The New Author as Fresh Meat

As a new author, do you feel preyed upon?

As you pursue your dream do you ever feel predators are waiting at every part of the journey? As soon as you pause or hesitate, show a lack of confidence, or you ask yourself can I do this, they pounce.

Their mantra is you need a professional. You don’t have the expertise. Even if you did, you’d still need them for a different perspective. Anything free is not as good. Anyone who volunteers to help is an amateur. You’ve invested so much time and effort into your dream don’t sell it short. You’re worth it. Your dream is worth.

The predators come in the form of book marketers who claim only they know how to get your book in front of all those potential readers. They’re editors who suggest a typo or a dropped word (which they would catch) is the difference between success and failure. They’re graphic artists who have invested heavily in image manipulating software that can be adapted to whatever purpose including book covers. They’re hybrid publishers, a cabal of all the aforementioned.

All that stands between you and success according to them is their services. Oh, yes, and their fee.

It’s great to have a dream but financing it unfortunately is where reality sets in. In most ventures, dreams aside, a cost benefit analysis is compulsory, as is some rudimentary market research. Why not undertake both for the novel you’re considering publishing?

Professionals can cost you thousands of dollars and the truth is a slick, error-free package doesn’t guarantee a best seller. In fact, it doesn’t even guarantee a return on your investment. Do the math. If you sell your e-book on Amazon for $3.99 your net royalty is about $1.40. How many books will you have to sell to pay the cost of the professionals?

Now, take into consideration what the marketplace is like today’s authors.

The number of books being published every year has exploded. 1.7 million books were self-published in the U.S. in 2018, an increase of 264% in just five years.

Book sales are stagnant. The average U.S. book is now selling less than 200 copies per year and less than 1,000 copies over its lifetime.

(You can check this and more depressing facts out for yourself in a well-sourced article by Steven Piersanti, Senior Editor, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Updated June 24, 2020, at https://ideas.bkconnection.com/10-awful-truths-about-publishing)

Save your money. Invest in how-to-write books, programs and courses. Put your work out there and seriously consider what other writers are saying about how to improve it. Search out other writers at your level or better and develop professional relationships. Be patient. Work hard. You’ll discover it’s as much about the journey as the destination.

When you think you’re ready go ahead and self-publish. It’s easy, it’s exciting and it’s free. Make mistakes. You can always upload corrections, or for that matter, unpublish the book and start again.  Keep at it. Don’t worry too much about success. Be more concerned about becoming a better writer.

You can check out my self-published books at

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

Military weaponry, tactics and protocols highlight sci-fi non-stop battle thriller

Review:

Seven Soldiers: War of the Worlds

by Clark Wilkins

A REVIEW

Military weaponry, tactics and protocols highlight sci-fi non-stop battle thriller

 

 

In September 19, 1961, Betty and Barney Hill claimed they were abducted by aliens on a rural road in New Hampshire. After being taken aboard a spaceship they were subjected to a number of examinations including tissue samples, then released unharmed. The Hills informed the authorities and under hypnosis divulged the details of the events including the alien’s home star of Zeta Retiucli. This event was sufficiently genuine to be investigated by the FBI, CIA and Air Force.

 

Fast forward three hundred years.

 

The Interplanetary Defense Force (IDF) is in full retreat. They arrived on the planet to put down a rebellion and in their first encounter have taken a vicious beating. Who is this unknown enemy that turns their own weapons against them? An enemy they have yet to even see.

 

Their only chance is to regroup but how can they do that when the enemy is picking them off as they fall back. Once the army has withdrawn across a dam, they might have a chance but only if they can hold the dam and stop the advance. They need volunteers to make this stand. Seven soldiers step up for what is most likely a suicide mission.

 

Not only must they keep the enemy at bay, but the beautiful Dr. Nirawon Kaiser demands they capture one of the enemy to discover possible physiological vulnerabilities.

 

The battle ensues and Kaiser gets her wish only to discover an astounding link between the capabilities of the enemy and a UFO incident three centuries ago.

