Tuesday, April 30, 2019

One Step at a Time by Liz Ashe Havrilla Available on Audible

April 20, 2019

Dear Readers:

It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to "One Step at a Time" by Liz Ashe Havrilla. I had the pleasure of editing this book and producing the audiobook for her. I was completely moved and touched by her words and I think you will be too.

American Author Liz Ashe Havrilla Announces Her Audiobook “One Step at a Time”

One of the newest authors to come from America, Liz Ashe Havrilla is set to debut her audiobook biographical novel on Surviving Hurricane Katrina

New Orleans, LA – April 30, 2019 – American author and realty broker, Liz Ashe Havrilla, is set to debut her biographical account of her experience of Hurricane Katrina in her audiobook “One Step at a Time: An Eyewitness Account of  Surviving Hurricane Katrina, published by Absolute Author Publishing House. “I am so excited to share my story,” Havrilla told Dr. Melissa Caudle, author and senior editor with Absolute Author Publishing House who had the pleasure of editing Havrilla’s book. “This book is inspiring, and anyone who reads it will be touched,” Caudle said. “Liz is a true inspiration and heroine by all measures.”

When Caudle first read Havrilla’s book, she felt every bit of her pain. “I cried so many times I ran out of tissues,” Caudle said. “You know a book is special when it can move you spiritually and bring healing to others. Moreover, this is exactly what this book does.”

The book opens days before Hurricane Katrina is expected to make landfall in New Orleans as Havrilla prepares for her son’s wedding shower at her home. Once the Hurricane approached, Liz and her husband were faced with the decision to either evacuate or to remain in their three-story home. They chose to stay and suffered the consequences for it.

Here is an excerpt from “One Step at a Time.”

Monday, August 29, 2005 – 11:06 AM

I’m extremely grateful I didn’t see the massive wave coming toward us and even more thankful that Tom didn’t tell me to look at it as I am confident I would have had a stroke or heart attack. I can’t imagine having more panic and fear. The wave approached quickly, and Tom knew it. If we had not decided to get out of the house at the exact moment, we surely would have drowned by the relentless crushing wave that battered us.
Just as the wave reached the edge of the balcony, I grabbed the hot tub cover. The cover was folded in half. Tom managed to stand and grab me and the cover. We each held onto one side. Within a nanosecond and with perfect timing, Tom pushed me into the thirty-foot wall of water. We both held the cover, and Tom clutched the sheet as we were instantly whisked away by the water’s fury. The current was strong. It was also dirty, salty, and moved quickly.

I felt as if something was slowing me down. I soon realized it was my jogging pants I had put on earlier.

I thought for a brief time I could drown as I was hanging onto dear life to the hot tub cover. I knew that I had to get out of my pants quickly. As Tom continued to hang on to the sheet, wrapped around me, and to the cover, I tried to listen to his instructions, to accomplish my task, while praying to God at the same time. I could barely hear him, but I saw the fear on his face. We were in trouble. While removing my pants, I lost both of my shoes.

Monday, August 29, 2005 – 11:07 AM

The water was moving us fast in tandem; neither one of us knew where we were headed as we struggled to remain afloat. Then, Tom spotted a tree.

“Liz, you have to get into that tree!”

“How can I?”
“Don’t worry; the water will take you there.”

Tom was right. It only took a few seconds for us to reach the tree. We both got there at the same time. We were about to be whisked away by the current, and fortunately, there was a chain from a swing set lodged in the tree. The chain was wrapped in plastic with one metal triangle on each end.

If those triangles weren’t there, I don’t know how I could have gotten into the tree. With all the strength I could muster, I grabbed the triangles frantically; one in each hand, as I pulled myself up into the tree. Tom was unable to assist me and worse, there wasn’t room for him, and he let go of the sheet, and the raging waters swept him away. I thought I’d never see him again.

On a side note, several weeks later, I discovered that the chain was part of our neighbor’s children’s swing set and the tree I was in was not rooted in the ground, it had just blown up against a pine tree.

The tree, lodged on the Mumphrey’s property, that Liz clung to during the height of Hurricane Katrina.
My heart pounded. As soon as I felt safe and secure, I realized how hard and fast I was breathing and knew immediately I had to slow it down before I had a heart attack. I started thinking about my daughter, Aimee, and I could hear her voice inside my mind.
“Mom, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.” 

That is exactly what I did, and as soon as I began to breathe better, I turned around and looked toward the lake.

