Saturday, August 02, 2008

The Pros and Cons of Being a Reviewer

"When we read a story, we inhabit it.The covers of the book are like a roof and four walls.What is to happen next will take place within the four walls of the story.And this is possible because the story's voice makes everything its own." ~ John Berger

Reviews count for A LOT in the writing world, especially if you're a new author trying to convince other people/publishers/agents that your work is top-quality. But sometimes it's tough to get reviews in a timely manner - mostly because so many of the reviewing sites are flooded with requests from authors just like you.

One option, of course, is to ask other authors to review your work. This works well if the person you ask (1) writes in a similar genre and (2) is ideally better-known than you are. You can also ask the readers who've read your work to post reviews on Amazon or the Barnes and Noble website.

On the flip side, you can also help authors by becoming a reviewer yourself, by signing up with a site like The Long and the Short of It. Now, I'm partial to LASR, 'cause I'm friends with the women who established it and run it. But I also want to talk about why you might consider helping them out, whether or not you're an author yourself.

The Pros of Reviewing for LASR:
*You get to read books/stories/novellas FOR FREE.
*You get to share your opinion with other readers and with the author herself.
*You can earn points that can be cashed in for Amazon gift certificates OR free advertising on their site, if you're an author.
*Every month, you're entered into a contest to win a free book all your own.
*If you're an author, reading other people's published work can be one of the best ways to learn the craft.

The Cons of Reviewing for LASR:
*They have specific guidelines for their reviewers (I don't mind, but some might): you can't write ONLY a synopsis of the story, you can't give away the ending, you can't be rude or snarky.
*They like their reviews to be finished in 1 month (again, I don't have a problem with this, but some people are slow readers).
*If you're an author, you have to figure out how to balance reading other people's works with writing your own.

I think the pros outweigh the cons. And I've enjoyed reviewing for them and learned a lot about other genres and authors I would normally never have picked up. Seriously...give it some thought. And if you're interested, visit their site and drop them an email...and make sure to tell them that Allie sent you!

Friday, August 01, 2008

New Hampshire, Summed Up

"I've traveled the world twice over, Met the famous; saints and sinners, Poets and artists, kings and queens, Old stars and hopeful beginners, I've been where no-one's been before, Learned secrets from writers and cooks All with one library ticket To the wonderful world of books." ~Anonymous

First, a couple of VERY important announcements:

#1: The Long and the Short of It is kicking off their one-year anniversary celebration, and they're giving away prizes EVERY SINGLE DAY. Go on over and visit, OK?

#2: My author friend Devon has her very first novella releasing with The Wild Rose Press today!Here are the cover and the trailer for Addicted:


And in other news, I was pleased with the way my New Hampshire mini-book tour turned out. At the Nichols Memorial Library on Thursday evening, I spoke to a very small group (5) but also sold 5 books, so that wasn't too bad. And I've decided that reading from your books is one of the best things you can do, to whet readers' appetities. I read 3-4 pages from each of my books, and when I stopped everyone sort of sighed and said, "Hey! You can't stop there!" I said, "Well, if you want to know what happens next..." ("buy the book" my head, of course...)

Here's a picture of the sign they had up outside the library:

And a picture of me signing a book for a fan :)

I also had the wonderful opportunity to have lunch with Marianne. We go way back (5-6 years or so, I think), and it's been wonderful to share the ups and downs of the publishing biz with her. We talked nonstop for 2+ hours, and of course it wasn't nearly enough time. But it was something :)

Here we are!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Life of a Cat...Rough, Isn't It?

"Cats are dangerous companions for writers because cat watching is a near-perfect method of writing avoidance." ~Dan Greenburg

I'm on my way back from my New Hampshire mini-vacation and book tour, and I'll fill you in on all the details tomorrow - pictures too!

In the meantime, for a completely unrelated but very cute post, here are pics of my babies:

Tolerating Each Other's Presence in Order to Watch the Birdfeeder Activity Outside

The Younger One's Shoe Fetish...

And The Older One's Sleep/Anything New in the House I Must Climb On Fetish...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I Love New Hampshire

Really, I do. It's such a pretty state (OK, in the summer anyway) - the people are nice, and there's still so much unspoiled countryside. Plus, I'm meeting Marianne for lunch TODAY. Very exciting!

Update on yesterday's appearance: the Lincoln Public Library in central NH hosted me for a lovely talk last night~ the librarian is charming and enthusiastic and loves having authors visit. (She'd ordered 2 copies of each of my books but hadn't read them yet since they'd been out ~ one woman returned Lost in Paradise as she walked into the reading and said she read it in one night ~ "I couldn't put it down!")

