I do not belong here... and yet, here I am.
I Love meeting authors I have not read via their posts on Facebook or elsewhere... So I took the opportunity to learn about Sharon Sala's writing by reading!
I do not belong here... and yet, here I am.
"I bring rage out. I do bring rage out. I always have. I don’t know if that’s an asset or a liability, but whatever it is, I do.” Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump in an interview with Bob Woodward and Robert Costa on March 31, 2016, at the Old Post Office Pavilion, Trump International Hotel, Washington, D.C.
“I wanted to always play it down,” Trump told me. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”
Woodward covers the discussions held between he and Bob Woodward in this book. Bob often pointing out or discussing his concern about not sharing with the people...to little avail.
“And I think he’s going to have it in good shape,” Trump said, “but you know, it’s a very tricky situation.” What made it “tricky”? “It goes through air,” Trump said. “That’s always tougher than the touch. You don’t have to touch things. Right? But the air, you just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.” “Deadly” was a very strong word. Something was obviously going on here that I was not focused on. Over the next month I would make trips to Florida and the West Coast, oblivious to the mounting pandemic.
While discussing Fear on television, I was asked for my bottom-line summary of Trump’s leadership. “Let’s hope to God we don’t have a crisis,” I said.
And so it was that Bob Woodward, along with most of America, had no idea it was "deadly..." Indeed he has not been willing to speak of this even though the book has been out and thousands have died and millions have been infected in the States...
Much of the book includes interviews with Tillerson, Mattis, Comey, Sessions, Rosenstein, and other individuals no longer in the administration. They were candid and informative, some of which we had known about but details were important. I had garnered most of the topics covered in this book from my almost obsessive news watching during that time period. Nevertheless there was many background details that I used to fill in earlier accounts which provided a sometimes new perspective. For me, this was well worth reading and I can highly recommend to others interested in this extraordinary administration...
Of the four books, in addition to the one by Mary Trump, I found the book by Michael Cohen to be the most readable and, in turn, the most heartwarming... Once again, most of what was included had been covered on the news. However, I found the personal perspective of this true story, this memoir, the most telling. The most sympathetic. For instance, Michael shared that none of his family were happy with his working for Donald Trump and were constantly trying to get him to quit or, at least, not be at his beck and call constantly...
Donald Trump’s seduction began the way it would continue for years, with flattery, proximity to celebrity and power, and my own out-of-control ambitions and desires. For me, it started on a nondescript day in the fall of 2006. At the time, I was a successful, if little-known, middle-aged midtown Manhattan attorney and businessman on the make, sitting in a tidy nondescript office with two of everything arranged before me on my desk, a function of my obsessive nature: two staplers, two tape dispensers, two phones, two cups with sharpened pencils. I was thirty-nine and I worked for the mid-sized white-shoe law firm Phillips Nizer. As a lawyer I’d long had a busy practice in personal injury and medical malpractice, but my real passion and talent was in dealmaking, and I had accumulated a multi-million dollar fortune in the rough-and-tumble taxi medallion industry. Wealthy, with a beautiful wife and two healthy, happy young children, I had just purchased an apartment in the Trump Park Avenue building for $4.9 million and I tooled around the city in a Bentley and considered myself semi-retired. I had it made, in other words, but I didn’t know that I was on the precipice of a mid-life crisis that would lead to an all-consuming fixation and my downfall.
Michael willingly shares how he was pulled into the seduction. I found myself comparing him to the many who have become followers and members of the cult in which he surrounds his loyalists... The Power, the celebrity... It was not something that had ever interested me, but I found a certain empathy for Michael and other followers... Michael was willing and able to do anything for Donald. One thing he pointed out in the book and on television is that Donald rarely actually says "Do this" or "Do that." What he does is create scenarios where if you wish to follow him, you must accept as truth, no matter how wrong... Unfortunately, we have all seen in during the last four years.
Ultimately, something happens that forces the follower to begin to question. This exploration of what happened for Michael is poignant. When that happened, Michael was able to see the lawlessness of his actions and the manipulation used to have him, essentially, leave his family and choose his boss, as the primary person in his life. Thank God that he was able to pull away from this cult and return to his family...and to paying the price, legally, for all that he had done for his boss. If you have a need to learn how to pull yourself out of a destructive relationship, I can highly recommend this as an illustration of how you go where you are and how to find yourself again...
It felt like a bizarre irony when I realized I’d put my novels into the hands of villains virtually identical to those within their pages.
Writers froze in fear in 2016 when Amazon began terminating the accounts of innocent authors in response to the behavior of third party Kindle Direct Publishing scammers. Amazon offered nothing by way of a fair trial to its victims, who either had to quit writing, or initiate global appeal campaigns through social media and Change.org.
Their next attack concerned reviews. This all begins with an insane requirement that readers are unaware of: If a book slips below a four-star average – it’s over! No promotion site will even take an author’s money to promote it.
