Saturday, February 23, 2013

Reviews! No Brag; Just Fact

I received an e-mail from a fellow author last week saying she was having difficulty posting a review of my second book, Rock Crazy on Amazon.  A few hours later she let me know she’d solved the problem and her review had gone live.  When I went over to read it, I found another review there by someone else whose writing I greatly admire and burst into tears.  Both were glowing five-star reviews!  I’ve since updated my Google Alerts so I don’t miss any more new ones.

Do reviews help to sell books?  I write reviews, and according to Amazon, over one hundred people have said my reviews helped influenced their buying decisions, so yeah, I guess so.  I think it also depends on how you use reviews.

When you get a new review it helps to Facebook and Tweet it, blog about it, and go ahead—brag about it!  I carry business cards with my cover art on one side, and my tag-line and buy-link on the back.  This week, I printed out quotes from my reviews and showed them to people.  When they asked where they could buy the book, I was ready with my card.  A friend used to say, “No brag; just fact.”  I hesitate to tell people I’m a good writer.  I’m willing to say I don’t suck.  I can say, “I get good reviews.”

Here are some quotes.  I’ve added the URLs so you can read the full reviews at their websites.

Rock Bound:  Book One of the Moon Rock Series

4 Stars  Beverly Stowe McClure, Amazon  Life on the Moon  December 28, 2011

I've never thought much about what life on the moon would be like. The author, however, paints a vivid picture of the hardships and trials the prisoners face in their new world. … The author goes into great detail about what the characters must do to survive on the moon. It's fascinating. How much of the facts are accurate I do not know, but Ms. Weber has written a story that held my attention. I think you will enjoy it, as well.

4 Stars  Kurt Adams, Amazon  An Interesting Read  May 11, 2010

This was a good story and ended up being one of those books I just could not put down. Although I did find parts of it disturbing to me I find myself hoping that there will be additional efforts by Rochelle Weber. There is certainly the potential for this to be an ongoing story even though it stands well by itself.

4 Hearts, Love Romances & More, June 18, 2009

Rock Bound is a different story for me to read and I highly enjoyed every minute of it. Ms. Weber is a wonderful storyteller and definitely delivers a story that you get engrossed in to the degree that I forgot the time or that dinner needed to be done. … Ms. Weber definitely captures the readers’ attention with her multifaceted characters and strong plot that weaves itself around the reader with each page.
You can read the entire review at:  Love Romances & More Reviews.

4 Books, The Long and Short Reviews, February 22, 2009

"Ms. Weber introduces us to her hero and heroine amid total chaos, which she handles well. ... I recommend this fascinating story to any and all of you out there who enjoy a good old fashioned sci-fi/fantasy. It was an enjoyable read with great characters and a solid plot.  The Long and Short Reviews

Buy Links:

Rock Crazy:  Book Two of the Moon Rock Series

Abandoned, pregnant, and bi-polar, Katie McGowan’s going crazy on that God-forsaken rock, the Moon!

Rock Crazy Review Quotes  (All on Amazon)

5 Stars, “What a Story!” Penny Estelle, Author of At What Price?  February 19, 2013

Ms. Weber shows emotions and conflicts of one dealing with bi-polar disease. She does it in such a way, I felt sympathy and outrage for Katie and those she deals with. This author also does an unbelievable job spinning a tale of life on the moon and how folks live and survive. What an imagination!

5 Stars, “An Enlightening and Entertaining Read”  Rosalie Skinner, Author of The Chronicles of Caleath,  February 5, 2013

Rochelle Weber succeeds in spinning an entertaining yarn, in an alien environment, while really giving an insight into a debilitating condition. … The moon setting feels believable, although completely alien. To weave such a compelling tale in such an interesting environment is achieved with great writing and a well-paced and gripping story.

5 Stars, “Not Just Sci-Fi”  Gale Brennan, Author of the War ‘n Wit series and the Dark Series, November 25, 2012

[Katie McGowan’s] a woman battling the personal demon of Bi-polar Disorder while pregnant and unable to rely on the meds that to some extent, allow her to function at least semi-normally. And it's that battle that sets this book apart, the description of the personal battle to birth a healthy baby, to do whatever it takes to see that baby born that will tear at your heart. Because you don't just read it. You feel it.

