Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Post-Release Post #3: Reviews


It took me awhile to write this post because there really isn't that much that one can say about reviews.  The truth is that good ones make you feel euphoric and bad ones make you feel like crap.



I think the real question for writers is whether or not to read your reviews.

I know so many authors who do not read their reviews at all, ever.  Or who stopped reading them after a particularly brutal review.  I always wondered how they could do this--I mean wouldn't you want to know whether or not anyone out there liked your book?  But now that I'm published I realize that even if you don't read your reviews, you may still get messages from satisfied readers (or dissatisfied readers) via email or Twitter or Facebook that will give you some indication of how it is being received.

I think the whole To Read Reviews or Not To Read Reviews is a choice each individual author has to make.  As of right now, I do read mine.  That may change in the future.  Who knows?

Of course I am lucky because the majority of my reviews are very positive and yes, when I read a good one, it does put a little more pep in my step.  I'm incredibly grateful for everyone who has taken the time to write reviews of my book, whether on Amazon or on Goodreads.

If the majority of my reviews were terrible, I'm certain I'd be singing a different tune, and I certainly wouldn't be reading them.  As of right now, I like to think of getting a bad review like taking a punch.



The day of my release, I did a 10 Things People Would Be Surprised to Know About Me post on Nicky Wells' blog and one of those items was that during my 20s, I boxed a girl in a bar for money (and won).  I had studied martial arts for several years and in my twenties, almost all my social time was spent with my fellow martial arts students and my instructor.  Occasionally we'd all go out to a local bar and have a few drinks.  One night we went to a giant bar/club type place that actually had a boxing ring inside of it.  I am pretty sure that the reason we went there that night was because they were having a semi-pro female boxer fighting that evening.  But when we got there, it turned out she wasn't coming and the fight was off.  The club owners asked for volunteers to fight--I guess they had to put on some kind of entertainment--so with my instructor's permission, I volunteered.



It was a lot harder than I thought it would be.  At that point I had been studying martial arts for almost ten years.  I had earned my black belt.  But in boxing you can't use your feet or anything else you've learned.  You have only your punches.  I kept getting in trouble for trying to slap one of the few armbars I knew on this girl.  My instincts--apparently, from years of training and muscle memory--were to get in close to her, put some kind of hold on her (i.e. "pain compliance") and subdue her.  I was not allowed to do that. Anyway, my point is that it was hard.  The girl I fought had no experience at all, but I thought she did rather well.  She came at me like a whirling dervish, just wind-milling her gloves and trying to hit anything within three feet of her.  It was disconcerting.  I was used to being punched by people who knew what they were doing--kind of like how you get used to hearing criticism from critique partners who are other writers.

Anyway, what my opponent lacked in form, she definitely made up for in spunk. And yet, at the end of the fight (I think we went 3 or 4 rounds) she was in the back sobbing hysterically and hyperventilating, and I was sweating with $50 in my pocket.  I said to my then-boyfriend who had been my corner man, "Why is she crying?  She did great."

And he said, "She's never really been hit before.  She doesn't know how to take a punch."

I hadn't really thought about it before, but it's true.  If you've never been hit before, the first time it happens it totally freaks you out--even in a controlled environment.  It's even worse when you've never been hit before, and six or seven punches follow that first one, and you realize that the person isn't going to stop, and you don't know what the hell to do.  It is scary and can be traumatizing.

Reviews can be scary and traumatizing.  The bad ones anyway.  But like I said, you have to learn to take a punch.  Bad reviews are part of this business.  Not everyone is going to like your book.  Not everyone is going to "get" what you were trying to do in your book, and sometimes, even if they do get it, they'll think you didn't pull it off.  There is no avoiding them, and there is nothing that will make them sting less.  That's just the way it is.

So if you're going to read your reviews, you have to be prepared to take a punch.  Because there will be bad reviews and often extremely hateful reviews.  If you're going to flog yourself by reading them (and possibly re-reading them, as if we writers aren't insecure enough!) then you should know and be prepared for the simple fact that, like a punch, it's going to hurt.  And like a punch, you need to be able to shake it off and move on with the business of kicking ass, er, I mean writing.  You can't let it stun you or paralyze you. It's just a punch.

I mean if you're going to go into a fight, you're going to get punched.  It's the nature of the thing.  The same goes for being published--if you're going to put your book out there for all the world to read, you're going to get reviews and some of them are going to be bad. Very bad.  Again, I say:  Bad reviews are part of this business.  Which brings me back to my original point--the real question about reviews is whether or not you should read them.

How about you?  Do you read your reviews?  If you're not yet published, do you think you would read them?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Getting Ideas from Dreams: A Guest Post by Julie Flanders

I'm thrilled to welcome Julie Flanders to my blog today.  Her debut novel, Polar Night was released last week.

You can get it here.

Here is the skinny on the book:



When Detective Danny Fitzpatrick leaves his hometown of Chicago and moves to Fairbanks, Alaska he wants nothing more than to escape the violence and heartbreak that left his life in pieces. Numbed by alcohol and the frozen temperatures of an Alaskan winter, Danny is content with a dead-end job investigating Fairbanks' cold cases. That all changes when a pretty blond woman goes missing on the winter solstice, and Danny stumbles upon some surprising connections between her disappearance and that of another Fairbanks woman three years earlier. Forced out of his lethargy, Danny sets out to both find the missing woman and solve his own cold case.

