Photo Credit: Brian Cuban
I’ve written about book reviews once before, but back then I wrote about writing them. Not this time. One of the things that becomes inevitable as soon as an author’s book becomes available to potential readers is not that they will undoubtedly buy it, but that negative reviews are on the way. Just do a little searching on Amazon and find your favorite book and read a few of its reviews. Sure you might think it’s the single greatest piece of literary work in the history of the universe, but someone out there will definitely disagree. It’s just the nature of the beast.
Sorry, but this post will not be a list of things for you to do once your book receives a negative review. I’m going to talk about something I saw this Saturday that made me sick. An author who I’ve never of before wrote about a very negative review of her work. So what did she do in response to this reader’s statements? She vowed to give similar reviews in the future because there are too many books that are shit (sorry) out there that she’s read herself. But that’s not all. Her book was evidently self-published by Smashwords and she took it off. Because of one review!
No I didn’t get a look at the review or the book, but are you kidding me? She’s going into her little shell because her writing is probably terrible. Suddenly the world is after her writing career because of this single review. Quite frankly, she’s a joke and likely has no future writing.
If people hate your work, then they do. Honestly, who cares? Write something better. That’s all.
Photo Credit: SFF Outpost
Another short post today, but one that I think you guys can all relate to. I think it’s safe to say that readers will read just about anywhere. On the bus. In the car. On a flight. Between classes at school. Outside under the sun. There really is no place off limits to enjoy a good book. With that being said, I’m near certain that y’all are like me and have that one reading spot where you do the majority of your reading. I know I do. It’s my bed. And I’d say that over 99% of my reading is done while having to lean a little to the right in order for the lamp light to reach the pages of whatever I’m reading. It’s one of the few hassles I don’t mind one bit, even though every once in awhile I’ll have to stretch my fingers because of the sometimes awkward positioning.
Have you seen those awesome reading hammocks and outdoor chairs? I want one.
But I’ll ask you, where is your ideal reading spot to get lost in a book? Please don’t say on the toilet. I’ll just laugh at you and probably not approve the comment.
Photo Credit: Ezine Articles
I have to be honest here. This was the first time since I adopted my Monday-Friday blogging schedule a few months ago that I wanted to just skip a day. Not that I think any of you would notice or care, but blogging is kind of important to me. Sounds stupid but it is. My reason for almost not posting today was because Team USA is set to play Germany today in their final Group Stage match right around the time this post will be scheduled to publish. I’m not the biggest soccer fan there is, but you bet your you know what that I’m a fan of Team USA. I was going to write about them and the World Cup and all of that, but I guess not.
Okay. we’ve all seen the writing tips credited to famous authors and also the advice that just seems to be from nowhere. I can’t tell you how many times in the last year I’ve read the phrase “Write what you know.” More honesty, I hate reading this crap. Write what you know. Well what if you’re like me and you don’t know a damn thing about writing or being a writer or plotting or any of that stuff? And your life experience is as ordinary as it gets.Then what the heck is the advice? “Write what you know nothing about?” That sounds about right to me. I’m sure y’all think I’m exaggerating when I say I don’t know anything about all this writing business, but I am telling you right now that I’m being completely honest when I say I’m clueless.
Let me repeat what I’ve mentioned in previous posts. Here’s how I write: I sit down. Write between 700-1500 words. Stop. Go about whatever else I’m doing that day or night. Write another 700-1500 words to finish up that chapter and move on. I’m not thinking about anything I know. I’m just writing whatever seems like it continues the story okay.
Now, I’m not sure that I’ve ever read anything about “Write what you read.” Maybe it’s been said a bunch and I’m just not in the loop, but maybe it hasn’t. No matter if writers all across the world believe in this philosophy or not a single one, this is me. You guys should know pretty well by now that I read crime fiction all the time. I love it. I write it. Why is this? Because over the years i feel that I’ve read enough perfect writing in the genre that has given me some ability to write my own stories. I’m not saying I’m some expert or that my writing is any better than the next guy, but I am saying that I write what and how I do because of what I’ve read. That’s it. Plain and simple.