What I saw next scared me to death. Our master bedroom closet carried by the rushing water was heading straight for me.

“I am going to be crushed to death by my dream closet.”

“How in the world could that part of my house be coming straight for me?”

I didn’t have any time to think – only react.

I lifted my legs and used the bottom of my feet and pushed the closet away from me. Thank God it was weightless due to the water which enabled me to push it out of the way. No doubt, my adrenaline helped me too. I shudder to think if I had not turned around exactly when I did, I would have been hit in the back of my head by that portion of my closet.

Monday, August 29, 2005 – 11:11 AM

As I watched the top of our closet slowly sink into the flood waters of Katrina, I looked toward the bayou and saw Tom. He was alive, still hanging onto the hot tub cover, and being whisked away by the waves. He didn’t see me look at him and I am glad he hadn’t. If he had, he would have certainly seen the look of desperation I had on my face. I’m not sure why, but I looked down at my watch. It was 11:11 AM.

Alone, exhausted, wet and about 20-feet up in a tree, I could feel the ferocious winds and see the powerful waves. I tried to block the fear by using mind over matter. I felt safe and wasn’t afraid anymore for some odd reason that I can’t explain.

It may sound bizarre and hard to imagine, even though the warm salt water was up to my neck, in some ways it was comforting. It was such an eerie, surreal moment in my life. It was also a lonely feeling. It was just me, in a tree, and an endless lake of waves with white caps. Then a dose of reality hit me in my face.

“I’m going to die.”

I knew that my life was near the end. But I was okay with that because I felt God’s presence and His majesty. It felt as if I were wrapped tightly in His arms and was under His protection. with His presence, I stopped being scared and began to focus on staying alive. I think that fear propelled my strength by turning it into hope. There is no other alternative answer for me.

“I think anyone who is need of an uplift should read this book,” Caudle said. “It touched me.” The book published by Absolute Author Publishing House is available in paperback, eBook and audible on Amazon at  https://amzn.to/2Gjxt4J


About the Author 
Liz Ashe Havrilla is a Christian realtor broker with a compelling testimony of God’s miracles as she survived one of the most dangerous hurricanes ever to hit the United States. She opens her soul with clear transparency as she fought for her life and how God provided for her needs one step at a time. Her testimony and statements have been featured in magazines and newspapers and has been a guest speaker at numerous conferences and for several organizations. Liz authored this book so that she might be able to help people struggling with the aftermath of a destruction from either a man-made source or a natural disaster. “A tragedy doesn’t always come in the form of a hurricane,” Liz says. “Sometimes it comes from outside sources; such as an unhappy marriage, an abusive relationship, or an addiction to drugs, alcohol or sex. It could also range from experiencing a great loss from a loved one or pet to a victim of sexual assault. I want my readers to know that God's hand is in everything that we experience; and, that we should remain faithful. Also, life goes on. Your situation can and will be better than it was before, as it was in my case. I did it one step at a time.” Now, and since Hurricane Katrina, Liz has devoted her time to help rebuild several communities. It is her prayer that this book finds its way into the hands of other survivors and those who have lost everything to Mother Nature’s fury.

To contact Liz go to her website https://www.LizAsheHavrilla.com

Sunday, April 28, 2019

How to Deal with Negative Book Reviews

April 28, 2019

It's been about two weeks since my last post because I went on a book signing, went to Disneyland, an then a week's cruise on the Royal Princess. I met a lot of new friends and saw others that I haven't seen in a while. It was great to be in California and then to Mexico.

Now that I back at home, that means I am back at work. In this blog, I will be covering five authors that I am promoting or editing their books in various stages. I want to spend a little time telling you about my current projects with Absolute Author Publishing House where I am a senior editor. I also will address HOW TO DEAL WITH NEGATIVE BOOK REVIEWS in my Author Tip section which is first.


Whether you check your books’ online reviews daily or haven’t even bothered to claim your author websites on Author Central, Goodreads, and Bookbub, one thing for sure readers are reviewing your book and you can bet your last dollar that potential readers and fans are reading what others are saying about you online. In a survey by YouGov.com, they reported that 79% of U.S. adult Internet users check online reviews before they purchase your book.

The second thing they do is to read the book’s blurb or synopsis. That is how essential reviews and your synopsis are to your book’s sales. As authors, we all dream of having nothing but five star-reviews because they are a powerful way to drive readers to purchase your book. We go out of the way to encourage our friends, family, and colleagues to leave a review, and then someone we don’t know leaves a terrible review crushing your inner author soul.

