Sergei Kourdakov, a former KGB agent and Soviet naval intelligence officer, defected from the USSR at the age of twenty. A year later we met at my Federal Government office in Washington DC. We were watched and followed. “Even you could be spy,” Sergei whispered. My book, A Rose for Sergei, is the true story of our time together.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Ax Murderers' Luncheon

You can keep reading this post.  It’s not what you think.  When I published A Rose for Sergei a few years ago I wasn’t as involved in social media as I needed to be.  I quickly learned that when you self-publish a book everything changes…social media is a necessity.  I began blogging about my book so readers could find me—as an individual and an author.  Other forms of social media soon followed.

Setting up an author page on Goodreads turned out to be a great way to connect with readers and other authors.  I quickly joined a group on that site which provided support for Indie Authors.  My friend and fellow author described what transpired from that chance introduction.

* * *

From Brynne Asher’s Facebook page:

“I've told the story how I was a big fat chicken after writing my first book and it took me forever to get up the nerve to push publish, right?  Well, then it took me even longer to get up the nerve to be social on Goodreads.  I'm not a shy person, but I tend to be a bit social media shy.  Weird, I know.

I joined an Indie author group, thinking it would be the cure of my shyness.  I introduced myself on the thread and the next author to introduce herself was also from Northern Virginia.  We messaged a couple times back and forth.

At this point, I'm giving myself a pat on the back for not being shy and meeting new people, lalala.

Yay me.

Then her next message came through, "We should meet for lunch."

What??  But she could be an ax murderer.  Or a creepy guy who drove a white van with no windows.  Or a freaky-freaky-fan-stalker posing as an author who really wanted to cut off my thumb to keep forever because she loved my book so much and she wanted the digit off my hand that created every space between my eloquently thought out words (not really, it's not like I wrote Harry Potter).

But still, you get me.

So I went to the hubs.  He carries a badge and wields a gun to feed us and support my bargain shopping habit.  I exclaimed, "There's an ax murderer after me!"

The hubs, who's as un-dramatic as I am dramatic, said, "You should meet her for lunch.  It's a public place, what can happen?"

I asked if he would do surveillance, to make sure I was okay.

He said unless I was having lunch across from the Pentagon, then no.  But even if I was, the answer was still no.

So, I loaded my purse up with pepper spray (not really, but that would be funny now if I had) and went to lunch.  I'm so glad I did.  She was not an ax murderer and that day I made a friend for life.  Her name is K. Kidd, she's an extraordinary person who experienced a heartbreaking and incredible love story at a very young age.  Still, after many long lunches sitting across from her laughing, talking about books and everything else under the sun, I cannot believe she experienced what she did.

Her [book] is…worth the read because it's REAL.  It involves falling in love with a defected KGB agent in the early 1970's, Russia and the Cold War.  Her book even had to be approved by the Department of Defense before she could publish.  It reads like fiction and I loved it.”—Brynne Asher, Author of The Carpino Series

* * *

My family also expressed concerns about me meeting a stranger for lunch.  I didn’t even know what Brynne looked like because she uses a photo of her book for her profile picture.  “She” could have turned out to be a “He” who might be a stalker and/or ax murderer.  She was neither of those, and is in fact a very talented and popular writer of Women’s Contemporary Fiction/Romance.

Our last ax murderers’ luncheon took place last week as Brynne Asher and her family prepare for a cross-country move.  Through our shared experiences we are truly friends for life.  That will not change with distance.  As I’ve said before…people come into your life for a reason.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Writing Book Reviews | A Rose for Sergei

Book reviews!  We love to read them before we purchase a book, but we don’t always like to write them.  I admit I was guilty of the same thing, I didn’t write reviews…that is until I wrote my first book.  Now I post a review online even if it’s only a few sentences.  I guarantee you the author will find and read it.  I also know that, for some readers, those reviews can be the deciding factor on whether or not to buy a certain book.

A book blogger recently interviewed me about A Rose for Sergei, and several of the questions pertained to book reviews.  Up until then I hadn’t given reviews a lot of thought.  I was just happy that people were finding and reading my book.  Below are my thoughts from that part of the interview:

I came to the realization that there are a lot of readers who think a book review has to be a perfectly written, play-by-play account of the story.  I’d like readers to know that posting a review online doesn’t have to be a lengthy process.  A positive book review can be just two words:  Liked It, Loved It, or Recommend It.  Of course I also enjoy reading the longer commentaries by those who love writing in-depth reviews.  I always appreciate it when someone takes the time to write any review.

We all love to see good reviews, and if a reviewer leaves a not-so-good review along with a valid suggestion, it can be helpful to the author.  I actually added an addendum to my book after a reader emailed me. 

* * *
A Rose for Sergei
Thank You Readers for the Amazon Reviews!

Mystery and Love (5 Stars)
I enjoy reading about the Cold War, spies and KGB.  These two lives were entwined in mystery and intrigue.  This book was a real page turner, keeping me on the edge of my seat.  Finding such love at the age of twenty-one was heartwarming….  I truly enjoyed this memoir and would recommend to readers of all ages.

I enjoyed it, but don’t tell my buds (4 Stars)
I read this kicking and screaming b/c [because] the wife made me read it--and...I enjoyed it, but don't tell my buds.  I'm a fan!

When the real life is wilder than fiction.....Beautiful and touching story (5 Stars)
The story has a very good premise - an American girl and a Russian bear, no - man the size and strength of the bear, with different, even opposite, mentality, background and experience, fall in love.  The Cold War period and the fact that the girl worked for the US intelligence, while the lad is ex-KGB make it even spicier and add the flavor of a spy thriller.  Yet it's a unique true love story: pure, touching and beautiful.  Craftily written with all first-hand emotions shared by one of the participants.  And then there is a twist....Something unexpected and drastic.  I don't want to spoil it, so you, guys, would have to read it yourself.  And it's worth it, believe me.
—Nik Krasno, Author of Mortal Showdown