My question for you is this: Do you believe in either of these writing philosophies?
If you haven’t heard “write what you read” before, then feel free to go ahead and credit the saying to me. Ha. Just kidding. Kinda.
Photo Credit: 3rd Grade’s a Hoot
In the last few months I’ve talked about my favorite series of books and also my favorite protagonist, but does that necessarily mean that the author of those books is my favorite? I don’t know. Actually, I do. No it doesn’t. If you missed that post I’ll link to it at the end of this, but let’s just say that my favorite series revolves around my favorite protagonist who sometimes goes by the Girl on Fire. I sincerely hope that you know who she is. If not, your life is probably a mess. Just kidding. Not really.
Okay. So now I have to dive into who I think is my single favorite author. If it’s possible to have a single favorite. This is one of those questions that always depends on when you ask. I’d be willing to bet that many people today would name John Green or Veronica Roth as their favorite. Understandable, but I don’t think one’s favorite author should always be changing. I’ve had just two books make the top of my best books read list since I first started it. I think the list has over 120 titles. See, I think one’s favorite author should be treated similarly. If they are truly your favorite, then they should remain so for some time. Not two weeks until you read the next book you deem to be the best ever.
So now that I’ve eliminated Suzanne Collins from the competition, let me see who else might make the top of the pile. Robert B. Parker. I think by the time I’m 35 or 40 I’ll have every book he ever wrote. The number is around 70 divided between several different series. But I don’t think he’s my favorite. Marcus Sakey. He has a handful of books that were truly great. I actually remember the story of every one. Somewhat. But his two most recent books are part of a trilogy that I’ll never read. Much too sci-fi for me when he’s a crime writer. I think there are only two more authors who are seriously in the running for the coveted title of John Guillen’s Favorite Author Award.
Michael Connelly. This guy just does not know how to write a mediocre novel. Harry Bosch is probably the best detective series I’ve read. I’ve also read one of his Mickey Haller novels, great. I really have nothing negative to say about his writing style or any of his books.
Robert Crais. He’s here because of Elvis Cole, who heavily influenced my own Andrew Banks. Again, nothing negative to say about any of his books I’ve read. It took me a long time to start the series because of the title of the first book. I kept hesitating to take a chance, but the climax of that first one was so intense that it was one of those rare times when you can’t read the words fast enough.
After a lot of thought, I can’t pick a winner. These two are the best of the best when it comes to crime fiction today. I deem the competition a tie.
But maybe you can. Do you have a single favorite author who isn’t just whomever is in the spotlight at the moment?
What’s That one Series of Books You Won’t Forget?
Photo Credit: Bigger Pockets
The title of this post was my attempt to differentiate myself from every other person who has already written about judging books by their covers. I don’t think my title is very catchy. But eh. That’s okay. Let’s get on topic.
No matter what you say or what anyone else says, we’ve all judged books by their covers. Every person who has ever walked into a bookstore without knowing what they’d walk out with has done this. Now I’m not saying that every book you or I purchase has been because of its cover, but I’m sure there are a few on your shelf that you bought simply because you thought it looked pretty. That’s okay. I’m sure I’ve done it. But there have probably been dozens more that you chose not to buy because you thought the cover was a turn off. I have to say that I’ve also done this. But why? Let me tell you what I think.
You walk into the store and move toward your favorite section. You immediately find a few of your favorite authors but soon realize that you have all of the books on the shelves. Then you start walking up and down the aisle. You find a handful of books that you’re considering taking home with you.Then you find a nice place on the floor or one of those big comfy chairs and read all of their blurbs and titles and check out the covers.You’ve never read any of the authors and you don’t want your buying decision to be made based solely on the book blurbs. There’s just not enough there. You don’t know if the books are in a series or anything about the writing styles of any of these authors. You’re going back and forth between every book trying to come up with valid reasons for each. But then, you glance at your watch or phone and realize that you have five minutes before you need to be back in your car to make that doctor’s or lunch appointment. It all comes down to the covers now. You lay them all out and make a pick, and probably take an additional one for good measure. The others are quickly replaced on the shelf and out the door you go.
