Monday, March 20, 2017

The Reviews Are...Not In

Reviews are important to an author, don't let anybody say they're not. They do help spread the word about a book. That doesn't mean only good reviews and tons of them are worthwhile. Here are 5 reasons why/how reviews are important:


  1. Reviews in Goodreads, Amazon, and similar venues spread the word among readers, which are generally the lifeblood of author sales. 
  2. Those reviews posted in Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, VOYA, School Library Journal, and similar publications are a way for a novel to get noticed by industry professionals: agents, publishers, librarians, booksellers, etc.
  3. A review can be used on an author's blog, website, press release, even at the bottom of their email as a quick shout out to grab attention.
  4. When applying to book festivals, library or store events, a quick review blurb, like "loved the whimsy!" by PW helps the organizer to decide whom to select and to publicize the event to draw in crowds.
  5. When an author is a guest speaker, a glowing review from a well respected source, like PW or School Library Journal is used in the introduction: "PW called this novel a taut, well-paced thriller." This helps excite the audience to listen more closely than if the speaker said the author writes mysteries.
So if you can write a review, help an author out. Here are 5 tips to writing a review:

  1. It doesn't have to be long. A few well thought out sentences are easier and more valuable than paragraphs.
  2. Be precise; if you didn't like it, say why: "I thought the plot dragged" or "I don't like love triangles." This specificity will help others decide whether the book is for them and shows that you actually read the book.
  3. Try to be balanced. It's okay if you didn't like the book, not every book will appeal to every writer, but say one nice thing so it doesn't look like all you want to do is a hatchet job. That might lead to suspicion that you're a fan of another author and are willing to diss any other book hoping to help your friend. It can be as simple as, "But I did like the descriptions of the setting; I felt like I was in that town" or "I loved the cover."
  4. Even if it's months or years after the release, books are being evaluated by new readers and sometimes publishers will re-release the book with a new cover or added material. Plus, reviews are cumulative proof that the book merits attention.
  5. Post your review where an author can see them. We need to know what's out there. While no author should respond to a bad review, if we see someone didn't like it because there are no dragons in the story, we have the opportunity, when someone mentions it (and someone will) that the story is set in 1920s Chicago, and there aren't supposed to be dragons. (Yes, sometimes people post reviews which don't make any sense, and therefore, we know they haven't read the book or are just being negative.) Likewise, if it's a positive review, we can use it in our PR material and we can link to your blog or website (thereby sending more readers your way). 
My final message: if you are a blogger, reviewer, published author, librarian, teacher, or someone in a position to do a review, please do it. It's hard enough writing the story, then trying to find someone to review it. 

And yes, I would like someone to review book 2 in my series, Evolution Revolution: Simple Plans. You can leave a comment or email me, and I'll get back to you. And thank you for taking the time! 

 

Char

Monday, March 13, 2017

Everything About Writing I Learned From...

Life.



Here are my 5 Rules about writing as taught to me by Life.

1. It's a job. Treat it with the respect, dedication, and seriousness that you would an outside-the-home job. That means putting in the hours, acting professionally in correspondence, and being mindful of who is out there reading, listening, watching...

2. There will be some people who will try to discourage, disparage, disagree, disapprove, disavow, disconcert, discredit, discriminate, disgrace, dishonor, disgust, disillusion, dislike, dismiss, disown, displace, disrupt, disrespect, disregard, dispute, distance, distort, distract, distress, distrust, and disturb you. Don't let them. Let them discover, discuss, and distinguish you. Your attitude should be pro YOU, but never at the expense of others, even if they are wrong.

3.  School never ends. Just because you got that B.A. or M.F.A. doesn't mean you're done. Did you know everything before moving out on your own? Getting married? Having a baby? Life changes and you've got to learn new things all the time. So too, with writing: latest trends, what editors are looking for, which agent would be the best fit, what to chop and revise, which POV works. etc. are things that you have to stay on top of.

4.  Copying isn't flattering-or legal. Don't try to be someone/something you're not. I love Sherrilyn Kenyon's, or Anne Rice's books, but copying them means denying my muse. Plus, it might invite a Cease and Desist Order. You want to leave your mark on the literary world-not hide in the shadow (however great) of others.

5.  You won't always win. Books get rejected or fail to sell, agents and editors cut you loose, reviewers tear you down. It's akin to getting sick, or fired, or breaking up. Bad things will happen, but life, and writing, go on. Keep going, don't quit.

Char

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Don't Ban This Book

Maybe I should save this post for Banned Books Week, but it crossed my mind the other night-and I needed a post (yep, it's late).

I don't believe in banning books, but I believe parents need to be part of the discussion with controversial books. Read them with your kids and discuss. The world is more scary than any book.

Most times I don't understand why some books are banned. Take for instance the perennially banned book, Huckleberry Finn. It isn't among my faves, but not because of its use of that word- nigger. I hate that word and personally believe it should be eliminated from the English language, but I don't think that should doom this book. The word was commonly used then. Yes, it's a bad word, but scrapping a literary treasure isn't the answer. Reading the book, understanding the context, and discussing why the book is still relevant is the answer. Huckleberry Finn is a not a reflection of a perfect world- show me a book that is. No one disagrees that some of the language and attitudes are racist and I don't believe that is the point. Nor is the book a simple adventure story. It goes deeper than that.

