Authors Commenting on Own Reviews

Authors Commenting on Own Reviews

untitled (14)Recently an author commented on a review I wrote on a book this author had written. It wasn’t mean or anything, but I found it a little unprofessional. The author wanted to clean up some misconceptions I had, ones that were based on my own experiences with what happened in this particular book, so they weren’t exactly misconceptions. The author simply had a different experience from me, but my experience was more common, not just with me, but among a variety of other people, so I wouldn’t exactly say I was misconstruing anything. I know I’m being vague, but this is to hide the identity of the author and the work. Even so, the author appreciated the review and thought it was the best one. And I, of course, replied, taking the author’s own experiences into account. But it was still unprofessional, considering the author’s experiences were rarer than this author was led to believe. Doesn’t make them any less legitimate, but when I comment on something in a book that seems inaccurate in terms of realism, I often go by the average experience, not the exceptional.

In any case, I do comment on reviews, but it’s simply a thank you if it was given as an ARC. It is never to correct things I feel they didn’t get, or even correct things they might have gotten completely wrong. Reviews are for readers, not writers, and because there is this ability to comment on reviews, let the readers do that. Let the readers clear up misconceptions, or agree or disagree with the review.

That’s the great thing about Goodreads. It opens up a discussion on these books, a practical forum, and I like that, so hopefully When Stars Die will get to the point where readers do want to open up with discussions on these reviews. I won’t be reading them, of course, but it will just be a neat idea to think that readers want to talk about the book in some way, be it negative or positive.

Now I’m going to admit that I take 3 star reviews and use these reviews as my invisible harshest critics to help shape the sequel of a book I’m doing in a series. Yeah, beta readers and crit partners are great, but most of them look at the manuscript as a writer, not a reader, and I want to think about readers when writing. To be frank, I wasn’t thinking a whole lot about readers when doing revisions for When Stars Die, besides the edits given from AEC. I wasn’t thinking, ‘What would they like? What would they want to see? How would they react?’ It’s still creating my story, but I also believe thinking about readers ultimately creates a book that you’d love even more. So I hardcore think about readers during revisions, which is what I did with The Stars Are Infinite and am now doing with All Shattered Ones, which isn’t in The Stars Trilogy. It’s a standalone contemporary fantasy. So, if anything, 3 star reviews have taught me to really, really think about readers.

In any case, I posed this question about authors commenting on their own reviews, and here are some answers:

Tanya Gaunt: “Reviews are what readers do authors get feedback.”

Nazarea Andrews: Unless it’s a ‘thank you!’ I don’t. Even from friends, I stay away.

Maria E. Wilson (My PA Extraordinaire): “Unless it’s to say “Thank you for taking the time to review my novel.” I don’t think authors should comment. If a reader wants to talk to you about your book, they will contact you. The reviews are not there for the authors, but for other readers.”

Nazarea Andrews (again): Fwiw I don’t use reviews as a crit for how to go into my next book. That’s what CPs and Betas are for. IMO.

Glenn Harris: “Other than a simple thank you, an absolute no-no. If it’s a bad review, you sound defensive and if it’s a good one you sound self-congratulatory.”

Rashad Freeman: “It’s a lose lose.”

Megan Moffat: “It’s awkward and I hate it. I had an author comment on a review before when I gave their book one star. They weren’t very happy to say the least and basically tore me down, saying I didn’t know anything, didn’t understand their work, demanded more answers as to why I gave it the rating I did, etc. I have never replied and don’t intend to. I found the author’s comment rude and intrusive.”

Sebastian Starcevic: “Even saying “thank you” lets all the reviewers know that you’re there watching, assessing what they post. Just stay away. You seem obsessive otherwise.”

Joey Paul: “I agree with other people saying that it’s not something you should do as an author. Read the reviews, sure, smile when you get a 5 star and frown when you get a 1 star, but do not, under any circumstances, comment. It will only end badly.”

Barry Koonstachin:Under any circumstance, an author should never comment on the reviews of his/her book.”

Wendi Starusnak: “I don’t think they should… it seems unprofessional in my opinion.”

Kimberlee Fisher Sams: “Fine, as long as they’re either basically saying “thanks for the review” or “glad you enjoyed the book”, or correcting blatantly wrong information (ie “You must be thinking of a different book. My book, “blah blah title”, does not contain a single swear word. My editor and I are meticulous about this.”

DeAnna Chapmann Kinney: “I’ve done it, but only if it was a great one and I just had to thank them for it.”

Gregory Lamb: “It can be a slippery slope with lots of unintended consequences.  Letting the readers have a dialog without interference is the strategy I go by.”

