Sunday, January 14, 2018
Saturday, January 13, 2018
Sunday, January 7, 2018
Jane Kindred is the author of the Harlequin Nocturne series, Sisters in Sin, and the epic fantasy series The House of Arkhangel’sk, Demons of Elysium, and Looking Glass Gods. She spent her formative years ruining her eyes reading romance novels in the Tucson sun and watching Star Trek marathons in the dark. She now writes to the sound of San Francisco foghorns while two cats slowly but surely edge her off the side of the bed.
Friday, January 5, 2018
It's cold outside, snuggle up with a good book!
Other books in the series include:
Growl and roar-it's okay to let the beast out. - J. Hali Steele
Thursday, January 4, 2018
Tuesday, January 2, 2018
Bad Reviews—UGH. Like gremlins in the cupboards and pixies in the sugar jar, they sneak up when you least expect them. For writers, the best way to deal with bad reviews is often to ignore them. I certainly never, ever, ever, ever reply to them—no matter what. That way lies madness.
I write reviews only occasionally and very reluctantly. I don’t write bad reviews. They hurt my soul. I think most writers feel this way—we hate to get bad reviews and so we don’t give them.
Not that writing bad reviews about a book is the mark of Satan. Objective reviewers feel duty-bound to provide an honest account of their experience and that is a good thing. A number of bad reviews tends to bring problems to the attention of potential buyers. Writers can learn lessons from bad reviews as well—but only if those bad reviews deal with things within our control to alter.
I wanted to see what I could learn from bad reviews so I got a plate of cookies and a large bottle of cheap brown liquor and dug in.
I looked at some of the top 100 books in the paranormal romance genre. I wanted to see what reviewers said about books that generally got good reviews.
Here are a few items that made me shake my head (and take another slug of that brown liquor.)
- Didn’t like the binding—Right, I bind each and every book with a needle and thread. I also use a quill pen to illuminate each manuscript before I store it in clay pots in the basement.
- Poor paper quality—All my books are printed on paper I make myself by munching wood into pulp and drying it on a screen rack.
- Liked the author’s other books better so I rated this one low – You give and you take away.
- No dust jacket – Who the hell wants dust jackets? Seriously. Didn’t you learn to make your own out of paper sacks in grade school? On the other hand, if you pay upwards of $15 for a book, it better come with all the bells and whistles—including dust jackets.
- Slow shipping/shipping cost is too much—I’ll speak to my horde of book-delivering minions and get this straightened out.
- The book cover is not the same color as the one in the picture – The reviewer gave the book a 1-star for this with no mention of the content. I guess he/she wanted a book to match the room décor and not to read.
A self-published author has some control over the quality of the binding and paper and maybe even the shipping. I’d say even the smaller publishing houses would be receptive to such feedback. So even these seemingly non sequitur comments might yield a lesson.
More importantly, reviews that mention the following items are fodder for reflection.
1. Bad Editing/inaccurate details. This is by far the greatest complaint I saw in my highly unscientific review of reviews. Every author NEEDS an editor but many feel they can skip this vital step. Complaints about bad editing are also important to an author who has a)paid for an editor or b) used the editor provided by a publisher. Consistent and justified complaints about bad editing can mean the author isn’t getting her money’s worth.
2. Slow paced or depressing. Since I read The Yearling in grade school, I’ve been wary of sad books. If you’ve not read it, I won’t spoil the ending except to say prepare yourself for a soul-killing experience from which you will take years to recover. Bringing a social injustice to light in fiction is a time-honored tradition and serves a useful purpose—think Charles Dickens’ many works which illuminated social injustice in 19th century Britain and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird which illustrated racism in the Deep South. But even these heavy subjects were presented with humor and humanity. Authors can use this complaint to determine if they need to insert a bit more humor. Lighter moments actually heighten the drama.
3. Unlikable protagonist. Have you ever been happily reading along and discovered the protagonist is a needy, shallow, whiny tart? Yep—me, too. Now, it is possible to take an unlikable character and use their unlikeability as a device. Readers might be drawn into the story just to see this character get their comeuppance or they might hang on hoping for the character’s redemption. But either way, readers need to see something in the character or the plot that they can root for. If you see this complaint too many times, you may need to work on character development to make the protagonist more human and more relatable.
4. Too much backstory. Huge chunks of backstory or world building will send readers running for the TV remote while your book gathers dust in a corner. If only your book came with a dust jacket. At least a 50/50 ratio between narration and dialogue seems prudent, but I prefer more dialogue with action tags. Show the characters moving through the world and let them describe the world in dialogue. One bit of advice I use every day is “Tell (or show) the reader only what they need to know right now.” If you do that for every scene, the world builds itself.
