Tag Archive for: authors

Reviews that Sink Authors

Reviews that Sink Authors by Debra H. Goldstein

Traditionally, authors are told to ignore their reviews. Maybe some can, but most can’t. In fact, many writers can’t help focusing on anything except the bad ones.

I read reviews. Sometimes I totally agree and learn from the point being made, but more often, I’d love to respond (authors are also told not to respond). For example, when Maze in Blue was published, the reviews and ratings were all favorable – mostly 5’s and an occasional 4. And then, someone posted a one star on Amazon. The rationale was that I had gotten a main road in Ann Arbor wrong. The reviewer went on and on about how the road didn’t go straight and that if the character had really driven the route, they’d have run into a building.

The reviewer was right for the way the road presently runs, but the book was set in the 1970’s. The road and building mentioned were neither moved nor built until a year after the story occurred. I desperately wanted to respond with a choice comment, but happily, the next review, which was a five-star, pointed out that fact and noted what great and exact memories Maze brought back because the reviewer was a professor’s daughter who had lived on campus at that time. I was thrilled.

Talking to other authors, I’ve discovered they also have received one-star reviews that were a little out-to-lunch. One reviewer didn’t like the cover, another stated she didn’t read the book upon learning the name on the book was a pseudonym for an author whose last novel she didn’t like, and a third said the book, while enjoyable, wasn’t anything to write home about.

If you are an author, tell me about your “worst” review. A reader, have you ever left one you realized was an oops?

By the way, when it comes to being a writer or any profession, I think a sign I recently saw, says it all:

Weekend with Friends by Dru Ann Love

by Dru Ann Love

Every year me and two of my friends plan a weekend getaway. We’ve been to Boston, Denver, Savannah, and most recently Memphis and Tennessee. Whatever is our destination, I always look to see if I have any author friends in the area and plan a lunch. I like to introduce them to the authors and the books they write. In most cases, they do tend to make a purchase or two.

This past weekend, we did the touristy things, Graceland, the National Civil Rights Museum, and the Peabody Hotel to see the ducks march to the fountain in Memphis and Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Johnny Cash Museum, and the Musicians Hall of fame. But the most entertaining activity was meeting the authors and one of them was Lois Winston. We picked the Margaritaville restaurant for lunch, but who knew they had live music that just never stopped. It was hard hearing conversations if you weren’t nearby. It was great seeing Lois and my other friends.

When you travel, do you seek out friends to visit?

Valuable Writing Advice from Other Writers – Heather Weidner

Debra here:  I’m a big believer in learning from others — here’s an example of writing advice that another writer, Heather Weidner, believes has helped her career.  I’ll be back next month!  

Writing Advice from Other Writers – Heather Weidner

Thank you so much for letting me visit. I’m Heather
Weidner, and I write the Delanie Fitzgerald mysteries, Secret Lives and Private Eyes, The
Tulip Shirt Murders,
and Glitter, Glam, and Contraband. I’m so
excited about the third book in the Delanie Fitzgerald series. In this one, my
sassy private investigator is hired to find out who is stealing from the talent
at a local drag show. Delanie gets more than she bargains for and a few makeup
tips in the process. She also uses her skills to track down missing reptiles
and uncover hidden valuables from a 100-year-old crime with a Poe connection.

I have been writing for a while and a
published author since 2014, and I have found that writing is often a lonely
endeavor. I treasure my writer friends who are so generous with their time and
advice. I am extremely grateful for all the authors who have shared their
ideas, advice, and successes with me through the years. It is so helpful as you
begin or move along your writing journey. Here are some key items that I’ve

When I’m working
on a new novel, I plot out a simple outline. I learned from Donna Andrews to
color-code the different kinds of action in your outline, so you can see it
over the course of the book. For example, I mark all romantic elements with
pink, humorous items are orange, clues are green, etc.

I learned from
Mary Burton to keep a running list of over-used words. Add to it as you write,
and then at the end of each revision cycle, search your document and remove the
culprits. She also calls your first draft the “sloppy copy.” This isn’t “the
end” of your project. It’s the beginning of the revision cycle.