5 Stars, “Enjoyable and Enlightening”  Michelle Pickett, Author of Concilium,
October 22, 2012

By the way—to read my reviews of the above ladies’ books and more, go next door to Rochelle’s Reviews.

And to contact me elsewhere:

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Women’s Heart Health & Sci-Fi Conventions

February is Women’s Heart Health Month.

Many of you know about my weight loss journey.  Of course living between two and three hundred pounds for the better part of a decade and hovering around two hundred pounds for a decade or two before then took its toll on my body.  I was diabetic, had a lot of aches and pains and I could barely walk three few feet without getting short of breath and having chest pains.  The times I went into the Emergency Room the doctors said it was angina, not a heart attack.  I had numerous stress tests, echocardiograms and even an angioplasty in which they found some plaque in one coronary artery, but not enough to require a stent.

I was lucky—especially the day I nearly blacked out while singing on the ward at the VA.  I finished the song (clinging to my cane) and then sat down next to my music therapist.  Another patient in the program was playing the piano.

Paula leaned over and whispered, “Rochelle, are you alright?”

I shook my head, which was clearing slightly.

“What’s wrong?”

“Short…of…breath.  Chest…pain.”

“Do you think you need to go to the ER?”

I nodded.  “Let…Jim…finish.”

Paula got the ward nurse while Jim finished his piano piece and they got me a wheel chair.  That day in the ER they gave me four baby aspirin and three nitroglycerine tabs, but still called what happened angina.  I passed both stress and echocardiograms, so they kept me for a day or two and sent me home, telling me I needed to lose weight—like I hadn’t figured that out thirty years and several failed diets ago.

That was when I asked the difference between angina and a heart attack.  When the arteries to the heart muscle are blocked and oxygen can’t get through, you get chest pain.  That’s angina.  If the heart muscle is deprived of oxygen long enough to actually die, it’s a myocardial infarction or heart attack.  You can tell you’ve actually damaged your heart muscle because it will show up on your electrocardiogram and because when heart muscle dies it releases certain enzymes into the blood stream.  You can have cardiac chest pain and even a funky EKG but if those enzymes are not present, you’ve had angina or a “cardiac event,” but not a “heart attack.”

At some point a doctor ran a test and asked when my heart attack was.  There were times when I had chest pain but did not go to the hospital.  I can think of two off the top of my head.  If you have chest pain that lasts more than twenty (20) minutes Get Thee to the Hospital FAST to paraphrase Shakespeare.  And whatever you do, DON’T DRIVE YOURSELF!  Here’s a good rule of thumb for us women caretakers who don’t want to disturb anyone.  Ask yourself this question:  If this was happening to my husband or my child, would I call 911?  Treat yourself you the way you would treat the people you love.  And don’t ask anyone to drive you.  If you code in the car, they can’t treat you.  Do you want that on their conscience?  If you want to be around for your family, you have to turn the Golden Rule back onto yourself.  I know it’s difficult.  We want to take care of everyone else and we don’t want to bother anyone.

Don’t necessarily look for chest pains if you’re a woman.  We have the strangest symptoms when it comes to heart attacks.  I attended a seminar conducted by a group called Women Health at the VA where they talked about many of the ways heart attacks can be different for women than for men.  Neither of the ladies there had typical heart attacks.  Neither knew she was having a heart attack when hers occurred.  They also told us that heart attack is now the number one killer of women.  That’s partly because we have such atypical symptoms we don’t always go to the ER and often when we do, we get left sitting in the waiting room with heart muscle dying while patients with less life-threatening problems get seen before us.

One of the times I did not go to the hospital, I had chest pains, but they were radiating to my right shoulder instead of my left.  Every book I read and movie I saw showed the person clutching his left arm.  I was a guest in the home of a bunch of smokers and it was late at night after having inhaled a bunch of second-hand smoke and about coughed up a lung or two that the pain started.  I bundled up and sat on the porch for three hours trying to catch my breath with pain in my chest and right shoulder, thinking maybe I tore a muscle coughing.  When I finally went inside and went to bed, I dreamed I was in pain and woke up because of it later that night.  I’m probably lucky I woke up at all.  Most fatal heart attacks occur between three and five a.m.

