Friday, August 29, 2014

Aren't We All Guilty Then?

So I happened upon this article about an English teacher in Maryland (USA) who was put on leave by school administrators because he authored a novel that centered around a school shooting. I'm thinking...what? Unless something is being hidden from the public, it doesn't appear (according to the articles I read) that he's committed any actual crime. What it looks like is an over paranoid, knee jerk reaction to a work of FICTION and if that's the case, it sets a really dangerous, really scary precedent for potentially any author.

Yes, school shootings are a touchy subject.

Yes, he's an educator.

But does writing about one in his novel automatically make him worthy of a psyche evaluation? Of being treated like a criminal? It seems like it should be common sense, but just because someone's written a story about something horrific it doesn't mean they actually want it to happen. If that was the case, then look at the other countless authors out there who write about murder, torture, abuse, terrorism--the list goes on. Do we as authors now have to worry that, if the wrong person reads our books, it could be grounds to lose our jobs? That we could be subjected to a community-driven witch hunt because we dared to write about something terrible or controversial?

What about people that read these subjects then? People who watch movies or play video games or listen to music? Does an interest in violent or macabre subjects automatically make someone mentally unstable? Or prone to commit a crime? Where do we draw the line in all of this?

I don't know. Like I said, maybe there's more than meets the eye here. I almost hope there is. Because if his only crime is writing a novel about a school shooting, then this country is headed in a sad direction.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ms. Manners Does Reviews :)

Today we're talking book reviews. OK, I'm talking book reviews. As an author, I recognize their importance. As a reader, I appreciate seeing what others thought if I'm on the fence with trying out a new author, or if I'm unsure about a book in general. One thing I've noticed, however, is there are still a lot of authors out there who feel the need to comment on/react to their reviewers. Especially when those reviews are less than flattering. Authors?


Please. It's bush league. Amateur. Makes YOU look like an asshat. If you get a bad review, pull up your big ADULT pants and walk it off. Sure it stings. Someone on Goodreads has made fun of your baby using animated GIF's. Or they tossed a 1-star on Amazon with a big old 'Don't Waste Your Time' in the heading. I get it, really. Sometimes reviews sting, particularly when someone is brutally honest about why they didn't like your book.

Guess what? That's their opinion. It might not be nice, but it doesn't make it any less valid. It doesn't mean the rest of the world will think your book is garbage. In fact, what one person hates another person might love. I'll let you in on a secret: I often read the bad reviews on a book first. Why? Because a brutally honest reviewer is often very specific about why they didn't like something. More often than not, it's a personal preference--i.e., I didn't like the plot, or the character was annoying. It might convince me to take a shot, because maybe I don't mind the things this reviewer talked about. (Unless it's talking about a story riddled with grammar or punctuation errors, in which case, I silently thank the reviewer for saving me from wasting my time. I'm not buying your unedited manuscript, but that's a whole other post)

I'm skeptical of a book that has only 5-star reviews. Even more-so if the author is relatively unknown. Newsflash: even the big, bestselling superstar authors have a mix of good and bad reviews. It's part of the game. You put your work out there, you risk putting into the hands of someone who doesn't like it. That's OK. BUT if you must vent, do it behind closed doors. Don't argue with the reviewer. Don't enlist your friends and family to come to your defense. It's a turn off. Both to the reviewer and other potential readers. If someone sees you being all argumentative an defensive, they're less apt to leave their own review, and you lose. If they're like me, they'll be less apt to buy it.

So my advice in this long-winded post? Be thankful. Thankful someone is reading. If you've sent a review copy, thank them and be done. Ignore that urge to defend your work and recognize not everyone will like it. It's not the end of the world if they don't, I promise. :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Checking in...

So after much procrastination, I finally buckled down and made myself finish the sequel to Living Dead Girl in July. Currently, the semi-polished draft is sitting in the hands of a couple different readers so that I can get some feedback before I submit it to my publisher. I can't give you too much detail yet, but here's what I'm willing to share ;) 

  • The working title for this book is 'Reaper Madness'
  • This story is all fantasy/urban fantasy/pnr, rather than a contemporary romance that turns into fantasy
  • The story begins a few months after Living Dead Girl ends
  • Jen, Jack and Sam all play prominent roles; PJ makes a brief appearance
  • There will need to be a book three to resolve the story completely
  • There are a couple huge, unexpected twists 
Now, a few random thoughts before I send you on your way:

It didn't start out this way when I first thought up Living Dead Girl, but there is a whole, huge, bigger picture that ties this story all together. There are reasons behind many of the things that happen in book one that will come to light later in the story. I'll be honest--I'm a little nervous about book two. It borrows from various mythologies, and half the story takes place in the afterlife (or, rather, an alternate set of worlds where human souls go between reincarnations). To me, it's a great deal easier weaving supernatural elements into the real world than creating a whole new one and making it believable. We'll see if my readers 'buy into it'.