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0 In Liz Writes

With Heart-felt Gratitude!

Thank you, Kind Readers!

I want to extend flowers and chocolates, my thanks and a kiss to my kind readers—especially my Nook readers—who have given Dangerous Visions (formerly The Listening Heart) a boost on its maiden voyage. I can’t thank you enough for the time you’ve taken to read about Stacie Cappella and her monster black dog, Bananas, her frightening confrontation with a stalker who wants to see her dead, and Ben Robard, the Eden Beach fraud detective who wants her very much alive.

I’d love to get your feedback on this, my first foray into suspense. You can drop me a line at LizHartleyAuthor@hotmail.com. And if you feel comfortable doing so, I’d appreciate you reviewing the book online.

Thank you so much!

Liz

0 In Liz Writes

Writing an Honest, Effective, Helpful Review on Amazon

Did you hate book reports in school?

Even if you loved the book, it was probably hard to tell your classmates why much beyond, “This book was really exciting.”

So even when you want to rave about a new book you’ve discovered—or warn other readers off—you may be reluctant to limber up your fingers and leave a book review on Amazon. What do you say? How do you start?

Start by being honest.

Though some books are over-the-top terrific, and some are eminently forgettable, not every book worth five stars, and not every book is worth only one star. Most fall somewhere in the middle.

What would you tell a friend?

What one or two points—good or bad—you would tell a friend about over coffee. Some of the following questions might give you some ideas.

  • What kept you reading? (Chemistry between lovers? Entertaining sidekick? A nasty villain?)
  • What would you want to see more of? (Action, sex, dialogue?)
  • Who would you recommend this book to? (Close friends, book group, your aunt?)
  • How does it compare to other books in this category or authors in this genre? How are they similar? Different?
  • How did you feel about the characters? (Heroes, sidekicks, villains?) Who stood out?
  • How did you feel about the main character’s growth/change—or lack of it?
  • Was the ending satisfying?
  • Was the pacing fast or slow?
  • Would you read another book by this author and why—or why not?

See? Not that hard.

Give it a try.

If you want to give it a try, go to the book’s page on Amazon and click the ratings link, just under the author’s name. It will take you to the reviews section and you’ll see a box that says “Write a customer review.” That’s all there is to it.

Reviews help other readers to decide whether to try a new book or new author or not. Think about what you would want to know before buying a book by an untried author. Simply try to answer those questions for someone else.

2 In Liz Writes

Liz’s Website Remodel

It’s a mess in here!

If you’ve checked my website here in the last few days, you’re probably wondering where you are. And no, I’m not changing my name to Oleander. That’s the name of the new WordPress template I’m using.

Whether you’re getting new furniture, reorganizing your office, remodeling, or simply repainting a room, it always looks worse before it looks better doesn’t it? Same with a website revision. It’s a mess.  

But slowly it’s straightening out. That’s in large part due to Solo Pine, the originators of this template. They’ve been incredibly responsive to my questions as I apply my pitiful WP skills to this project.

I think you’ll like it when I’m done. So please be patient. Thank you for sticking with me!

0 In Gems & Jewelry/ Liz Writes

The Enduring Allure of Gemstone Crystals

This 18k yellow and white gold pendant is set with an amethyst of extraordinary color. Design by Deborah Spencer, Trios Studio, Lake Oswego, Oregon.

As I worked on the revision of Dangerous Visions I was tickled to find an article in the March/April 2019 edition of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine entitled “Crystal Hues Persuasion” by Deborah Yonick, who writes a monthly column on jewelry style and trends for LJJA. The piece describes how the “mystic beauty” of crystals has become a trend—or perhaps we should say has returned as a trend—in the making and marketing of jewelry.

Gemstone crystals in jewelry made their debut in the 1970s, as Yonick writes, and remained popular into the early 1990s. Today, of course, they are popularized by their visibility on the Internet and by a number of celebrities. Yonick quotes The Guardian saying that crystals are “one of the breakout stars of the everyday wellness movement.” As crystals come back into the public awareness, many of the myths long associated with gemstones and crystals—that they can ward off negative emotions or energy, or promote harmony—are coming back, too.

Yet while marketers may take advantage of the legends of metaphysical properties associated with gemstone and crystals to improve sales, more often it is the crystal’s beauty and mysterious perfection that makes them irresistible.

Crystal jewelry lets people express their own personality. It lets them be different. It means that jewelry containing a natural crystal (as opposed to a gem material simply cut into a “crystal” shape) is as unique as the person wearing it.

Crystals also allow the wearer to keep in touch with the natural world, to strike a blow against an ever-more-mass-manufactured world.

