Plot Stitching and Seam Rippers

I made it through Home Ec without doing myself bodily harm.

Considering that the girl at the table next to me ran the needle of her electric Singer sewing machine right through her finger (and broke the damn needle off IN her finger), I figured that I dodged a bullet.

One of the tools we used in that class was a seam ripper. It was a pointy little sharp hooked thing that slid under stitches and cut through thread so you could take out a crooked seam. Part of sewing is ripping out your mistakes and putting the pieces back together again. And while I haven’t sewed anything since that long-ago class, years later, I’m thinking about seam rippers, and how sometimes you have to tear things apart to re-stitch them. It happens when you’re sewing a shirt, and it happens when you’re stitching a plot together.

I’m working […]

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Say You Don’t Know Me

I’m constantly told that Amazon (the mighty, mighty online retailer that can sell you books for crazy low prices as long as they’re not throwing a fit against the publishers of said books) is a bad company and I shouldn’t buy from them because they contribute to the fall of the brick&mortar stores. It’s hard to resist, though, when you can shop and buy without ever putting on your shoes, right? The trouble is that Amazon likes to institute policies that make us less interested in using their services. The latest involves reviews.

Originally, Amazon would not allow family members or very close friends of authors to post reviews. I suppose I can understand that – a review from my mom or my bestie would automatically be a five-star because they love me and want me to succeed, and goodness knows, we don’t want that to happen, right? But now […]

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The Ultimate Critique? — Reviews

Whew — ten days after the release of Single Witch’s Survival Guide, and I’m starting to return to the world of the living 🙂 (You can read the first chapter here.)

So, I laughed when I logged into Magical Words on Thursday and found John’s post, about pre-orders and release dates, and stuff like that. I laughed, because I had already planned on writing a very similar post. Not about pre-orders — they’re not as important in the new world of self-publication, because the only vendor who allows them is Apple.

But about reviews. And why they’re important.

If you follow any authors online at all, you’ve heard them post about reviews. We remind our readers to write them. We say how much they mean to us. We beg for just a word here, a star there.

And there’s a reason for all that.

But first, let me get one […]

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Get What You Don’t Pay For

A few days ago I received an email from PMI Publishing. You probably haven’t heard of them – they don’t publish books, or magazines or short stories. Apparently they’re a promotions agency. Nothing wrong with that – lots of folks employ promo people to help get the word out about their careers. But this particular email made me uncomfortable. Let me share the bulk of the email with you, so you can get where I’m coming from.

“We just signed an exclusive deal with the three monthly publications in Florida to provide book reviews. As part of our agreement we are required to review between 36 and 64 books over the course of the next 12 months, which will appear in print. There is no cost for the review.

Our goal is to provide a win-win scenario for both our client and for you, the author… […]

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Dos and Don’ts of Reviewing

Misty and I had a lovely exchange yesterday on her post about ethics and characters doing stupid things. If you missed it, take a look back. I commented to her post (which was great, BTW) about a reviewer who had been attacking me and my character Jane Yellowrock, calling her (her decisions, her religious choices, her sex life, her…everything) and me, stupid and much worse

That post and exchange made me realize how important a review is to a book and a writer, and that some simple how-to-review-a-book rules might be helpful. Also, I hope you’ll offer some more suggestions in the comment area to round out the list.


Do: 1. Find something nice to say about a book. 2. Finish any book you review. Otherwise you are not giving *your* readers a fair shake. 3. Review the book you read, not the book you wish it was. 4. […]

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Writing Life: Reviews and Critiques — Dealing with One, Making the Most of the Other

I’ve been thinking about critiques and reviews recently, and had been even before the Magical Words How-to received this latest review from Black Gate. See, I’m currently working on the galley proofs for The Dark-Eyes’ War, the third book of Blood of the Southlands, which will be coming out in paperback in December. There’s been quite a lag between the hardcover release of this book (January 2010) and the mass market paperback re-release, and so it’s been a long time since I last read through this book. Talk about giving oneself some distance from a novel!

Let me pause here to say that I no longer place much stock in reviews. Yes, it’s nice to get a nice review, particularly in one of the big trade magazines (Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal). But just as I try not to let a bad review get me down too much, […]

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Saying Something Nice

Last week I was talking about the importance of never giving up in the face of rejection. It’s nearly impossible to reach publication without being told “No” a few dozen (hundred? million?) times. But the vital lesson you learn from all that rejection is how to handle it after you’ve been published, and people all over the country are getting to read what you write. You think agents and editors turning you down is painful? Wait until you have to read those one-star reviews on Amazon! Nowadays, there are lots of book review sites all over the internet, some highly regarded, some amateurish, but all taking a shot at telling everyone how they liked your book. The tough-skinned author has learned how to handle praise and rejection, due to the practice before he ever scored a contract in the first place.

You know all about this, right? Well, here’s a […]

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