So, what the heck does any of this have to do with science fiction conventions?  I’m getting there.

Two weeks ago after a busy day, I came out of Wal-Mart, got into my car and my head exploded.  I dialed 911 thinking I was having a stroke.  My blood pressure was 198/80-something and my pulse was down around 50.  A C-T scan of my brain showed no sign of a clot or bleed so it wasn’t a stroke.  I told the doc I was having an anxiety attack because I had some chest pain.  Guess what?  My cardiac enzymes were slightly elevated.  I had a mild heart attack.  If I hadn’t asked for something for anxiety, chances are the docs would never have looked at my cardiac enzymes.  They would have treated me for a migraine or sinus problems and sent me home.

I should have realized something was wrong.  Leading up to the incident I’d been tired and unable to walk or work out as I did before.  I would do my morning walk wondering, “Why do I feel tired?  Why do things seem a bubble or so off plumb?  Where are my endorphins?”  Other signs of a heart attack can be pain in your back, jaw, neck, throat or shoulder.  Women often have an upset stomach.  Many people mistake chest pain for heartburn.  I’ll post links at the end for more resources.  Before they let me go home, I passed a stress test/echocardiogram, but since I’m still feeling all of the above symptoms, I’m taking it easy and planning to ask for more tests at the VA where I’m normally seen.  The paramedics took me to a civilian hospital that night, and I’ve not yet been able to see my Primary Care Provider at the VA.

Okay—I’m not sure what the deal is with the headache.  It’s never quite completely gone away.  During the day, I can sort of feel it lurking around the edges.  By night, it comes back if I don’t keep ahead of it with some sort of medication like Tylenol or nsaids. I’ve gone back to my volunteer work at the VA and even done one or two abbreviated work-outs.  This past Friday (Feburary 8, 2013), I had an appointment at the VA and from there I went to CapriCon a science fiction convention.  My intention was to just attend Friday, but I checked my purse with my coat and left my meds in it.  The headache caught up with me fairly early in the evening and I didn’t feel up to driving home.  Some friends allowed me to crash in their hotel room.
One of those friends is an RN.  I quit using my CPAP a couple of years ago.  It was uncomfortable and my sinuses are so badly congested, I felt as though I couldn’t breathe at all with the CPAP on.  Besides, I figured I didn’t need it anymore since I’d lost 145 pounds.  I was wrong.  My friend said my snoring woke her and I stopped breathing several times in the hour or so I kept her awake that night.  Sleep apnea can cause heart damage, which could be one explanation to why I had this heart attack now that I’m thin.  I dug the thing out of the closet last night and used it with mist.  I still felt congested, but I soldiered through and woke up an hour before my alarm went off feeling more refreshed than I have in awhile.  I plan to follow up with the sinus problems as well as cardiology when I see my Primary Care person.

Since I woke up at the hotel yesterday morning, I decided to pay for the full con and stick around.  I’m so glad I did.  Gene Wolfe, one of the few remaining classic sci-fi writers was there.  It turns out he lives in a Chicago suburb.  He’s being honored this year by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association with a Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master award for "lifetime achievement in science fiction and/or fantasy," so they had a special interview with him.  The room wasn’t nearly as full as I expected, which made the interview very intimate and cozy.

Later in the day they had a panel that was right up my alley entitled “Girl Cooties!  Someone put Romance in my Sci-Fi!”  Who should show up and ask if the seat next to me was taken?  Mr. Wolfe!  What a lovely, gracious man.  He’s a Korea veteran, so we compared a few notes on military experiences and talked about writing sci-fi romance.  He was there because that’s what he’s working on right now.  I gave him my cards and he says he’s looking forward to reading my books!  Wow!  Instant silver lining!  I’m so glad I was too sick to drive home Friday.  Still, I can’t wait to see my PCP.  She’ll be out all next week so I can’t get in to see her until the week after.  Meanwhile, I’m taking it easy.

For more information on women and heart attacks:

The American Heart Association: