Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Reader Reviews – We Indie Authors NEED Them!!

From time to time I request people who have read my books to please consider writing a review on Amazon in order to share their thoughts with other potential readers. I know I have said this before, but if a book receives a certain number of reviews Amazon will begin to include those books in their promotions.

People e-mail me and sometimes speak to me in a parking lot or an aisle in a supermarket … or recently in a doctor’s office … to tell me they’ve read and enjoyed one of my books. I generally don’t ask them on the spot for an Amazon Reader Review under those circumstances! But the point is, many people have read at least one of my books and expressed their enjoyment. Many more people than have left reviews. Reader Reviews are not only helpful in making Amazon notice us in the vast Amazon Book Jungle … but another potential reader might just read that review and actually buy a book!

One thing I don’t believe people know: it’s not necessary to have bought a copy of the book. You can borrow it from your neighbor or mother. You will see “verified purchase” on many of the reviews, but not on ALL. You can express your thoughts, or at least rate a book, simply because you have read it. It’s really not a difficult process, and the review doesn’t have to be long or “scholarly.” A very recent review which I loved finding over the past weekend reads:

This is the third book in the "Carousel Trilogy "and I have read all three and the each were so moving in their own individual way!
This book tells Jamie's story and we did get to know him in the first book of the series when he plays the male lead in a high school production of "Carousel ".He plays Billy Biggs and Melanie plays Julie Jordan.We get to see his great talent and his love for music in that production but he has sung all his life inspired by his beloved mother.
After a failed marriage to a woman totally wrong for him he is encouraged,by his mother,to pursue his musical career..
Since I don't want to give too much away you will just have to read this story and fall in love with Jamie Logan!”

I love this review. I have no idea how this reader stumbled across my books, but I love so much that she loved all three of the books in “The Carousel Trilogy” – How I Grew Up, Eli’s Heart (for which she also wrote a glowing review), and You Are My Song (the subject of this review). I also love that she fell in love with Jamie Logan. That’s what I had hoped the reader would do.

Writing a review, and I have written many for other indie authors because I know each one means so much, really takes very little time. It’s a round of applause for the author. If it’s a five-star review, it’s a standing ovation.

Every nice review warms the author’s heart. Yes, I write for myself. Its a solitary process. But when I get a review that tells me a story of mine has moved a reader, it means more than you know. Our readers are our audience and we thrive on the applause!

Please visit my website www.susanmoorejordan.com
You will find information about and links to all of my books.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The CAROUSEL Trilogy

Receiving a new reader review on Amazon is always special, and it was gratifying to find two from the same reader who commented she had read the entire “Carousel” Trilogy!

Here’s more information about what that reader so enjoyed that she gave two of the books 5-Star Reviews.

The Carousel Trilogy

How I Grew Up
Eli’s Heart
You Are My Song

Susan Moore Jordan

Melanie Stewart, Krissy Porter, Jamie Logan
Three high school friends connected
 by one life-changing event. Each with a story to tell.

How I Grew Up is Melanie’s story. On a February night in 1954, her estranged brother-in-law entered her home with a gun and started shooting. When he left, her mother lay dead, her father was mortally wounded, and another brother-in-law was critically injured. Less than two weeks later, Melanie auditions for her high school’s musical production of Rodgers’ and Hammerstein’s Carousel. How she wins the leading role of Julie Jordan and performs it brilliantly while her involvement in the show helps her begin to heal is a testament to the power of creativity in our lives.

Eli’s Heart is Krissy’s story. Just a few months prior to that Carousel production, for which she played harp in the orchestra, Krissy had met Eli Levin, a boy her own age born with two burdens: a prodigious musical gift and a frightening congenital heart condition. What seemed to be a budding romance between the brilliant young pianist and the girl he fell in love with during that summer was ended by the interference of his family. But Krissy and Eli manage to find their way back to each other some three years later. They marry while still college students when they are both twenty. Their story is one of learning to live a full life despite the odds against them.

You Are My Song is the story of Melanie’s leading man in Carousel. Jamie Logan had a voice of unusual beauty and seemed destined to become a singer, but his high school sweetheart didn’t want him to sing. Their marriage ended after two years, shattering Jamie’s self-confidence. Jamie comes to realize music is vital to his life and he returns to college to study opera. With the encouragement of his teachers and his new love, Jamie finds the inner strength to pursue a most difficult path, facing both professional and personal challenges along the way.

