Tuesday, March 28, 2017

On My "To Do" List

I like lists. They help me feel organized and almost like I have control of my day and life. (Ha.) Here is today's list of Thing To Do (which may run for well over a month before I get them done):

1. Write this blog post (guess I can cross it off my list as soon as I post).

2. Upload 15 pages of manuscript for critique at NJ SCBWI annual conference.

3. Pack up books and supplies for the Pennsylvania State Local Authors book festival (at Hershey, PA. Details on my 'What's Up?' page).

4. Pack up books and supplies for the Barnes and Noble Educator's event at Marlton. (yep, details on my events page).

5. Follow up with agents who requested a partial or full manuscript. Keep fingers crossed.

6. Draft presentation for NJ SCBWI conference (cyber security and hacking).

7.  Drop off NJ SCBWI paperwork on Critique Day in Princeton to our Reg. Adv, Cathy.

8. Get in a swim.

9. Start revisions on MG ms requested by another agent.

10. Continue work on YA thriller.

I've already gone through emails (I have to monitor 3 accounts- family, my old yahoo one, and my author one on gmail), Facebook and Twitter updates, and checked in with my publicist. And, I fed the cats. Twice.

The writer's life- it's not all glorious writing.

I'll let you know how much I got done by next week...


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! 



Monday, March 13, 2017

Everything About Writing I Learned From...


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.


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.



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!