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5 tips for writing a good review

21 Nov

Want to know how to write a good book review?

I don’t mean a favorable review. That’s easy. Just gush.

I mean a useful review. One that will help other readers decide if a book is worth their time and money. Well, here are five tips – tips I hope you’ll put to good use writing reviews for my books …

  1. What books is it like? One of the most helpful lines in any review goes like this: “If you liked [insert name of popular book here], you’ll like this book.” It gives people something they can easily compare the book to. It’s even better if you can choose two or three books, and perhaps even say why or how the books are similar. Of course, if you didn’t like the book, you can always compare it to this book.
  2. What specifically did you like? (Or not.) Often there is one thing that really stands out to you as a reader. Tell people what that was – without spoilers, of course. And make sure you tell them why it stood out so much, for the good or the bad. If more than one thing stood out, well, you have that much more to say.
  3. What one character was memorable to you? Perhaps it was someone you loved. Maybe it was someone you hated. It could have been someone who made you laugh. Or someone who made you cry. It might be someone you identified with. Or on the bad side, it might have been someone completely flat. Tell potential readers about that person – again, without spoilers – and why that character stood out.
  4. Was there a line you loved (or hated)? Quote a memorable line from the book. It might have been dialog, or description. It could be a chunk of dialog. (Yes, that’s legal. It doesn’t violate copyright to quote from a book in a review of the book. That’s considered “fair use.”) You might need to give some context so it makes sense, but often, if the line is truly memorable (or truly awful), you won’t need to.
  5. What makes this story unique? People don’t want to read the same old story. They’re looking for something new and interesting. What can you tell people about the story that will tell them this is worth their time (or not worth their time), without giving away the story? What captured your interest? What held your interest — or sent you running from the room?

Now, if you’ve read any of my books, would you please write a useful review? Thanks!

The House in the Old WoodKaria's Path 

10 factoids about Book 5

17 Nov

Here are ten things about The White-Silver House that you may find interesting:

The White-Silver House1. From six to five: When the series The Day Magic Died was first drafted, there were six books. But when I re-read the first drafts, I saw that the original fifth book looked good for about the first 20 percent of the book, then wandered like a confused faerie. When I cut the last 80 chapters, that first 20 percent fit perfectly with Book 6. That grafted draft was the foundation for Book 5, The White-Silver House.

2. From five to six? In the process of creating the final draft, I came to the point where the original fifth book ended. It was, I thought, working really well up to that point, and I knew there were some issues ahead. Also, I was about the half-way point in the book, which is the longest yet. (See the next point.) So I considered splitting it into books five and six again. I decided that would be stringing readers along, so I kept it as one book and kept hammering away at the draft.

3. More to love in Book Five: Book 1, The House in the Old Wood, is 90,000 words. Book 2, Karia’s Path, is almost the same length. Book 3, The Hall of the Prophetess, clocks in at 95,000 words. Then came Book 4, The Dwarf’s Legacy. That reached 115,000 words. But you have not seen anything yet. Book 5, The White-Silver House, is nearly 135,000 words. (That’s more than a half-million words for the series, by the way.)

4. In the end, I got to the ending: The ending of The White-Silver House, in many ways, differs greatly from the ending I wrote at first. I wrote the original ending when I was about 20,000 words into The House in the Old Wood, and knew I needed to know where I was going if I was ever going to get there. (That’s right. It “only” took me 20,000 words to figure that out.) But when I wrote it, I was anticipating writing one book. Just one. When I hit about 60,000 words, and I had barely started the story, I figured I had three books. When everything shifted on me in the third book, I thought I had five. As noted above, I ended up with six books initially. Needless to say, the ending changed as the story changed. On the other hand, the elements that are probably most important are still there from the first version of the ending. They guided me through a half-million words.

5. In the end, I decided against another ending: I wrote an alternative ending. On the basis of that alternative ending, I outlined a sequel. I bounced the alternative ending off two of my critical readers. (Someday, perhaps, I’ll let others see it. Perhaps.) Their response? No no no no no no. Yes, two people told me six times not to do it. I took their advice.

6. It’s back: Some astute readers have asked me about a particular object that seems very important in The House in the Old Wood, and comes up again a few times in Karia’s Path. But then it disappears. It’s not even mentioned in The Hall of the Prophetess or The Dwarf’s Legacy. (Well, not overtly. There actually is a reference to it in The Dwarf’s Legacy, but it’s veiled.) Now I can tell you, astute readers, it does indeed play a key role. You’ll just have to wait until near the end of The White-Silver House to find out if you’re thinking about what I’m talking about.

7. They’re back: Likewise, two characters who played major roles in the first two books, The House in the Old Wood and Karia’s Path, also disappeared, and for good reason. But in the final analysis, they redeem themselves in The White-Silver House.

8. The problems continued: The fourth book, The Dwarf’s Legacy, took far longer than I expected to complete because I had to replace a major character. That character was involved in almost every part of the book, and this necessitated a serious rewrite. The character played less of a role in the fifth book, The White-Silver House, but I still needed to do more work than I had anticipated in order to complete the changes begun in the fourth book.