Cheer Stephenson Papworth: “Just be very careful!  Stay classy!”

Hopefully I spelled all these names right. Let me know if I haven’t. Some were a little difficult.

What do all of you think about authors commenting on their own reviews?

Next post will be an interview I did with Jenny Torres Sanchez, author of The Downside of Being Charlie and Death, Dickenson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia.

My Whiny Exhausted Self and Some Updates

My Whiny Exhausted Self and Some Updates

This week has been draining because it’s been raining like crazy and bad weather usually equals fatigue for me. Sometimes pain. But mostly fatigue. So I’m feeling disconnected from everything. I feel stuck in a rut, plain and simple. Everything’s been so routine that I’m tempted to jump out of an airplane and land splat on a landing strip (by the way, WordPress brings up some not so pleasant pictures when you type in ‘landing strip’). While writing is nice, it’s still routine. Revise this chapter. You have notes for how to revise this chapter, so you know what you’re going to do when you revise. Oh, this isn’t working, let’s re-do that. Darn it. You stupid girl, you didn’t add that one important character, so now you have to re-do it. Oh, you’ve got more ideas. Save those for line edits so you can get through this revision.

And of course my part-time job has sucked lately because all I work is the dang mall, which has sucked, and I’m getting tired of it because, well, it’s the summer and people are on vacation, so getting appointments has been a bunch of root canals, so I’ve been so negative at work lately. Coupled with the fact that I’m probably the only one not getting sells because I only work the mall, and you’ve got a nasty stew of inferiority. Luckily I’ve got a client’s manuscript for some extra money, but it’s not like I can take on a bunch of these. At least ballet has been going well, but we’re off next week, so that’s sucktastic.

I’m crabby today, if you can’t tell. I feel exhausted…for no reason. And just stale. Flat out stale. I suppose I’m just tired of this bad weather…and routine. I’ll change it somehow. Extra money means being able to go out and spend said extra money.

I honestly don’t even want to do this blog post I feel so bad, but I like to keep you guys updated on my writing life…and my life and me and all that yummy stuff.

But the good news is that my crummy mood did not interfere with my productivity and practical writerly responsibilities. I am 37,000 words into His Vanity (which was previously Stolentime). This is about halfway through. When I finished the draft, I ended it at 57,000 words, but obviously since it’s a fantasy, it’s going to need more fat on it since I’m a bare bones writer when it comes to rough drafts. But I’ve got ideas to flesh out one character’s chapters in the line edits and my chapters are longer than they were in the draft (10 pages per chapter on average). Revisions are going very smoothly and I do have ideas for when line edits come about. Hopefully I don’t have some sort of existential crisis with my writerly life  and find myself rocking back and forth while my cat just watches and licks her paw.

I’m also realizing that John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars is really influencing the way I write about depression and suicidal ideation, and that’s not a bad thing at all considering I read TFIOS for the purpose of helping me with Gene’s contemporary voice and making certain I make Gene a realistic character–let’s be honest, depression and suicidal ideation suck. He’s not going to be a bright, sunshiny character. He’s going to be morose at times. How could you not be? But this kid’s a fighter, even if he just wants to give up at times. So I’m really thinking that a good marketing line for His Vanity can be something like ‘A clash between John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and Jake Bonsignore’s Empyreal Illusions.’ Sounds good to me.

As for When Stars Die, my contract manager is halfway through. It will have a gorgeous new cover, and I’m actually thinking about using my own old cover for swag and what not, while also using the new, not-yet-approved cover. Hey, I’ve got the money. Why not? I’ve even been contemplating about making a When Stars Die t-shirt (text, maybe a design. Not certain).

But, other than being in a mood, at least I have nothing tomorrow and I can just revise. Maybe I’ll try to fit in two chapters, if this blasted weather doesn’t wear my poor body out.

Why I Write

Why I Write

tumblr_mldcekNfEE1s5prmbo1_500Today’s guest blogger is Isabella Marks. You can find her here. Enjoy!

The easy answer, the cliché, and the honest truth all rolled into one: because I have to.

Well, maybe that’s not entirely true, because I don’t HAVE to. I just want to so badly that NOT doing it would leave a serious hole in my life, not just in how I spend my time, but in how I see the world.

I first TOLD stories before I even started school, getting my toys, books, and clothes into an order, and then bringing them out one at a time to show the audience I was telling my story to.  

I first wrote stories in the first grade. Our teacher would give us weekly writing assignments, and I loved it. I learned how to use the dictionary to look up words because I wanted to spell them right. I took my writing seriously, even if it was just about Bert and Ernie making macaroni and cheese for their friends.