The investigation points Danny towards Aleksei Nechayev, the handsome and charming proprietor of an old asylum turned haunted tourist attraction in the Arctic town of Coldfoot. As he tries to find a link between Nechayev and his case, Danny's instinct tells him that Nechayev is much more than what he seems.

Danny has no idea that Nechayev is hiding a secret that is much more horrifying than anything he could ever have imagined. As his obsession with finding the missing women grows, Danny finds his own life in danger. And when the truth is finally revealed, the world as he knows it will never be the same. 


About Julie:



Julie Flanders is a librarian and a freelance writer who has written for both online and print publications. She is an avid animal lover and shares her home in Cincinnati, Ohio with her dog and cat. Her debut novel Polar Night, a suspense thriller with a supernatural twist, is now available from Ink Smith Publishing. Find Julie online at her blog, and on Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook.

And now for the guest post!

In Your Dreams?

Back in 2011 I had a dream that I was on an ocean liner in the 1920s, crossing the Atlantic Ocean from Europe to the United States. I was apparently a first class passenger, as I was dressed in an evening gown, and I met a good looking man in a tuxedo who told me all about a woman he had loved and lost in Russia during World War I. That dream led me to the story of Polar Night.

I can’t exactly say how, because Polar Night takes place in present day Alaska and has absolutely nothing to do with an ocean liner. The antagonist of my story is from Russia, so I did take that bit from the dream. And he’s unusually good looking, as was the man on the ocean liner of my subconscious. But the world of the novel really has nothing at all to do with the dream.

Nevertheless, that dream stuck in my head and eventually settled into the story that became my debut novel.
I find dreams fascinating and I’m so intrigued by how our mind works when we sleep. For most of my life, I’ve had terrible problems with nightmares, and I normally never remember any of my dreams except those of the terror variety. So it was unusual and surprising for me to remember this dream about a voyage on an ocean liner in such vivid detail. Now, I can’t help but think that somehow it was meant to be.

Have you ever had a dream that stuck in your head and set fire to your imagination? For the writers out there, have you ever received story ideas from your dreams?

Thank you, Lisa for having me as your guest today! 

                                                                   ******
It was my pleasure! :)

I hope you guys will check out Julie's book!  I can't wait to read this one!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Happy Release Day to Some Awesome Ladies!

Just a quick post today to congratulate these three amazing writers on their release days today!

Julie Flanders' debut novel, Polar Night



When Detective Danny Fitzpatrick leaves his hometown of Chicago and moves to Fairbanks, Alaska he wants nothing more than to escape the violence and heartbreak that left his life in pieces. Numbed by alcohol and the frozen temperatures of an Alaskan winter, Danny is content with a dead-end job investigating Fairbanks' cold cases. That all changes when a pretty blond woman goes missing on the winter solstice, and Danny stumbles upon some surprising connections between her disappearance and that of another Fairbanks woman three years earlier. Forced out of his lethargy, Danny sets out to both find the missing woman and solve his own cold case. 

The investigation points Danny towards Aleksei Nechayev, the handsome and charming proprietor of an old asylum turned haunted tourist attraction in the Arctic town of Coldfoot. As he tries to find a link between Nechayev and his case, Danny's instinct tells him that Nechayev is much more than what he seems.

Danny has no idea that Nechayev is hiding a secret that is much more horrifying than anything he could ever have imagined. As his obsession with finding the missing women grows, Danny finds his own life in danger. And when the truth is finally revealed, the world as he knows it will never be the same.

Julie will be back on February 11th for a guest post!

I'd also like to give a shout-out to two of my SSP pub sisters who have releases out today:

Nicky Wells' novel, the second in her Sophie series, Sophie's Run



Her famous star remains her rock while life takes her on a little detour…

Who says that the road towards true love is straight and even? Sophie is certainly discovering that it is anything but.

So she has finally found the man of her dreams! Well…she knows who he is, even though she hasn’t actually quite met him yet. But she misses her opportunity, and then her life goes crazy. Rock star and ex-fiancĂ©, Dan, keeps getting in the way of her new romance—even if he is just trying to be helpful. A fire, an impromptu mini-trip with Dan, and a dreaded wedding later, Sophie is still struggling to meet the love of her life. Then, just as she is getting it together with her perfect man, best friend Rachel commits an act of unspeakable betrayal.

Sophie has had enough. Confused and distraught, she decides that it is time for a radical change. Surprising herself and shocking her friends, she embarks on a secret journey and eventually gets her life back on track.

Finally, Elizabeth Arroyo's debut novel, The Second Sign is out today as well!




Bred to believe in the war between angels and demons, Gabby has come to the conclusion that love is responsible for war, jealousy, and all the other deadly sins she can think of. So when she’s exiled to the middle of nowhere for getting kicked out of her fifth school for fighting, she doesn’t expect to meet Jake. Much less fall in love. But Jake is quickly drawn to the eerie beauty of her violet eyes while Gabby is unsettled by their undeniable connection. 

When a demon guardian comes to collect her soul, she refuses to give it up. She’s not a demon. She can’t be. Her father and twin brother are angels. The demon gives Gabby twenty-four hours to decide her allegiance and then starts killing her short list of friends, leaving a message behind: She is the Second Sign.

As Gabby and Jake begin to unravel the mystery behind the Second Sign, she learns Jake may be the key to saving her soul. But it means a sacrifice has to be made that will change their lives forever.

Congrats, ladies and best of luck!