This burgeoning—or rather resurging—interest in crystals is very lucky for me. In Dangerous Visions, Stacie Cappella, owner of The Bell, Book and Crystal in Eden Beach, California, is very aware of the pull of certain stones. Pure quartz augments her natural gift of Second Sight—a gift she’d rather not have. The irreplaceable amethyst crystal she wears, a centuries-old family heirloom, is said to foretell true love.

Yet Stacie firmly believes that crystals and gemstones cannot heal, as she is at pains to explain to the fraud detectives who respond to a complaint against her.

“[Mir] got it into her head that it was the touchstone I once gave her that healed her acne.”

“Why would she think that?” asked Cruz. Her tone said the idea must have gotten into Mir’s head because Stacie put it there.

“Who knows why anyone believes anything?” said Stacie, an edge to her voice. She was getting a bit angry now that the terror of federal prison had passed. “Someone buys a touchstone because it gives them something to hold onto during chemo treatment. When their cancer goes away, why do they credit the stone and not the treatment?” Stacie had had a customer who believed just that, though she wasn’t going to say that to the detective. “Why do placebos work? Doctors still don’t understand that.”

She glanced at Ben. His face was closed.

She remembered the odd sense of confusion she’d sensed at South Coast Heritage Park.

Not confusion. Imbalance. Uncertainty. As if his tether to the ground had been cut.

As if he were torn between desires. Feeling guilty.

Stacie turned and walked to the case where she kept exquisitely formed quartz crystals—smoky, amethyst, colorless—under glass to protect them from damage as well as from too much handling.

“Personally?” she said, as she unlocked and opened the case and pulled out the drawer holding the crystals. “I think that, for most people, the crystals, the wind chimes, the music—beautiful things, beautiful sounds—just make them feel better, more connected, calmer.” Her hand went unhesitatingly to a smoky quartz the size of her thumb. The specimen was cloudy and dark at the base, but gradually cleared to a lovely gray brown at the finely pointed terminus.

She went back to Ben and held it out to him. Startled, he reached for it, and she laid it in his hand. Stacie saw Colin’s puzzled look as she turned back toward Cruz.

“The tarot, the runes, they simply give people a way to acknowledge what they already know. That it’s time to change jobs. That their boyfriend is no good for them.” From the corner of her eye, she saw Ben watching her, listening to her. She saw his thumb stroking the crystal.

“Just because I sell these things doesn’t mean I’m a healer. Nor does it mean I endorse them as a method of healing. In fact, I always tell people—like your Mrs. Byers—to see a health professional if they have health concerns.”

“But you let your employee continue to tell customers something different,” said Cruz doggedly.

“Yes, well.” Stacie sighed. “I’ve tried to tell her the stones don’t heal, but she’s convinced they’ve helped her.” Stacie spread her hands. “I can’t help what she believes. I have asked her not to say things like that to customers. The shop alone creates enough trouble by itself.”

Stacie does not really believe that the amethyst crystal she wears can identify her heart’s true love, either. But…

Ah. That would be telling.

2 In Liz Writes

Draft of Dangerous Visions Done!

Finally! The first book in my Eden Beach Crime Novels series, Dangerous Visions, is done and out to beta readers. It’s taken a lot longer than I thought. From some of the comments coming in, it will take a bit longer yet as I make it stronger. I’ve added a suspense element to this one, and that has made the pacing trickier.

This one has a stalker/serial killer who is shadowing my main female character, Stacie Capella. I’ve already had one friend tell me she won’t read it and that’s fine. But I wanted to try something darker. Not sure I’ll try it again, but I’ll have to wait and see.

Now, on to book three as I wait for the rest of the comments from beta readers. I’m determined this one will get done faster.

1 In Liz Writes/ Liz's Books

Happy Valentine’s Day

Bananas. I’m ready when you are! Photo Stuart Robertson/Dreamstime.

Happy Valentine’s Day! A day for hearts, flowers, chocolate, and, of course, love.

It’s Stacie Capella’s 29th birthday. Her wonderful friends have surprised her with a small celebration in her shop, The Bell, Book and Crystal, before opening. Eileen has brought a beautiful cake, which pleases the ever-hungry Colin, and a couple of Milk Bones, which are awarded much tail-wagging by Bananas, the labradoodle on steroids. Stacie is surprised and touched by the exquisite card Colin, a graphic designer, has created for them all to sign, and delighted with the lovely brooch Mir has made from repurposed costume jewelry. It is a wonderful surprise and Stacie enjoys it completely. Colin enjoys the cake. Continue Reading →