Society’s Blessing of Mixed Messages

Over the past few weeks, the media has reported a flurry of incidents involving men in positions of power that range from inappropriate sexual comments down to sexual assault.  The attention saw the sudden rise of the #metoo hashtag campaign became the rallying cry on social media and women from around the world shared their personal experiences of alleged sexual harassment and sexual assault at the hands of men in positions of authority.

NOTE:  Referring to the comments of others as alleged sexual harassment and sexual assault in no way impugns the reality of sexual harassment and sexual assault victims endured.  An allegation is a claim that has not been proven meaning it may or may not have happened and/or it may or may not have happened as the involved parties recall the situation from each one’s recollection of what may or may not have happened.

We have heard celebrities such as actor Richard Dreyfuss claim he was “horrified and bewildered” to find out that his behavior towards Jessica Teich “wasn’t consensual.”  We have heard celebrities such as comedian Louis C.K. claim he thought he had permission to do what he did because he “asked the women first” before proceeding.  We have heard politicians and authors and others from all walks of life admit to various levels of sexual impropriety, harassment, and assaults, and the reaction from society has been consistent:  Such behavior is unacceptable, inappropriate, and unsavory.

Have you read any articles in the media claiming that using power of authority to victimize a target is acceptable? I haven’t. Have you heard any news reports claiming that subjecting a subordinate to harassment and assault is laudable? Me neither.

And this is where society’s hypocrisy is found because in the grand scheme of things, society gives its blessing to such behavior through mixed messages.  I know, I know.  Isn’t that surprising?  Shocking, even?  Confusing, without a doubt?

I realize some reading this will disagree so providing examples is the best way to show, not tell, what I mean.  While I could have chosen any number of movies or books, I am using “A Christmas Wish II” to highlight where society’s blessings to mixed messages may be found.  For those who are unfamiliar with the movie, I am sharing the story synopsis from four different websites with regards to this specific movie.

The first three versions provide what many would consider a wholesome story line, certain to appeal to the heartstrings of those who love romance — especially romance that could possibly result in a fairy tale ending where the young woman is swept off her feet by Prince Charming and taken to live in his palace somewhere in “happily ever after” land.  The last version implies a little impropriety on the part of the billionaire.

The scene involving the mistletoe kiss, however, isn’t the tame, innocent, consensual scene you might think.

Cooper Montgomery’s on-again off-again on-again girlfriend Brittany waits in the lobby of the building where the playboy billionaire’s sister works as Editor-In-Chief of Trend Fashions magazine.  Cooper Montgomery has dropped in to speak with his sister before returning to his girlfriend in the lobby  However, on his way back down in the elevator, after others in the elevator have stepped off on their respective floors, he finds himself in the elevator alone with his sister’s assistant, Jenna Kingston.

No problem there so far.

Cooper notices the mistletoe hanging in the elevator just above him and Jenna.  Cooper looks at Jenna in a way that can only be described as a look most women would be wary of, and perhaps a bit concerned over.  Suddenly, he grabs her and plants a great, big, sloppy kiss on Jenna who initially resists before succumbing to his charms.  The elevator doors swish open when the elevator reaches the lobby, and Cooper’s girlfriend, Brittany seems them locked in this passionate embrace which is quickly broken off.

So what’s the problem?

This kiss is what is the basis for this so-called “love story” where the girl eventually winds up with Prince Charming (sorry for that spoiler).

Jenna Kingston doesn’t file a police report against Cooper Montgomery for the sexual assault in the elevator.  She doesn’t even tell her boss about it when advised by her boss that she’ll be working closely with the man who sexually accosted her in the elevator.  To her credit, she does tell her male neighbor but based on the discussion that ensues between them, neither of them feels it’s anything bad.

Message in the movie regarding unwanted sexual attention from a complete stranger:  Everyone’s good to go, and you should be so lucky as to have that happen to you someday!

Message in real life regarding unwanted sexual attention from a complete stranger:  Call the police and have that person arrested, charged, found guilty of the crime, and locked away!