9. Wait, how many races are there? The House in the Old Wood introduced readers to three races: Teneka, Dr’Zhak and Inamali. But one more came up in the fourth book, The Dwarf’s Legacy. And book five, The White-Silver House, introduces a fifth race. But they’re actually people you’ve met before – at least, one of them – in the third book, The Hall of the Prophetess. Oh, and by the way, that fourth race that you met in The Dwarf’s Legacy? You may have missed it, but there are references to them in The House in the Old Wood and Karia’s Path – references that you probably won’t be able to connect until you read The White-Silver House.

10. Three years in the making: I started writing my series, The Day Magic Died, in November 2011. So I think there’s some poetry in the fact that I completed the final draft of the final book in November 2014. So basically, in the time that Song of Ice and Fire fans have been waiting for one more book from George RR Martin, I’ve released five books. OK, so the fifth book in my series isn’t actually out yet. Anyone care to bet that The Winds of Winter will be out before The White-Silver House? I didn’t think so. Therefore, Game of Thrones and Song of Ice and Fire fans, I have given you something to read while you wait. And wait. And … well, OK, I won’t rub it in. That is, I won’t rub it in if you buy my books. All of you. Now.

Cheaper than a Pooping Moose Holiday Scarf!

14 Nov

With the recent price reductions for Book 4, The Dwarf’s Legacy, you can now purchase the Kindle versions of the first four books of my series, The Day Magic Died, for less than the price of a Pooping Moose Holiday Scarf!

Think about it: These four books will give you hours and hours and hours of enjoyment. The scarf? You will likely wear it only once or twice before someone who loves you burns it.

Longer lasting than a Polly the Insulting Parrot Keychain!

Yes, that’s right! The Kindle version of The Dwarf’s Legacy is now $4.99. That’s almost a dollar less than a Polly The Insulting Parrot Keychain!

Rude parrots get boring fast. The Dwarf’s Legacy doesn’t get old for a very, very long time. (Inside joke there, if you’ve read the book. Haven’t read it? Then get the book and get the joke!)

More versatile than an Inflatable Van Gogh Painting in a can!

And the paperback version is now $11.99. That’s less than an Inflatable Van Gogh Painting in a can.

Let’s face it, folks. How many times do you think, “Wow, I wish I had a painting in a can so I could spruce this place up a bit”? I bet it’s not many compared to the number of times you’ve thought, “I could really use a good book to read right now.” Right?

Just plain better than bad pun salt and pepper shakers!

So if you’re looking for a great gift for friends and family, don’t get them Assault and Battery Salt and Pepper Shakers.

No one likes an overused pun. Help them enjoy the journey – get them one (or all) of these:

The House in the Old WoodKaria's Path

Book 5 release is closer than ever …

13 Nov

The White-Silver HouseThe White-Silver House, the fifth and final book in the series The Day Magic Died, recently hit two important milestones.

Last week I finished the second draft. That incorporated all the additional sequences I had written, as well as all the changes that had to be made because of changes in the first four books since I originally drafted Book 5.

This week, I completed the final draft. That meant going through the second draft looking at consistency, storyline development and character development. I also caught a few typos and some awkward wordings (and one or two places where I had to ask, “What on earth were you trying to write here?”).

Now, the final draft is winging its way to my team of critical readers. Each brings their own strengths to the process, whether that’s expertise in proofreading, an eye for character development, talent with consistency or an understanding of teenage girls like our heroine, Karia.

All this suggests the question: “When will The White-Silver House be released?”

And I have to answer, “I don’t know.”

You see, the book is now in the hands of my critical readers. And I have been guilty in the past of making my critical readers feel rushed. That’s wrong.

It’s wrong, first, because they’re all volunteers, helping me out as their time allows. Rushing them does not express the gratitude I feel for their help.

It’s also wrong because rushing them makes it hard for them to give me the feedback I really need.

And giving them time is especially important on this fifth and final book. This is where so many of the plot lines need to be wrapped up. (And there need to be good reasons if some of them aren’t.) This is the destination that the characters have been evolving toward.

Equally important is the pace of this final book. We started slowly in The House in the Old Wood, and while the action began to pick up at the end, the pace then slowed again, all the way through Book 3, The Hall of the Prophetess. Things began accelerating in Book 4, The Dwarf’s Legacy, and this continues in Book 5, The White-Silver House, as our story races toward its conclusion.

On top of all that, I’m asking my team of critical readers to take on this task just as the holiday season hits. And you know how busy that can be.

So hang in there, good readers. Book 5, The White-Silver House, is coming. It’s closer than it’s ever been.

In the meantime, would you help me out? If you haven’t already told your friends about the series The Day Magic Died that they avoid you like the plague, would you consider doing so? I hope you’ve been enjoying the journey, and will recommend it to people you know. (And if you haven’t been enjoying the books, please recommend them to people you don’t like.)

Here’s where they can start …

Price cut for Book 3

24 Oct


I’m sure you saw this coming …

The price for The Hall of the Prophetess, the third book in the series The Day Magic Died, has been slashed.

Just like the first two books, The House in the Old Wood and Karia’s Path, the list price for the paperback version of The Hall of the Prophetess is now $9.99, though you might find Amazon discounts that.

And just like Karia’s Path, the price for the Kindle version has been cut to $4.99.

Ger your copy of The Hall of the Prophetess.

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