Publish

An Indie author’s biggest mistake

“My book is finally finished!” I yell as I dance around the house, throwing the previous draft up toward the ceiling. Papers lazily rain down on the couch, the dog; my husband runs for his life to avoid paper cuts in odd places. I pull the bottle of champagne out of the refrigerator, where it has sat for months, waiting just for this day. Who cares if it’s only 10 a.m. — I pop the cork, leaving a dark smudge on the white paint above my head. Cold alcohol fizzes down the neck of the bottle and over my hand, gushing to the tile floor before I remember to retrieve glasses from the cabinet.

“Want to watch me press publish?” I call out to the empty room; I don’t know where my husband is hiding but I’m told, quite frequently, how well my voice carries throughout the house.

*****

Finishing a novel is the most exciting moment for an author — whether it’s your first book or your fifth. Months of excruciating work have gone into the goal of seeing your words sent out to the world with your name proudly displayed on the cover. It’s a time for celebration.

But are you truly ready for that moment?

An author’s biggest mistake is impatience. That might seem contradictory, given that patience is the main requirement to sit and write, especially at times when it’s the last thing you want to do.

Indie authors are penalized heavily for impatience, as they don’t receive advances for their work and struggle to finish quickly in hopes of making a few extra dollars while they labor at their day jobs. They don’t have a team scouring their words for errors or suggesting possibilities of different sentence structure. Taking your time before publishing your draft is essential.

After successfully completing a first draft, close your book for a month. Work on something new. Read. Dust off your gym membership. Remember you have a family. Let the words simmer in the back of your brain while you sleep. When I am actively writing, I frequently wake up with a new idea about the ending, or even a specific paragraph. I’m always surprised at how my unconscious mind is constantly working. If I don’t have time at that moment to write, I email the idea to myself and hope I remember to look for it later.

After a month, or however long you think is appropriate to make your book seem fresh again, start your second draft. Make changes, look for errors in grammar and punctuation, remove unnecessary sentences, add more description if needed. Then put your book away again for a couple weeks.

These breaks don’t have to be idle time, though. Use them to find a respected editor, shop your work to agents and publishers, and work on the cover design. A finished product is so much more than just the writing.

When it is time, begin your third draft. Hopefully, less changes are needed, and after you’re satisfied, your draft should go to your editor. A second set of eyes is essential, and these eyes need to be trained in the proper rules of the language — not just a friend who likes to read.

I use two editors. The first is a friend who has worked in the writing industry for many years; it never fails to shock me when I get my third draft back from him and it is drenched in red ink. After correcting the mistakes he has found and considering the word substitutions he suggests, this fourth draft goes to my mother, who is smart beyond belief. While she doesn’t have formal training as an editor, she has an eye for picking out any errors that were overlooked. In my experience, after publishing three books, no single person can find all mistakes — not least the author.

When my mother returns her copy it has much less red ink, as would be expected — my first editor is very good. Again, I make changes, and this is the point where my impatience begins to rear its ugly head, but for me, it’s still not time to publish.

After a thorough read-through of the fifth draft, it’s time for test readers, or beta readers. These are the people who love to read and aren’t afraid to tell you if they don’t like certain parts, or wish the ending was different, or maybe the beginning is too slow and they lost interest. If you’re lucky, they’ve located a grammatical error that everyone else has missed, although that hasn’t happened to me since my editor and mother do their jobs very well.

Listening to the opinions of test readers is important because they are not starting and stopping when they find a mistake — they are reading the book from beginning to end as if it were a finished work. It should flow smoothly as they read. Use their thoughts to make a sixth draft, if needed, and reread. By this time, I am so tired of reading the same thing over and over that I never want to read it again!

My sixth draft then goes back to my first editor to look over any changes I have made since he saw it previously; just because I have made changes on the advice of test readers doesn’t mean I have written them perfectly. He will likely find mistakes I have just added, and I make any corrections as a seventh draft.

And now, months after my book was originally completed, is when I publish. Now I am confident that every error has been found and my book is the best it can possibly be.

I wrote this article of friendly advice not because my books are amazing best-sellers, but because I belong to several Indie reading groups; we read each others’ published works in the expectation of finding great new authors and promoting them to our friends and the public. When I began these readings, I always purchased the books — besides a good review, a purchase is the best way to show Indies your support. But it didn’t take long to realize that most authors are not as concerned about proper grammar and test readers as I am. I was left with a pile of books full of easily corrected, glaring mistakes; most times they were grammar, sometimes spelling, and a few used the same descriptive words so repetitively I lost interest regardless of how good the storyline might have been.

Sadly, this happened so often I’ve all but quit reading Indies — which prompted me to saddle up my high horse since I am a part of this group.

As Indie authors, it is our responsibility to get over our impatience to publish and send out our work only when it has been thoroughly vetted by many sets of eyes. The reputation for sloppy work has been earned, in my opinion, but it’s not too late establish ourselves anew.

My latest work-in-progress is now in the hands of my mother. I began the book nearly two years ago, and quite honestly I am ready to be done with it, but I know it’ll be a couple more months until it is worthy of publishing. The impatience to be finished is like a constant itch in my mind, but I want my book to have the greatest chance of success I can possibly give it. The extra time and effort is always worth it.

