Saturday, May 5, 2018

Pathways of the Heart: My Rave Review

Get it read it tell your friends to buy it. Diane Yates did a stellar job of writing her mother's story, in Pathways of the Heart. The true story, written as a novel, reads like the finest fiction. I literally could not put it down. If you love character driven stories, you will love this book.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Four Reasons to Find a Publisher for Your Book

  There are benefits to self-publishing, and there are benefits to not being self-published. Even if their stories are awesome, some authors may never find publishers, so must self-publish. Conversely, self-publishing is not for every author. Writers must weigh their goals (as well as their abilities and limitations) against the pro's and con's of each option.
   Moving forward with a poorly thought out decision, is something an author may have to live with for years, maybe even forever. 
   If one of your goals is to see your book on the New York Times Bestseller List, then self-publishing is not for you. Self-published books [even run-away-best-sellers] are not promoted on this list. If one of your primary goals is total control over your creation, then having a publisher is not for you.   
   That being said, having a publisher has many benefits. 1.) You, as a writer, will only have to write and promote your works [every author must promote their books--no exceptions]. 2.) Your publisher usually [also] promotes your works on their general platform, but in addition to that, will bear the cost of producing a product that booksellers will be excited to add to their shelves. Your publisher, not you, takes the risks and bears the costs of formatting, designing and creating a stunning cover, and printing and distributing your book.
   Create Space is an awesome platform for self-publishers, and some small press publishers also use it to print and distribute for their contracted authors.  3.) A good publisher distributes your book worldwide. Bookstores can order from a publisher at wholesale cost without minimum orders, and [in many parts of the country] even receive free shipping.
"While bookstores are usually happy to fulfill specific customer orders, most bookstore owners refuse to buy books from Amazon, Amazon imprints, or Amazon affiliates such as Createspace. Even if your digital book hits the bestseller lists, if you distribute your paperback through Createspace many bookstores won’t stock it." --Huffington Post, Dec 2017
 4.)  Although most publishers require authors to submit professionally edited manuscripts to begin with,  most authors who choose publishers, enjoy the added benefit of editors who work closely with them prior to publishing, ensuring that their book goes to market as a professionally polished product, of the highest quality, something they can always be proud of.
   Self-publishing is a great option for writers who enjoy the technical processes and either have the skills or are willing to take the time and make the effort to learn the skills. Having a publisher is the only good option for authors who just want to...write!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Why I did not finish reading this book

  This is a non-book-review on a romantic suspense novel, which means I will not disclose the names of the title or author. This book was published by a large and well-known traditional publisher of Christian romances.
   Shame on the editors for not catching this stuff.
   This non-book-review is intended to improve our writing, and not to criticize simply for the sake of criticism--never mind that I was a deeply disappointed reader who, while reading what I anticipated to be a few hours of delightful escape into the thrilling world of danger and romance, would have loved nothing better than to hack, hack, hack on the author who caused me to waste my money on her novel!

   All venting aside, this article is written with a cooler head and from the perspective of both reader and editor. From the perspective of a reader, as an avid reader of good fiction (I love it, love it, love it!), there are some things I will bear with for a while, in hopes the author will quickly adjust and improve. If that does not happen within a reasonable number of pages, I assume I am seeing a pattern in the writing, and I ditch the book.
   For the following reasons, the book in this review (which managed to keep my strained attention (for 72 pages. It had potential.) did not get finished:

  • The author repeatedly used the same idioms. It's a good idea not to repeat idioms. Once is great. Twice is too many. More than twice slaps a reader in the face (at least they do me). They notice it, and after the first use, it's already old. 
  • Research: Readers are usually well educated (whether self or academically). Some critical facts in this story were not straight.
  • Gender stereotypes: This particular publisher states in their guidelines that they want their female and male characters to be equal partners, and then are notorious for publishing all kinds of gender stereotypes in their books anyway.Such was the case with this story. The author threw in some statements to make it appear as if she was compliant with the guideline, then contradicted those statements with gender stereotypes. Even one or two are too many but after that, I generally ditch the book.
  • Believability: Situations where common sense does not prevail
  • Oxymoronic evidence in the same scene (a video too blurry to make out any details, except the color of the perp's eyes!?)
  • Convenient stuff that just gets added into the story as needed, "Oh, I just happen to have recently installed an airstrip on my farm..."
  • Contradictions: Weather conditions that prevented visuals from only a few feet away, but the characters could see headlights coming from quarter mile away
  • Flat characters--especially the hero. Even though the writer described their appearance, I simply could not visualize either one of them.
  • Chemistry: The author kept telling me the main characters were attracted to each other, but I could not feel any connection between the two. 
  • Emotional Experience: Aside from irritation, I actually felt nothing while reading this novel. Zero emotional experience.
  • Conflict: I had trouble figuring out what his conflict was if he had one. I did not relate to her conflict. It was weak and unconvincing.
   I finally gave up hope that the writing would improve and closed the book for good.
   The sad part is, the story had immense potential but fell short.
   In defense of the previously published author (she was not a newbie), she was probably on a too-tight deadline and did not get near enough editorial attention.
   A word to Editors, just because an author is a veteran, doesn't mean she or he shouldn't get the same quality editing for each book. 
   I believe the editor[s] did a dis-service to both author and readers by publishing this novel without giving it a good twice or thrice-over. Good editors could have pointed out the weak points and drawn more out of the author, helping to hone her story into a really great read.
   Published as it was, though, I found the story to be bland, shallow, and boring.  