5. Too poetic. Purple prose is still a thing. Sometimes a reviewer just doesn’t get the snazzy metaphor or allusion you slipped in there. Let them go in peace. Most of the time, purple prose comes from forgetting your novel is really a conversation with other real people. Imagine you’re telling the story of your novel to a friend. If the snazzy metaphor fits, keep it—but if it sounds pretentious, you may very well find yourself in dire need of an additional portion of your favored aperitif as you slaughter your darling word babies.
Even bad reviews have a purpose, but don’t linger in the land of bad reviews for long. After all, you can use that time better by creating artistic dust jackets and chewing up pine boards to make another ream of printer paper.
Tell me—do you review books? What do you like to comment on when you do? What would a review need to say to make you rush to buy the book?
Sorchia Dubois writes paranormal romance and mysteries from her upstairs office overlooking a piney Ozarks woods.
Her books delve into the occult—reincarnation, psychic powers, mysticism, ancient cultures, and good old fashioned “ghosties and ghoulies and long-legged beasties and things that go bump in the night.”
A proud member of the Ross clan, Sorchia incorporates all things Celtic (especially Scottish) into her works. She an often be found swilling Scotch at Scottish events. Online, you can find her at www.SorchiaDuBois.com.
Saturday, December 30, 2017
|I grew up watching "Machinga" on Japanese TV|
|Here's the one my son found from his childhood|
|Who didn't want a Pigs in Space lunchbox?|
|If you look closely, you can see the interior of the Falcon|
|I still want one of these!|
|I had this doll house. Still miss it.|
Friday, December 29, 2017
I've had lots of good points. I got to work with a dear friend on not one, but two projects. It was a great collaboration. I've been invited to work in Kindle Worlds. I've seen some of my best stories come out and weathered changes in editors, publishing houses as well as characters that want to be difficult. I've had the good fortune of being signed with a new-to-me publishing house and have had my stories from other houses that are defunct picked up by other pubs. That's some good fortune.
But there have been some interesting, yet, tough parts of this year. I've seen friendships I thought were tight go kablooey. I've seen publishers change hands, or close. That's been tough. I love my publishers and have had mostly fantastic experiences with them. It can't all be wine and roses, but I've had a good time. I can't complain. I'm terribly sad that one pub is closing. They weren't the easiest, but they brought out the best in my writing. I'd rather have a hard edit than a super easy one. If I know there are issues and I'm working on them, I think it makes the whole story stronger to fix them.
I've had rejections this year. I don't mind rejection--sometimes the project just isn't for that pub--but one thing I'd love to change is the flat, blunt thanks but no thanks rejections. How can I get better if I don't know what's wrong with the story? I've had a few revise and resubmits - which I actually embrace. I prefer to know what needs fixed in order to make the grade.
I've seen the passing of my grandfather and the passing of my cat. Not just the family cat or a cat...my cat. My writing buddy. My snuggle baby. The one I raised from kitten-hood. I'd always wanted an orange cat and he was mine. I miss having him beside me when I write. His low pitched meow, the way he'd make the crackle sound to get my attention and how he'd seemingly appear out of nowhere to sit with me. Yep, I'm still struggling with that loss.
So I've been thinking. Lots of thinking. I've taken a few leaps this year, but I'll save those for another post. I like to go into my year with a plan. My author friend, Cheryl Dragon, and I talk each January about the plan for that year. I've tried to make one, but going into 2018, it's tougher. I'm a write by the seat of my pants kind of girl. If the story comes, I write it. If it doesn't, I don't force it. If it shows up, then goes away for a while, I keep the notebook full of notes there, but to the side. But this year...I'm not sure what to do. I have story ideas percolating. I'll probably write them down and give them a chance, while keeping an eye on the market. I'm not the type of writer to write to the market. If the story is there, I run with it. If it's not what's popular...then I weather the storm. But as for that plan...yeah, no idea what I'm going to do. But I'm open to suggestion.
What about you? Did you get a shiny new kindle or phone for Christmas? Want to add some books on it to read? You should. Here's a suggestion from me and one of latest short stories, Christmas Box:
Hayes Carter knows what he wants out of life -- to be the best lawyer he can, to balance his work and home life and to please his Sir. This Christmas, he wants to belong to Sir for good.
Ford Rogan loves his boy, Hayes, but Ford's not sure he's relationship material. Hayes, though, makes him think otherwise. Then there's that naughty Santa at the club... Submit and your wish will come true
Can Santa, even a naughty one, grant their wishes? Will the magic of the season be enough, or will they end up with nothing more than a lump of coal?
See? Not the standard here's a gift and I hope you like it fare. A person in the box? Now, don't get wonky on me. This isn't a creeper story. I like feel good Christmas tales. Everything works out in the right way at the end. There's magic, mayhem and a spanking or two. Gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.