Monthly Archives: May 2014
Now that my first book, Chaysing Dreams, has been out for about nine months, I’ve slowly been learning some tough lessons.
So you write your so-called “masterpiece” and think that it’s going to be an instant best seller. You think people all over the world will somehow know that you just released this novel—the one you put your blood, sweat, and tears into—and immediately buy it because they can’t wait to read your book.
And then, the reality hits. Yeah, aside from a few close family members and friends, nobody knows who you are and couldn’t care less about your “masterpiece.”
Overall, I’ve been lucky. I’m slowly building fans, and I’ve got some pretty cool reviews. I’ve even had a fan send a fan-made trailer for Chaysing Dreams! Now that’s exciting!
As an author, I can tell you that reviews are so important. Really, the reviews are what get your book noticed. So if you read a book, please do that author a favor and leave a review (even if it’s a brief one). Trust me, every review matters.
Again, I’ve been lucky on this as well. Majority of the reviews have been five star reviews. I can’t even describe the ecstatic emotions when you receive these reviews.
But of course, I’ve also received a couple of low star reviews as well. When I say a couple, I literally mean two. The emotions you go through when you read these reviews is quite funny. It goes something like this: “Wait, did I see this right? Maybe they’re confused with another book. Did they even read the book? How did they not understand what the story is trying to convey? They must be young and immature.” Then, when you accept that somebody really didn’t like your book, your thoughts shift to the following: “Maybe the stories are not as good as I thought. Maybe I’m a terrible writer. I hate this–this just doesn’t feel good- I’m just not going to write any more books. I don’t need this negativity in my life.”
Finally, when acceptance sinks in, you are a bit more rational about the whole thing.
Here’s the bottom line: Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. As hard as it may be to believe, NOT EVERYBODY IS GOING TO LIKE YOUR BOOK. I mean we’re all different individuals, with different tastes. I know it’s a shocker, but that’s the reality.
I’ve decided that perhaps I can learn from these reviews. I’m still growing as a writer. I’m no way near where I need to be- so hopefully, I can utilize some of the criticism to my advantage. If I can’t use anything from it, I’ve learned to shrug it off. Life goes on.
If you’re a reader, thank you so much for your support. It’s the readers that keep the authors motivated to keep writing, so please don’t forget those reviews.
If you’re an author, do yourself a favor. Go ahead and pat yourself on the back for writing your “masterpiece.” Be proud because it takes a lot for not only writing it, but also putting it out there for the whole world to scrutinize.
Hold your head up high, grow some tough skin, and yell, “Are you ready for my masterpiece?”
Remember, at the end of the day, your “masterpiece” is your baby, and nobody can take that away from you.
J.J. (James) DiBenedetto was born in Yonkers, New York. He attended Case Western Reserve University, where as his classmates can attest, he was a complete nerd. Very little has changed since then.
He currently lives in Arlington, Virginia with his beautiful wife and their cat (who has thoroughly trained them both). When he’s not writing, James works in the direct marketing field, enjoys the opera, photography and the New York Giants, among other interests.
The “Dreams” series is James’ first published work.
About the Dream Series
What if you could see everyone else’s dreams? That’s the question Sara has to wrestle with in the Dream Series. We first meet her as a shy, bookish college student who doesn’t think there’s anything extraordinary about herself. And then the dreams start…
Over the course of the series, Sara learns to live with these supernatural dreams and all the trouble they plunge her into. At the same time, she grows from a student to a practicing doctor; and from a single girl to a wife and mother. But every time she thinks she’s got everything figured out, life – and her extraordinary dreams – teach her that she’s always got more to learn…
Social Media Links:
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Dream Student (Book 1)
Dream Doctor (Book 2)
Dream Child (Book 3)
Dream Family (Book 4)
Waking Dream (Book 5)
Dream Reunion (Book 6)
A Box of Dreams (Books 1-5 in one Box Set)
Blurb for Dream Home (book 7 in the Dream Series)
“Oh, my God, I’m not even starting the job for four months! How can I have an enemy already?”
Sara thought she had found the perfect job, the perfect new house and the perfect place to build a bright future for herself and her family.
But her new life is not quite perfect. Her husband and her children are fitting right in, but before Sara even shows up for her first day of work, her coworkers are dreaming about getting rid of her.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the one friend she’s made is dreaming nightly about a disaster that could wipe out the entire town…and Sara is beginning to think he might be right…
Dream Home is the exciting seventh book in the Dream Series.