  Books in The Carousel Trilogy -- How I Grew Up, Eli’s Heart, and You Are My Song by Susan Moore Jordan are available in paperback on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and other online bookstores. The e-books are available on Kindle. Learn more: www.susanmoorejordan.com

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Who Are These People?

One bonus to writing fiction – all the people who have become part of my life.

In order to bring my characters to life for my readers, I have to know these people, and as I write they become very real. And once the book is released, they settle comfortably into my – mind? Heart? Soul? They don’t leave. I find myself seeing something, or someone, and it brings Melanie, or Krissy, or Eli … or any of them to mind. When I hear music that I know they love, I appreciate and love it even more because of their connection to it. I listen more closely to violin music because of Laura. I appreciate folk music more because of Niall. I admire a pianist’s nuanced playing because of Eli. I hear a tenor who reminds me of Jamie.

This was not expected. I would think all authors must feel this connection to their creations; because that is what they are, a creature that has grown from our conscious and subconscious. I try to learn everything about them I can. I know Krissy and Eli like scrambled eggs and rye toast. I know the entire Logan family’s wine of choice is Malbec. In his drinking days Niall preferred Maker’s Mark, but these days he sticks with club soda with a twist of lime. Krissy makes great lasagna but not much else. Laura loves Italian food and her favorite place to eat in New York is Puglia’s. In Vienna it’s the CafĂ© Vienna. She can’t cook. Well, she can scramble eggs. Eli makes great grilled cheese sandwiches.

Eli told Krissy he wouldn’t dance at their wedding, but his friend Jackie told him that wasn’t a choice, so Eli took some lessons from the dance instructor for whose studio he played. Jamie Logan may be an international opera star, but he’s a big Johnny Cash fan and especially likes “Ring of Fire.” After all, he grew up in Tennessee. Eli dislikes musical theater. He barely tolerates opera, unless his friend Arlene Golden is performing. Or he’ll go with Krissy to hear Jamie, as long as the opera is Tosca. Krissy loves musical theater … it was part of her high school experience. But mostly, she loves to listen to Eli play Rachmaninoff.

As my characters grow into three-dimensional people, I am sometimes surprised by the choices they make. At least, that’s definitely how it seems to me. Jamie wasn’t supposed to fall in love while he was an undergraduate music student in Tennessee, and certainly not with the person he fell in love with. I had another character waiting in the wings for him when he went to graduate school, but sadly, she never made it past the outline. He needed someone in his life sooner. Eli and Krissy let me know about their choice not to have children. I had wondered about that.

Now that Jamie’s Children is nearly ready to be released, I am getting to know some new people who’ve recently invaded my consciousness. Andrew and Jacob are brothers. I met them when they were very young. If you’ve read How I Grew Up, you’ve met them as well. It’s going to be quite a story.

If you'd like to meet my characters, visit my website:
It will tell you all about my books and take you to links on Amazon.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Words About Music

Jamie’s Children is in the process of being formatted for publication. Since I self-publish through CreateSpace and am fortunate enough (or maybe unfortunate enough!) to have the skills, I do this myself. It’s a tedious and painstaking task albeit a rewarding one as I begin to see the manuscript take the form in which it will be introduced to the world. This is the part of being a self-published author which is more craft than art, though I try to make my books as visually appealing as I possibly can.

I like doing it. I re-read as I format, finding a few things (today: a quote within a quote which required single quotation marks … glad I caught that!) and changing things occasionally … a sentence which worked better by moving phrases around a bit. Trying different type faces for different elements in the book: the body type, chapter headings, section headings.

Jamie’s Children is divided into four parts. I had no dedication as yet for the book but have left a page for one, and each part begins with a separate page for the section heading. And I had a thought: why not use some thoughts on music ─ since music and musicians are once again what this story is about ─ at the beginning of the book, and prior to each section? So I’ve been looking up quotes. A lot of people have tried to express what music means to them.

I’ve used my favorite quote often: “Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music” – Sergei Rachmaninoff, my favorite composer. One many people know by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: “Music is the universal language of mankind.” I love this: “Music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.” Another genius composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

I’d enjoy hearing from people who might read this blog which quotes about music you especially appreciate! Please leave a comment in the comments section or wherever you pick up this blog post. A chance for you to write some “words and music” of your own. I’ll share these in another blog post if I get enough responses.