A fellow author whom I follow recently asked me what he should do because he received a negative review? Do you ignore it? Do you address it?

You are going to have to do something because one in thirty-three authors report that the sales of their book dropped after a negative review. Ouch! All your hard work went down the drain. Your chances are low that you will receive a bad review. However, many authors ignore online review sites because they’re terrified of getting a bad review. If this is you, take comfort because another recent survey reports that just one in twenty-five entrepreneurs say a negative online review has impacted them. Chances are low, but bad reviews do happen. If someone negatively reviews your book online, how should you respond?

Here are the dos and don’ts of dealing with negative online reviews.

Negative Online Reviews – The “Don’ts

Here are the “Don’ts” of dealing with a negative review of your book.

  1. Don’t Take it Personally. I know it is hard not to take any negative review or comment personally, but you can’t. Remember, that they are not reviewing you, but are reviewing the words you wrote. When you receive a book review, it is a subjective review, not about you as a person, but about the contents of the book.
  2. Don’t Get defensive. Many authors the first time they receive a negative review feel defeated, and then they get angry and go on the defensive. Wait! That might be the natural thing to do, but it isn’t the best thing to do. One negative comment by you and your entire authoring career can be over in an instant. I am a firm believer that authors don’t get in trouble for what they haven’t said or written; they get in trouble when the respond angrily which sets up a viral infestation of your good book. Respond positively and not defensively. You might offer a clarification. However, never belittle the reviewer, shame them, or rub them the wrong way because it will only make the situation worse. Remember, you are the professional author, and that you are a business.
  3. Don’t Ignore it. When you ignore a negative online review, it is almost as bad as posting a defensive statement. An ignored negative review validates the reviewer because you failed to address the issue. Second, potential readers tend to question you as to whether you even care. If you don’t care, why should they? Being unresponsive also demonstrates to the readers that you might not be an authentic author. People love to interact with authors and get to know them through their blogs and social media posts. I have more than 125,500 followers or those who visit my site, and when I don’t post for a week, I get tons of emails.
  4. Don’t Participate in an Online Battle. Trolls! Trolls! Trolls! Sometimes there is nothing you can do about a troll who loves to be involved in negative confrontations. Don’t engage with Trolls. Your readers are smart enough to know the difference between a Troll and an honest negative review. Your goal in dealing with a Troll is to calmly re-state the facts and then move onto another topic Your readers will identify that you are responding as a professional.
  5. Don’t Go on a Campaign to Beg for Positive Reviews. There is something not right for an author who begs for positive reviews or purchases them from a variety of freelance sites. These reviews stick out like a sore thumb and will back firer on an author. Don’t fall victim to this unprofessional way of dealing with a bad negative review. Often, future readers are turned off immediately to your book because of what they deem as unethical behavior of an author. The best review for your book is an unsolicited honest review. Those stand out to future readers more than the negative review. 
  6.  Forget About the Review. Make yourself a promise that after you examine the review and retrieve any reliable information to help you become a better writer, you’ll forget the review. That’s right, never reread it. Don’t go there. It is in the past, and that is where it should remain.