If society wants to put an end to the confusion, society needs to take a unified stand against behavior it deems unacceptable and inappropriate.  It can’t say that sexual assault is abhorrent under certain situations but encouraged — even welcome — under other certain situations.  In doing so, society is placing an unfair burden on men and women to figure out when sexual assault is all right when the fact of the matter is this:  Sexual assault is never all right.

Elyse Bruce

P.S.  For those who are wondering, the story didn’t need that sexual assault in the elevator scene for the movie to work.


That Time When Sharks Attacked Those Artists

It’s 2017 and people are still shouting at people, “Watch out for sharks!  Stay out of the water!”  This is wise advice if you happen to be swimming in shark infested waters.  If you know the waters are offering refuge and sanctuary to carnivorous sea thugs, the wise thing to do is to steer clear and find a way around them.  After all, the wisest course of action is the most obvious, right?

But here’s something I’ve noticed over the years.  Some people are so focused on what they want, they fail to see the warning signs, and they put themselves at perilous risk.  They jump in with both feet and actually swim out to embrace danger.  What’s worse, when they come face-to-face with these fierce predators, the tendency is to blame everyone on shore for failing to hold them back.  It almost always ends badly for the swimmer, and occasionally ends badly for the shark.

Do you remember that time when those sharks attacked all those artists?  It was especially horrific since the sharks in question attacked landlocked artists who were unaware that, not only were these sharks predatory in nature, those sharks were too far inland to be trusted.

Some of you are undoubtedly trying to figure out the incident to which I’m referring, and really, I’m not talking of one incident.  I’m talking about the same incident that happens repeatedly albeit with slight variations each time.  I’m talking about the sharks that swim circles around naive and even gullible authors, artists, musicians, and other creative types, and at the first chance, they go in for the kill, leaving well-fed and their victims stripped to the bone.

I’ve been fortunate over the years to stay far away from sharks whether they happen to be in the waters where I happen to be vacationing or they happen to be circulating at industry parties and conferences on land.  I suppose this has a lot to do with the fact I learned about such dangers early on from watching those who failed to navigate to safer shores.  Sometimes being an observer an arm’s length away from danger is preferable to being the main course grabbing for a sliver of the limelight from someone else’s success.

Last week, as I researched an entry for my Idiomation blog, I found myself reading magazines from days gone by.  I don’t mean reading as in devouring every single article, and hanging on each and every word published between the front and back covers.  I mean I browsed the pages and remarked on the differences between magazines from the 1930s and magazines from the 2010s.  Near the back, I found a very small, easily overlooked advertisement from a business that was established in 1917.  Always interested in a good story, especially one that’s at least a century old, I screenshot the advertisement, curious as to whatever happened to those who waited patiently for eager men and women to pound down their doors with the next amazing motion picture script.

The dollar signs said it all:  Riches were ripe for the picking in Hollywood if you were a writer who hooked up with this agency.

Universal Scenario Company was really on the hunt for talent. Why, they even went as far as to advertise in Popular Science and other reputable magazines. Sometimes they were located at 214 Security Building on the corner of Santa Monica and Western Avenues in Hollywood, California. Sometimes they were located at 238 Security Building. Every once in a while they were located at 206 Western and Santa Monica Building or even 406 Western and Santa Monica Building in Hollywood, California.

These guys were everywhere, and they needed more scripts than any successful studio could ever ask to receive in this lifetime or the next. There was so much demand, one has to wonder why it is these days that Hollywood seems to be subsisting on reboots and remakes instead of delving into the many fine photoplays that were sent to Universal Scenario Company over the years in the early days of movie making. But I digress.

Universal Scenario Company was really on the hunt for talent. Why, they even went as far as to advertise in Popular Science and other reputable magazines. Sometimes they were located at 214 Security Building on the corner of Santa Monica and Western Avenues in Hollywood, California. Sometimes they were located at 238 Security Building. Every once in a while they were located at 206 Western and Santa Monica Building or even 406 Western and Santa Monica Building in Hollywood, California.