Jamie’s Children will be released sometime in late June. Here’s one more quote, from my character Niall Logan (one of those children the book is about):
 “It’s more than music: it’s light. It’s love. It’s life.”

Visit me at www.susanmoorejordan.com

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Three Years Later …Thoughts on Writing

“Writing Rules,” or Writing Rules?

     Every so often someone will ask me something about how I write. First of all, it’s completely hands-on, in my opinion. If you want to write, start writing. All the “how-to” books/blogs/articles/courses out there (and they are endless) don’t mean a thing until you sit yourself down and start trying to put “pen to paper,” so to speak.
     Since I started my life as a writer three years ago I’ve written and self-published three novels and a work of non-fiction, and have another novel ready to prepare for release within the next few weeks. I wrote the first book for my own satisfaction, and was hooked. How I Grew Up was published in late October 2013 … yes, I wrote it quickly, but it was a story that had been simmering for decades.
    Two more novels followed: Eli’s Heart was released about nine months later, followed by You Are My Song in January of 2015. My non-fiction book, which was really the easiest to write since I was recalling events in my life as a director of musical theater for over three decades, was released in November, 2015. “More Fog, Please”: 31 Years Directing Community and High School Musicals made its debut at the top of one of Amazon’s less cluttered categories. Imagine that! I could pretend I was a “best-selling author” for a few weeks!
     That was a serendipity: I was seeking a category I felt the book fit best, and didn’t even look at how many similar works were available on the Amazon site. An example of one of the many things I have learned over the past three years as I’ve sought to improve my craft and understand how to promote and market my books. 
     Which brings me to the title of this blog: Writing Rules, or Writing Rules? Learning more about my craft has introduced me to a maze of rules which many authors today believe need to be observed as they write. Most of these rules make sense and I’ve learned better how to spot obvious errors as I write. Point of view baffled me for a time – I wrote the first book in the first person – but I think I have a better handle on it now. Growing up in the fifties I had the benefit of an education which taught spelling, grammar, and all those good things that seem sometimes lacking today. 
     But while writing rules are helpful in better organizing our thoughts … it seems to me it might be very possible to be so concerned about following rules that we don’t remember what we’re doing is writing. Telling a story, sharing our own excitement with a reader. Looking back at my three novels to date, I see improvement in the craft with each book. But I’ve mentioned before, even though How I Grew Up was the work of a newbie author, I’m proud to present the book as I first wrote it.
     The first person voice, that of an anguished, confused girl of eighteen, rings true. I re-read part of the book recently, thinking I might make some revisions since I feel my skills have improved, and decided the story as told by the protagonist is as it should be. It’s a compelling story which I let her tell. She was eighteen … in many ways, a very young eighteen. Yes, she thinks a lot about the costumes she wears when she performs the role of Julie Jordan in Carousel. That’s what a high school senior does. I wrote the book within months after directing that same show in the spring of 2013, and the girls were excited about their costumes. About the set. About the first time they heard the orchestra.
     In Melanie’s case, a stage kiss turned into to something more, confusing and exciting her. She fell in love with her leading man. I know I’m giving away some things … but there is so much more to this story. She was dealing with a horrific tragedy which happened just before she auditioned for the show. All of this is her story, and I stayed out of her way and let her tell it.
     With each succeeding book, I became more aware of ways to improve my craft as I wrote. But I hope I never worried so much about “writing rules” that I forgot this axiom – writing, telling the story, is what should rule ─ what should be foremost. I read something to this effect not long ago, and it makes great sense to this author.
     A good friend and fellow author has been re-reading some of the classics, and she commented to me that the authors of that era didn’t seem to worry about “writing rules.” They just told great stories that we love to read. When I read a book, even by a contemporary author, I don’t read it to see whether or not they followed all the rules that are out there. I read it to become engrossed in the story, to follow the journey they take me on, to love or hate the people they introduce me to. (Oops, just broke a rule there.) To turn the final page with reluctance because they’ve captured my imagination and I don’t like to say goodbye. 
     My take on all of this? Learn the rules … but don’t be afraid to break them. First and foremost, tell the story with all the love you have for it. Art needs passion if it is to live.

