Human trafficking

modern-day-slaveryI realize I’m in the midst of a fun contest, but sipping my morning coffee, I couldn’t help but be bowled over by the recent news of three young women who were kidnapped a decade ago and held against their will by a man in Ohio.

Part of the underlying theme of my historical novels are women who overcome adversity.  They are beaten, sold, enslaved…forced into the most mean of circumstances, and yet they were able to rise above and persevere.

A portion of the proceeds of my historical novels is (and will continue to be) donated regularly to PolarisProject–an organization that fights against human trafficking and modern day slavery. Slavery is a very real and disturbing presence in our society. It is not relegated to history books and third world countries.Kat_dc_street_210

Please consider joining me in supporting this organization.  If you were planning to pick up a good histfic novel, or to recommend one, you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that a portion of the proceeds will go to support this fine nonprofit organization. Or you can just enter your information and elect to get involved and contribute here.

Either way, it’s a win-win!

Contest!!

I’m a visual person, having worked as a professional artist and educator for years…so my latest contest is one that I hope you will enjoy!

Want to win a $25 Amazon gift card? Of course, you do!

Visit my Pinterest Challenge page for HETAERA and answer 5 of the questions related to the book. (Don’t worry if you haven’t read it yet, some of the responses can be found on my blog!)AmazonGift

Post your responses in a comment below to enter your name in the drawing for the $25 Amazon card.  The drawing will be held on May 25th!

Want more chances to win? I will add your name for each of the following:

+1 – 5 correct answers on the Pinterest Challenge

+1 – Liking my Facebook Author Page

+1 – Following me on Twitter (authorJACoffey)

and + 2 for tweeting about HETAERA by JA Coffey on your twitter feed!

So, that’s 5 total chances to enter your name to win some freeeeee cash to spend on Amazon. Hopefully buying more great things to read! Hooray!

ENTER THE CONTEST BY POSTING A COMMENT TO THIS THREAD:

(For example, if you answered questions on Pinterest, Liked my Facebook page, and Followed my Tweets, it would like a “Reply” to this Comment)

1. Pinterest Challenge: Answer 1, Answer 2, Answer 3, Answer 4, Answer 5

2. +1 Liked your page

3. +1 Following you!

Don’t forget to leave your contact info, so I can reach you to coordinate mailing your prize!

And, as always, your feedback and reviews are vital to any author’s success. If you enjoyed HETAERA, please consider submitting a review/rating on Goodreads or Amazon (reviews are NOT part of the contest, but I will be eternally grateful!)

 

What is a hetaera?

I’m often asked what the title of my book means, and I think the most readily accessible response is that a HETAERA was something akin to a Japanese geisha in ancient Greece.  Due the inferences of geisha in pop culture, I think that’s the easiest to digest.

Demosthenes said:

“We have hetaerae for pleasure, pallakae to care for our daily body’s needs and gynaekes to bear us legitimate children and to be faithful guardians of our households.”

 

rhodopis1

http://www.factualhelp.com/article/Hetaera

They were less concerned with the more base carnal pleasures, and more renowned for their wit, beauty and other talents. There was a certain amount of status and stature involved, and hetaerae could lose either in an instant. This is very different than a common pornai, or streetwalker. Prostitution was rampant in ancient cultures, (and was even temple-sanctioned, as I’m discovering for my next novel).royal-harem

So, to be hetaerae was to be an art form–an exemplar of grace, beauty, wit and charm–somewhere between an entertainer and a prostitute. Hetaerae (or the male equivalent hetaeros) had talents and had fewer societal restrictions than marriageable women. Sex may or may not have been part of that equation, and most hetaerae were associated with a specific patron or patrons.

There are many resources and websites devoted to this specific class of companions. If you’re interested, I invite you to dig around and learn more!

 

CRITICAL REVIEWS

So, as a new and unknown author trying to make it in a cold, cruel world, I took a chance and did the unthinkable.  I submitted my book for review to Sacramento Book Review/San Francisco Book Review.  I know, I know….reviewers are typically unkind to indie authors.  And ebooks get a terrible rap.  It was a gamble.

Was it worth it?

Read for yourself…here’s a preview before it’s published in their upcoming May publication.

Hetaera: Daughter of the Gods

By J.A. Coffey Amazon Digital Services, $2.99, 351 pages, Format: eBook

Star Rating: 4 out of 5
“When she is just twelve years old, Doricha witnesses her father’s death at the hands of Greek raiders. She and her mother seek refuge in the temple of the Bacchae, where her mother was once a priestess, but a tragic turn of events and the vicious jealousy of another priestess results in Dori losing the one thing she vowed she would always have: her freedom. Her temple training increases her value as a slave, and Dori finds herself in a household where no one and nothing can keep her safe, not even her mentor Aesop. Before long, she finds herself being sold again, this time to a master who is willing to keep her safe in Egypt and shower luxury upon her if she will only love him in return, but Dori has no desire to be kept by anyone. In a world where a woman’s only value is her beauty, will Dori ever find someone who values her for her mind?

J.A. Coffey’s novel, Hetaera: Daughter of the Gods, is a richly-detailed escape to an ancient past. Dori is willful to the point of stubbornness, so beautiful that it endangers her, smart and witty in a world where women are to be seen and not heard. It is easy to get lost in this novel, and readers will find themselves rooting for this woman who only wants to be in control of her own future once more. While the author does have a tendency to gloss over long points of time without much detail that some readers might be interested in—such as Dori’s daily life in the temple, or how she and Aesop managed to build up her reputation as the mysterious Rhodopis in Egypt—most chapters are rendered in such brilliant detail that the novel is difficult to put down.” Sponsored Review

 

GIVEAWAY!!