 

Once again, author Clark Wilkins excels in detailed research, this time into weaponry and military tactics and protocols. It’s well worth the read as an entertaining education into these specific areas. Seven Soldiers: War of Worlds is well structured with rising tension building to an unexpected climax.

 

Characterization is thin and stereotypical though thorough enough to carry the plot from one detailed description of weapons, their deployment and tactical strategy to another.

 

In previous works, Wilkins has cleverly blended fact with fiction adding an extra level of authenticity. However, in Seven Soldiers: War of Worlds, since the suggested link introduced by the actual Zeta Retiucli prologue doesn’t manifest itself until some three hundred years in the future the technique fails to invoke that sense of eerie intrigue.

 

 

 

 

 

Original post:
rodraglin.booklikes.com/post/4143959/military-weaponry-tactics-and-protocols-highlight-sci-fi-non-stop-battle-thriller

The death of love – and what comes after

Review:

 

“Ah, so this is what the world looks like from the epicenter of grief–”

 

Songs for Solo Voice

By James R. Whitley

 

This quote from Here, one of the poems in James R. Whitley’s Songs for Solo Voice, sums up this entire book of thirty-five poems.

After a second reading, I realized the works reminded me of the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally, acceptance. Though Whitley’s book only has four parts, with a little rearranging and a bit of imagination the poems began to take on a significance for me they didn’t have initially.

The entire collection appears to focus on a failed relationship, the death of love, and begins with works that address anger and bargaining. A stanza from Souvenir says it best, “If I take it all back—the jagged insults hurled like careless daggers, the failing stargazer lilies and their accusations of neglect, every unconscionably late anniversary gift—could there be room left for negotiation?”

In Quite Taken, the bargaining continues for a reprieve from the unrelenting pain: “Does it explain my pleas for mercy that continue long after the church has crumbled to dust around me?”

Depression that comes with loss is expressed in Sostenuto“No matter how striking the tune, the sound after a song has been sung is no sound at all.”

The suffering continues, but with a glimmer of acceptance with the realization in Here“is not just where I am, but where I am meant to be.”

Gradually the poems convey a hint of optimism as in Here, Finally, “…there comes a point when you realize that, no matter how long or torturous, no road is your enemy.” By the end of Songs for Solo Voice, the impression is one of reconstruction and working through, “but know that, when it comes to loss, none of us is immune.” (Trembling Deliciously) and “…a game played—however badly, however distressing the ultimate defeat— was an option to win something. (The Inside Story of It)

And finally, in She Hangs Brightly, a declaration of hope; “Trust me when I say you will survive this, despite the difficult music lurking in the background. This is just the music of never-forgetting-her, the score of the rest of your life.”

Whitley uses a number of musical terms, which this reviewer did not understand or initially appreciate. But after looking up their definition found them to be remarkably appropriate in subsequent readings.

When read individually, most of the poems in this collection are exceptional for their raw beauty and intensity. However, as a theme, the bitterness and disappointment, the self-flagellating, and accompanying insecurity become burdensome.

Regret, like worry, is unproductive and tedious

Original post:
rodraglin.booklikes.com/post/4141607/the-death-of-love-and-what-comes-after

The Rez: Brutal truth – no blame assigned

Review:

 

 Brutal truth – no blame assigned

 

The Rez: An American Love Story 

By g. Michael Madison

★★★★★

 

 

 

It’s 1956 and the Tulalip Indian Reservation on the coast of northern Washington State is not where Ginny Thomas wants to live, nor is it where she wants her daughter Nikki-D, to be brought up. But it’s where her husband, Nick, is able to get a job managing a small regional bank. Despite her disappointment, the family still lives in the biggest house at the top of Mission Bluffs, looking out over Puget Sound and down on The Rez.

It’s a “them and us” community separated by wealth (or the lack of it), race, and elevation. The Indians stay below near the shoreline. Going where you don’t belong can be met with derision and violence, so it’s not surprising when Jonny, a young Indian boy, climbs the bluffs he’s confronted by two older white kids who set about beating him up. What is surprising is when Nikki-D happens upon this altercation and takes the side of the Indian boy. This chance meeting leads to a life-long friendship that has ramifications that change the perspectives, if not the lives, of both individuals, as well as their families and community.