I learned from the
late Kathy Mix to keep a list of character names for each book. Her rule was to
name each character with a different letter of the alphabet. If she already had
a Krissy, then she couldn’t have another character whose first name started
with a “K.” I build a chart of characters for my books in a series. I create a
column for each book and update where the characters appear. I also create a
list of key locations. I enter all the important facts, so I can keep track of
the details.

Mary Miley gave me
some great advice about honing dialogue. She recommends cutting out the
unnecessary pleasantries and chitchat that don’t move your story forward.

Elaine Viets said
to know your genre and who is publishing in it. Do your research and know the

Lynda Bishop, my
long-term editor, recommends that authors keep a timeline for each book to make
sure all events are in order and make sense. This helps with pacing.

In one of her
talks, Tina Glasneck told the group to create a calendar for each book launch.
Mine starts three months before the launch and runs three months after. Plan
all events, interviews, blogs, and media campaigns.

Jane Friedman
tells writers that their platform grows from their body of work. An author’s
website and blog should be at the center of this. Also, the website and blog
should be on the same site.

Frances Aylor and
Alan Orloff gave me the best advice for writing. Butt glue (Frances) or BICFOK
(Alan). They’re essentially the same. If you want to be a writer, put your Backside
in the Chair and Fingers on the Keyboard.

And my advice to
writers is to cultivate your relationships with other writers. Join writer or
critique groups. Build your network, share in their celebrations, and share
writing and publication information that helps everyone learn and grow.


Glam, and Contraband

is Heather Weidner’s third novel in the Delanie Fitzgerald series. Her

stories appear in the Virginia is for
series, 50 Shades of
, and Deadly Southern Charm.
Her novellas appear in The Mutt Mysteries series. She is a member of Sisters in
Crime – Central Virginia, Guppies, International Thriller Writers, and James
River Writers.

Originally from Virginia Beach,
Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in
Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.

Heather earned her BA in English from
Virginia Wesleyan University and her MA in American literature from the
University of Richmond. Through the years, she has been a cop’s kid, technical
writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager. 

Synopsis of Glitter, Glam, and Contraband

Glam, and Contraband
a strong female sleuth with a knack for getting herself in and out of humorous
situations like helping sleezy strip club owner, Chaz Smith on his quest to
become Richmond’s next mayor, tracking down missing reptiles, and uncovering
hidden valuables from a 100-year-old crime with a Poe connection.


Authors: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HOYR0MQ


The Joys of Collecting Kids’ Pictures Books

By AB Plum

Okay, we all know writers will read anything:

  • ·        Bread wrappers
  • ·        Installation instructions for electronics
  • ·        Op ed pieces
  • ·        The daily comics
  • ·        Unedited manuscripts
  • ·        Edited, re-edited, re-re-re-edited, final manuscripts
  • ·        Book contracts
  • ·        Downloaded e-doc instructions
  • ·        Kids’ illustrated books

Of the above list, kids’ illustrated books rank at my top.

In all honesty, I usually read the illustrations before I read the text. The illustrations most likely influenced me to buy the book. I view them with viewing art. (Most kids’ illustrated books cost more than an e-book, but they’re worth the price, IMO, because they are works of art).

In 2108, for the first time in decades, I didn’t request a kids’ illustrated book for Christmas. No real reason, except I bought two amazing books earlier in the year. And while I re-read my picture books more often than most other books, I turned again and again in 2018 to Cry Heart, But Never Break (Glenn Ringtved, Author. Charlotte Pardi Illustrator) and Duck, Death and the Tulip (Wolf Elrbruch, Author and Illustrator).

In a lyrical combination of words and drawings, these books about death leave me gobsmacked. Both verbal and non-verbal media complement each other and remind me my upcoming birthday is another opportunity to add to my collection in 2019.

What about you? Do you ever read children’s picture books? What’s a favorite one from your childhood?
Barbara Plum writes light and whimsical paranormal romance. Her alter ego writes dark and twisted psychological thrillers. She lives in Silicon Valley with her tekkie husband—because she rarely reads instructions for backing up her computer.

No illustrations for The Weird Magic Trilogy Boxed Set (Free for a limited time). Likewise no pictures for The MisFit Books 5-7, but now on sale for limited time. She knows her limitations and would never attempt to draw, paint, or capture a scene with a camera.

