Books by Friends: Countenance, by Joy Ross Davis

One of the pitfalls (for me), of being a successful writer has been the diminished time I’ve spent reading. It surely isn’t for lack of desire because I love to read. It isn’t even so much a lack of time, either, because I believe you can always find time for things you really want to do. My problem seems to be physical, related to spending so many hours at a screen, putting together stories. There are days when I close my eyes and literally see words running across my vision like statistics on a ticker tape.

Vision problems aside, I want to read more than I have been, and I want many of those books to be the ones written by my writer friends. I have quite a stash.

Today, I post about Countenance, by Joy Ross Davis. This is her debut novel, published earlier this year by Ecanus Publishing. Joy refers to her book as “paranormal”, but these days, that genre conjures up images of vampires, werewolves and zombies, all of them so overdone that the majority the reading public is exhausted by it. I think the content of this book can more aptly be described as “supernatural”.

While I thoroughly enjoyed Countenance and found it well-written, I want to be honest and say it is not a quick, easy read. The story is unique and intriguing, drawing the reader in after a few pages. There are some terrifying moments between the covers of this book. Souls trapped in an old inn, strange comings and goings, and flashes into other times can confuse a reader who is easily distracted or not fully engaged in the story. So I recommend you read this book when you have some quiet reading time; you don’t want to miss out on the details that enrich this story.

Here is a video trailer for Countenance:

The author and I shared some conversation recently, and I now share with you a few tidbits on how this story came to be:

  • Where did the idea for Countenance originate?
    • The idea came from a voice I heard while standing on my porch one night. It said, “Countenance.” From there, the story ideas took hold and by the next morning, I knew all of the characters.
  • Why this story?
    • Countenance came at a time when I needed relief from the grief of losing my mother. It kept me sane and occupied, and the story blends all the elements of my family and experiences.
  •  How long did it take you to write it?
    • I wrote it in eight months then spent another four months with an editor to revise and polish it.
  • Do you believe in angels and demons (bright spirits and dark spirits) and were you taught to believe as a child?
    • I do most certainly believe in angels and demons, but I was not taught that as a child. I was discouraged in those beliefs, but when I was six, I had an experience that cemented my belief in angels.
  •  Do you believe you’ve ever had encounters with either side?
    • Oh, most certainly. I believe that when I was a child, an angel saved me from a deadly lightning strike. Lightning struck at my feet just as an angel appeared and told me to run. I ran and suffered only minor blisters from the strike. When I looked back, the angel was gone, but the ground where I had been standing was completely charred.
  •  I know you told me some people refuse to read Countenance because of its supernatural theme. What do you say to those who think your story is “of the devil”?
    • This sort of makes me laugh. I know that some people choose what to read based on their beliefs, and of course, that is their right. But I would say to everyone that Countenance is a work of fiction. It is not intended for any purpose other than to entertain…and possibly uplift. I really don’t believe that a work of fiction can test anyone’s faith.
  • What’s next?Next on the agenda is finishing the sequel, which takes place in Ireland.
    • My original idea was that Countenance would be three books: one in Tennessee, one in Ireland, and the last in Tennessee. But, that vision has changed a bit. I still see it as three books, but there will be more blending of the characters and places. The major characters from the first book will remain in all three books with a deeper look into the family history and a few extra ghosts and angels sprinkled throughout!

Thank you, Joy, for taking a few minutes to let us know a bit about the background of your story. Good luck with the sequels!

You may visit the author’s website: JoyRossDavis.com Or follow her on Facebook: Joy Ross Davis as Angelwriter I encourage you to pick up a copy for yourself or if you prefer, download to your e-reader.

 

 

 

Reviewing the Reviews

Reviews.

Oh how we love the good ones! We read them repeatedly. We share them on Facebook; we link them on Twitter. We post them on our blog sites. We read them aloud to our families. Sometimes we print them out.joy

Oh how the bad ones can bring us low! We read them repeatedly. We share snippets of them on Facebook with trusted friends, but we don’t dare link them on Twitter or our blog sites. We cry about them to our families. We wake up in the middle of the night with those unkind words haunting us, causing us to doubt our dream and our calling.despair-and-alone

I don’t care who you are and where you are in your writer’s journey, the good reviews give you a high and the bad reviews bring you low. We are human. Our reactions are normal, natural and expected.

I hear/read from several authors who exhort, “Don’t ever read reviews!”

Oh, please. That’s like saying, “Don’t look in the mirror.”

Do look in the mirror, because you might need to comb your hair or wipe mustard off your chin. Do read reviews, because you might find a comment that actually causes you to craft a better book next time.

What the self-proclaimed but unwise advise-givers should say is, “Don’t obsess over reviews.”

Realize what each reviewer offers, good or bad, is merely opinion. Consider those opinions with an open mind. If you have twenty reviews and eighteen of them say something like, “Too many characters made this story confusing” you should certainly think about why you populated the story so heavily. Maybe in your next book, you can consolidate minor roles into fewer characters. If out of those twenty reviews, seventeen of them say something like, “The cast of characters in this book helped to create a compelling, entertaining story” then you probably hit the right balance. Strive to continue doing that. My point here is this, if more than two or three reviewers point to the same area with basically the same comments, chances are good that area needs work.

Ignore these statements: “This is absolutely the best story ever written!! Not one word should be changed! I loved it from the beginning to end!!!! This author is pure genius!!” The person who wrote this adulation is probably your mother, sister, cousin, or best friend. SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA As much as you love these people, their reviews can’t be trusted as Absolute Truth, so appreciate and enjoy their praise, but don’t let it go to your head.

Also ignore these kinds of proclamations: “I hated this book. I absolutely detest Western romances set on an Idaho potato farm. I will never in my life ever buy another book by the author of Spuds and Love Near Boise. If I could give this book minus 5-stars, I would.” This is not a review. This is merely someone’s taste in books. And as funny as it seems here, I’ve read “reviews” like it. Books should not be reviewed on the merit of personal taste in reading material. If someone dislikes zombie detectives, he should never read books about undead private investigators. And he certainly should never, ever write reviews about those books.

I’ve noticed there are some reviewers who don’t like anything. I don’t know why they spend time reading because they obviously hate every book that comes into their hands. burn books If you look at their other reviews and notice this trend, roll your eyes at their ignorance and obvious lack of class, then get back to writing.

Another thing. If you have nothing but 5-star reviews, it looks like the only ones who read your stories are your family and best friends. Nothing but glowing, positive reviews are huge red flags to discerning readers. You don’t have to like or even desire 1-, 2- or 3-star reviews, but they are a sign your book is getting into the hands of the reading public, and we all want that. Chances are, for everyone who posts something negative, there is someone else who enjoyed your story and did not bother to post anything.

Reviews are not fatal. The negative ones just make you feel that way sometimes. And, please understand that the glowing ones do not mean you are God’s gift to the literary world, so try to keep a level head on your shoulders. bighead There is always someone whose books are better than yours.

That thought should keep you well-grounded and humble and still able to move forward in your writing career.