The Rez: An American Love Story is set in a tumultuous time in America’s history and the characters are impacted by events including the Vietnam War but because of their disparate circumstances, each experiences them differently.

The powerful narrative voice of author g. Michael Madison imparts the story with brutal honesty and authenticity. His use of multiple points of view, not just that of Indians, bestows impartiality to the message. The multitude of characters wash over the reader like an extended family and are depicted not as stereotypical victims or oppressors but as genuine individuals.

Madison addresses prejudice, discrimination, and how the gap between rich and poor affects a community providing advantages for some and denying the opportunity for others, but he does it without assigning blame.

Despite the extremes, the author manages to instill empathy for even the most privileged. There is suffering and success, anxiety and joy despite their situations.

The Rez: An American Love Story, is not only about romantic love, but it’s also about loving yourself, loving your neighbors and community, and even loving your country. It’s about being tolerant and understanding of their flaws and shortcomings and striving to improve all that it entails. The deep humanity depicted by Madison can serve as a guide toward truth and reconciliation with First Nations people by acknowledging that accepting and encouraging diversity neither denies nor diminishes ourselves.

 

Reviewed by Rod Raglin

 

Original post:
rodraglin.booklikes.com/post/4138634/the-rez-brutal-truth-no-blame-assigned

Mutane Town chilling blend of fact and fiction

Review:

 

What kind of people would choose to live in such a toxic environment,

even fight to stay there?

What’s wrong with them?

What are they hiding? 

 

It’s 1975 and the American military is about to undertake a two-day top-secret mission. It involves helicopter insertion of a four-man camera crew in full battle gear into a government-ordered abandoned town. Their assignment is to film any evidence of anyone still there, then return and report their findings. 

 

The town is Boston Mills, Ohio.

 

Chief Corporal Mason Wyatt and his three-man team have been cautioned that those who are left may not appreciate them coming it. In which case they could be armed. 

But as far as the unit is concerned, this mission is just routine. After all, this is Ohio, not hillbilly country or Vietnam, and it’s only for 28 hours. It can’t be dangerous. It will be a cakewalk. 

 

But Boston Mills isn’t just another hamlet in the rural Midwest. It’s now known as “Hell Town” and is home to a hazardous waste dump where the nearby river is so polluted it can actually be lit on fire. The poisoned environment smells like sulphur and has propagated mutant weeds that have overrun the landscape growing up through asphalt and blocking roads. 

 

What kind of people would choose to live in such a toxic environment, even fight to stay there? What’s wrong with them? What are they hiding? 

 

Corporal Mason and his team are about to find out. 

 

Mutane Town is Clark Wilkins at his best, blending fact with fiction creating the eerie feeling perhaps the author has some insight into these macabre actual events that are the basis of many of his stories. 

 

His extensive research and use of bona fide findings from government reports give this fast passed story a chilling sense of authenticity. Indeed, as Wilkins points out, what the reports don’t reveal is even more disturbing. 

 

 

Original post:
rodraglin.booklikes.com/post/4112528/mutane-town-chilling-blend-of-fact-and-fiction

Online Reviews – Is it time for an integrity check?

 

 

 

Manipulating book reviews is hurting readers and writers alike.

 

 

First, I must disclose I get paid to write book reviews.

 

I’m contracted by a company that gets paid $200 by the author, publicist, marketing agency, publisher, someone, anyone, to have a book reviewed. They send me a list, I choose the book I want to read and then write an honest review. They pay me 20% or $40.00USD. I’m not told what to write only that it has to be thorough, well-written and between 400 and 450 words.

 

What’s a bit disconcerting is I don’t own the review, the client who paid for it does. My review goes back to the client and they decide whether or not it gets posted. Not surprising, anything less than four stars gets killed.

 

But as a writer for hire that’s the deal. Hey, as a journalist I’ve had news stories killed because they offended the publisher’s golfing buddy.

 

The difficulty I’m having is when it comes to reviews of my own fiction.