When Novelists Aren’t Being Novelists

By Kimberly Jayne

As a novelist, I know how important it is to write regularly—daily, in fact. One reason is that you have to keep the creative chops from getting rusty; the more you write, the easier it is. But the bigger arguments are that the more you write, the richer your writing becomes and the faster your next novel meets its big-finish line.
But what happens when life gets in the way of creative pursuits, and writing every day just isn’t possible?

Well, for one thing, guilt sets in. When you know writing is your calling, being unable to meet expectations for daily output can induce nagging bouts of guilt at any point during your waking hours. Priorities are not much fun for an author when they don’t include writing. Over time, the absence of writing leads to frustration, which only mounts with each passing week. Not to mention that if you have a good network of other authors in your corner, they’ll know you’re doing diddly squat too. So let’s add shame and self-flagellation to the mix.

Thence comes the whining. This is why the life of an author is not for sissies. It’s hard enough to get respect from the masses for the difficulties involved in bleeding out an entire novel in the middle of life’s little chaoses; but when you, as a writer, can’t keep your top priority in its place as the top priority, you know something drastic has to happen. Things must change, if only for the sake of sanity.

I’ve been experiencing this very thing for the past several months due to business and pleasure travels, housing searches for the day-job transfer from Austin to Plano, day-job overtime, and family obligations, not to mention a few other unpleasant things life has thrown at me. So, I’m heavy into the guilt-and-frustration-and shame phase of the author who’s not writing—hence, this admittedly whiny post.

Thankfully, I’ve stricken several of the obstacles from my list, as of this weekend (long-distance apartment hunting is not for the faint-hearted either), and I’m happy to say I’m feeling much more optimistic about how much writing I’m going to get done—er, soon. Right after I finish packing and moving in two weeks, and unpacking, and adjusting to the new day-job conditions. Yeah, I’m going to kick this guilt-and-frustration-and-shame thing real soon.
Kimberly Jayne writes humor, romantic comedy, suspense, erotica, and dark fantasy. You can check her out on Amazon. Find out more about her at ReadKimberly.com.

Bethany’s Rules for Marketing

by Bethany Maines

In my quest for world book domination I frequently peruse
tips on how to better market myself/books. 
Some come up with some interesting strategies that are worth pursuing
and then there’s this list…
I won’t mention the name of the blog I found it on because I
don’t believe in public shaming.  But let’s
just assess a few of the items on this list shall we? 
Comment on Blogs – The
theory is that you will become recognized and friends with other blog
commenters as well as those running the blog and then you will RISE TO
FAME!  Or… not.  Of course, having additional friends will help
you expand your fan base.  But pursuing
that strategy for the sake of selling books is so lacking in any genuine
feeling that it will actually turn people against you. 
Bethany Rule #1 –
always be your best self online.  Only
comment on a blog if you have something interesting and positive to add to the
conversation. Trolls don’t sell books.
Create a Viral Video –
Let’s just hop right on that shall we? 
We’ll get out or cell phones and film our cats and then, bam, done!  As this article on
indicates, only 10% of YouTube videos get more than 1000 views.  Videos these days are higher in quality and
there a simply MORE of them out there than in the beginning days of social
media. Here’s my attempt at a viral video
– it’s awesome, you should watch it.  But
I only paid for food for the crew and a make-up artist to make the video
happen, everything else was done in trade. 
I felt comfortable with my investment  and I view the video as a great sales tool to
introduce people to my book series, but I never counted on it going viral. 
Bethany Rule #2 –
if you have to pay a lot of money for a product that you’re going to giveaway
for free, it’s probably not worth it.
Go on National TV – Yup,
I’m just going to dial up Oprah right now, promise her some bread, and book
myself on National TV.  Getting air time,
particularly on a National level, is one of the things that happens when you’re
ALREADY famous.  There’s a reason Donald
Trump has ceased to advertise.  He’s
getting 15% of the national news time (according to a recent news piece I saw
on my local news) and 50% of the election coverage.  He doesn’t NEED to advertise.   I’m not recommending that you be Donald Trump
– one is more than enough – but being getting air time is something that you
either pay for, or you get because your famous for something already.