I spoke to a group of 12 for an hour or so; they were kind and attentive and asked good questions. I also read a couple of excerpts from Lost in Paradise, and after my talk I sold 6 books. So I was happy!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

OK, So I'm Not Crazy...

Most of you felt the same way I do about yesterday's stories.

Yes, it's a terrible tragedy that the girl died, but suing the school? I think it's another case of people trying to find a way to assuage their loss and pain by finding someone - anyone - to share the blame. And it's one thing if we're talking about a child, finding a "neat" way to climb up somewhere she shouldn't. But they were 16 and 18 years old. I understand the thrill of the the forbidden, but with that comes consequences - and if they're tragic ones, they're still consequences. (Thanks, J.K., for the comment from a legal standpoint, though - it helps to make sense where the lawyer is coming from)

And the West Point first, I didn't think it was a terrible thing, for him to take an opportunity for a pro sports career. But West Point students receive a free, outstanding education - and, as many of you mentioned, they all know what they owe in return. Mostly, though, I felt that if the Air Force and Naval academies have a strict policy in place regarding athletes and service, then the Army should follow. And there's nothing stopping him from pursuing that career once his military obligations are fulfilled.


I'm off to a mini-tour of New Hampshire today: a book discussion tonight and tomorrow night at 2 different libraries. I'm interested to see the response (or lack)...I'll keep you posted!


Fellow author Anne Whitfield was gracious enough to interview me for her blog "Authors and Books." Stop by and visit, if you'd like.

And finally, the Bitten by Books Blog Carnival started yesterday and runs all this week! Click on the icon below for more info about fabulous prizes...

BBB Carnival Link

Monday, July 28, 2008

I Want to Know What You Think

"I was raised the old-fashioned way, with a stern set of moral principles: Never lie, cheat, steal or knowingly spread a venereal disease. Never speed up to hit a pedestrian or, or course, stop to kick a pedestrian who has already been hit. From which it followed, of course, that one would never ever -- on pain of deletion from dozens of Christmas card lists across the country -- vote Republican." ~Barbara Ehrenreich

OK, I know it's Monday, and I know that means perhaps your brain isn't fully functional yet, but I have to know what you think about these two stories:

(I was going to say this post was non-writing related, but I think there's a kernel of story possibility in almost everything that happens in the world, so...)

#1. Last winter, two teenagers (18 and 16) in a town close by were out after midnight and climbed onto the roof of the local elementary school. Guy and girl, hanging out, flirting (no alcohol involved, according to sources). They were sitting on a skylight over the school's gymnasium and fell through. The girl (16) died from her injuries. Now her parents are suing the school, saying the school should be held responsible because custodians had stacked milk crates near the roof, and that's how the 2 climbed up in the first place.

My question: do you think this lawsuit is justified? Also, the parents have not specified a dollar amount; they want the courts to make a decision. What do you think would be an appropriate amount to award the parents, if they won the suit?

#2. You might have seen this one on the national news recently. A 2008 graduate of West Point was recruited by the Detroit Lions, and in the spring the Army released him from his military obligations to repay the Academy through traditional military service. They felt that he was serving his country in a different way by bringing positive attention to sports at West Point and the NFL if he played football instead. Last week, the Army reversed its decision and said he must serve military duty after all (this came in part by pressure from the Air Force and Naval academies, who do not allow any kind of similar waiver for their athletes).

My question: do you think this grad should be released from his military service obligations and allowed to play pro football as an alternate way of repaying his education?

I'm reserving my opinions 'til tomorrow, and I've tried to be as objective as possible in presenting the stories...but I really want to know what other people think, because I had strong reactions to both of them.

So...tell me what you think!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday Update

"A Friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of Nature."- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Number of books I sold at my author appearance yesterday: 5.

Number of books I sold to people I did not already know: 1.

Opportunity to stand in a Barnes and Noble with books I wrote and talk to a local reporter: priceless :)


Hey, guess what? Next week during my mini-tour to New Hampshire, I'm going to have lunch with Marianne! The last time the two of us got together was 2 1/2 years ago. Since then, she's launched a (really successfu) book review site and published 7 short stories, a novella, and a novel. And I've managed to publish 3 novels. Not too shabby, right? I think maybe we're good karma for each other, so let's see what the next 2 1/2 years bring!