 

I won’t pay for reviews. I know it doesn’t make sense does. I get paid to write reviews of other people’s books, but I won’t pay to have people write reviews of mine. Anyhow, I can’t afford to pay $200 for a bad review, and, yes, at least half of the reviews I get paid to write you wouldn’t be posting on the back cover of your book or highlighting on your author’s website.

 

As I’m sure you have, I’ve tried many ways to attract reviews, mostly with free books. I ask the recipients to write and post an honest review though less than one percent do and some aren’t favourable.

 

But let’s talk about those unfavourable reviews.

 

I’ve learned a lot from well-considered bad reviews and unfortunately, there have been quite a few. I’ve been told my characters are stereotypes, had plot holes pointed out and been condemned for not tying up the loose ends in the denouement. What I’m saying is you can learn from bad reviews, but not if you don’t allow any to be posted.

 

This brings me to the point, (finally, you say),

of authors collaborating in review exchanges.

 

When I’ve entered into these collaborations, I’ve frequently been asked to agree not to post our reviews until each of us has had an opportunity to review the review. I’ve agreed on their behalf but suggest they post the review of my work regardless. However, if my review of their book is less than four stars or even has a hint of criticism it’s invariably declined.

 

The other disconcerting thing is getting a five-star review when it’s apparent the reviewer never read my book. The review is a couple of paragraphs scant on details and big on generalizations like “unique voice”, “great find”, “memorable characters”, “thrilling plotline”.

 

So, my question is, who is benefitting?

 

  • – Certainly not the reader if he or she is buying a book on the strength of the review rating.
  • – Not the author who refuses to accept legitimate criticism thus never improves as a writer.
  • – Not authors who let legitimate criticism stand if they’re compared against bogus good ones.
  • – Not the writing community since the pool of reviews has been poisoned by bogus ones and no longer has any credibility

 

I understand how important it is to have our work reviewed, but I’m urging you to not only let the opinion of the reviewer be posted regardless of the rating, insist upon it. That will motivate you to improve your craft and also begin to return credibility to the review pool. A fringe benefit may also be keeping your integrity intact, though today that’s becoming more a liability than an asset.

 

To paraphrase, you can fool some of the readers some of the time. In other words, it’s highly unlikely you’ll achieve a level of real success on the strength of bogus reviews. If you’re going to become truly successful you must first become a good writer. Participating in anything less than ethical reviews won’t help you succeed and you’re making it more difficult for everyone else.

 

BOYCOTT BOGUS REVIEWS

As a reader and as a writer, I will no longer purchase books I believe have achieved their rating through less than ethical means. If you’re serious about writing I encourage you to consider adopting this policy as I believe it will benefit us all in the long run and face it, it is a long run.

 

Here are some tips that may indicate

reviews have been less than ethically achieved:

 

– A new self-published book has a lot of 4-5 star reviews in a short period – 3 months.

– There are more ratings than reviews and all of them are 4-5 stars.

– Do a web search of the reviewer. If it’s a company like Kirkus, then their policy is likely not to publish reviews of less than 4-5 stars.

– There are no bad or even mediocre reviews or ratings.

– Reviews use generic language and don’t address the story. Examples would be “original voice”, “thrilling plotline”, “memorable characters” “great find”. 

– Read the preview. Do the reviews reflect the level the author is writing at?

 

Do we have the courage to do this?

 

30

 

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

 

 

Original post:
rodraglin.booklikes.com/post/4090279/online-reviews-is-it-time-for-an-integrity-check

Project Renaissance mostly notable for seamless morphing of multiple tropes

Review:

 

Project Renaissance: White Wings

by Brian Gates

 

Booker Vaux and his friend and partner Sam Murphy are best buddies and super cops, you know the kind who wisecrack when facing down violent criminals armed to the teeth intent on killing them and a host of innocent bystanders. Outnumbered, outgunned, they take down the bad guys without even losing their sense of humour.

