The Bad Review

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Photo Credit: Brian Cuban

I’ve written about book reviews once before, but back then I wrote about writing them. Not this time. One of the things that becomes inevitable as soon as an author’s book becomes available to potential readers is not that they will undoubtedly buy it, but that negative reviews are on the way. Just do a little searching on Amazon and find your favorite book and read a few of its reviews. Sure you might think it’s the single greatest piece of literary work in the history of the universe, but someone out there will definitely disagree. It’s just the nature of the beast.

Sorry, but this post will not be a list of things for you to do once your book receives a negative review. I’m going to talk about something I saw this Saturday that made me sick. An author who I’ve never of before wrote about a very negative review of her work. So what did she do in response to this reader’s statements? She vowed to give similar reviews in the future because there are too many books that are shit (sorry) out there that she’s read herself. But that’s not all. Her book was evidently self-published by Smashwords and she took it off. Because of one review!

No I didn’t get a look at the review or the book, but are you kidding me? She’s going into her little shell because her writing is probably terrible. Suddenly the world is after her writing career because of this single review. Quite frankly, she’s a joke and likely has no future writing.

If people hate your work, then they do. Honestly, who cares? Write something better. That’s all.

Your Ideal Reading Spot

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Photo Credit: SFF Outpost

Another short post today, but one that I think you guys can all relate to. I think it’s safe to say that readers will read just about anywhere. On the bus. In the car. On a flight. Between classes at school. Outside under the sun. There really is no place off limits to enjoy a good book. With that being said, I’m near certain that y’all are like me and have that one reading spot where you do the majority of your reading. I know I do. It’s my bed. And I’d say that over 99% of my reading is done while having to lean a little to the right in order for the lamp light to reach the pages of whatever I’m reading. It’s one of the few hassles I don’t mind one bit, even though every once in awhile I’ll have to stretch my fingers because of the sometimes awkward positioning.

Have you seen those awesome reading hammocks and outdoor chairs? I want one.

But I’ll ask you, where is your ideal reading spot to get lost in a book? Please don’t say on the toilet. I’ll just laugh at you and probably not approve the comment.

“Write What you Know” or “Write What you Read”

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Photo Credit: Ezine Articles

I have to be honest here. This was the first time since I adopted my Monday-Friday blogging schedule a few months ago that I wanted to just skip a day. Not that I think any of you would notice or care, but blogging is kind of important to me. Sounds stupid but it is. My reason for almost not posting today was because Team USA is set to play Germany today in their final Group Stage match right around the time this post will be scheduled to publish. I’m not the biggest soccer fan there is, but you bet your you know what that I’m a fan of Team USA. I was going to write about them and the World Cup and all of that, but I guess not.

Okay. we’ve all seen the writing tips credited to famous authors and also the advice that just seems to be from nowhere. I can’t tell you how many times in the last year I’ve read the phrase “Write what you know.” More honesty, I hate reading this crap. Write what you know. Well what if you’re like me and you don’t know a damn thing about writing or being a writer or plotting or any of that stuff? And your life experience is as ordinary as it gets.Then what the heck is the advice? “Write what you know nothing about?” That sounds about right to me. I’m sure y’all think I’m exaggerating when I say I don’t know anything about all this writing business, but I am telling you right now that I’m being completely honest when I say I’m clueless.

Let me repeat what I’ve mentioned in previous posts. Here’s how I write: I sit down. Write between 700-1500 words. Stop. Go about whatever else I’m doing that day or night. Write another 700-1500 words to finish up that chapter and move on. I’m not thinking about anything I know. I’m just writing whatever seems like it continues the story okay.

Now, I’m not sure that I’ve ever read anything about “Write what you read.” Maybe it’s been said a bunch and I’m just not in the loop, but maybe it hasn’t. No matter if writers all across the world believe in this philosophy or not a single one, this is me. You guys should know pretty well by now that I read crime fiction all the time. I love it. I write it. Why is this? Because over the years i feel that I’ve read enough perfect writing in the genre that has given me some ability to write my own stories. I’m not saying I’m some expert or that my writing is any better than the next guy, but I am saying that I write what and how I do because of what I’ve read. That’s it. Plain and simple.