These guys were everywhere, and they needed more scripts than any successful studio could ever ask to receive in this lifetime or the next. There was so much demand, one has to wonder why it is these days that Hollywood seems to be subsisting on reboots and remakes instead of delving into the many fine photo plays that were sent to Universal Scenario Company over the years in the early days of movie making. But I digress.

The hook was more than just the money offered for original photoplay stories. They did it all for unknown authors trying to sell their first story. They revised. They copyrighted. They submitted to studios.

And because they were “located in the heart of motion picture industry” they claimed to “know production requirements.” What a sweetheart of a deal!

There isn’t much that can be learned about the Universal Scenario Company past a grat many advertisements in a great many publications but there was a lawsuit I found of particular interest. It was a lawsuit filed by Robert H. Sheets of Jackson (TN) against Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation with regards to their 1936 movie titled, “The Road To Glory.” The plaintiff claimed the studio had plagiarized his story and in making it a movie, he expected a six-digit pay-out (a considerable sum in 1934) for being the author of the story.

IMPORTANT NOTE 1:  The plaintiff’s claim was dismissed when proof was submitted to the courts that the title of the story typed in the form had been erased and typed over with the new title, “The Road To Glory.”

In his lawsuit, Robert H. Sheets claimed the following:

The plaintiff also introduced in evidence a letter, dated February 7, 1935, received by him from the Universal Scenario Company, in which he is urged to sign an enclosed application and agreement, providing for the payment of $25 in such installments as might suit the plaintiff for the publication of a synopsis and other marketing service. The printed form of agreement attached to that letter has, in the space for the title of the manuscript, the typewritten words “The Road to Glory.” The only other typewritten characters on the form are the figures “1250” to indicate the length of the synopsis to be published in the event the agreement should be signed. This is submitted by the plaintiff to corroborate his testimony that the story in controversy was in existence shortly after the time he stated that it was written by him, and that a copy of the story had been sent by him to the Universal Scenario Company. The plaintiff states that he did not execute the agreement nor make the remittance.

Mr. Sheets wasn’t signing a contract for representation where his agent was to be paid from the proceeds of the sale of his photoplay.  The payment was set up much the same way vanity presses in 2017 are set up to fleece unsuspecting authors and writers.

The point of all this is simple:  People looking to make a quick buck at the expense of others have been around for longer than any of us can probably imagine.  When something looks or sounds too good to be true, the numbers are not in your favor.  Chances are there’s something going on, especially if you’re desperate to have your voice heard.

As for what I plan on doing with all this information, I think I’ll keep scouring the Internet and old magazines and archived newspapers in search of details about the Universal Scenario Company.  For a company that did so much advertising, there isn’t that much more than just the advertising proclaiming the virtues of being involved with the company.  I wonder what became of them, and whether they were bought out or just faded away into obscurity.

Yes, a hundred years later, at least one person wonders whatever became of the Universal Scenario Company, and did they ever place any photoplays with major motion picture studios in Hollywood, California that became major hits with big stars in the roles.

Elyse Bruce

Cultural Appropriation Cuts Both Ways

Last week, the focus was on cultural appropriation and society from the perspective of the majority raiding the non-material culture of minorities.  This week, the shoe is on the other foot as cultural appropriation isn’t a one way street.

The video from “The Midnight Special” from 1974 shows Redbone performing their hit song “Come And Get Your Love.”  It was a song that climbed the charts all the way to #5, and stayed on the charts long enough to be certified Gold (it sold over half a million copies) because it was catchy and fun.  The band members were Native American Indians, and the New York Smithsonian Institution accredited the group as being the first Native American Indian rock group to have an international hit.

The song made its way back up the Billboard charts in 2014 when it was featured in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie.

The year after that, Netflix used the song as the intro theme for the cartoon series, “F is for Family.”

The song has legs obviously, with as much audience appeal forty years after its release as the day it first hit the airwaves.  But forty years later, there seems to be some cultural appropriation issues with the song.