At least this is what I’ve done whenever I’ve gone to the bookstore to find something new.
But browsing for me is not walking up and down the mystery aisles at the store. Browsing is now randomly searching for the next books in just about every series I’m reading. I don’t look at the covers or the blurbs or anything but the price. I’ll eventually have to buy them all if I intend to continue the series, but usually the cheapest will win. Makes no difference what the book is about because I already know I enjoy the series and the author and the stories I’ve read.
Whenever I do decide to find something new the process is much the same. I’m sure you know that Amazon has Top 100 bestseller lists for everything in books. I’ll usually go to the Mystery, Thriller, Suspense or Private Investigator lists and go to the end of the list. I don’t want to see the super high bestsellers that have just been released, but the books that are selling well even though they’ve likely been out for years. But that’s not very often I have to do this because I have so many series I’m always wanting to continue.
So the point of this post is to acknowledge that I’ve absolutely judged a number of books by their covers, but probably not as much as you have. Tell me how come you do it whenever you do.
Photo Credit: Planet Minecraft
This post will likely be short.
Of the millions of fans of Potter, I’m sure a few of you read my blog. This past weekend I read an article all about the Wizarding World in Orlando. The article’s author wrote of the experience and the addition of Diagon Alley next month. And it had pictures! Lots of pictures that I thought of stealing for my own use in this post, but decided against it because you should just read the article. Anyway, my reason for writing this is that this is something I MUST experience. I’ve always been a fan of theme parks and roller coasters and all of that fun stuff, but this place is better than everything else. It’s HARRY freaking POTTER! And the place looks amazing.
As always, I’ll finish with a question. Have you been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter yet? Not asking you Amy, I know you’re going later this year and I hate you. If you have, what did you think of everything? If not, do you have any plans to visit in the future that I can join???
Photo Credit: SLU
This post is partly inspired by a comment I received yesterday on my post Stopping a Book Before you Finish. I’d go back and see who said it, but I’m writing this 15 minutes before I’m supposed to get ready for work, so if you read this you mystery person you, thanks for the comment.
Okay. Now I’m not talking about language here. I’m talking about cussing. Or vulgar language in your work. There are a number of genres in which any coarse language is unacceptable, but let’s not talk about those this time around. Let’s talk strictly books for adults. Say you’re reading along and then the protagonist has an angry episode and starts cussing all over the next few pages. Would that turn you off the rest of the book? Or say you’ve been reading along and the protagonist speaks casually with other characters using some of our favorite four-letter words. Would that turn you off the rest of the book?
I ask because I’ve come to realize that although I read mostly detective stories that deal with serial killers or rapists or so-called bad people, there is very little cussing going on. When I say very little, I mean almost none. The book I’m just about to finish in the next day or so, The Drop by Michael Connelly, has had none. Or if there has been any, it’s been such a small amount that I can’t even recall it.
The point I want to make is that sometimes we write scenes that we just know need a little cussing to make more genuine or realistic, but in reality that is rarely the case. It may sound okay to you as you write it, but it likely sounds a bit forced or excessive to the reader if there are any scenes that have a lot of cussing from one or more characters. There are a number of things that can potentially turn me off a book, but cussing isn’t really one of them.
To you, do you tend to have any amount of vulgar language in your writing? Maybe there’s some yelling or maybe it happens in casual conversation. Tell me.
Photo Credit: Pretty in Fiction
I know more avid readers than I do this several times throughout the year. They pick up a book, whether by an author they know or one that is new to them, and never reach the final page. To me, this is a terrible feeling. Not because I feel bad for the author or the publisher or anyone involved, but because somewhere along the line I read the blurb or a review or something that helped me decide that this was a book I’d like to read. So I become disappointed that I made a wrong turn somewhere.