When Booker’s devoted wife and two loveable kids are kidnapped without motivation or ransom, he and Sam will stop at nothing to get them back. With the help of an anti-establishment hacker who feeds him clues, they set out on a search that includes a prerequisite car chase, numerous shootouts and gruesome murders all leading toward the high-tech mega-maniacal corporate mogul with plans to take over the world by introducing humanoid artificial intelligence who are programmed to do his bidding.

Project Renaissance: White Wings by Brian Gates is notable mostly for the morphing of several genre tropes into one seamless story. The introduction of some imaginative next-generation social technology also has to be appreciated, though unless you’re a gamer or have a keen interest in this area you may find the author’s extended explanations tedious. Plot twists keep the story interesting, but the outcome is never in doubt no matter how impossible it may appear to be.

 

 

#books #bookworm #twitterbooks  #newbooksnetwork #goodreads #amreading #readingcommunity #booklovers #newfiction #readers #read

Original post:
rodraglin.booklikes.com/post/4060291/project-renaissance-mostly-notable-for-seamless-morphing-of-multiple-tropes

Tempest: Poems that provide personal poetic epiphanies.

Review:

 

You can’t expect in a book of fifty poems that each one is going to speak to you. If the majority do then I would suggest the poet has done a very good job. 

In Tempest: Poems, poet, Ryan Meyer didn’t make the cut, but there still are a good number of poems in this collection that are nothing short of astonishing.

Meyer is at his best when he comes at a subject obliquely, understanding coming as a satisfying surprise. Examples, where this is best achieved, are with Flamingo, the weekend, and drinking and dreaming of being somewhere, anywhere else. And again in Straight Bs, “Still, the lights guide me, Inch by inch, to the dance floor, Where glances have evolved Into lower back rubs … It’s dim enough for anyone To be a dance partner.”

Good poets have a way of saying what you already know or have experienced but saying it with originality. Meyer taps into this secret to universal appeal in Somewhere Else, that “…ends up just as disappointing as right here.” And again, in Cavernous where “Even my dreams leave me An anxious mess, feeling as if I’ve missed something, that I Have reason to be worried.”

This originality can also be illustrated in a unique perspective as is the case in On Evolution, where the poet compares his own purpose to that of a caterpillar and worries, “I hope growing wings doesn’t have to hurt”. And then with Long, Long After, a unique reflection of the past “The way everything was Before pie tins on the kitchen table Became ashtrays beneath wrinkled faces”.

Sometimes it’s diction, cleverly choosing the exact words. This is exemplified in A Melancholy Album Cover for a Coffee Shop Artist where Myer nails the affectations of an amateur. He achieves it again in Come Around, with this description “… the women who wouldn’t have Let this go any other way, who stood, Arms crossed, one foot tapping, Eyes staring daggers, unmovable, In the way of all other outcomes.” Unique imagery that resonates on the periphery of your consciousness. 

His success is with poems that are not momentous, but just moments, like the heartrending description of the death of a sparrow in No Science to Loneliness.

However, themes of relationship angst, reminiscences of misplaced or wasted youth and existential anguish are too often revisited. They’re accompanied by a lack of intensity along with lots of garden analogies and weather metaphors. A few resemble the self-indulgent verse of adolescents using clichéd phrases like “tear-stained pillows” and “You leave me speechless.”

But despite the shortcomings, Tempest: Poems by Ryan Meyer is worth the read for a handful of jaw-droppers that provide personal poetic epiphanies. 

 

#books #bookworm #twitterbooks

#newbooksnetwork #goodreads #amreading #readingcommunity

#booklovers #newfiction #readers #read

#PoetryCommunity #poetry #poems

 

Original post:
rodraglin.booklikes.com/post/4051525/tempest-poems-that-provide-personal-poetic-epiphanies

Nowhere days

Nowhere days.
..and it’s raining.
 

Original post:
rodraglin.booklikes.com/post/3991198/nowhere-days

Unexpected Find by Hayleigh Sol

Review:

Unexpected Find

By Hayleigh Sol

 

★ ★ ★ ★ 4 STARS

 

Original post:
rodraglin.booklikes.com/post/3978214/unexpected-find-by-hayleigh-sol