Redbone’s song lyrics referenced Cajun and New Orleans culture but the founding brothers, Patrick and Lolly Vasquez-Vegas were a mix of Yaqui, Shoshone, and Mexican heritage.  The band was known for playing rock music, R&B, blue-eyed soul, funk, and country as well as tribal music.  There’s no denying that R&B and blue-eyed soul are definitely not from any Native American Indian culture.  And funk, rock, and country music is associated with cultures other than Indigenous cultures.

But wait a minute!  Guitars – acoustic or electric — aren’t traditional Native American Indian instruments!

The first acoustic guitar as we know it was built in 1850 by Spanish guitarist and luthier Antonio de Torres Jurado (13 June 1817 – 19 November 1892), based on a design by note Spanish guitar maker Joséf Pagés (1740 – 1822) and Spanish luthier Josef Sebastián Benedid Díaz (10 February 1760 – 20 October 1836).  The guitar had a body that was now able to hold its own with an orchestra without being lost in the other instruments.  Europeans went wild for guitars!

Electric guitars had their humble beginnings at the heart of electromagnetic induction which was discovered by English scientist Michael Faraday (22 September 1791 – 25 August 1867) on August 29, 1831.

By 1919, magazine ads began to appear, offering devices that would amplify instruments, and then came American jazz, country, and blues guitarist and songwriter Lester William Polsfuss, better known as Les Paul (9 June 1915 – 12 August 2009) and American inventor Clarence Leonidas “Leo” Fender (10 August 1909 – 21 March 1991) who created the electric guitar as we know it today.

Now Les Paul’s ancestry is German thanks to both parents, and Leo Fender’s family is American going back to his great-great-great-great-grandparents.  That being said, the generation before that was from Baden-Wuerttemberg (Germany) and Cumberland (England) and Bethnal Green, Stepney, County Middlesex (England).

The argument can be made that Redbone’s success was due in part to the cultural appropriation of guitars which are obviously part of the English, Spanish, and German cultures.

Some will argue that fiddles were instruments of the Inuit and the Apache however fiddles only appeared after Indigenous peoples had contact with Europeans so it would seem that this may be a case of cultural appropriation.  But even if it’s argued that fiddles are Indigenous instruments, they aren’t guitars, and they aren’t played the way guitars are played.  This means that guitars are definitely not Native American Indian instruments.

Since we know from last weeks’ essay that cultural appropriation happens when one culture’s dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, and more are used without permission of the culture from which it is taken, is it not fair to say that Native American Indians have also engaged in cultural appropriation?

And then there’s the Aboriginal rappers to consider.  Have they engaged in cultural appropriation?

What are your thoughts on the subject?

Elyse Bruce

The Conflict of Cultural Appropriation

Cultural appropriation is the use of elements from one culture by members of a different culture.  According to law professors and psychologists, social scientists and politicians, cultural appropriation happens when one culture’s dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, and more are used without permission of the culture from which it is taken.  It’s especially hurtful when the culture being appropriated is one that’s been exploited or oppressed by the culture doing the appropriating.

In other words, cultural appropriation promotes the power imbalance of the ruling class over those who have been historically marginalized.

There are two kinds of culture:  Material culture and non-material culture.  Non-material culture is what’s meant when speaking about cultural appropriation since non-material culture deals specifically with intangibles.  Beliefs.  Traditions.  Values.

Of course, within material and non-material cultures are other constructs such as subculture (beliefs or behaviors that are contrary to the majority of the culture’s community) and counterculture (active rejection of aspects that are dominant in the culture’s community).  For the purposes of this essay, the focus is on mainstream non-material culture.

Now psychologists will tell you that culture and the people of a culture have a symbiotic relationship.  Each culture has its unique societal norms by which to live, and members of each culture live by shared expectations and rules that guide and determine their place in that culture.  To this end, people define and refine what their culture is, and culture defines and refines its people.

These days, there’s a lot being said about cultural appropriation.  Some of it is warranted such as the outcry against sports teams using names that are offensive to Indigenous peoples in the Americas.  But is it possible to create art without any cultural appropriation?

Was it cultural appropriation when the Bangles sang about walking like an Egyptian?