Rule #3 –
work to be
locally famous.  Join groups.  Send press releases.  Volunteer to judge writing contests.  Talk to people.  Network and connect – people sell books.

The internet is full of many tips, some are more helpful than others.  I just hope that you find mine a little more helpful than the one from the blog that shall remain nameless.

Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie
Mae Mysteries
, Tales from the City of
and An Unseen Current.
You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video
or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Does Writing Sour Reading? – by Debra H. Goldstein

I can’t remember when I couldn’t read.  Picking out letters from the newspaper, storybooks, or off milk cartons made my day. My mother introduced me to the library at an early age and I still can recall how excited I was the day I printed my name and received my very own library card.  

Young Girl Sitting & ReadingMy reading speed also made reading rewarding for me.  I would race through the summer reading program award minimum in a few days and then quickly read enough books to guarantee winning whatever prize I desired.  Reading also made it possible for me to endure boring junior high and high school classes – it wasn’t unusual for me to check out a book before school, read it during the day, and take a different one home to read at night.  A good book always helped me relax during college exam days, when traveling for work, on vacation, or for a few minutes before bed.
PuppiesMy joy in reading changed when I opted to make writing a career.  The pressure of deadlines and wanting to write meant my reading time became more limited.  It also became less enjoyable.

The more I learned about writing, the more critical a reader I became.  I had always analyzed a mystery to figure out whodunit in advance of the writer revealing the culprit, but now I found myself examining each page for the technical way the author hid clues. Weaknesses in voice, plot, or character became so much more pronounced that there were times I feared I couldn’t force myself to finish a book.  When a book dragged, I wanted to take a green pen and cross out the offensive paragraphs.  The few times I found a book that read like the old days, I savored my time with it and usually grabbed more books by the same author.

I have talked to other authors and discovered that some rarely read for fear of stealing an idea while others read books in genres different than they write for the same reason.  Other writers believe that the more they read of any type of book, the better a writer they become.  Think about your reading habits – has writing or wanting to write changed them?

Bouchercon in Albany

This is my third year attending Bouchercon, which gives me the chance to visit cities that may or may not have been on my radar. So far I’ve been to St. Louis and Cleveland and got to see their main tourist attraction, that being the Arch and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

This year, Bouchercon was in my home state and its capital, Albany. I’ve never been there and I was excited to see the governor’s mansion and the state capital building. I suspect their main attraction is the EGG, which is part of the Empire State Plaza.

Friends: As always, it is great seeing old friends and meeting new friends face-to-face. The power of social media makes this happens. I’ve also stopped saying “I’m a just reader” when asked what am I. Now I say, “I’m a blogger, reviewer and a reader” as I have been told.

Panels: There were so many panels to choose from attending several of the panels that were offered. One panel had Brad Parks turn from book author to Superman Parks. Another panel talked about big city crime. Then there was the panel where attendees had to guess what food product was featured in which author’s book. That too was fun. One panel was popular by the time I got there it was standing room only. Then there was the panel that talked about how far could you go in a cozy. Then there was panel about being a private eye and the panel about being a writer with no room service. Overall, I had a good time at the panels that I attended.

Books: What can I see, one of the things I like about attending these conferences is what books will appear in your goodie bag, what books will I buy and what books will I get as free giveaways. This is my biggest haul of books I’ve gotten autographed and standing on line was worth it. I was most happy with my copy of W for Wasted by Sue Grafton and I knew no matter how long, I will be standing in that line to get my book autographed.

Authors: Harlan Coben called me a troublemaker. It was great talking with authors that I’ve work with on my blog and those I friended on Facebook. These conferences allow a face-to-face meeting and it’s great. It also gives me the opportunity to meet other authors that I have not come across in my regular reads. There’s a couple of new authors who debuts their new books in 2014 and I look forward to reading their work.

I was lucky to get the opportunity to take a tour of the New York State Trooper facilities. It was cool. We got to see their headquarters, their gym, their dorms and when we saw a training that involved German Shepard dogs.  We also got a chance to go into the indoor firing range where I imagine myself shooting a bulls-eye in dead center mass. 

