Well, not exactly. At least, not the way you’re probably thinking. I’m talking about writing-related activities, but not the actual act of writing. (Yeah, that clears things up, doesn’t it?)
Okay, I’ll start with the “beginnings” part. I’m going to begin a new habit. Or rather, I’m going to resume an old habit that I swore off back in 2011. I’m talking about reviewing other author’s works. For those of you who don’t know, I haven’t reviewed a book in five years. It’s the result of my having critiqued some fellow author’s books as peer critiques, but posting them as book reviews.
For those who don’t know the difference, a peer critique is a very blunt, and usually critical, synopsis of weak points that one finds in a story, whether they be spelling, grammar, plot points, characterization, or whatever else. They are often (or they used to be) exchanged between writers during the development of a story, during critique gatherings or writers’ group meetings. I used to be a member of several such groups, both online and in real life, and got used to that style of criticism. It was a valued tool that we used to hone our craft.
However, they were NOT presented to the general public, and certainly not as a review after publication. No, a book review is another animal altogether. Think of it like this… a tough critique is the doctor warning you that there may be some complications with your upcoming procedure. A bad review is someone telling you that your newborn looks like a monkey, and smells like it’s been flinging its own poo.
I made the mistake of posting some reviews that were more critique than review, and in doing so, ended up insulting some people who didn’t deserve it. I was a rookie in the business, and it was a rookie mistake.
Of course, on the opposite end of the spectrum, there are also those who view authors giving favorable reviews to other author’s works as cow-towing in an attempt to curry favor with one another, or simply trading good reviews in order to boost sales. Either way, the reviewing author was sometimes caught in a no-win situation. So, rather than worry about what I should and shouldn’t say, I simply stopped reviewing books completely. As a matter of fact, the last review I did was a review of Fiends, a collection of stories by Paul Cooley. I wrote that review five years ago, in July of 2011.
But lately, I’ve come to realize that I’m short-changing some of my fellow writers. Some of their works really deserve to get some attention. Some of their work is really good. For instance, there’s a book I’m reading right now, that really deserves a good review. And in thinking back, this same author wrote another book that I read a few years ago, and that book was also really good. He deserves to know it.
I read quite a bit, and most of it is either indie published, or one of a few select traditionally published authors. Why? Back in the day, I could spend hours at a time in bookstores, exploring various books, thumbing through them to see what looked interesting. I would stack four or five at a time, often more than that, and buy them because they looked like they might be worth the time investment. Of course, the books were four or five dollars at that time.
At today’s prices, I can’t afford to just buy any trad-pub book that looks like it might be interesting. If I don’t already know the author is fantastic, and writes stories I’ll like, I can’t afford to take the chance. For that matter, there are some authors who I know are fantastic, and I still can’t afford to buy their works unless I find them in a used bookstore. Jim Butcher is a prime example. I really like his Dresden books. Unfortunately, I can’t afford them. The Big 5 publishing houses have priced themselves out of my wallet’s reach.
But good indie authors who cut out the middleman (because that’s what the Big 5 have become), are selling books at prices I can afford. Many have discovered that putting a book out for free is a good way to get their foot in the door, introducing their work to new buyers, much like the stereotypical drug pusher who lets you have the first sample for free. Now admittedly, some indies are pretty dreadful. But many others are good… every bit as good as the mid-list authors that are traditionally pubbed. Better yet, there are some who are every bit as good as some of the best Big 5 stuff that’s out there, and I’m coming to realize that they deserve to be recognized.
So I’m going to start reviewing some of the better books I’m reading. I may even go back and review some of the books I’ve read in the past, if they stick out in my mind… books that have made such an impression that I want to let the world know how much I like them.
And that’s the “beginnings” part.
As for the “endings”, that’s a real bit of good news. Things have fallen into place for Year 12, and I hope to be finished with the first draft within the week. I have several beta readers lined up, am on the schedule for my cover designer and formatter, and I happened to call at just the right time for my editor of choice. It turns out that they had just had a cancellation, and I was able to fill that slot. Good news for me, though my beta readers might not agree. It means that, while I thought I would be able to give them a month to do the beta read, it now turns out that it will be more like two and a half weeks. But that’s the way of things in this biz. I’d rather get it out sooner than later.
I also got word from the publisher for Chucklers. It seems there was a misunderstanding on the editing. They didn’t realize I had already turned in the last round of edits a month ago, and thought they were still waiting on me. That’s both good news and bad. It’s good because it means the book should now be in the final stages of being published. It’s bad because we lost a month, and it might have already been out, if not for that lost time.
Like I said though, that’s the way of things. I think we’ve got everything straightened out now, and it actually looks like I’ll have three titles out before the end of the year now. I’ve got Chucklers (the apocalyptic horror novel being published by Severed Press), Year 12 (sequel to Half Past Midnight), and The Burning Land (the short story previously published in the “Explorers: Beyond the Horizon” anthology).
So here’s my little plug… if you haven’t already signed up for my newsletter, please consider doing so now. It’s the easiest way for me to keep people informed about when I have new titles coming out. I’ll never give your contact information away or sell it, and I ONLY send out a news blast when I have a new title coming out.
And that’s it. I still have a lot of writing to do, so stay safe, and I’ll talk to you next time.