Let me tell you what typically makes me stop a book before I finish because it has happened a lot more recently than ever before. For the longest time I had only one or two books I’d started and stopped. I just did a quick check and I think that number is five now. Three happened this year! So what makes me stop reading a book? It’s boring. A book by one of my favorite authors that came out last year that was quite a bit different from his previous work had whole chapters of description. Whole 25-35 page chapters! What is that? The protagonist. I don’t think I’ve ever read any books in which I hated the protagonist, but there have been a few that made me just want to throw my book out the window. Not naming any, though. Pace. Now I’ve mentioned before that as a writer I know nothing about pacing. Well as a reader I think I’m more knowledgeable. I shouldn’t be nearly halfway through the work before knowing what the heck is going on. I want to know the conflict and I want to know it early on.
There is one other reason I might stop a book. If I’m just trying out a new author and I’m not hooked by the first 50-100 pages, then I might stop and grab something off my shelf by an author I know I like.
I think there have been five or six books I’ve started and never finished, and I still haven’t gone back to any of them.
So tell me, what makes you stop a book before finishing? And how often would you say it happens to you? I’m sure your reasons may be similar to mine, but maybe you have more.
I’ve written posts about all things books. Writing. Reading. Publishing. And just general news. The one thing I’ve tried stay away from doing is actively recommending books. I’ve written a few posts about the books I’ve read this year from the Amazon 100 Books Everyone Should Read List, but even then I don’t think I recommended any of those to my readers.
You may be wondering why I try not to recommend books. Well, because there is no “if you liked this, then you’ll definitely like this.” Just because you did doesn’t mean I will. For example, most of you know that I’m obsessed with Katniss and all things THG, and yes I would recommend those three books to anyone, no matter what they say their genre of choice is because I think those books transcend the YA dystopian genre, but those are the only ones.
I won’t tell you that if you enjoy reading crime novels that you should read every book on my shelf since it’s about 90% detective fiction. I won’t tell you to read my most recent read because I liked it so much. One thing I’ll never do is gift someone a book. Because what the heck do I know about their reading habits? Nothing.
One other quick example. I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I thought it was a great book, but it doesn’t mean I’m suddenly going to buy all of his previous books or that I’m going to delve deeper into YA. I don’t think either of those is going to happen right now. I read what I read and if it happens to be mystery or YA or sci-fi, then so be it. No single book or recommendation will be changing that.
If you’re wondering, the one book that doesn’t belong in a series that I’d recommend to any person is Anne Frank. But that’s it.
Photo Credit: LawEssays
As you all know, there are SO many writers here on WordPress. Some have publishing deals, others have sellf-published, and yet more don’t know the first thing about grammar. The quality of the writer is impossible for you to know because no, writing a blog post is not and never will be the same as writing a new chapter in a story or any type of fiction at all. Yet all of these writers are constantly giving out advice like they’re some expert on the craft. Here’s what I think about all of the “advice” floating around the web, and specifically WordPress.
Ask for advice at your own risk. Have you read the work of the person giving you this seemingly magnificent advice? Or better, have they read your work? No to both, huh? Well then what the heck are you doing taking their advice? How can they tell you about plotting or your characters or anything at all that is specific to your writing if they’ve never read it? They can’t. All you’ll likely get is whatever happens to work for them. Even though the two of you aren’t the same person or writer. Weird.
Never take it. Okay, never is probably the incorrect word. How about very rarely. You should very rarely take their advice, unless it’s coming from some guy named Stephen King or something, then write it all down! But really, a lot of my writing blog posts ask for what other people do when this or that is happening in their writing. And I get plenty of comments and feedback, BUT ask me if I’ve ever actually incorporated something someone has told me into my own writing. The answer is honestly no. And the other aspect of this is that there are probably 5-10 bloggers who I’d actually listen to when it comes to writing advice. Can’t name them because now you can just assume that you’re one of them.
I think those two points cover what I have to say. Writing advice is all over, you shouldn’t just accept whatever is offered to you as fact. But I will still ask, have you ever taken advice from another blogger who wasn’t familiar with any of your work? Tell me why you’d do such a thing. I’ve received advice, but nothing has been incorporated as of yet. Some ideas will be used in the future, but these are a very few.