, but it quickly develops into something much more monumental.

American readers will see a difference in dialog, but only because it seems the English use single quotations instead of double quotations, and other minor differences. The subject matter is a matter of opinion, but one thing that grabbed my attention in chapter three I believe, was:

Elionor didn’t believe in the devil despite her Catholic upbringing: human beings created evil and could not lay blame elsewhere. – Steve Costello, Beyond the Pyre

Although I believe that to be true, by the end of the book, you will be in wonder. This is a good versus evil book, just remember that everyone has some good in them, no matter how evil they are.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars, not many can write something like this unless they have lived close to it. – Remmy Meggs Nov 2017

Buy From Amazon

Powerful Female Characters

After receiving a wonderful review from (Elionor Jones), I was particularly encouraged by her remarks about some of the female characters in Beyond The Pyre.

More on that later because according to the Readers Digest and I guess a sizable list of readers, the following female fictional characters are said to be among the best of all time. That’s quite a claim to make when I think of many others I have loved as I read their stories. Not to mention (well I will at the end of this article) a few of my own.

Elizabeth (aka Lizzie or Eliza) Bennett

Elizabeth Bennett is the witty protagonist from Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice. The second oldest of five daughters and, like the rest of her sisters, she’s not expected to marry for love, rather status and money. True to herself, she would rather stay single; a concept that was not generally acceptable at the time.

Nancy Drew

Her debut was in the 1930s but she remains one of the most iconic female characters. Conceived by Edward Stratemeyer, Nancy Drew’s character was ground-breaking because she wasn’t simply a pretty sidekick to a leading male counterpart. Instead, the bold, physically strong, and fiercely intelligent Nancy used her superior intellect to solve mysteries.

Josephine (Jo) March

Jo is a second eldest daughter and a central focus in the novel Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott.  At 15, she is strong-willed, confident, and literary. Unlike her sisters, she is outspoken and uninterested in marriage. Jo struggles with and defies society’s expectations of how women in the 19th century should carry themselves, making her one of literature’s most daring female characters.

Lisbeth Salander

My favourite on this particular list! She’s provocative, intense, and probably bi-polar but, most people she meets simply label her crazy. Lisbeth has become one of the most intriguing female characters in literature. As a lead character in Stieg Larrson’s novel The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, she is a world-leading computer hacker with a photographic memory who fights to overcome a traumatic childhood and helps solve a complicated series of mysteries. Her uncompromising moral code can be shocking but, devastating to those who find themselves on her radar.

Hermione Granger

Frequently collects ten points for Gryffindor, but Hermione is much more than a very intelligent young woman. As the lead female character in the Harry Potter stories and in my humble opinion was superbly cast in the films.  Her keen intellect and powerful memory are consistently evident, sometimes to the dismay of her friends, who often think she’s bossy and annoying. The Muggle-born Hermione transforms from an eager, know-it-all 11-year-old to a confident, loyal, and brave heroine.

Celie

Celie is both the narrator and protagonist of the outstanding novel, The Color Purple, by Alice Walker. At the hands of her father and then, later, by her husband, Celie is a lonely, dejected, emotionally and physically mistreated victim. Through the power of love and forgiveness, Celie finds her own strength and transforms into a confident, independent, and compassionate woman.

Katniss Everdeen

Katniss Everdeen is a contemporary icon. Strong, determined, and fiercely loyal, she is a highly skilled archer and hunter who becomes a leader in the rebellion against the tyranny of the Capitol. By the end of The Hunger Games 3, Katniss becomes a reluctant hero. A girl who was never ordinary who found courage and compassion under constant life-threatening circumstances.

Arya Stark

One of the lead females in George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, Arya is a small, fiery force to be reckoned with. Tough with a capital T, the fiercely independent Arya outwardly scorns “noble” female hobbies like sewing and dancing in favour of sword fighting and horseback riding.