 

*****

Huge thanks to Kay and her Summer Blog-a-day feature for making me think of something to write other than my book! Please take a moment to go through the posts and find something fun to read.

*

The idea for this article came from three people who asked me for tips about publishing their first book — I hope it is helpful.

*****

About Melissa:
Melissa is a writer and photographer on the Big Island of Hawaii. An avid outdoorswoman, Burovac enjoys outrigger paddling—both one-man and six-man—SUP, running, surfing, sailing, and scuba diving, as well as yoga. She is always up for adventure and loves doing things that scare her a little.
Books:
Sylvie Writes a Romance – Book 1 of Sylvie’s Romance
Sylvie Falls in Love – Book 2 of Sylvie’s Romance
Wandering
Leave a review on Amazon and I’ll love you forever!
 Recent articles:
From Travel to Romcon and Beyond
BookDaily.com
Travel Writing on JenniferSAlderson.com
Recent reviews:
Indie Reader Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance
Kirkus Indie Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance
Follow me on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter
For fine art photography prints from the islands, check out the Hawaii Ocean Photography  website and Like the Facebook page
Melissa Burovac

Words and Wine at Kona Stories book store – Tuesday July 3rd

Kona Stories

 

Tomorrow’s the big day! Join me, along with fellow author Eila Algood and artist Cheri Mandaquit for Words and Wine, a monthly gathering of readers and authors. Enjoy pupus and wine as we discuss our projects, and meet other book lovers.

 

I’ll be talking about the Sylvie’s Romance series, and how I found myself writing in a genre I never imagined I’d write in – romantic comedy.

 

We’ll have books and art for sale after the presentations. Stop by! It’ll be a fun evening. 6-8 pm at Kona Stories book store.

 

Sylvie's Romance - Melissa Burovac

 

 

About Melissa:
Melissa is a writer and photographer on the Big Island of Hawaii. An avid outdoorswoman, Burovac enjoys outrigger paddling—both one-man and six-man—SUP, running, surfing, sailing, and scuba diving, as well as yoga. She is always up for adventure and loves doing things that scare her a little.
Books:
Sylvie Writes a Romance – Book 1 of Sylvie’s Romance
Sylvie Falls in Love – Book 2 of Sylvie’s Romance
Wandering
Leave a review on Amazon and I’ll love you forever!
Recent articles:
From Travel to Romcon and Beyond
BookDaily.com
Travel Writing on JenniferSAlderson.com
Recent reviews:
Indie Reader Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance
Kirkus Indie Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance
Follow me on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter
For fine art photography prints from the islands, check out the Hawaii Ocean Photography  website and Like the Facebook page
Sylvie's Romance - Melissa Burovac

Sylvie’s Romance series ebook sale on Smashwords

Sylvie's Romance - Melissa Burovac

 

Sylvie’s Romance series on sale at Smashwords

25% off Sylvie Writes a Romance and Sylvie Falls in Love at Smashwords

 

Get both books in the Sylvie’s Romance series for the price of your morning cup of coffee. Download them easily onto your iPad, Kindle or other eReader and enjoy them anywhere you go.

Sylvie has finally finished writing her romance novel – can she find the same happy ending for her own life? 
Continue with Sylvie’s adventures as she explores the good and bad of love in the real world.

 

Early 5-star reviews on Amazon for Sylvie Falls in Love:

 

“This book was amazing. I was a fan of Melissa’s previous two books, and this is no different. Great read with a cup of tea!”
“Burovac does a phenomenal job of transporting you into the world of Sylvie, Colleen, and the other characters. I found myself stepping into their shoes over and over again, whether it be high heels or flip-flops. Perfect beach read, but also perfect for a snowy day in April when you are angry with Mother Nature and want to hibernate.”

 

Sylvie Falls in Love - Melissa Burovac

 

 

Paperback copies are available on Amazon, and signed copies can be purchased through the Shop at Hawaii Ocean Photography.

Don’t forget to catch up in the series with the first book, Sylvie Writes a Romance.

Sylvie aspires to write a romance novel, but gives up after several tries because she knows nothing of romance. With the help of her best friend, she signs up for a popular dating site to find a man to seduce her and teach her about passion – certain this will help her write her book. While Sylvie dreams of the steamy scenes she thinks are necessary for a good romance novel, her ​unintentionally comical ​dates fall far short of her expectations.

“A feel-good romantic comedy with a resilient heroine” – Kirkus Indie Review
“Sylvie Writes a Romance is absolutely hilarious!” – Amazon review

 

Thank you for reading, and I look forward to hearing what you think of the new book!

Melissa

 

 

About Melissa:
Books:
Sylvie Writes a Romance – Book 1 of Sylvie’s Romance
Sylvie Falls in Love – Book 2 of Sylvie’s Romance
Wandering
Leave a review on Amazon and I’ll love you forever!
Sylvie Writes a Romance on Smashwords – for Nook, Kobo, etc
Sylvie Falls in Love on Smashwords
Recent articles:
From Travel to Romcon and Beyond
BookDaily.com
Travel Writing on JenniferSAlderson.com
Recent reviews:
Indie Reader Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance
Kirkus Indie Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance
Follow me on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter
For fine art photography prints from the islands, check out the Hawaii Ocean Photography  website and Like the Facebook page
Sylvie Falls in Love (Sylvie's Romance #2) - Melissa Burovac

Sylvie Falls in Love (Sylvie’s Romance #2) eBook release today!