Was it cultural appropriation when Carl Douglas let us know that everyone was kung fu fighting?

Was it cultural appropriation when the Vapors thought they were turning Japanese?

Was it cultural appropriation when Steven Tyler and Aerosmith announced that dude looked like a lady?

How about when Toto decided to take on the entire continent of Africa?

This is where the waters are muddy.  If those songs and other art, literature, music, and more is cultural appropriation, where do we draw the line when it comes to enjoying past creative endeavors?  If we’re told to turn our backs on pop culture that draws on other cultures to exist, is it also time to boycott the classics whether it’s literature, art, or music?

Do we turn our backs on Béla Bartók’s Romanian Dances seeing he was from Hungary and not Romania?  Is it time to refuse to attend concerts where Brahm’s “Ballade Edward” is performed because it was based on a Scottish ballad and Johannes wasn’t Scottish?  How about Beethoven’s music based on Welsh, Irish, and Scottish folk songs?  After all Ludwig was German, was he not?

How about all those musicians who aren’t English but who have recorded “Scarborough Fair” or “Greensleeves?”   Should they be forced to make reparations for daring to sing something they obviously appropriated from another culture?

Should “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “Go Tell It On The Mountain” be sung only by those of African-American heritage?  And next New Year’s Eve, should the traditional “Auld Lang Syne” only be sung only by those who can prove their Scottish ancestry?

Do we stop children and their grandparents from enjoying a rousing rendition of “Oh Dear, What Can The Matter Be?” if they haven’t an ounce of English blood anywhere in their background — or going back at least eight generations?

Where no offense is meant, is any harm done?  Some say yes while others say no.  But if we are to say harm is done, where does this leave the English language which is an amalgam of several languages?  Is it time to dismantle the language to create a language that English-language speakers can safely call their own that doesn’t steal from other languages and cultures?

There’s no easy solution, and this is why we need to speak openly about what is, and is not, harmful cultural appropriation.  Certainly there are ways to draw upon cultures that are not our own without causing insult and injury.  It begins with mutual respect, and this means both sides must be willing to hear each other out before jumping to conclusions.  What are your thoughts on the subject?

Elyse Bruce

The Double WOW Plus Factor

Last week on Arts Sunday, I wrote about the upcoming Missy Barrett Adventures book launch for “Barnstormin’” at the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport in Sevierville.  Mentioned in last week’s article were the WOW and the WOW Plus Factors.  What I didn’t mention was that I had a Double WOW Plus Factor planned for this book launch.

What Was The WOW Plus Factor?

The WOW Plus Factor was the Official Certificate from the National Air Transportation Association (N.A.T.A.) naming Missy Barrett an honorary member for 2016.   That alone impressed children and adults, and got kids talking about how they could earn a certificate as well.

What Was The Double WOW Plus Factor?

It might be difficult to imagine a second WOW Plus Factor for a children’s book launch, but this book launch had that thanks to Marc Hightower (a real person) of Sky High Air Tours (a real business) who takes Missy and her grandpa for a ride in his 1927 Waco Straight wing biplane.

With the help of Marc and my book launch assistant, fellow author Thomas D. Taylor, I had a surprise in place that (if all went according to plan) would blow away the kids as well as the adults.

What Was The Surprise?

In the story, when Missy first meets Marc, he makes an unforgettable impression on her.  I wanted everyone at the book launch to have a similar moment to take away with them.

The Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport is a general aviation airport so pulling this off required precise split-second timing on everyone’s part.  While Marc awaited the cellphone call as he sat in his biplane, Thomas waited for the exact point in the book reading where he would give Marc the signal to begin his approach to the doors into the terminal.

Six pages into the book, one of the children noticed the biplane moving towards the terminal.  It wasn’t long before children were excitedly whispering about the biplane that was approaching.  All of them shared a special secret, and they were certain that I had no idea what was going on because my back was to the window looking out on the tarmac.

The Double WOW Plus Factor!

Then I read this paragraph in the story:

That’s when she saw him — the pilot from straight out of the movies, and he was walking towards Missy and her grandfather.  He had on a leather jacket and a silk scarf, just as she hoped he would, and in one hand, he had a leather cap and goggles. 