As elementary school wore on I would live for those times when we would have creative writing assignments. In third grade our teacher would bring in piles of pictures taken from magazines, and make us choose one by reaching into a bag. We had no control over what we would get, and we HAD to write a story using the picture. Our whole class hated that bag. Except me. I loved it.

In middle school, I entered the Young Authors contest four years in a row, and in seventh grade gave up writing, and then knew I was going to do it forever, all within twenty four hours.

For my Young Authors submission that year I’d written a story about a girl whose best friend died when they were in first grade. In my story she visited her friend’s grave every year on the last day of summer to tell her about all the fun things she missed doing with her, and on the last day of school to tell her about the school year she missed.

My teacher wouldn’t let me submit it because it wasn’t ‘fun’.

That made me think something was wrong with me because I’d enjoyed writing it. I didn’t have ‘fun’ writing it. I wasn’t obsessed with death, and I certainly didn’t get pleasure out of the idea of a dead first grader.

But I enjoyed telling the story. I enjoyed the process of starting a story with a funeral, and then bringing my character through all the emotions she had through her years of growing up, all while helping her keep track of missing her friend.

The story made me think of my grandfather, who’d taken me shopping for crayons before I started kindergarten, and then wanted to hear every detail of my first day of school. I was going to tell him about my first day of school every year but he died before I got out of kindergarten.

I enjoyed telling a story that was about real feelings.

The girl who won that year told a story about spending the day at the mall.

I gave up writing that day, assuming I did it wrong and didn’t understand what it was supposed to be about.

The next day I put Cemetery Conversations into one of my trapper keepers (I had three that I bought at a garage sale, and used them to store all my stories, poems, journals, and ideas), and lay down on my bed to write a letter to myself so I wouldn’t forget WHY I was giving up writing.

In the process of writing that letter I realized that I wrote for myself, and not for anyone else.

I wrote because I had things I wanted to say. And the written word allowed me to say them the way I wanted to.

I could denounce evil. I could celebrate justice. I could use words to love what was worth loving, and to explain why some things weren’t worth admiring.

I began to journal constantly. I began to make myself write, even when the words wouldn’t come I’d write about breakfast, or what I’d seen on TV, or what I wanted my mom to understand about my life.

I’d write stories on the school bus. In study hall. On my bed. With a flashlight at night. On the porch. Sometimes instead of doing homework. And once at a slumber party when everyone else there made fun of me for not knowing how to fit in, I sat in the living room by myself and wrote a story where I did fit in.

And that is why I write.

I have control. In real life, most of us accept that we can’t control everything. Alone with my notebook and pen, or the old typewriter I had in high school, or the computer I bought in college, or the laptop I have now (even though I still carry a notebook everywhere, because you never know when an idea will strike), I have control over the worlds I create, and the characters I bring to life.

I can say the things I can’t say otherwise.

I can even tell my grandfather about my day.

That’s why I write.
A Weird Writing Quirk That Strangely Works

A Weird Writing Quirk That Strangely Works

I have a vanity charm necklace that I will be using on the cover. Not this one though.
I have a vanity charm necklace that I will be using on the cover. Not this one though.
So I got to chapter twenty-nine out of thirty-five in Stolentime and decided to quit the draft. Just like that. Not quit, as in I’m through with the story forever. But quit, as in I’m ready to start doing some revision outlines.

I did this with When Stars Die. I had about seven chapters left to write in the draft and just decided to stop to get revising. But it worked. I got to revisions and was able to complete the entire thing. I had to concentrate more on the last chapters during a third read through, but, nonetheless, I got the book complete.

I can’t tell you why I do this. I can only guess. I assume I do this because I hate drafting. I get to a certain point where I’m tired of drafting and decide it’s time to get to the revisions, even though I have those final chapters roughly outlined. This seems counterproductive because how am I supposed to work on the ending if I don’t have it? Well, I do a detailed outline of it, and it does take me longer to write, but I’m more fired up about it because I have my mind trained to realize what I’m doing is revising since I love revising–even if it’s technically not.

I want to be fired up when I write, not disengaged and apathetic. So I do whatever I can to fire me up. If I have to quit a draft 7/10ths of the way through to do it, so be it.

But it works for me. I get it done.

Do you have any strange writing quirks, like writing out of order, starting a later scene first, things of that nature?