I’m very happy to announce the ebook release of Sylvie Falls in Love (Sylvie’s Romance #2)!

 

 

Sylvie Falls in Love (Sylvie's Romance #2) - Melissa Burovac

 

Sylvie has finally finished writing her romance novel – can she find the same happy ending for her own life? 
Continue with Sylvie’s adventures as she explores the good and bad of love in the real world.

 

The paperback will be along in about a week, and at that time I’ll set up giveaways and parties and events. One book reading is already scheduled at Kona Stories Book Store for July 3rd, so if you’re coming to Big Island for the 4th of July just come a day early! Future dates on Kauai and the mainland will be announced shortly.

For now, though, you can find Sylvie Falls in Love on Amazon and Smashwords. Use the Amazon link for Kindle readers, and the Smashwords link for iBooks; more formats coming soon. If you haven’t read Sylvie Writes a Romance yet, read it first!

 

I hope you continue with Sylvie’s adventures, and love them as much as I’ve loved writing them.

Thank you for reading!

Melissa

 

 

 

 

About Melissa:
Books:
Sylvie Writes a Romance – Book 1 of Sylvie’s Romance
Sylvie Falls in Love – Book 2 of Sylvie’s Romance
Wandering
Leave a review on Amazon and I’ll love you forever!
Sylvie Writes a Romance on Smashwords – for Nook, Kobo, etc
Sylvie Falls in Love on Smashwords
Recent articles:
From Travel to Romcon and Beyond
BookDaily.com
Travel Writing on JenniferSAlderson.com
Recent reviews:
Indie Reader Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance
Kirkus Indie Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance
Follow me on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter
For fine art photography prints from the islands, check out the Hawaii Ocean Photography  website and Like the Facebook page
Lifeguard Lucy

Where has the time gone?

Lifeguard Lucy

 

As I sat down to write today, I looked back through this blog and realized nearly 3 months have passed without any updates. Where has the time gone?

Quite a bit has happened since my last post. I finally shed my indecision and made a move to forward my photography career on the Big Island of Hawaii; I love Kauai, and still consider it home, but to up my underwater game I needed to live somewhere with more wildlife, better visibility, and more people to learn from.

In some ways, the transition has been heartbreaking. After building friendships for 12 years on Kauai and learning the island, I left it all to go somewhere I didn’t know anyone save a woman I haven’t seen since high school and a couple moving away soon, and being completely lost wherever I go (thank god for gps). I left without having a home or a job, just my puppy Lucy and what would fit in the back of my truck when it shipped across the ocean.

Lucy and I spent a couple homeless weeks in a hotel and a vacation rental, the first week with my sister Mary who was amazing at helping us get our feet and paws on the ground with much less stress than anticipated. During the second week I started a job on a boat as crew for manta ray night snorkel trips out of Keauhou Bay, and moved into a tiny house 1500 feet above Kona town. If I thought I was tired, stressed, and confused, poor Lucy had no idea what had happened to the happy life she led on Kauai. Her best-puppy-friends were nowhere to be found; between the hotel, vacation rental, and new house she didn’t recognize any of the smells; her daily beach walks and normal routines were gone. At 6 months old, she was scared and angry at these major changes to her life, and was quite upset with me. When my truck finally arrived and she could ride in her customary passenger seat she settled down a little, and when I unpacked a few boxes and found her stash of well-chewed dog toys she relaxed a bit more. In the two weeks since we moved into our house we’ve found a dog park and made new puppy friends, and a couple beaches where she can splash in the ocean again. Lucy can’t come to work with me anymore, but quickly got used to spending her evenings in her crate and patiently waiting for me to come home.

I’m not sure I’ve adapted quite as quickly as Lucy, though. After packing up my house and giving away or selling most of my possessions, travel, stress about finding a place to live and work (even if it’s a short-term job), finding my way around, unpacking boxes, financial worries, and having to work nights (and – gasp – having to be somewhere at a specific time!) after a couple years of keeping my own schedule, I had to spend all my free time sleeping off the stress. I’m not sure I’ve recovered even now, and am just over a nasty cold – inevitable after the major changes in my life, I guess. My body went into survival mode, and all unnecessary functions shut down. I finally found the energy to take my camera into the ocean a couple days ago to begin building my business on this island, and sat down to work on my next book. I was blessed with a friendly pod of dolphins on my first day back in the water, and managed to write a couple pages of the book before I had to take a nap.

 

Hawaii dolphin pod

 

I’ve been on the Big Island for a month now, and see plenty of hard work ahead. I have a list of goals to achieve, and am finally ready to begin. All-in-all, though, I’m quite proud of myself for the progress I’ve made in such a short time. As each day passes I have a little more energy to put into things that aren’t merely surviving or making sure Lucy is cared for. It’s time for writing and photography, and having some fun. It’s time to explore this giant island and learn new things. It’s time to really begin to live here , and I’m excited about a whole new life with all the undreamed-of possibilities waiting just outside my door.