I’m an introvert but when I am in my element, that is being around authors, fellow readers and books, I’m not as shy. Thank you for letting me know that reading is good and hanging with the authors and fans is Awesome.

Am I’m going to the next Bouchercon? Yes I am and I can’t wait to hit the town of Long Beach. Who else is joining me?

Some photos from Bouchercon.  What excited me most was finding a phone booth with a working phone and a seat where you can close the door.

How Not to Win Fans

Last week I told about my time at the Valley Authors Event and mentioned that afterwards, several writer friends and I went to dinner together.

One of the conversations was about authors each of us would never buy another book from because of their actions. Everyone had a story.

One told about hearing an author at a conference, enjoying hearing, buying the book and taking it to her to sign. The woman was in the book room at a signing table talking to the author next to her. She took the book, signed it and handed it back without interrupting her conversation or even acknowledging the person who’d bought the book.

Another told about a rather well-known author who won’t even talk to people even those she’s met before.

And yet another, bad-mouthed authors from small presses and blamed them for a smaller turnout than anticipated at a large mystery conference. Hello, small press authors buy books too.

And then there are those who can’t stop talking about their own books and greatness when on a panel, never giving anyone else an opportunity. This is really bad when that person is the moderator.

I’m sure we’ve all had those experiences.

On the other side of the coin, some of the most famous and well-known authors are friendly to everyone.

Years ago I met Mary Higgins Clark at a small mystery conference. Nearly twenty years later I saw her at a cocktail party in New York during Edgar week. I spoke to her and told her where we’d met, she insisted she remembered me and introduced me to her at the time new husband. She also asked how my writing was coming.

Any time I run into Jan Burke she’s as friendly as can be. We once spent a long afternoon in an airport together with our husbands waiting for weather to clear and had a great discussion.

William Kent Krueger is another author who always remembers everyone he’s met, or at least acts like it, and if he really does know you, you’ll probably get a big hug.

Our own Susan McBride is another one who is always friendly–a joy to see at any time.

I’ve also met 1/2 of Evelyn David who is sweet as can be.

I’m heading to San Francisco for Bouchercon tomorrow, I hope I mostly run into friendly authors.

I could name lots more authors who are always charming whenever you have the opportunity to meet them.

Of course I’m not a famous author, but I do hope people perceive me as a friendly one. I honestly love to meet new people and I’m thrilled when they buy one of my books and even more so when they let me know they enjoyed reading it.

Have you got any stories about authors whose books you won’t buy any more because of how they acted? Or how about the other side, authors who make you feel like they are your friend.


Big Valley Authors’ Festival

Last Saturday the Big Valley Authors Festival sponsored by the Hanford Branch of the King County Library was held in the Hanford Mall. Hanford is only an hour and half drive from where I live and many of the authors who came are really good friends.

We were in a great place, tables and chairs all set up for us, but at first the foot traffic was slow. When it picked up I did quite well selling books, talking to people and handing out lots and lots of cards.

One thing I noticed with some of the authors, they didn’t stay with their books, instead they were up and off talking with other authors even when people paused at their table. Afterwards, I heard some say sales were slow.

I’ve written blogs about this on my own site: http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com if you want to sell your books at a book or craft festival you have to be available to do so. You need to engage people as they pass by and certainly if they are actually looking at your books.

One author came to talk to me and stayed and stayed–I finally told her someone might want to talk to her, she should go back to her table. She left mine, but moved on to the next author. I don’t really understand this behavior.

Before the event began and I was all set up, I made the rounds and talked to each author. I even bought two books. Once the mall opened I stayed behind my table (except for potty breaks and when I was gone my husband was there and he’s very good at talking about my books and handing out my cards–usually keeps people entertained until I return.)

I know I sold a lot more books than most people there–and not because my books are better, but because I was available to talk about them. I even sold a book to a Japanese family who could hardly speak English. They were charming and were excited to meet a “real” author.

I hope they repeat the event next year. The first one, last year, was held in a Veteran’s Memorial Building and it was good too. The difference there was the people who visited came explicitly to see the authors as nothing else was going on that day.

After the event, a few of us went out to eat together–always fun. We had an interesting conversation about author behavior and those we probably will never buy another book from because of rudeness. That will be another blog post.

All in all, it was a great day.