Writers Must Live to Write, Not Write to Live

Writers Must Live to Write, Not Write to Live

tumblr_mn7cz2UitI1srvlz1o1_400 Writing is super time-consuming. It requires that we become hermits for days, sitting in our rooms, pounding on our keys, having to order crappy Pizza Hut pizza. We have to ignore phone calls and decline friends’ invites to go somewhere. But do we really have to do any of this, or are we so inundated with the myth that in order to be a successful writer, we must write ALL THE TIME?

It’s tempting to drown yourself in writing because you have this goal and in order to meet that goal, you have to write a lot. But it also becomes a very lonely life, and I think that loneliness will eventually muddle your writing because you’re not living anymore: you’re simply existing in this sphere of writing that prevents you from obtaining any life experience that can add spice to your writing.

Two summers ago my dad told me I needed to do something else besides write, and he was right, is right, and always will be right. That’s where ballet came in for me. Through ballet I gained confidence, learned something new, met new people, and lived another life that I never saw myself living even just three years ago. Ballet confirmed for me that I really can do anything I put my mind to, and so this translated over to my writing life. If I can do ballet, probably the most difficult dance/sport in the world, then I can sure as heck write a great book worthy of being read by my growing fan base.

Ballet is the balance in my life. When I am doing ballet, I am not thinking about writing, or actually writing, or doing anything writing related, so this prevents writing burnout. You can become burned out on anything, but by having ballet in my life, I find balance between everything that I do. It also gives me another passion, more life experience, and helps me feel alive so that way my writing life has more energy in it. Plus, it keeps me in shape.

We writers need to do more besides writing because writing does get to a point where it starts to feel like work. Yesterday writing felt like work to me, and I knew I was getting burned out on writing, so I had to stop for the day to prevent total burnout. I went over to my fiancé’s house, spent time with him, and played a little Ni No Kuni. While my writing is now a priority because it’s my dream career, my relationship with my fiancé takes precedence, especially if I find I’m getting a lot of writing done while he is at work. Nourishing our relationship is essential not only because I love him, but because it keeps me emotionally balanced. So nourishing relationships with the people in your life can’t take a backseat to writing. It’s good for you, good for them, and you may find out it’s good for character development because you’re getting to really know people.

And writing is a difficult thing. Depend on people to help you through it. Don’t drop them because loneliness is not worth that book contract.

But living should come first because experience creates the best books. I myself am dying for next week’s ballet intensive because this means more dance, more friendships, and hopefully there will be new people for me to meet. And who knows what I’m going to learn that can help flavor my writing?

Why I Am Not a Creative Writing Major

Why I Am Not a Creative Writing Major

My therapist thinks I should be a creative writing major so I can go for my PhD and teach college since I’m already going for an English with middle education degree. Not only do I refuse to sank myself into debt, but I’ve never felt the need to do a creative writing degree because I’m a self-taught writer. Yeah, there’s the whole thing of being able to have groups in class and the teacher looking at it, but so what? That’s what my writer’s group is for. Beta readers. My freelance editor was practically my teacher. I had books on writing. I analyzed the fiction novels I read. Plus, I have tried other forms of writing, and I am a novelist through and through. I would hate to take a class on screenplay writing knowing I don’t like writing screenplays.

I took one class in creative writing and hated it. It was mostly the professor that drove me mad. He was not very effective at critiquing, especially poetry. His most common criticism? “This is a stone,” meaning I can turn it over and do something more with it. But he never specified how. I wasn’t even impressed with his critiques on my short stories. In fact, I never agreed with them, and this was the time when I had my freelance editor critiquing my novel. His criticism was just so shoddy compared to hers.

He isn’t the reason I didn’t pursue one though. Part of it is there isn’t much you can do with a creative writing degree, unless you want to go to grad school and teach. Another reason is that they teach you nothing on the business of writing. At least my university doesn’t. Even with indie or independent presses, you need to have some knowledge of the business, and many of the students I spoke with knew next to nothing. No idea how to do a query letter, synopsis, none of it. They only knew how to write, and even then there was some debate because critiques in class can be very shoddy since you don’t get to choose who you critique. Most don’t care to critique well either. How can I develop from that? I prefer to choose who critiques my stuff, and they are in the form of beta readers or an editor or something.

But mostly, I just don’t think I need to waste my time taking a creative writing class when I’ve effectively self-taught for years and learned from those already published. I have more control over who I critique and over who critiques me. And since I have a choice, criticism is often going to be a bit stronger–even though no one can compare to the freelance editor I learned from. At least, not now.

Perhaps there are creative writing programs out there that are great, but where I’m at, no thanks. I don’t know if I want to do teaching anymore, but I’ll give my apprenticeship a chance, and I’ll let the future surprise me.