But first, maybe a quick nap…

 

 

About Melissa:
Books:
Sylvie Writes a Romance – Book 1 of Sylvie’s Romance
Sylvie Falls in Love – Book 2 of Sylvie’s Romance
Wandering
Leave a review on Amazon and I’ll love you forever!
Sylvie Writes a Romance on Smashwords – for Nook, Kobo, etc
Sylvie Falls in Love on Smashwords
Recent articles:
From Travel to Romcon and Beyond
BookDaily.com
Travel Writing on JenniferSAlderson.com
Recent reviews:
Indie Reader Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance
Kirkus Indie Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance
Follow me on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter
For fine art photography prints from the islands, check out the Hawaii Ocean Photography  website and Like the Facebook page
Melissa Burovac, author

My author interview, by Lucia N. Davis

Aloha!

I was honored to be interviewed by fellow author Lucia N Davis. You can find the interview on Lucia’s blog.

So far, Lucia has written two eBooks, available on Amazon. Both are (paranormal) mysteries, with a hint of romance, set in the Pacific Northwest. Give them a read, you won’t be disappointed.

Read my interview of Lucia.

The Indie author community is a talented, supportive group and I’m proud to be a part of it. If you’d like to have a guest post on my blog just send me a message at m3lissab33@gmail.com. Examples of interviews, along with links to blogs and where to purchase books can be found on my website.

 

 

 

Melissa Burovac, author

 

 

 

About Melissa:

Sylvie Writes a Romance

Wandering

Leave a review on Amazon and I’ll love you forever!

Sylvie Writes a Romance on Smashwords – for Nook, Kobo, etc

Recent articles:

From Travel to Romcon and Beyond

BookDaily.com

Travel Writing on JenniferSAlderson.com

Recent reviews:

Indie Reader Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

Kirkus Indie Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

Follow me on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

For fine art photography prints from the islands, check out Hawaii Ocean Photography

Sylvie Writes a Romance is on Smashwords – get your 50% off coupon!

Aloha readers!

If you’re unfamiliar with Smashwords, it is a wonderful online book store for both readers and writers. Thousands of books are available in every electronic format available – iPad, iPhone, iPod, Nook, Kindle, Kindle Fire, Kobo, or even simple PDF downloads for reading on your computer.

As an author, Smashwords is an uncomplicated site to sell your books – download a Word document formatted properly, and voila, your book is now for sale on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and many more retailers, plus added to library catalogs. The only catch is getting the format down correctly; but if you’re not computer savvy they even provide a list of people who will format your book for a reasonable price.

To celebrate my new foray into “the world beyond Amazon,” I am offering a 50% off coupon for purchase of Sylvie at the Smashwords site. You are free to email this coupon to anyone you think might enjoy Sylvie Writes a Romance! Spread the Love!

Coupon Code VT59Y – expires on 6/12/17 – use it for a Sylvie ebook.

Enjoy!

Melissa

 

Find my books on Amazon:

Sylvie Writes a Romance

Wandering

Leave a review on Amazon and I’ll love you forever!

Sylvie Writes a Romance on Smashwords – for Nook, Kobo, etc

Recent articles:

From Travel to Romcon and Beyond

BookDaily.com

Travel Writing on JenniferSAlderson.com

Recent reviews:

Indie Reader Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

Kirkus Indie Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

Follow me on Facebook

Melissa Burovac

From travel to romcom and beyond – an evolution of my writing

In 2012, I embarked on a solo RTW trip that lasted nine months. I had never traveled solo before, and have a healthy dose of social anxiety plus a great fear of getting lost with my poor sense of direction, so this was an enormous undertaking for me. I had help getting prepared from traveler friends, creating lists of places to visit and gear I might need along the way. I put my furniture in storage, not knowing what to expect for how long I would be gone, sold my beloved Jeep Cherokee, and bought a one-way ticket to Mexico. I got a ride to the airport in Lihue, Kauai, carrying only a backpack containing clothes, a point and shoot camera, a 13” Mac laptop, and a water filter. A couple months after my 40th birthday, I was as ready as I would ever be.

During my travels I visited nine countries: Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Cuba, Australia, Cambodia, and Thailand. I encountered natural disasters in most of the countries — two hurricanes, a volcano eruption, an earthquake and a wildfire. As I blogged, my friends joked they knew where I was by where the natural disasters were occurring. “Something exploded? Let’s see where Melissa is!”

Blogging as I traveled was mainly to let my mother know I was still alive. I had childhood dreams of being a writer, but those got lost in the flurry of making a living after college and were completely forgotten. When I returned to Kauai after my trip I didn’t expect such a reaction to my blog; people were amazed I traveled for nine months, mostly solo, and that I didn’t die in the drug wars of Mexico, or some other place they only knew from news reports. Or even that as a woman, I was able to make my way through the world without trouble — some trouble, but not much. The women who followed me online were especially impressed and wanted to know how I did it all by myself. As I heard, more and more, “You should write a book,” I recalled those forgotten dreams of becoming an author and decided to give it a try.

Wandering was born from my blog posts, mostly written in bars and cafes around the world— a little bit drunk, a little bit lost, and toward the end, a whole lot homesick from being alone. This first book of mine was self-published in June 2014.