I think Martin must have met my youngest daughter. However, adding more of Arya’s stories might result in spoilers for some so I will be kind and stop here.

Now on to a few of my own superwomen in Beyond The Pyre. . .

“I also loved the female characters in the book! I love strong female characters, and this book was full of them. The main female characters were Catharine, from modern-day Britain, Sophie, a French Catholic supporter, and Elionor, a Catholic who supported peace between the faiths. Personally, my favourite of these characters was Elionor, and I loved the banter that went on between Elionor and her husband with regards to women’s position.

Catharine was also a strong female lead, and I liked again how Ben saw her as his equal, and the links between the two couples throughout were interesting and, often, adorable. I thought the fact that the 13th and 21st century couples mirrored each other was also a great element.

‘He knew that ventures into the spirit world could be draining, and Catharine never did things by halves.’”

Ask any writer about the value of reviews and they will tell you something on the lines of, ‘they are like gold.’ Of course they give the ego a pat on the back but they also inform us and help us to improve. Especially if the reviewers are honest about our work, which is exactly what Eleanor Jones gave me when she reviewed Beyond The Pyre; plenty to think about.

What she also gave me was a wonderful reminder relating to the personal side of me.

I was a child of the sixties brought up in a loving family with traditional values. Not much changed until I went to work at British Aerospace where I saw and worked with many women in positions of authority. Some were exceptionally independent; others accepted and bowed to the male dominated higher management. I began to challenge the status quo and found myself in frequent deep-water for doing so.

Moving on to university in the early 80’s and possibly influenced by Thatcher there was a huge increase in ‘feminism’ and sadly some of it was so extreme it turned away some men who were potential supporters. The debate on my course alone was often fiery and led to feelings of us and them.

Looking back, a little change has occurred and realistically, the 80’s explosion has settled and it at least started better recognition of women. There is still a very long way to go before real equality is achieved and I believe it needs to be approached from all aspects of life. Here’s one reason why I like to have strong female characters in my novels.

From a spiritual point of view I believe we are all equal and none are more equal than others (Sorry Mr Orwell), hence the balance between Elionor and Louis who spent much time in a Cathar community where the prevailing belief was equality. Catharine and Ben in the 21st Century practiced their own equality, or, did they carry it with them through the ages?

I’ve only mentioned two female characters but there are others for another day and some in my children’s novel Horando.

What do you think? Who is your number one female character?

I will leave you to consider the featured image that could well be Serdica from Beyond The Pyre.

 

The Best of . . .

Greetings Dear Readers,

I hope each and every one of you is well today and if you are not feeling so great, I hope you will be soon. Namaste!

I’m particularly thinking about the wonderful musician Sinéad O’Connor who reached out to tell the world that she is enduring very difficult times. She needs our positive thoughts and prayers right now as do many others.

Using a simple networking principle, tell and show 10 people that you care for them and get them to do the same with ten (or more) other people. Before you know it, you have shared your love through thousands.

The Best of Historical Fiction

Well! I was about to write an article about the best of historical fiction until I went over to Quora and found this list containing many of the books I would have picked for a list of my own. Rather than regurgitate and risk boring you, I would like to know what you think. But let’s keep it simple; add a reply at the foot of this page with your number one title, author and no more than fifty words about why you think it’s such a great read.

Feel free to add links back to your blog or books so long as they don’t drown the content.

My favourite will stay under wraps until the next edition of this blog. The first person to choose mine will receive a free hard backed copy of Beyond The Pyre and I will publish a top 10 (with review comments) of what we all think highly of.

Coming Soon . . .

  • Writing, Horando; Going Home – Novel for Children
  • Forthcoming novels by Steve Costello
  • Guest Posts
  • Apps that help

Feedback . . .

Comments relating to this blog or other aspects of my work are welcomed. I am also happy to consider collaboration with other authors. If you would like to know more about me, send me a message at authorstevecostello@gmail.com

Wishing you Peace, Love and Happiness always

Namaste

Steve

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