Please visit my author page on Amazon:

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A Shooting in a Small Town, Part Two

Excerpt from How I Grew Up
Melanie Stewart's life was blown apart in mere moments one night in January, 1954, when her brother-in-law entered her home and shot and killed three family members. Not even two weeks later she auditioned for her high school's production of Carousel and was cast in the leading role as Julie Jordan, and went onstage only weeks later. Here's another excerpt from How I Grew Up.
     Krissy was one of my closest friends, but I didn’t think she had ever had anything really difficult to have to deal with. Her life was very much the way mine had been before my parents had been murdered. Lena had a lot of responsibility. Her life was not easy. Hearing about all the things she did for her brothers and sisters made me think there was more I should try and do for my nieces and nephews. It was like Krissy was Melanie then, and Lena was Melanie now. I was seeing myself differently; I had to, because my role in my family had changed so much.
     I talked about this with Mrs. Willis. She nodded when I mentioned Lena. “Melanie, how nice that you’ve made a new friend,” she said. I told her about Tony and the talk we had. I didn’t tell her about Jamie, though. I figured that was something better kept to myself.
     Mrs. Willis told me that everything I was dealing with was completely understandable and I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. She told me to be kind to myself and not expect too much. She told me not to be surprised if I had a lot of emotional ups and downs, especially once the play was over. She asked me how Carousel was going, and I was happy to talk with her about that.
     Having Mrs. Willis to talk to was more important to me than I realized. I could not have known how long it would take me to process all the things that had happened to me. It was still hard for me to accept that my parents would never again be part of my life. Sometimes I would be driving on the street where our house was, and almost stop the car to go into my house. For a moment I was back in the past when I had lived there with two loving parents. Then I would realize with a start that I didn’t live there anymore and drive on. I wondered when I would stop doing things like that, because it always made me feel as if there were a hole in my heart.
     Being in the show was what helped me the most, because I could be Julie Jordan for three hours. I really liked being Julie. Rehearsals were my escape.
How I Grew Up is available on Amazon, paperback and Kindle. 
Kindle edition is only $3.99. http://tinyurl.com/z475zav

Carousel, East Stroudsburg H.S. South, 2013

Sunday, May 1, 2016

A Shooting in a Small Town, Long Ago

HOW I GREW UP. From tragedy to triumph: a shooting in a small town. A courageous high school girl with a dream.  "A vivid portrait of the depth and breadth of the human spirit  and the lasting bonds which are formed within a creative community, connections that transcend time and place."

Here's a brief excerpt:


There wasn’t any reason for me to go back to school now. It was my senior year and I wouldn’t be able to be on stage for the school musical. I couldn’t hold the tears back, and Mrs. Anderson sat by me and held me and stroked my hair. I had thought things couldn’t get any worse, but they just did. I finally stood and picked up my books and the music, and she took my suitcase. I felt as if my bones were very old, and it was hard to move.
When I got back to Alice’s house I was really surprised to see Mr. Davidson there. He said all the right things, things I had already heard at least a hundred times. Then he sat down with me and said, “Melanie, we’re going to wait until next week to have auditions for the show.” I know I stared at him. I couldn’t believe what he was saying. “You’re an important part of the music program and you deserve to have the opportunity to try out. We’ve spoken to some of your friends and they agree with us. We’ve checked, and we can move the performance dates to a week later. Do you think you might feel up to singing by the end of next week?”
Would I feel up to singing? I had been in the blackest hole in the world, and suddenly Mr. Davidson had dropped down a ladder to help me try to climb out of it. He was sitting, waiting for an answer, and I knew I had to tell him something right away. If I told him no, I couldn’t sing, that would mean there was no chance I could be in the show except maybe in the ensemble. After what had happened, having a lead in the school show should have seemed minor. But it didn’t. It was something I had hoped and dreamed about for months, and now I was being offered the chance that I had just decided was gone.
I had a strong feeling suddenly that Momma was right next to me, telling me to say yes. I turned my head to look at her, but of course I couldn’t see her. But the feeling that she was there was so powerful that I said, “Yes. I’m sure I can. Thank you so much. You can’t imagine how much this means to me.” 

Kindle edition of HOW I GREW UP is only $3.99. http://tinyurl.com/j2cd6av