It wasn’t as easy as it sounds, though. I was working full-time as a bookkeeper, writing full-time after work — mostly from the back of my truck at the beach with a $200 laptop — and I was exhausted. I lost touch with most of my friends, and was a little depressed with the sudden lack of freedom.

Finally, though, Wandering was finished, published, and it was the most exciting thing in my life to see a book I had written in print. I immediately had dreams of writing more books, but didn’t see enough income to allow me to quit my regular job. I sent copies to every major outlet and publisher I could find online but no one picked up the book. While visiting my sister in Portland I took copies to Powell’s and sold them as used just so I could go back a week later and see my book on the shelf at a bookstore.

So what comes next? I wanted to be a full-time writer but it wasn’t working out exactly as it had in my daydreams. I didn’t have another book planned, and couldn’t begin to imagine what to do with myself.

One afternoon I was flipping through articles about writing on the internet and came across one about romance writers. The three women depicted in the article were raking in huge monthly incomes from churning out romance e-books, and I thought to myself, How hard could it be to write a romance novel?

I was sitting at a bar in Portland, drinking Bloody Marys and turning my imagination to writing a quick, sexy romance novel to generate some income — and I failed miserably. This is actually the only non-fiction scene in my second book Sylvie Writes a Romance.

I love to read classic fiction, sci-fi, horror, biographies — really, anything but romance novels. In my snobby view of the writing world I didn’t consider romance novels as literature, but just a means to pass the time, and not even as “real writing.” I was completely confused when I couldn’t write anything in that genre that was remotely good. It opened my eyes to how much work any type of writing entails.

I came back home to Kauai and bought a couple used romance novels at a thrift store, and sat down to read them. The books weren’t grammatically complicated, and didn’t contain any lofty ideas, and I sat down to write again, never actually finishing either of them. I just wanted to write something for a mass market so I could concentrate on writing something more profound.

I failed again and again, never writing anything I was happy with. But these failures evolved into a new project about a writer trying to write a romance novel and failing, turning to online dating to meet men and hoping to learn the meaning of romance. It’s more comedy than romance, which suits my style much better.

Sylvie Writes a Romance was born, and published in 2016.

Since Sylvie was written, I have been working on a sequel, plus trying my hand at writing a biography. I hope to have both published this year, and still have my sights set on a full-time career in writing.

 

 

Find my books on Amazon:

Sylvie Writes a Romance

Wandering

Leave a review on Amazon and I’ll love you forever!

Sylvie Writes a Romance on Smashwords – for Nook, Kobo, etc

Recent articles:

BookDaily.com

Travel Writing on JenniferSAlderson.com

Recent reviews:

Indie Reader Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

Kirkus Indie Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

 

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Indie Reader review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

Aloha!

I entered Sylvie into a contest, and got a review as well. Click to see the Indie Reader online version.

 

Relax into a breezy beach read with SYLVIE WRITES A ROMANCE

 

Verdict: It’s hard to feel anything but happy after finishing SYLVIE WRITES A ROMANCE. It is a humorous story that is ultimately hopeful about our ability to connect to others and rescue ourselves from ruts along the way.

Sylvie Jacobsen is a 43-year-old accountant looking to fund her travel-writing passion by penning a cheesy romance novel. Her money-making scheme proves more difficult than she thought as she dives into the strange waters of online dating to conduct research. But is it only fictional love she’s looking to explore?

SYLVIE WRITES A ROMANCE has the quality of sunlight on the tropical blue water that surrounds its island setting. It’s pleasing to look at, but you can’t help but wonder what lies beneath the waves. The novel has a fun premise and Sylvie is a charmingly self-deprecating narrator. It’s fun to join her as she stumbles through the absurd rituals of female grooming and online-dating: applying face-masks, practicing walking in high heels, writing a how-to-flirt cheat sheet on her wrist for a date.

Author Melissa Burovac’s sense of humor sustains the narrative. The back-and-forth between Sylvie and her friend and dating-guide, Colleen, is believably witty and friendly.  (“No one’s gonna smell you through a picture,” Colleen says when Sylvie asks if she should shower before her dating-profile photo shoot.) Burovac also mines the contrast between Sylvie’s romance-novel fantasies and awkward real-life dates to great comedic effect.

The only thing missing is a greater sense of the inner lives behind the banter. Having a deeper sense of why Sylvie has waited until 43 to learn how to apply eye-liner and why her sub-conscious has picked this particular moment to send her on a quest for love would have made me more invested in her story. Burvoac does mention some past failed relationships, but it seems like a generic explanation rather than a character study that matches the detail afforded to Sylvie’s newly learned grooming routines.

Similarly, it would have been helpful to have know more about Sylvie’s potential suitors. Her dates keep going wrong because of almost slapstick mishaps, which are funny to read about. But romance is ultimately about the building relationship between two unique people. Without much sense of the men in Sylvie’s life as complex individuals, it’s hard to really care which one she ends up with.

SYLVIE WRITES A ROMANCE is set on a Hawaiian island, and one of the pleasures of reading it is to learn how the mundane details of daily life interact with the romance of the setting. “I’ve had sex during a hike at the top of a waterfall, and it was the most unsexy thing I’ve probably ever done in my life,” Sylvie thinks at one point. As with the characters, I only wanted more about both the beauty and realities of the setting.