Negative Online Reviews – The “Do’s.”
I hope you can ascertain the damage that you could do to your authoring career and your book’s sales if you respond unprofessionally or unethically to a negative book review. Listed below are my suggestions to how to respond to a negative review online.
  1. Honesty is the Best Policy. In all dealings in life, it is the best policy is to always to be honest. Your word becomes a bond that your readers can trust. Most reviewers who leave a negative review are leaving their honest opinion. They may not have liked your character, the plot, or the manner in which you wrote. It is their opinion, honor that. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. When you receive a negative review, respond by thanking that reviewer for their opinion and that you will reflect on their feedback. Then thank them for purchasing your book and for supporting authors, and you genuinely regret that your book did not meet their entertainment style. In this manner, you are not blaming them, bashing them, or criticizing them. When your readers, read your response, they recognize that you are a fair an unbiased person that conducts themselves without reproach. Also, any message should be authentic.
  2. Promote a Positive Image of Your Book. In a separate post and without mentioning the negative review or reviewer, promote your book with an ad that includes reviews and quotes from positive reviewers. I would even go so far as issuing a press release about how well the book is selling and announce any future books you plan on writing. Put out at least ten to one positive press and posts to a negative one. Many blogs review books or interview authors, such as Absolute Author Publishing House and on my blog. Take advantage of these. Also, flood your social media sites with a new book trailer and hold the world premiere on Facebook to generate interest and create your own YouTube videos or podcasts describing your book, your writing process and a variety of interviews. I would also conduct a book Giveaway immediately on a social media influencer’s blog such as on Absolute Author Publishing House. I even host them here in Dr. Mel’s Message for a small fee. Contact me.
  3.  Grow and Learn From a Negative Review. A negative review can turn out to be something positive if you allow it to happen. How? You must grow and become a better author honing your craft. If you have only received one negative review, then you might not need to do much growing. Also, research who the review is. Do they constantly post negative reviews or are their reviews a mixture of positive and negative. A mixture indicates that they are giving their unbiased opinion. However, if you are continually receiving negative reviews, learn to isolate what the reviewers are trying to tell you about your writing. See if there are any patterns and address them in your writing style. Also, this is the time to review your manuscript. Did you have it professionally edited and formatted? Is it written with difficult language? Are there plot holes? Again, honesty is the best policy, and you have to be honest with yourself. I have published dozens of books, both nonfiction and fiction and with each one, I learn something new. I stay on top of the latest publishing trends; I read other author's novels, I edit professionally other author’s novels. All of this makes me a better writer and the more efficient you become; you will write better books which lower your risk for any negative review.

I hope you find solace that a negative review isn’t the ending for your book. It means that your book is getting read and by people who care enough to leave a comment just as much you cared enough to write it. A bad review is not doom and gloom but the time for an author to take the higher road. When you do, you’ll be stronger for it and others will recognize it.





First, there is Liz Ashe Havrilla's new audiobook, ONE STEP AT A TIME: AN EYE WITNESS ACCOUNT TO HURRICANE KATRINA, published by Absolute Author Publishing House This is a powerful story of her surviving Hurricane Katrina at Ground Zero. It reads like an action-packed thriller filled with love, faith, hope, and God's mercy. This book is a must-read or a must-listen. Take a look at the book trailer.


Sophie Marie White's new book NEURO CONFINEMENT, published by Absolute Author Publishing House, is very intriguing at all levels. When she first presented her manuscript to me, I was floored and new that I had to be the development editor. This book is dark and twisted in a psychological way and filled with imagery for the imagination to go wild. The plot of this book is that a drug traps criminals in their own mind for thirty days. However, those days are equivalent to thirty years. As you read this book, you know from the very first word that it will capture you in it. This book will be released sometime in late May or Early June. More on those details as we approach the publication date as well as the cover reveal. The above cover is from the award-winning screenplay.



Shirley Lucas Cain is a remarkable woman with a remarkable story of hope in a time of despair in her book BEAUTY GROWN FROM A CONCRETE LIFE: BLOSSOMING IN MY GREATNESS, published by Absolute Author Publishing House. Throughout the last couple of months, I have become friends with Shirley and I have found that her testimony and love for God is overwhelming. You can't help but be moved by her words and her story. During the last months of the editing process, Shirley was in and out of the hospital facing a catastrophic illness.  She never gave up hope, and she never complained. What I witnessed was a powerful journey of prayer and God's mercy. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with depression, is suicidal, and is in need of God's grace. Take a look at the trailer.


Woman empowerment summarizes THE THREAD BY LEONIE, published by Absolute Author Publishing House, that will be released late this summer. I am having the privilege of editing this wonderful spiritual journey book along with my junior editor Erin N. Wright..I can't wait to share with everyone. We are so early in the stage of development we don 't have a book's cover. So, stay tuned.


When it comes to novellas, this book, WHERE ARE MY CHILDREN, by D.L.Davis, published by Absolute Author Publishing House is remarkably written and it takes you on a journey through Hurricanes in a fictional tone. The book is a quick read and offers great insight. I look forward to the release of this book on June 1, 2019, which is also the day that Hurricane season begins. Pre-order will be available within the next week.


I would be remiss if I didn't alert my readers to my own book, A.D.A.M. - THE BEGINNING OF LIFE that will be launched in one month. I am very excited about this book because I have worked on it for almost a year. It is an incredible story based off a finding of a microbe that thrives off arsenic from Mono Lake, California. I took what if and developed the characters and plot around it. Take a look at several of the book's trailers featuring the fabulous D. H. Lewis, Stephen Beal, and Jamie Alyson.