Blurbs for the previous books in the series
Dream Student (Book 1)
What would you do if you could see other people’s dreams? If you could watch their hidden fantasies and uncover their deepest, darkest secrets…without them ever knowing?
Sara Barnes is about to find out. She thought that all she had to worry about was final exams, Christmas shopping and deciding whether she likes the cute freshman in the next dorm who’s got a crush on her.
But when she starts seeing dreams that aren’t hers, she learns more than she ever wanted to know about her friends, her classmates…and a strange, terrifying man whose dreams could get Sara killed.
“Dream Student” is the thrilling first installment of the Dreams series.
Dream Doctor (Book 2)
“I didn’t expect to be woken up by someone I don’t know dreaming about killing somebody. I thought I was done with that once and for all…”
But Sara’s not done with it. As if adjusting to life as a newlywed and starting medical school weren’t difficult enough, she’s started seeing the dreams of everyone around her, again. Before everything is said and done, those dreams might destroy Sara’s hopes of becoming a doctor, wreck her marriage and even end her life…
“Dream Doctor” is the thrilling second novel in the Dreams series.
Dream Child (Book 3)
“I would give anything to take this away from her. I would gladly go back to having the nightmares myself – the very worst ones, the ones that had me waking up screaming in a pool of my own vomit – rather than see Lizzie go through this…”
As a resident at Children’s Hospital, Sara can handle ninety hour workweeks, fighting to save her young patients from deadly childhood diseases. But she’s about to be faced with a challenge that all her training and experience haven’t prepared her for: her four-year-old daughter has inherited her ability to see other people’s dreams…
“Dream Child” is the suspenseful third novel in the “Dreams” series.
Dream Family (Book 4)
“Why is this so hard for me? Why am I having so much trouble? Why do I feel so helpless, so hopeless? What the hell is wrong with me?”
After tangling with murders and mobsters, not to mention medical school and three years of residency, Sara thought she could handle anything. And then the police show up without warning at her new office and arrest her for a crime she can’t possibly have committed. Sara’s confidence, and her grip on reality, is shattered during one terrifying night in jail.
Now, the very dreams that have endangered her life and driven her to the edge of madness may be the only thing that can help Sara find herself again…
“Dream Family” is the powerful fourth novel in the “Dreams” series.
Waking Dream (Book 5)
“Oh, God! We can hurt each other. Whatever we do to each other in the dream, we’ll do it to ourselves for real…”
When her own dreams are visited by a mysterious woman in a red dress, Sara realizes she has something she never expected: a counterpart, someone outside her family who shares her talent to see other people’s dreams.
When the woman in red keeps showing up in other dreams as well, leaving ruined lives in her wake, Sara knows she has something she never imagined: a nemesis.
Now, Sara must track the woman in red down in the waking world, before she’s forced to fight for her life in her dreams…
“Waking Dream” is the exciting fifth novel in the “Dreams” series.
Dream Reunion (Book 6)
“I wish someone – my mother, my husband, anybody – would really let me have it, instead of telling me everything’s not my fault when it obviously is…”
Sara’s seen the cost of interfering in other people’s dreams firsthand; it’s measured in ruined lives and cemetery plots.
When her supernatural dreams start up again, Sara is faced with problem after problem. And the only solution she can see is the one she’s sworn never to attempt – changing the minds of the dreamers from the inside-out.
Sara thought that fighting against serial killers, mobsters and crooked politicians was difficult, but she’s about to come up against the most difficult foe she’s ever faced: her own conscience.
Dream Reunion is the emotional sixth book in the Dream Series.
A Box of Dreams (Books 1-5 collected into one Kindle Box Set)
What if you could see everyone else’s dreams?
Sara Barnes has just discovered that she can. And this gift – or curse – will lead her on an extraordinary journey.
Follow Sara as her newfound ability leads her into adventures she never imagined. She will hunt down a serial killer, investigate a plot to murder one of her teachers, unravel a conspiracy between a mobster and a corrupt politician and face off against her nemesis: a woman who shares her talent, but uses it to destroy lives rather than save them. And Sara will have to manage all that while finishing college, becoming a doctor and falling in love, too.