It’s hard to feel anything but happy after finishing SYLVIE WRITES A ROMANCE. It is a humorous story that is ultimately hopeful about our ability to connect to others and rescue ourselves from ruts along the way. Think back to that tropical water: even if you don’t have a chance to plunge in, you won’t regret watching from the shore.

~Olivia Rosane for IndieReader

 

 

Find my books on Amazon:

Sylvie Writes a Romance

Wandering

Leave a review on Amazon and I’ll love you forever!

Sylvie Writes a Romance on Smashwords – for Nook, Kobo, etc

Recent articles:

From Travel to Romcon and Beyond

BookDaily.com

Travel Writing on JenniferSAlderson.com

Recent reviews:

Indie Reader Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

Kirkus Indie Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

Follow me on Facebook

How NOT to get Reviews or Sales for your Book – BookDaily.com

Good morning!

I’m pleased to share my guest blog with you. I wrote an article for BookDaily.com, and it appeared in today’s edition.

How NOT to Get Reviews or Sales for your Book

It’s not often I get anyone to listen to my opinion 🙂

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Find my books on Amazon:

Sylvie Writes a Romance

Wandering

Leave a review on Amazon and I’ll love you forever!

Sylvie Writes a Romance on Smashwords – for Nook, Kobo, etc

Recent articles:

From Travel to Romcon and Beyond

BookDaily.com

Travel Writing on JenniferSAlderson.com

Recent reviews:

Indie Reader Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

Kirkus Indie Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance

Follow me on Facebook

Worst dive buddy ever – scuba diving on The Great Barrier Reef

An excerpt from Wandering, from the Great Barrier Reef:

 

I went with the same company but still had to fill out all the same paperwork about experience and medical conditions and such. All the certified divers were grouped together, again only about 20 of us. One English woman with a high-pitched, whiny voice had dozens of questions for the crew. One of the questions in the paperwork was “Have you ever dived in the ocean?” and she immediately flagged down a crewman and asked, “Which ocean? This ocean? What if I’ve dived in a different ocean? Does that count? Are all the oceans the same? I did dive in one but maybe it doesn’t count?” She had endless questions about the basic paperwork and the crewman sat down, realizing that he wasn’t going to get away from her any time soon. I was sitting with a Canadian woman, Tamara, and we were practically rolling on the floor laughing.

When we arrived at the dive site, the certified divers were called back to gear up and my gear was set up next to the crazy woman’s. She had trouble with her regulator, but not really, and called several crew members over to look at it. They all said it was fine, but she demanded that someone switch it out. Then we were seated, strapped onto our tanks and ready to go, when the boat ran over and severed the mooring line, which meant we had another 15 minutes to sit in full gear while they fixed it. Crazy woman started making small talk with me. “Have you dived here before?”

“Yes.”
“Is this ocean salty?”
“Um, I think that’s what defines an ocean, there’s salt in the water.”

“But is it really salty?”

“I don’t know how to answer that.”
“I’m asking because I’m really thirsty.”
At that moment I knew that she would be assigned as my divebuddy. It was my fate.

Crazy did ask me to be her buddy while we were waiting for the mooring line to be fixed. I tried to weasel out like before, crossed my fingers, and told her that we get assigned and couldn’t choose. I wished I had asked Tamara but completely forgot, and we were strapped into our tanks far away from each other. And, as luck would have it, I got Crazy for a buddy. I’m sure the crew was chuckling about being rid of her for a while. It was a group dive, but she was still my responsibility.

It was time and we finally jumped in. The first thing Crazy did was swim over and grab my arm; the dive hadn’t even started and I was already annoyed. I did my best with hand signals to let her know that at no time was she welcome to touch me, and I headed to the bottom. In the minute it took to get there I received six OK signals from her.

I like to dive with a little space, so if people are crowded around the guide I’ll hang back, or if people are doing their own thing I’ll go up front, just as long as I can see what I want and not bump into people. Crazy never got more than two feet away from me at any point; no matter how hard I tried to make some room she would swim over and touch me. Every time I looked up to see what was touching me, I’d see her flash the OK sign. I wanted to give her the finger but thought that might be a bit much. She went so far as to swim up to my head and throw an OK sign in front of my mask. I wanted to turn off her tank.

I’m not a bad dive buddy, but partners need to check on each other only so much. I was always aware of where she was, even when she wasn’t touching me; I looked back many times since she refused to swim in front of me, and she always seemed fine. That, in my opinion, is what was required of me.

There was a lot of great sea life on the dive, but my annoyance level was pretty high and I didn’t enjoy everything as much as I could have. Forty minutes of OK signals.

We were back on the boat for our surface interval, getting our tanks refilled and our gear ready. I only wore a skin suit for the first dive and was kind of cold, so I was trying to find a half wetsuit to wear as well. Crazy sat down and started to lecture me on the proper way to be a good dive buddy. She didn’t think I was doing my job.

“I’d appreciate it if you’d give me the OK sign more often when we’re under water.” I think I had given her one for the entire first dive. I let her know that I always knew where she was and she looked fine and I didn’t feel the need for constant OK signs.

“How do you know I’m OK if I don’t give you an OK sign?”