Everyone loves getting something for free.  From now until May 25th, you can register to win your very own trade paperback PRINT autographed copy of HETAERA on Goodreads!!  It costs nothing to sign up, so click the button below to register for your chance to win.  And if you like HETAERA, please consider leaving a rating/review on Goodreads or Amazon.

Want the latest info?  Like my page on Facebook fan page!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

HETAERA by J.A. Coffey

HETAERA

by J.A. Coffey

Giveaway ends May 25, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 

What an author wants…

So, I’ve been asked recently what my friends can do to support me in this journey.  I thought I’d offer you a quick list of “Top Things Authors Need”.  This list isn’t specific to me; it’s for any author.  If you like to read, no matter if it’s a best-selling author or a debut novelist, there are three things every author needs.

1. Readers – Seems like a no-brainer but the reason we all get into writing is we feel we have a story to tell. The top thing an author needs is people to read their work. So, pick up my book. Or any book, for that matter. Doesn’t matter if you buy it, borrow it, or download it during a free promotion.  If the subject matter isn’t your thing (and how do you know, unless you read it?) then recommend it to someone else. Whether you read one book a year or 25, every author needs a reader.

2. Reviews – Aside from peeking at the first few pages and/or judging a book by its cover, most people decide on whether or not to purchase based on reviews–both quantity and quality.  Lots of readers also check to see how many reviews a person has posted, so if you’ve read more than one good book (or you read a HORRIBLE one) it’s to your credit to rate and write about it. Reviews on Amazon, or reader sites like Goodreads (are you a member?) are critical. Authors do read them, and often we make revisions based on what the feedback says. FYI- This is especially important to indie published authors, because many professional review publications will not read independent or small press published books. And as anyone who has read the Wall Street Journal lately can tell you, indie publishing is on the rise but admittedly difficult (see linked article here and here).

3. Promoters – Promotion is the great, dirty word of publishing. Most authors are fairly shy and introverted.  We rely on others to talk about us, our work, and to spread the word if our work was appreciated. Anyone who has seen the movie Sideways gets a pretty good glimpse of what it’s like to be an author.  We all struggle with thinking our work is the ‘best thing ever written’ and believing it to be utter crap.  So, we need others to help boost our visibility. The Rule of Seven is an old marketing adage– a prospect needs to see or hear your marketing message at least SEVEN times before they take action and buy from you. Tell your friends, coworkers, hairdresser…when someone asks how things are going, you can respond with “My friend just published a book last month” or “I just finished an awesome book!” You never know where you will find a fan. Chances are word of mouth is like that old Wella shampoo commercial–the one where you tell five people and they tell five people and so on…and so on…and…you get the picture.

Tit for Tat…

So, as much as I need critical reviews on my novel, today I was offered a review from another (new) author on Goodreads. Their comment offered to read/review my book, if I would do the same for theirs.  Seemed like an innocent request.  But as the day wore on, I realized.

It didn’t feel right.

First, let me preface this by saying that I *did* state I would be happy to consider reviewing their work if it was of interest to me.

But there’s some key phrasing there.  If.

Quid Pro Quo

First, as an author, we love to see reviews from readers.  And writers are, first and foremost, readers.  On the surface, it sounds like a pretty good deal.  However, having another author read our work (and reciprocating) could pose a potential risk.  It smacks of Quid Pro Quo to me.  Or skid pro row, if you will.  You give me this, and I give you that.  You give me five stars, I give you five stars.  And posting that review under our author name may constitute an endorsement of the work–something we may or may not be inclined to give.

So, now I’m rethinking the decision to offer a reciprocal review.

What if I don’t want to give 5 stars?Sperm_Whale_vs_Giant_Squid

I have no problem reading and reviewing books that I’m interested in.  I’m a reader, after all!  But I struggle with how to respond to a request for a reciprocal review, when the book is not a subject matter that I typically read (or even enjoy).  And my own work is slightly controversial.  It deals with some subjects that may offend readers (rape, sexuality).  I know that it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of chai, but for me, I like my historical fiction gritty and a little provocative.

Another issue for me might be the perceived quality of the work.  Some author voices just don’t appeal to me, no matter how acclaimed they may be.  I can’t possibly give an honest review, if I don’t enjoy the subject matter or the style in which it was written.  So, if I execute an honest critical review of what I liked or didn’t about a novel, what are we going to do?  Count off and hit ‘post’ at the same time?

It just doesn’t feel right to me.

Reviews are an essential part of marketing our work.  And I want to do my part to support other writers.  So, when an option to review the work is accompanied by my perusing the first few pages which do not draw me in, what’s an appropriate response?

And then there’s posting on books on my TBR list–the ones I read for the sheer joy of reading.  Do I post reviews under my own name?  My author name?

Keeping in mind that requesting a review may be very different from asking an established author to give you a quote for your back cover blurb.  Or is it?  One of those authors graciously gave me a read before publication (actually, twice).  She gave me a nice quote to use in my “back cover blurb” on Amazon.  But she never asked me for a reciprocal review for when her latest novel hits the shelves, and I never offered.

So, you tell me.  Am I being hypocritical?  Paranoid?  Because right now, I kinda feel like a squid.