Here are the first five books of the Dream Series, along with bonus material created especially for this collection. Included in this set are DREAM STUDENT, DREAM DOCTOR, DREAM CHILD, DREAM FAMILY and WAKING DREAM. In addition, you’ll find the short story BETTY & HOWARD’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE starring Sara’s parents. But most of all, when you open this box of dreams, you’ll find romance, suspense, humor and plenty of heart…
And here’s the excerpt from Dream Home:
Sara is in the small conference room on the first floor of the hospital, and she’s watching herself. There she is, sitting at the head of the table, with perfectly manicured nails and makeup that looks as though it’s been applied with a trowel.
Before she turns to see Dr. Bates at the other end of the table, hands shaking, sweating profusely, she knows this is his dream. Sara watches her dream-self lazily wave a hand at Megan, the HR Manager. “Go ahead,” the dream-Sara says.
Megan begins firing questions at poor Dr. Bates. They start with the personal, and get more intrusive as the interrogation goes on. At first, Dr. Bates refuses to answer, but Megan presses on mercilessly. “Do you want this job or don’t you? We need to know these things in order to make an informed decision about you.”
God, he hates me even more than Ithought, Sara realizes as she watches Dr. Bates’ resolve break down. She decides that she doesn’t want to see any more; she definitely doesn’t want to hear him answer any of the horribly intimate questions that are being put to him. Sara heads for the door, pulls it open…
…and finds herself in Grace’s bedroom. Except there are some differences. The poster of Orlando Bloom is gone. In its place is a large photo of their adopted West Point cadet, Will Harper, in full dress uniform, smiling down on Grace.
Grace herself is stretched out on her bed, pen in hand, writing a letter. Sara stands over her daughter and, hating herself for doing it, peers down to see what Grace has to say. She is utterly unsurprised to see that it’s a letter to Will. She knows Grace has a powerful crush on the boy.
He is a boy, Sara thinks. Eighteen is still a boy, no matter what anyone says. After all, I was still a girl when I met Brian, even though I was twenty-one. From her words, Grace considers herself to be a woman at not-quite fourteen. Her letter begs Will to dump his girlfriend, who can’t possibly appreciate him the way he deserves. If she did, Grace argues, she’d be here in New York, close to him.
Grace urges Will to be patient. “Wait for me! It’s not so long. When you graduate, I’ll be nearly eighteen. Wherever the Army sends you, I’ll go with you. And don’t worry about me missing my senior year of high school. I can finish school wherever we go. It’s only three years. Wait for me, Will Harper. Wait for me.”
For a moment, Sara is alarmed, but she forces herself to remain calm, to think about this reasonably. Grace isn’t planning to run away with him; she’s just fantasizing. Sara remembers that she had fantasies, too, as a teenage girl. Maybe not until she was sixteen, but when they came, they were every bit as overblown and ridiculous as Grace’s is. And then she begins to shudder at the thought – even now, almost twenty years later – of her mother stepping into her dreams, seeing her secret fantasies…
When I think of a “mother,” I think of the book, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I remember reading this story for the first time as an adult to my daughter when she was probably around four years old. Not even halfway through the book, I started crying like a baby. The funny thing is that my poor daughter started crying for the “tree” also. The more I kept trying to read, the harder we both sobbed. And I will always remember sharing this moment with my daughter.
Ok, I know to many of you, this may sound crazy, but the story of The Giving Tree truly touched my heart. Basically, the boy in the story keeps going to the tree and takes from the tree whatever he can at different stages of his life. By the end of the story, the tree is nothing more than a stump on the ground since she had given every bit of her to the boy throughout his life.
So why do I bring up this story? The tree symbolizes a “mother.” I’ve been fortunate enough to not only experience being a daughter, but also being a mother. Although nobody gave us the rules on how to be a perfect mom, I know that like that tree, a mother would give up anything and everything for her child.
My mom was always the “giver.” Until this day, she continues to give to her children and her grandchildren. She’ll cook us delicious Indian meals, listen to our problems, go for walks with her grandchildren, buy gifts for her family- the list is endless. If one of us is hurting, she’s hurting. If we’re happy, she’s happy. It’s quite remarkable how a mother’s intuitions work.