My question for you is this: Do you believe in either of these writing philosophies?

If you haven’t heard “write what you read” before, then feel free to go ahead and credit the saying to me. Ha. Just kidding. Kinda.

Can you Name a Single Favorite Author?

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Photo Credit: 3rd Grade’s a Hoot

In the last few months I’ve talked about my favorite series of books and also my favorite protagonist, but does that necessarily mean that the author of those books is my favorite? I don’t know. Actually, I do. No it doesn’t. If you missed that post I’ll link to it at the end of this, but let’s just say that my favorite series revolves around my favorite protagonist who sometimes goes by the Girl on Fire. I sincerely hope that you know who she is. If not, your life is probably a mess. Just kidding. Not really.

Okay. So now I have to dive into who I think is my single favorite author. If it’s possible to have a single favorite. This is one of those questions that always depends on when you ask. I’d be willing to bet that many people today would name John Green or Veronica Roth as their favorite. Understandable, but I don’t think one’s favorite author should always be changing. I’ve had just two books make the top of my best books read list since I first started it. I think the list has over 120 titles. See, I think one’s favorite author should be treated similarly. If they are truly your favorite, then they should remain so for some time. Not two weeks until you read the next book you deem to be the best ever.

So now that I’ve eliminated Suzanne Collins from the competition, let me see who else might make the top of the pile. Robert B. Parker. I think by the time I’m 35 or 40 I’ll have every book he ever wrote. The number is around 70 divided between several different series. But I don’t think he’s my favorite. Marcus Sakey. He has a handful of books that were truly great. I actually remember the story of every one. Somewhat. But his two most recent books are part of a trilogy that I’ll never read. Much too sci-fi for me when he’s a crime writer. I think there are only two more authors who are seriously in the running for the coveted title of John Guillen’s Favorite Author Award.

Michael Connelly. This guy just does not know how to write a mediocre novel. Harry Bosch is probably the best detective series I’ve read. I’ve also read one of his Mickey Haller novels, great. I really have nothing negative to say about his writing style or any of his books.

Robert Crais. He’s here because of Elvis Cole, who heavily influenced my own Andrew Banks. Again, nothing negative to say about any of his books I’ve read. It took me a long time to start the series because of the title of the first book. I kept hesitating to take a chance, but the climax of that first one was so intense that it was one of those rare times when you can’t read the words fast enough.

After a lot of thought, I can’t pick a winner. These two are the best of the best when it comes to crime fiction today. I deem the competition a tie.

But maybe you can. Do you have a single favorite author who isn’t just whomever is in the spotlight at the moment?

What’s That one Series of Books You Won’t Forget?

Books and Judging Them by Their Covers

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Photo Credit: Bigger Pockets

The title of this post was my attempt to differentiate myself from every other person who has already written about judging books by their covers. I don’t think my title is very catchy. But eh. That’s okay. Let’s get on topic.

No matter what you say or what anyone else says, we’ve all judged books by their covers. Every person who has ever walked into a bookstore without knowing what they’d walk out with has done this. Now I’m not saying that every book you or I purchase has been because of its cover, but I’m sure there are a few on your shelf that you bought simply because you thought it looked pretty. That’s okay. I’m sure I’ve done it. But there have probably been dozens more that you chose not to buy because you thought the cover was a turn off. I have to say that I’ve also done this. But why? Let me tell you what I think.