Writers who live in the real world don’t expect every reader to love their books. However, the ‘four-star minimum’ demands that we must rank up there with Hemingway before we can even inform the world of our books’ existence. I find this to be unreasonable and even obscene, despite, by some miracle, having actually hit the proverbial mark.
Reviews are extremely rare. They come in at an average rate of one for every five-hundred readers, and always represent thousands of dollars in promotional expenditure. While there is an epidemic of fake five-star reviews out there, Amazon didn’t spend any time investigating the culprits. They simply blitzed all of us. Any positivity our books had became suspect. In response, Amazon programmed the algorithm to delete many of our perfectly legitimate five-star reviews, which had been posted by complete strangers who had no connection to us. Amazon offered no reasons for these deletions, nor any appeal process.
This was followed by a variation on that theme when they allowed the reviews to appear, but removed stars from them. I had a review that expressly stated, “I give it four stars” . . . and yet only one star was checked. The very next review that came through was titled ‘Five Star’, yet only three stars showed. After investigating the review histories of these customers, it was abundantly clear that they knew how to use the review system. They showed no confusion about what the stars were. All of my appeals to Amazon were rejected, and all attempts to contact the reviewers through the review comments option were blocked.
Recently, my flagship novel experienced a flood of five-star ratings – only to then get hit with as many one star ratings within five weeks as it had previously received during its entire six-year history. The anonymous nature of these new, silent, one-click ratings makes it impossible to know if it’s a troll attack, or if the algorithm is stripping stars away. I had to temporarily unpublish the book in order to protect it from further harm.
No book marketing guru will ever address the true dangers of the dreaded ‘one-star’ review. They focus solely on how to deal with the emotional angst it causes. While it’s true that it does cause that ‘sinking in the stomach’ feeling, that’s actually the most irrelevant factor. A one-star review/rating is virtually impossible for the average rating to recover from. Amazon weighs them heavier than five-star reviews, which means it could take up to twenty consecutive ‘fives’ to repair the damage caused by a single ‘one’. Amazon also suppresses the visibility of a book each time a ‘one-star’ appears.
In the meantime, the four-star minimum promotion requirement remains.
It’s a well-established fact that human beings are drawn to negatives, one-hundred times more than they are to positives (which is why bad news sells.) Regardless of how negligible in number an author’s negative reviews might be, Amazon’s ‘Most Helpful’ voting system was always guaranteed to send negative reviews soaring to the top of the list on a book’s product page. My ‘two-star’ reviews make up a mere 5% of my overall review tally. However, they dominate the visible reviews on the product page of my flagship novel, leaving the 65% ‘fives’ mostly hidden in the shadows. This almost certainly deters readers, who would have most likely enjoyed the book.
The algorithm is also programmed to devalue reviews that are over a year old. A book might have a 4.0 average at night, and be a 3.9 by morning – effectively knocking it out of the game.
Amazon seems to accept book promotion grudgingly and goes out of its way, with the most arbitrary measures, to impede an author’s marketing efforts. One of the most effective tools is to have a quality book video trailer on the relevant book’s product page (via the ‘Related Video Shorts’ feature.) But authors aren’t allowed to use it. Rather, Amazon defers us to our Author Central pages to upload videos, knowing very well that this feature is utterly useless. Casual, browsing customers are highly unlikely to go searching through Author Central. If, by chance, they decided to do so, they would only see a row of black video screens with no thumbnail images and no titles. They wouldn’t know what video they had clicked on until it started playing.
Whenever we seek help from Amazon on any of these issues, their responses are invariably unhelpful, meaningless, and usually show that the operative hasn’t even read our query.
There have been so many other types of rug-pullers enabled by Amazon’s unrepentant policy of zero-accountability. Unfortunately, it would take a book in itself to list them all.
Writers put their hearts, souls, and years of their lives into their books, and that’s before going to the expense of cover design and marketing. But writing has become a no-win venture. Positive reviews are essential for promotion, but if we get them, Amazon will take them away. The abusive treatment this cruel, totalitarian monster inflicts upon us has rendered it a futile proposition, for which enormous monetary losses will be on the horizon.
In retrospect, this was always destined to be the case, since, in Jeff Bezos’ own words: "Amazon should approach these small publishers the way a cheetah would pursue a sickly gazelle."
Wow! I've always supported Whistle Blowers!!! Even in these days when they can be fired under an incompetent administration...
However, for as long as I've been reviewing at Amazon, I have tried over and over to have them differentiate books from any other product! Instead, placing them within an entire spectrum of products has resulted in...the above... Ultimately, the value of the work of the creator of a book has become of less value than any movie that might have evolved from that original BOOK!
So...I ask is the above true? Is the Insider right? Can you provide examples, affirmations, or other comments?
All can remain anonymous... They can be left as a comment on my blog... or sent to me at GABixlerReviews@aol.com... No names will ever be used, although I would appreciate knowing sources if you trust me enough...
IS IT TIME FOR WRITERS TO BECOME WHISTLE BLOWERS ON AMAZON?