“Well, you’re swimming along normally and looking at stuff and look pretty OK so I don’t feel I need to ask.”

“But how will I know if you’re OK if you don’t tell me you’re OK?”

“Well, if I’m swimming normally and looking at stuff and I look OK then you should just assume that I’m OK too.”

“You need to give me more OK signs on the next dive, I need to know that you’re OK.”

I had to turn and start talking to the woman on the other side of me because I was afraid I was going to hit Crazy.

We jumped in for the second dive and immediately I had my shadow throwing OK signs at me. I refused to give her even one for the entire dive; I get a little stubborn when I’m annoyed. I looked back at Crazy several times; I did my job. But this time I concentrated on the reef and all the wild things living down there and ignored her as much as possible. There were squid, white-tip reef sharks, turtles, rays, unicorn fish, another giant Napoleon wrasse, and huge groupers; completely excellent.

We had about seven minutes left to dive when I felt Crazy grab my leg and pull me backwards. That’s fucking enough, time to turn off her tank for real. Her ear felt funny, she signaled, and I didn’t give a shit. I got the guide’s attention and signaled that my buddy was sick, then swam away in hopes that he’d send her to the surface. But she wasn’t sick, there wasn’t anything wrong with her ear, she just wanted attention, and after several more OK signals we resumed our dive.

During our lunch break I made it very clear that she was not to speak to me again.

The third dive was spectacular; I started it off by getting attacked by a good-sized triggerfish. It was mating season for them and they actually build nests and defend them ferociously. It would have been nice if the crew had warned us, since they dive at the same mooring every day. I was descending, minding my own business, when a big fish with pointy teeth charged at me. It was more funny than scary because trigger fish are so cute, but he wouldn’t leave me alone. I tried to swim away but he kept nipping at me, and I could see Crazy having a minor underwater heart attack from the exertion of all the OK signals she was throwing at me, which I ignored.

Most surprisingly, though, on the third dive she mostly left me alone. I looked back for her here and there and she had given me several feet of personal space. Aaah. And when we surfaced, I never had to see her again.

 

 

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Wandering

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Searching for Sea Dragons in Tasmania – Wandering

Another excerpt from Wandering (published June 2014):

 

I had one more week until I was supposed to meet Shanti and her family in Cambodia, so I decided to check out Tasmania.

When I was planning, I asked Kawika and Scotty about it, and neither of them had ever been there, nor knew anyone who had been there (which immediately prompted me to resupply my tampon stash while still in the city, I was traveling into unknown territory again). I hadn’t even known it was an Australian state until I started researching. I emailed a scuba company that promised sea dragons and set up a dive, so that was where I reserved a hotel room. All the hostels were sold out, again, and the hotel in Hobart was officially the most expensive place I have ever stayed. Stupid holidays.

As I flew into Hobart, I realized that I hadn’t done any proper research. I was looking for sea dragons and nature; in my mind I saw mountains and lakes and rivers, adventures and surf and scuba. It never occurred to me that I was going to the capital city of one of the Australian states. A big, horrible city.

I was the last drop-off for the hotel shuttle, so I got a small tour of the city. I felt like I was in downtown Seattle, not the small beach towns and backwoods laziness that I envisioned. And I had to walk several blocks from my hotel to find a Wi-Fi connection at a pub. I really need to learn how to properly research destinations.

According to my emails with Sue at Underwater Adventures, sea dragons lived in the harbors around Hobart. On my first morning in town I was supposed to meet her at the docks at 7:45, along with one other woman who was equally excited to find them. I arrived at the dock at 7:40, early as usual, and Georgina got there at 7:43. We waited, made small talk, waited more, and no boat. Finally, Sue motored up at 8:20; apparently a cruise ship motored past while she was loading tanks and the wake knocked two of them overboard and she had to dive for them. A shaky start to the day.

The boat wasn’t very well-kept; it was kind of messy with stuff everywhere, with six tanks sort of bungeed to the sides, but Sue was nice. She didn’t have any crew so she wasn’t going to dive with us, which immediately annoyed both Georgina and me. It’s way easier to find things underwater with someone who’s been there before. Getting directions in Cairns for a colony of clownfish was bad enough; now we had to locate an animal that looks like kelp in darker water.

We travelled 50 minutes to our first site at Betsey Island. The sky was grey and rainy and the wind was picking up. There were dozens of crayfish pots in the area where Sue wanted to drop anchor, so it took us a while to settle in. She gave me a selection of 7 millimeter wetsuits, all of them covered in dog hair. They probably would be comfy to sleep on. After trying a few, I finally found one that fit, which meant I could fasten it properly and still manage to breathe a little. I was worried that in darker water a tight wetsuit might make me feel claustrophobic and I’d freak out, but I continued getting ready – boots, hood, gloves, and 32 pounds of weights. I could barely move. Georgina was using a dry suit; Sue didn’t have one in my size. It took us an hour to gear up for the first dive.

Then came the moment I was dreading – touching the water. It was 16 degrees Celsius. In a 7-millimeter wetsuit, it still felt like 16 degrees. It was fucking cold. Like getting wrapped in ice, then buried in snow. Then stabbed in the head with icicles. I couldn’t remember ever being that cold in my life. Every time I turned my head to look around, some water would channel straight down my back. I just kept telling myself that I was doing this for a good purpose: sea dragons.