The Twain Library in Virginia acknowledges that "it was condemned by many reviewers in MT's time as coarse and by many commentators in our time as racist." That, I don't believe, has changed. However, The Atlanta Constitution, in May, 1886, noted that Huckleberry Finn "...presents an almost artistically perfect picture of the life and character in the southwest, and it will be equally valuable to the historian and to the student of sociology. Its humor, which is genuine and never-failing, is relieved by little pathetic touches here and there that vouch for its literary value."

There are further reviews on the Twain Library website both in support and condemnation of Twain's novel. You can read them here: http://twain.lib.virginia.edu/huckfinn/huchompg.html.

My point is this; every art has its critics and its admirers. Shoving aside, hiding, or banning a work does not make it go away. If anything, it has the opposite effect; it brings the piece to light. Although that attention may be short lived, I believe it's best to make the book widely available. Once you open its covers to the words and meanings inside, open your mind past narrow criticisms.


                             


Char

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Hurry! Free Doesn't Last Forever!

Yes, the Amazon giveaway is done. Congrats to the 5 winners. But you can still enter the Goodreads giveaway!

HERE is the link!



Really, can you think of any reason not to enter to win a free book? If it's not what you usually read, take a chance and try something new. You might be surprised. Or, read it and pass it on (you'll know who would like it).

Hurry! Giveaway ends at midnight!

One last thing- please mark it as Want To Read!

Okay, two things- please share the book love!

Char




Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Second Chance...

So you think you missed the Evolution Revolution: Simple Plans Amazon giveaway ? No, BUT TODAY IS THE LAST DAY! (Click on the link. I've made it easy for you to enter!)

And if you win, please consider putting a review up- (it's ok, you don't have to love it, but please be specific why so people will know that you actually read it. Yes, people do this.)

But the great news is....(dramatic pause....) You can enter to win on Goodreads ! (See, I'm making it sooo easy to get a copy, that's how much I want you to have this book.) And while you're on Goodreads, would you please mark the book as Want to Read? Help an author out! :)

Doesn't this beautiful cover draw you in....?


It tells the second part of Jack's story. You do know that owls eat squirrels, right? You must be curious why Jack and Owl are working together, and how a wagon fits in...

Enter to win, and good luck! If you don't win, consider asking your local bookstore to order it. Or, your local library. (That's almost like winning a free copy, but the library keeps it safe for you, you don't have to dust it, and the author makes a sale.)

Stay tuned for the final book in Jack's story, Evolution Revolution: Book 3 Simple Lessons (although I'm sure I could write many more because Jack is smart, curious, and trouble-bound).

Char


Monday, February 13, 2017

What Are Sisters For?

Now that Evolution Revolution: Book 2, Simple Plans is out (available on Amazon or Goodreads, soon Barnes & Noble), I'm going to give you a sneak peek at another interior illustration by Cathy Thole-Daniels (in case you weren't convinced previously that this is a fun-for-all-ages book...)


This is Jack and Sister. That's a piece of nut she's snorting out her nose because she's laughing at Jack. She takes all the best food for herself, is kind of lazy, yet she has Jack's back during the great war with the machines. Isn't that the way with most siblings? They annoy us, don't do their fair share of the work, and want first dibs on anything good- but we can depend on them in a bind. But like siblings, Sister has her own story.

Stop by and get to know Sister, Jack, Owl, Bird, Rat- and two humans who are intent upon disrupting their lives in the name of science.

Happy reading!

And enter to win a copy of Evolution Revolution: Simple Plans by going here. And if you would be so kind to mark it as "Want to Read" on Goodreads or leave a review? Thanks! Whuck, whuck! (says Jack).

Char


Monday, February 6, 2017

Enjoying the Win...

Most of you know I'm a huge New England Patriots fan. (Or, now you do.) So I'm going to enjoy a day with my fellow Pats Nation, to enjoy this special win.


Why it's special-
  1. Ok, it's the Super Bowl. Some teams have never made it there. Some have made it there, but have never won. 
  2. The Patriots have been in seven Super Bowls (a record).
  3. Coach Bill Belichick has more Super Bowl wins than any other coach. (He has wins with 2 other teams as an assistant coach).
  4. There are Patriots fans in every state and many countries around the world.
  5. No other team has come back from such a deficit (25 points) and won.
  6. There has never been an NFL duo (coach/quarterback) with as many shattered records and wins as Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
Here's our quarterback, Tom Brady.




Why he's special-


  1. He's the only quarterback to win 5 Super Bowls.
  2. He's the only quarterback to win 4 MVP Super Bowl awards.
  3. He's the second oldest qb to win a Super Bowl.
  4. He's smashed so many records, I can't recount them all.
  5. He's not done yet.
Love/hate them/him, it was history and I saw it happen. I'm going to be happen and reapply myself to my writing with the same dedication and focus he exhibits. 

Except it'll have to wait until after I clean up from my Super Bowl party...

Losers focus on winners, winners focus on winning.

Go Patriots!

Char