Michael paused from his efforts to unwrap the bundle. "Yes. Rare traits in anyone," he said thoughtfully. As though peeling off the concentric leaves of an onion bulb made of delicate crystal, Michael carefully removed the layered batting and packing paper from around the object. From the center of the folded back peels of tissue and padding, he removed a beautiful antique clock. Hand painted roman numerals adorned the clock face. The case was made of glass panels on the top and sides supported by brass struts in the corners. The thick glass panels had a greenish tint, but were perfectly clear. The mechanical workings of the clock were visible behind the glass. Michael wound the clock. A tiny three-ball regulator began to spin behind one of the glass panels.
"Wow, what a lovely clock." Trudy looked closer, admiring the antique. "Just look at the workmanship." Michael tenderly placed the clock on a shelf attached to one of the living room walls as a sort of short mantel. "Yes," he said. "It plays a little music at midnight too." He advanced the clock's hands to demonstrate. The clock began to play an exquisite musical phrase. "It's from the nineteenth century," Michael explained. "The music is from a waltz by Chopin."
"It's really beautiful. I've never heard that tune before." "Some old friends of mine run an antique shop in Sausalito. They knew I would be interested in it once I heard it play, so they put it aside for me a few weeks ago." Trudy watched Michael's face as he continued listening to the little clock play its music. He was smiling, but she noticed there was also a hint of melancholy in his expression. His eyes focused off in the distance as though he was gazing down a tunnel stretching far into the past. The music finished playing, and Michael returned to the present.
"Sorry," he said, self-consciously, "that tune takes me back to another time."
"I completely understand. There are certain songs that remind of a place, or a season, or a special moment in my life too."
She had come into his life like a whirlwind--a beauty that reminded him somewhat of a woman he had loved so many years ago. It had been so long since... he'd been married...
Michael awoke, having another dream of his past life, a dream that reminded him once again just how long he had lived...He could still feel the sword as he plunged it in to his enemy...
This man would have easily lived for at least another two decades had he not been so unlucky as to have encountered me in battle, Michael thought. Michael took a deep breath as he prepared to draw the life force out of the man and into himself. He tightened his grasp on the man's neck and pressed the man harder against the tree to reduce the possibility of any potential commotion. Then he began. He felt the life energy transfer into him like a yellowish-blue light, rejuvenating him, strengthening him. The man's time line continued to shrink end-wise approaching the present as though watching liquid drain through a bottom spigot in a clear glass cistern. Sensing something terribly wrong was happening to him, the man reacted violently by flailing about as best he could. However, escape was impossible...
Centuries had gone by. Michael was able to adjust to keep him looking around the right age in any given time or place. He was now a nurse at a hospital and had been able to help many terminal patients. An older lady for whom he had cared and gotten to know had just died. He normally needed time to adjust to what she'd asked him to do...and move on... He had made it home, but some letter had been placed under his door and he caught and slid and fell. Thinking it was from a building manager, he got up and went on to fall into bed after a very long day...
But the envelope revealed a different type of note: "I know your secret. I will contact you again. Show this to no one." Shit, Michael had thought, can't anyone around here write a decent haiku?"
For somebody who had lived as long as he had...and had to be constantly on guard, finding the typed letter was more an annoyance than concern, even taking the time to dwell on its being a very poor haiku... I found myself chuckling at this as the writer throws in comments that the reader can smile and enjoy throughout the book...
Especially when Trudy came into his life... A figure had been watching him and possibly even stalking him--maybe a hunchback or bent over man... Actually, Trudy was indeed following him, had textbooks in her backpack and finally had the opportunity to introduce herself as a history student...loving history was why she had begun working on her thesis...and the books were part of that burden.
Except she had noticed something...there were pictures of men in various wars that appeared to be Michael. Actually though, she had been very hungry and had fainted...and Michael had rescued her and took her to his apartment. Well, readers will enjoy how the two manage to get together through the rest of the book... An enjoyable romp that ensures readers get the opportunity to learn more about Michael's earlier lives and how he became immortal...
It's definitely a strange, but wonderful romance...But the more thrilling part was that letter and the fact that a killer was roaming through the halls of the hospital, somehow killing them by creating an embolism in their brains... Obviously, suspicion soon included medical staff, and Michael was one of those who had also caught attention because of his patients dying... Of course, the police recognized that he was assigned to terminally ill patients, but...still...
I enjoyed all of the characters that were uniquely drawn by author Rod Rhimes. Among my favorites are Trudy and the police inspector. The description for the hair of one of the villains is a fun caricature of a balding man, while the goddess of the river and her horse brings a touch of fantasy that is positively brilliant.
This is Rhimes' first book...and could possibly be leading to a series. If not, this first novel is well worth your time. The premise is exciting, including a bit of intrigue about there being more than one kind of immortal! Fascinating! And highly recommended!
You may follow Rod on:
Good Reads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7514660.Rod_Rhimes