Many of you may be mothers yourselves. I’m sure you can relate that nothing replaces the love you feel for your children. My babies (9 year old, 16 year old, and 18 year old) are my whole world. Yes they’re much older now, but they’ll always be my babies. And I can honestly say that I would die for them.
So today, I want you to go tell your “giving tree” how much you love her and how much you appreciate her for all the sacrifices she has made for you.
And I salute all you wonderful mothers out there. You guys make this world go round. Happy Mother’s Day!
I have a very special guest today! Please welcome Errika Lee, the author of Kingdom of Dala.
Errika Lee is a registered nurse dedicated to spreading positive messages of esoteric truth through various routes, her favorite being those that allow her to make use of her creativity. The Kingdom of Dala is her debut novel and marks the beginning of her story-writing ventures. Devoted to her spiritual studies, Errika intends to publish a sequel to The Kingdom of Dala shortly after the first book’s release in hopes of realizing a powerful message.
- Briefly tell us about the book(s) you have published. The Kingdom of Dala is a story that demystifies many of the elusive mysteries of this world that have for so long been unspoken about by the masses. These truths are creatively broken down within a “fantasy story” from the narrative perspective of the main character, Tessa, a senior in high school that embarks on a journey to find answers through the use of the practice of meditation. Within meditation, she mind travels to another reality of The Kingdom of Dala; where the adventure begins.
- What motivated you to write your book(s)? The desire to share ancient spiritual knowledge is my motivation to write fictional stories. The basis of this Gnosis story was to share various principles of ancient mysticism and other systems of spirituality within a captivating story. When I first began this story I thought to myself: how can I get people, specifically young adults, interested in ancient spirituality? The answer was my debut novel, The Kingdom of Dala. I have much more creative juices screaming to reach my computer scream. Much more to come.
- What do you think your book(s) offer to your readers? The book offers a compelling story with various principles of ancient mysticism spoken throughout the texts. It offers love, friendship, spirituality, creativity and an animated reality within The Kingdom of Dala. Most people love the book for its ability to capture the minds as if being vacuumed into another reality.
- Who is your favorite character from your book (s)? Why? My favorite character in the book is Tye. He is one of the two guys that share a love interest in the main character, Tessa. Tye is a knowledgeable mystic with a powerful presence. His love is true but will Tessa choose his qualities or the attraction of Jade, the other guy who shares an attraction to Tessa?
- Do you prefer pen/paper or the computer when you write? I prefer a computer. It saves time. Plus, my daughter relates my computer to mommy getting work done. I’m more likely to get work done when on my computer.
- What type of advice would you give other indie authors? Never stop writing! I learned this process through test and trial. As a registered nurse I didn’t major in English, Journalism or anything that exemplifies the ability to tell a story with unique or practical situations to create a well-paced story. Instead, I learned through going through the writing process, which took constant development of my own skills. Everyday I’m learning something new through my constant repetition of writing. So again, never stop writing.
- What do you like to do when you’re not writing? When I’m not writing I’m dancing with my six year old daughter, spending time at various Southern California beaches or studying books on various spirituality systems.
- Tell us something interesting about you that your readers may not know. Writing this book wasn’t difficult because I relate to one of these characters. Many people who read this story may view this book as being a fictional story, but others (you know if this is you) may identify with these “mystical” experiences as reality. Fact or fiction, you decide?
- Finally, if you could say something to your readers, what would it be? Thank you! Much gratitude for your time spent reading my work. One of the most fulfilling emotions is gratitude. With each review that I encounter, my heart experiences this great emotion.
On a quest to discover hidden spiritual truths, Tessa finds herself accessing the Kingdom of Dala after finally taking up the daily meditation practice her parents had recommended for so long. It’s in Dala that Tessa learns the mysteries of the world, including the continuous battle between the light and dark forces, extraterrestrial creatures, spiritual awakenings, energetic realms, and the truth of her very own existence.
With the combination of a newly kindled romance, betrayals, dark agents that chase her, and the preparation for the battle of all battles to come on Earth, Tessa finds herself buckling her seatbelt as her path to discovering truth will reveal the light in the secrecy of lies.
The Kingdom of Dala is a tale that will bring you face-to-face with the truth of reality. Get ready to experience the journey of your life.
Thank you very much for being with us today. I’ve personally read your book, and it’s very interesting- looking forward to the sequel. We wish you all the best in your literary career.