You walk into the store and move toward your favorite section. You immediately find a few of your favorite authors but soon realize that you have all of the books on the shelves. Then you start walking up and down the aisle. You find a handful of books that you’re considering taking home with you.Then you find a nice place on the floor or one of those big comfy chairs and read all of their blurbs and titles and check out the covers.You’ve never read any of the authors and you don’t want your buying decision to be made based solely on the book blurbs. There’s just not enough there. You don’t know if the books are in a series or anything about the writing styles of any of these authors. You’re going back and forth between every book trying to come up with valid reasons for each. But then, you glance at your watch or phone and realize that you have five minutes before you need to be back in your car to make that doctor’s or lunch appointment. It all comes down to the covers now. You lay them all out and make a pick, and probably take an additional one for good measure. The others are quickly replaced on the shelf and out the door you go.

At least this is what I’ve done whenever I’ve gone to the bookstore to find something new.

But browsing for me is not walking up and down the mystery aisles at the store. Browsing is now randomly searching for the next books in just about every series I’m reading. I don’t look at the covers or the blurbs or anything but the price. I’ll eventually have to buy them all if I intend to continue the series, but usually the cheapest will win. Makes no difference what the book is about because I already know I enjoy the series and the author and the stories I’ve read.

Whenever I do decide to find something new the process is much the same. I’m sure you know that Amazon has Top 100 bestseller lists for everything in books. I’ll usually go to the Mystery, Thriller, Suspense or Private Investigator lists and go to the end of the list. I don’t want to see the super high bestsellers that have just been released, but the books that are selling well even though they’ve likely been out for years. But that’s not very often I have to do this because I have so many series I’m always wanting to continue.

So the point of this post is to acknowledge that I’ve absolutely judged a number of books by their covers, but probably not as much as you have. Tell me how come you do it whenever you do.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

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Photo Credit: Planet Minecraft

This post will likely be short.

Of the millions of fans of Potter, I’m sure a few of you read my blog. This past weekend I read an article all about the Wizarding World in Orlando. The article’s author wrote of the experience and the addition of Diagon Alley next month. And it had pictures! Lots of pictures that I thought of stealing for my own use in this post, but decided against it because you should just read the article. Anyway, my reason for writing this is that this is something I MUST experience. I’ve always been a fan of theme parks and roller coasters and all of that fun stuff, but this place is better than everything else. It’s HARRY freaking POTTER! And the place looks amazing.

As always, I’ll finish with a question. Have you been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter yet? Not asking you Amy, I know you’re going later this year and I hate you. If you have, what did you think of everything? If not, do you have any plans to visit in the future that I can join???

Language in Your Writing

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Photo Credit: SLU

This post is partly inspired by a comment I received yesterday on my post Stopping a Book Before you Finish. I’d go back and see who said it, but I’m writing this 15 minutes before I’m supposed to get ready for work, so if you read this you mystery person you, thanks for the comment.

Okay. Now I’m not talking about language here. I’m talking about cussing. Or vulgar language in your work. There are a number of genres in which any coarse language is unacceptable, but let’s not talk about those this time around. Let’s talk strictly books for adults. Say you’re reading along and then the protagonist has an angry episode and starts cussing all over the next few pages. Would that turn you off the rest of the book? Or say you’ve been reading along and the protagonist speaks casually with other characters using some of our favorite four-letter words. Would that turn you off the rest of the book?

I ask because I’ve come to realize that although I read mostly detective stories that deal with serial killers or rapists or so-called bad people, there is very little cussing going on. When I say very little, I mean almost none. The book I’m just about to finish in the next day or so, The Drop by Michael Connelly, has had none. Or if there has been any, it’s been such a small amount that I can’t even recall it.

The point I want to make is that sometimes we write scenes that we just know need a little cussing to make more genuine or realistic, but in reality that is rarely the case. It may sound okay to you as you write it, but it likely sounds a bit forced or excessive to the reader if there are any scenes that have a lot of cussing from one or more characters. There are a number of things that can potentially turn me off a book, but cussing isn’t really one of them.

To you, do you tend to have any amount of vulgar language in your writing? Maybe there’s some yelling or maybe it happens in casual conversation. Tell me.