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Showing posts from February, 2013

Oh Deary Me

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I feel vindicated at the moment. Around a year ago I posted about how objectionable Terry Deary, author of the Horrible Histories series, appeared in an interview. Well, just last week the dreadful man came out in opposition to libraries, saying that they robbed authors. You can read his comments here and probably should because this is my response to them.

Mr. Deary says that "writers aren't ... middle-class women indulging in a pleasant little hobby. They've got to make a living." Well, I am a middle-class woman indulging in a pleasant little hobby, and I don't expect for a moment that my writing is ever going to make me a living. Very few authors make enough money from their books to live on, and neither do they expect to. I know of two local authors who have done well. One had a bidding war between two of the big six publishers, and ended up with a three-book deal from Harper Collins and a large advance. She has a day-job because writing doesn't bring in…

Bad Reviews Part 3: How To Write Them

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Okay, I admit, this is slightly different from the previous two posts in this series as it's not so much about how to write a review of a book you didn't like, but about how to write a bad book review.
Start by outlining the plot of the book. Be sure to include all the spoilers and plot twists you can, including what happens in the end. Make sure this summary of the action comprises about 90% of your review. You could even include the descriptive blurb from the back of the book if you like, just in case readers of your review haven't already looked at that.Explain at length what books you like reading and who your favourite authors are, and what genres most interest you and why. If you didn't like the book, be sure to explain that you didn't like it because it's not a genre you like to read and you only picked it up because it was free/a present/you liked the cover.If the book goes against your political views, religious or cultural beliefs in any way, then it …

Bad Reviews Part 2: What To Do About Them

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If you're a writer, whether you're just starting out or you've sold millions of copies, this is what you should do when someone makes public their poor opinion of your masterpiece in the form of a bad review:

NOTHING.

Bad reviews go with the territory for writers. We have to accept it as an occupational hazard, shrug our shoulders and move on. In fact, in this blog post from last year I advocate sending them chocolate.

In reality, of course, we agonise over our poor reviews, dwell on them constantly, analyse them, mourn the loss of our writing dream, and finally convince ourselves that writing the book was all just a big waste of time. Some writers protest them in the comments, or get their supportive friends to do so. Some plead with the reviewer to retract the review. I even heard of one author appealing to Amazon to get a bad review taken down. (Wow, wouldn't it be great if we could delete all our bad reviews!)

Be warned - engaging with the reviewer looks petulant a…

Bad Reviews Part 1: Why I Write Them

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I'm doing well with my new year's resolution to review every book I read. I've so far reviewed all six books I have read since 1st January. But this resolution has thrown up a bit of an issue.

On the whole, you see, authors (especially self-published authors) love reviews. They lend credibility to the book and help buyers know whether it is for them. But no one likes getting a bad review, and since I've resolved to review every book I read it's likely that there will be the odd bad one among them. I believe in being honest, you see.

I have so far read two books I hated. I gave them both two stars. The author of the first responded by thanking me for reviewing it and expressing disappointment that I hadn't enjoyed it. Very gracious and reasonable. But a  mystery defender of substandard literature took umbrage at my comments and ranted about how unfair that was, and how since I was a religious person (he looked me up on Facebook) I was obviously narrow-minded an…

Book Review: Hearts and Minds by Maria VA Johnson

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I haven't actually sat down to read a book of poetry since I finished my English degree in 1990. Terrible oversight on my part. This book reminded me of all that is best about poetry: the ability to pack a real emotional punch in just a few lines, and the opportunity to indulge oneself in reading an entire book in half-an-hour.

This book felt a bit like the proverbial curate's egg, in that some parts were better than others. I felt that some of the rhymes were rather overreached and occasionally jarred, but the free verse was much better and the meter was always perfect - something I consider extremely important in poetry. It was broken into sections related to the topic or the mood and that made it something I might dip into at a later date if I'm looking for a poem to suit a particular occasion.

It was, at times, extremely personal. I happen to know the poet, and that might have been a little awkward, but somehow wasn't. It felt more as though a friend was opening u…