Monday, August 29, 2016

Reviews: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Perils of Reading Reviews of Your Novel

The day The Mermaid's Sister went live on Amazon was one of the weirdest days of my life. A mixture of excitement, fulfillment, and terror consumed me as the reviews began to appear. First, the five stars (yay!) Then some fours and a few threes (okay, everyone is entitled to his/her own taste and opinion)...and eventually, the dreaded one star. (If I remember properly, the reason the reviewer gave was that he didn't like Young Adult novels. Still shaking my head over that one.) I admit I kept reading reviews for a while--maybe a week or two--before I realized it was messing with my head. How could I have written someone's new favorite book that also was the most cliché piece of trash ever? How could a simple story draw such personal, hateful attacks from some and inspire others to joy?

You just can't wrap your mind around that. And you shouldn't try.

To quote a grammatically revolting cliché (because apparently I rock at clichés!), "Haters gonna hate, lovers gonna love." And if you did your best (and had fabulous editors--God bless 'em!), it doesn't matter.
Writers bleed ink!
Okay. it does matter somewhat. Reviews sell books--but even bad reviews sometimes get people interested enough to read your book. Anyway, what I'm saying is, everyone gets bad reviews. Go check some of your favorite authors' Amazon pages, and you'll see it's true.

So, what to do?

You can either go cold turkey and quit reading all reviews, or you can get yourself a "stalker." My husband is mine. He reads me the very special reviews, and the ones so bad that they're actually kind of funny--and he doesn't mention the rest, thereby providing the right amount of encouragement and a few laughs. Maybe I'll post some examples here on the blog in the future. :)

One last suggestion: If you're asked to review others' work, it's sometimes best to just say no. Personally, I don't want to be the one to crush someone's dreams when they maybe just need more practice, to join a critique group, or to hire an editor--especially if the writer is a friend.

Putting your writing out there is a scary, daunting thing. I hope you'll be brave enough to do it, and to keep doing it, no matter how many "stars" you get.

P.S. Here's a great video on the topic of handling critics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-JXOnFOXQk
Thanks to author Jeff Wheeler for pointing me to it!


Ink bottle image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy.




Sunday, August 21, 2016

Festivals & Festivities

Oh, the Places I'll Go...

(to quote Dr. Seuss. Sort of.)

Hi!
Summer is winding down, but don't fret! Much fun is yet to be had before the winter winds blow. Here are a few places you'll find me purveying & signing books in the next month or so.




Downtown Williamsport, Pennsylvania
Friday, August 26th, 2016
5:00 pm to 9:00 pm

My good friend and fellow author Susan Lower will share a book-selling table at this celebration coinciding with the Little League World Series. There will also be live music, food, and craft vendors.



Beaver County Book Fest

Beaver County Book Fest 2016 will take place Saturday, September 10th from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., in the charming and historic town of Beaver, in western Pennsylvania. This year's featured authors are Tawni O’Dell and Caroline Carlson. The Main Event on Saturday is free and features an Authors’ Tent (with 50+ authors!), the popular Children’s Tent with plenty of activities for the little ones, music on the street, and of course, a variety of food and retail vendors.



A "Meet the Author" Evening at Union County Public Library

255 Reitz Blvd, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
7 pm. to 8 p.m.
I'll be reading an excerpt from The Mermaid's Sister and answering questions about the book, the writing life, and goodness-knows-what-else. Books will be available for purchase & signing. There also might be cookies. You never know.




Friday, August 5, 2016

A Tale of Two Leprechauns

It's no blarney...

Right before I packed to go to Philadelphia for the 2016 Realm Makers Conference last week (more on that below), I sent the completed manuscript of my leprechaun novel to my editor. It was a proud and terrifying moment, as any writer could tell you. The leprechaun and I have been an item for almost five years now. We've broken up numerous times, only to make up and start over. So, here's hoping the luck of the Irish will be with me--and that the publisher says they'd like to give me a pot of gold to publish the novel.
In other leprechaun (and mermaid) news, the Realm Makers Conference was amazing! The conference is designed for "people of faith who love speculative fiction" (fantasy, science fiction, horror, & thriller genres). One of the highlights was the yearly costumed awards banquet. Dressed as a leprechaun (heaven knows I love any excuse to put on a costume!), I received top honors in the Young Adult novel category and went on to win the first ever Realm Award for Speculative Novel of the Year for The Mermaid's Sister. Judges included renowned and respected authors Kathy Tyers, Tosca Lee, and Jeff Gerke. Needless to say,  my heart is still aglow! You can find out about the other award winners here: https://faithandfantasyalliance.wordpress.com/2016/08/05/realm-makers-2016-award-winners/
Next year's conference will be held in Reno. Check it out here: http://www.speculativefaith.com/news/ted-dekker-headline-realm-makers-2017-reno/

Now, to begin the next novel....I'm thinking there might be a changeling involved.
Carrie Anne Noble impersonating a leprechaun, with lovely author Kathy Tyers




*Thanks to author Susan Lower for the top and bottom photos!*