The visibility was around five meters in the greenish water. The underwater landscape consisted of kelp forests and a lot of strange plants, but I didn’t find many fish. I saw a wrasse, a box cowfish, anemones, starfish, a rockfish, and a couple crabs, but mostly just plants floating back and forth with the current. I was praying for a sea dragon.

“Please, God, let me see one so I don’t ever have to get back in this water. Pretty please? I’ll be good, I promise.”

The first dive lasted 48 minutes and by the end I was shaking uncontrollably, my teeth were chattering, and no sea dragon. Sue kept asking if we saw the felled tree where some live, or the backside of the reef where others are. That was why we had wanted a guide.

We left for the second dive site, the blowhole in Blackman’s Bay. There was no way I could take off my wetsuit between dives, so I put a jacket over it and jumped up and down to try to get warm, but it didn’t work. I ate half a box of Tim-Tams, possibly the greatest chocolate cookie in mass production, thinking that might help. Maybe it was just a good excuse to eat so many.

On the second dive I was cold going in, and thought I would die the moment I hit the water. I vaguely remember wondering if my nipples could cut through a 7 millimeter suit. This dive was a little shallower and I was too floaty; I had to swim back to the boat after 20 minutes for more weights. I was now carrying 38 pounds; the most I’d ever used before was 14. It was good incentive to start working out again; my legs had a hard time standing under the extra weight.

We saw more kelp and more cute cowfish, but it was 48 more minutes of no sea dragons. As we swam back to the boat, Sue yelled that we should try one more time a little further down, maybe swim until we have about 40 bar of air left. Obviously, sea dragons were way more important than following strict PADI dive rules. We dove back down on the other side of the reef for a total dive time of 63 minutes with no sea dragons. I was pretty sure my fingertips were going to break off.

I was told that we were only doing two dives, and although I was upset that we didn’t find a sea dragon, I was OK with getting dried off. The weather had gotten worse and the sun hadn’t come out all day; it was just windy and rainy. All I could think about was a hot shower and obscene amounts of food.

But Sue felt bad and suggested a third dive. Georgina gave the decision to me since I was the coldest, but not by much since her drysuit had a small leak. I came all this way to Tasmania, was half-frozen, and I’d probably never make it back. Another 20 minutes wouldn’t kill me. Sue’s rationale was that the first site gets battered by storms, the second site had a bunch of spear divers a few days ago, but the third site never gets much traffic. And that was when Georgina got pissed. Imagine an older, shorter, English housewife getting really angry. But I agreed with her. Why did we go to the crappy sites first, especially when the pristine site was only 15 minutes from the dock?

The third site was Boronia Beach. Sue was begging us to dive just a little while, even though one tank only had 100 bar and Georgina had to use her tank from the last dive. We decided to go for 20 minutes or until one of us had no air left. By then we had left PADI standards far behind. I think Sue felt bad because she usually gets in the water with the divers and can find the sea dragon hangouts; maybe her crew called in sick, but this wasn’t a great day for diving. I had been carrying my camera and decided to leave it on the boat for the last dive since it wasn’t doing anything but wearing down the battery.

Sue dropped us at the edge of a reef with instructions, “Go in here where you can see the reef, swim with it on your left; if you go around that corner into the other bay that’s OK, I’ll follow your bubbles from the boat.” Georgina and I swam, freezing. I started thinking that I really was going to die, then OH MY GOD A SEA DRAGON!

It was the weirdest animal I’ve ever seen in my life. It had a snout like a seahorse, a fat little body with teensy, fluttery, useless-looking fins, and a long tail that started off fat and tapered to very skinny. It was a male, carrying eggs. In total, it was about 14 inches long, and every color in the crayon box. The sun had just come out, and every time he moved, different body parts turned different colors in the light. He had two lumps on his head that looked like horns, and two long side fins that just dangled and looked like kelp. There was another set of tiny, fluttery fins where I thought his ears should go. The overall impression was like a flying elephant with a couple tinker-bell wings. Totally ridiculous.

And of course, I didn’t have my camera. I signaled to Georgina that I was going to the boat and I’d be right back. I sprinted in my 7 millimeter wetsuit. By the time I got back I was so out of breath that I had to float on the surface trying to breathe; my suit was too tight for a proper breath. But there was a sea dragon, so I went down anyway.

Georgina and I spent 25 minutes watching him. He just swam back and forth between a couple big rocks and showed off for us, like he was on a sea dragon catwalk. I completely forgot that I was cold.

 

Watch the seadragon on YouTube.

About Melissa:
Books:
Sylvie Writes a Romance – Book 1 of Sylvie’s Romance
Sylvie Falls in Love – Book 2 of Sylvie’s Romance
Wandering
Leave a review on Amazon and I’ll love you forever!
Sylvie Writes a Romance on Smashwords – for Nook, Kobo, etc
Sylvie Falls in Love on Smashwords
Recent articles:
From Travel to Romcon and Beyond
BookDaily.com
Travel Writing on JenniferSAlderson.com
Recent reviews:
Indie Reader Review for Sylvie Writes a Romance
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For fine art photography prints from the islands, check out the Hawaii Ocean Photography  website and Like the Facebook page

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