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Obliterating Hindrances to Your Word Count

   I have learned, that when I sit down to work on my novel, anything that can distract me,will. 
   The two biggest culprits, being phone and internet.
   My radical Solution?
   Turn off the phone.
   Unplug the modem.
   Of course, leaving the house, and writing in a location with no internet access (with phone off) is also a good idea, but I generally love to write at home.
   Cutting ties to the outside world (even if only for a few hours), has dramatically increased my creativity and productivity.
   Sweet liberty!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Writing Hacks that Beat Writer's block.

   Writer's block. Hmm.... 
   Happens to me almost every time I open my word processor to work on my novel. 
   Why do I just know I will NEVER be able to think of another word to add to my  story? 
   Is it just me? Or do other writers go through the same thing?
   As with most things in my everyday life--of which writing is a large part of--I have some "hacks" I use to get past things like procrastination (who me?!?) and the dreaded, WRITER'S BLOCK!!!!!
   When I get bogged down with no fresh ideas, I begin reading through a document of plot and character ideas/needs and loose ends, things I was not quite ready to work on at the time I jotted them down, but know I will get to later. 
   I add to this document each time I work on my manuscript, and reading through it generally proves helpful. My organization for this document is extravagantly simple. Notes and ideas get filed under the character's name the idea most closely associates with. That way, I don't end up with a confusing mass of less-than-helpful notes. 
   Another thing I do to combat writer's block, is to begin reading through what I have already written. Almost without fail, my story and characters draw me in, and before I know it, I find myself adding to the story.
   Wallah! cured of writer's block!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Writers Beware: Don't let this happen in your book!

The review below scared me to death...and put me on my [writing] toes, so to speak. God forbid this should ever be said about any book I write. I have changed the names and of course left out the book title and the author's name. I'm sure she is mortified to see one of her "babies" cast in such bad light, but, especially, if she is a new author, there is a treasure trove of tips for writing improvement in the devastation of this very BAD review: 

"How does one explain so much potential that ultimately goes...nowhere.

 For those who have read the book, think about it. In every single story-line throughout the book, with the exception of Joe (to a very small degree) and Deborah, there is no actual progression in plot-line.

For those who haven't read it, I'll give you a heads up, don't read on if you are afraid of spoilers:

  1.  Richard and Jane: Their relationship is exactly the same at the end as in the beginning. What started with HUGE promise petered out into nothing by books end, no growth whatsoever, status quo.
  2.  Mike and Terry: Although Terry changes, her relationship with Mike...still the same.
  3.  Shirley: We start with an interesting thread but it's just lost. Nothing happens to it.
  4.  Charles and Judy: We already knew he cares for her, so nothing at all new in that area either.
  5.  Lee: His story-line just disappears. He is there in the beginning then never heard of again."

 The good news for writers, is that this review is chock full of writing tips, along with sufficient motivation to put them to good use.

  •  Deliver! Make good on promises made to the reader at the beginning of the story. Don't let that story fizzle out
  • Keep the story moving forward. Make the reader want to find out what happens next
  • Readers want to see change and personal growth in the characters into whose lives they have temporarily become a part of. Don't let characters remain stagnant
  •  Readers want to see relationships grow and develop
  • What happened to Shirley?!? I wanted to see what happened to Shirley!!!! Reader is now furious
  • Can't change just one person in a relationship. Cause and effect, cause and effect, cause and effect, etc., and etc....
  • Charles and Judy: Boooring! Where's the conflict?
  • Lee who? Where'd he go? Bad editing? Thought he was a good idea but changed mind? Meant to delete him from the mss? Sloppy sloppy sloppy

This reviewer. though brutal, provided very constructive criticism of pitfalls that every writer can fall prey to, learn from..., and steer clear of!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Selling Books through Blogs and Social Media

      Book marketing and promoting go hand in hand with writing these days. Publishers no longer "do it all" for authors. And many authors, today, are Indie Authors who have no publishers to help them. Regardless, whether an author is traditionally published or self published, book marketing can be a major challenge. Many authors would simply rather write than try and sell the books they are writing.  
   I am one of them, but alas, it must be done!
   Blogging is a popular way to promote books, but I have heard from authors that blogging had no positive effect on their book sales at all--so they planned to give up blogging completely. 
   If book sales are a writer's only reason for blogging, then, I agree with them; they should do themselves a big favor and exit the blogosphere...and the tweetosphere (Yes, I just created a new word). 
   They are boring everyone...most likely even themselves. I tend to mute authors who do nothing but try and sell books through social media, and I guarantee I never read their blogs.  
  On the other hand, if they really love blogging, and are simply discouraged, perhaps looking at their primary motivation for writing a blog (or posting to social media) can help turn things around.  
   If an author is not blogging out of love for writing and passion for her subject, no one is really interested in what she has to say anyway. 
   Blogging (and posting to social media) for no other reason than just to sell books is a turn-off for most readers, and usually results in no readers at all. 
   I have experienced encouraging results when writing blogs on subjects I am passionate about. It is exciting to watch book sales reveal (what I interpret as) a direct correlation between communicating with my target readership (in relevant and informative ways) and rising book sale numbers.
   Contribute meaningfully to your reader's lives by posting relevant information, and they will want to read more of what you have to say--whether in fiction or nonfiction.
   It's OK to promote our books through our blogs and social media, as long as our goals in doing so are to contribute in positive and relevant ways to the lives of our readers. Use that as a barometer to measure our motivations for each and every post and blog, and book sales should naturally follow.