As I read those words, Marc strolled into through the double doors and into the lounge area where the book launch was taking place … wearing a leather jacket and a silk scarf, and in one hand, he had a leather cap and goggles.

The Impact

I’m sure you can imagine the punch that Double WOW Plus Factor packed!  Undoubtedly, this was instantly the most favorite part of the book launch as far as the kids were concerned, and it’s a given that they were going to talk about this exact moment at school the next day.

In that careful planning, each kid had experienced a moment that was identical to the moment Missy Barrett experienced in the book when she first saw Marc Hightower.

Final Note

Not every book launch or book signing can have a Double WOW Plus Factor but when the opportunity presents itself, take advantage of it.   Those opportunities are few and far between without a doubt.  That being said, choreographing it down to the last detail will leave a lasting impression with your audience.  It could even prove to be a pivotal moment in time for some.

In the end, what you want is for your event to be memorable in the best way possible.  It will definitely require a great deal of time and effort, but in the end, it will be worth everything you invested.

Elyse Bruce

Countdown To Launch

This weekend, I’m putting the finishing touches to the upcoming Missy Barrett Adventures book launch, and while the process has been labor intensive, the event is going to be well worth the time and effort.

The Venue

Ask ten authors where book launches should take place, and most of them will insist on either a book store or a library.  Now, there’s nothing wrong with having a book launch at either of those locations so please don’t misunderstand me when I say that an author shouldn’t feel constrained to just a book store or a library.  I’m saying that thinking outside the box and going with some place other than a book store or library is also the correct answer to that question.

Missy Barrett’s most recent adventure is titled, “Barnstormin‘” so it’s fitting to have the book launch at the local airport.  Thanks to Emily Haun and her staff at the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport, the venue is going to be awesome including the Airplane Viewing Lounge where kids will be able to look out onto the runway where planes land and take off.

The WOW Factor

Everyone likes to think they have the WOW Factor nailed down for their book launch.  Some do, and some don’t.  Take some time to ask yourself, “What would my fans love to find at this book launch that ties in with the book’s theme?”  When you answer that question, you have your WOW factor figured out.

With “Barnstormin’” the WOW factor is the Book of Letters.  In the Book of Letters, various real life aviation industry people sent Missy Barrett a letter to welcome her to the world of aviation.  The Book of Letters has some interesting letters in it from airlines and aircraft manufacturers, pilots and aviation colleges, and more.

The WOW Plus Factor

Not every book launch can have a WOW Plus Factor but when you have a book launch with a Wow Plus Factor, the event becomes truly memorable for attendees.  This book launch has an amazing WOW Plus Factor:  Missy Barrett has been made an honorary National Air Transportation Association member by N.A.T.A. (complete with an Official Certificate) and I can’t begin to imagine a bigger WOW Plus Factor than this!

Goodie Bags

Every great party has goodie bags, and this party is no different.   Because Missy Barrett is a fictional 9-year-old and because her fan base is primarily young readers, the goodie bags are age appropriate and Missy Barrett themed.  Because Missy believes that anything can be an adventure if you make up your mind for it to be an adventure, and because Missy understands that every dream come true starts with a good plan and loads of imagination, the items found in the goodie bag support this idea.

The goodie bags for this event have neat items in them from Envoy Airlines, the Hard Rock Café – Pigeon Forge, NATA (National Air Transporation Association), Preferred Pharmacy, the Tennessee State Bank, Western Michigan University: College of Aviation, and WonderWorks – Pigeon Forge.

Door Prizes

And what’s a great party without door prizes?  While the goodie bags have to do with imagination and plans, the door prizes have to do with some of the places the story takes Missy Barrett, her grandfather, and biplane pilot, Marc Hightower (a real life pilot who really fly a biplane).

The door prizes are from the Comedy Barn, the Hard Rock Café – Pigeon Forge, Thomas D. Taylor, Shear Madness Beauty and Beyond, Smith Family Morning Variety Show, Smoky Mountain Opry, the Tennessee State Bank, and WonderWorks – Pigeon Forge.

Online Fun

It’s amazing how many authors forget the importance of having fun, especially on social media, when it comes to getting the word out about a book launch.  Missy Barrett has her own social media (even though she’s a fictional character) and rather than blasting out the same message about the upcoming book launch every day, I made the character approach the event the way any child her age would.

She tweeted airlines about her adventure.  One airline tweeted back using the hashtag #PossibleFuturePilot, which was incorporated in a number of Missy’s tweets.  Four airlines carried on abbreviated but humorous exchanges with Missy on Twitter.  It wasn’t long before others joined in on the fun.

Over on Facebook, Missy Barrett started an event page from her Fan Page, and on the event page as well as on her Fan Page, she shared updates and breaking news (she even has her own MBBN — Missy Barrett Breaking News — logo to go with her breaking news reports).

She had regular updates on her website.   In other words, the book launch fun began with the lead up to next Tuesday’s event.  Even if online fans and followers live too far away to attend the event, they were kept in the loop, and the comments, likes, status reactions, and more added to the excitement.

Behind The Scenes

As with every event, there are people behind the scenes lending a hand where they can, and in this case, I had (and continue to have) some fantastic help.  Thanks to David Stanfill, Phil Word, and Carroll McMahan of the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce as well as author Thomas D. Taylor.

Final Note

This takes me to the reason of why I do what I do, especially when it comes to putting together book launches.  You see, were it not for the people who read the books I write, there’s no reason for putting all this time and effort into orchestrating these events.  So the thank you that many authors forget to say is to the fans who buy and read the books.  They’re the reason the books are written, and they’re the reason the book launches are so much fun.

Whether you’re an author (aspiring or published) or you have one of my books (long-time fan or first time reader), book launches are meant to be a celebration.  I’m looking forward to having as much fun as possible on Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. at the local airport with a lot of kids and their parents or chaperones.  But between now and Tuesday, I still have 50 goodie bags to finish putting together.

Elyse Bruce

5 Book Review Facts

For those of you who follow authors on social media, you oftentimes see them writing about the importance of posted book reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.  While it may seem a mystery to those who read books but don’t write any themselves, the situation really isn’t as complicated as some perceive it to be.

Only verified readers can post reviews

Fact:  You don’t have to buy the book from Amazon to leave a book review on Amazon or Goodreads.  All that’s needed is for the reviewer to have read the book and felt compelled to leave a review regardless of whether it’s a one-star review or a five-star review or any star review between the two.

Reviews get deleted on Amazon

Fact:  Sometimes a review is deleted when it’s either not an actual review of the book or if it’s determined that the review is a paid review.  As long as the review doesn’t fall into either of those two categories, the review will stand.

Reviews need to be perfect

Fact:  Spelling and grammar aren’t prerequisites for reviewing a book.  They are prerequisites for being an author or writer.  But reviewers aren’t taken to task for making spelling mistakes or for using incorrect grammar.

Reviews have to be long and detailed

Fact:  A review has to be a review.  It can be as long or as short as the reviewer wants it to be.  Again, it all goes back to the basics:  Have you read the book?  Is this your honest opinion of the book?

The impact of reviews

Fact:  Amazon, like Facebook, relies on algorithms to determine what rises in the ranks.  The more reviews a book has, the higher the book will be in the ranks.  Fifty reviews for a book guarantees a lot of exposure.  Fewer than fifty reviews relegates the book to the pack when it comes to exposure.

Final Note

Whether there are fifty reviews or two reviews or two million reviews is a matter of business. What authors really want is feedback from readers about how their book was received.

Honest reviews help authors to hone their storytelling talents.  Honest reviews let authors know where they’ve gone right and where they’ve gone wrong.  Honest reviews result in more high quality stories being offered to fans and followers.

And lastly, authors appreciate honest reviews regardless of how many (or few) stars reviews bring with them.  Why?  Because authors appreciate readers, and your reviews are one of many ways readers show their appreciation for what authors do.

Elyse Bruce

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