Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wicked Wednesday, Word Count, Another Review...

So, as I suspected, I didn't get any writing done at ALL over the past week.  My book Compis came back from type editing, and I wanted to get through it, because after starting the next book, Aeris, I realized there were a few minor tweaks I wanted to make before uploading it to Amazon and B&N.  It was a good week, but with that and Easter(which is the reason why didn't do a Sunday check-in) it did not get done.

Actually, I've been having a hard time getting anything done lately.  When spring comes to our house, we get out our tools and start some much needed yard maintenance.  We live on 2/3s of an acre, so there is quite a bit to be done. Weeds, weeds, weeds... they are not so easy to pick when you are 6 mths pregnant.  Go figure.  We did some work on the back fence, weeded the iris and bachelor button beds, and cleaned out the sticky weed behind the grape arbor.

I'm not even half done, either, because I have to get my butt out to the front yard and pull up all those morning glory shoots so the tortoises don't eat them.  Yes, we have two tortoises.  Apparently they are deathly allergic to morning glories.

Enough of the domestic whining.  I actually do enjoy weeding, when I can ignore my huge growing belly.  Being outside in the spring is the stuff of magic here in Northern Cali.  My son takes after me, and we put on our big boots, weed the yard and garden, and slather on the sunscreen.  Much fun.

In other, more interesting news... please tell me you haven't tuned out YET...  I got my map back from the artist.  Isn't it pretty???

My artist, Lindsey Anderson, for those of you who are curious to know, is AMAZING and whenever I get the opportunity to work with her on a project, I know she will be professional, timely and give me an end result that will blow me away.

So now, Compis has a map.  It has about 30 pages left till my final tweaks are finished, then it's off to formatting before it gets uploaded.  Honestly, this is the part I love BEST about being an indie.  I get to see all the aspects of the pipeline firsthand, because I'm involved every step of the way.  That may not be for everyone, but man, it works for a control freak like me.  :)

This is going to be a long post, because now I have to take an abrupt turn to the land of reviewing and have a quick discussion about ethics in reviewing.  This topic has been all over the Kindle boards, lately, and much on my mind.  There are several things being discussed, but I'm going to throw out all but the ones that involve my life as a reader/writer:
  1. Anyone can push that "like" button at the top of the page.  How can I trust that as a system of rating?  Well, you can't.  Sorry.  I have been to forums where people sign up to "like" each other's books.  That hasn't happened in Kindle boards, I am happy to report (at least that I've seen), but it happens elsewhere.  I am against it completely as a reader and writer.  I think it is misleading and I really wish that Amazon hadn't put this up on their site.  So, my answer is, read the reviews.  They are less likely to be shills, because it takes time and effort to read and review someone's work.  I have clicked the "like" button on books at Amazon, but ONLY if I've read them and liked them.  That is, however, a personal commitment.  I can't comment on the ethics of others.
  2. Indie writers only give good reviews to other indie writers because they want other indies to look good.  I can't say that I've heard about this anywhere.  When I review an indie book, I try to give as honest review as possible, just like I do for mainstream books.  If I don't like something, I'm going to point it out, probably with a lot of capitals in my sentences and some obnoxious opinions.  That is who I am.  I don't think I've pulled any punches on ANY of my reviews (go to goodreads and look at my record), but I do tend to be generous to ALL authors, simply because I respect the craft and how difficult it is.  I don't think I've given ANYONE a one star review, because to get something like that, I think a book would have to be filled with two word sentences, the same word typed over and over and over again endlessly or some other weird thing that could get published in a book.  It would have to be a pretty bad book to make me go that far.
  3. Indie writers write bad reviews to competitors so that their own books look good.  This one, unfortunately, DOES happen out there.  There are some confused and sad people who find themselves suddenly the recipients of a CROWD of one star reviews, not because they deserve them, but because some schmuck gets a bunch of friends together and they do it on purpose.  It is evil, it has been documented by those authors, and Amazon has had to interfere.  This makes me sad as a writer and I think it denigrates the entire indie industry.  Again, though, for my personal reading, I give a rating that I think is fair.  There are some crap indie books out there, but I have yet to read one of them, mostly because I wait around till a book gets a lot of reviews before I buy it.  Not so I can have something positive to say about an indie, but because I feel like it's been vetted.  I don't have a lot of time, so I don't like to waste it.  This may change in the future, but for now, I'm reading stuff that I think I'll have a CHANCE of liking.  I do that with non-indie books too, so I don't think it's a crazy idea.
Mostly, the talk on the boards was sad to me, because I felt like I needed to reexamine my goals in trying to review indies.  For a minute, I thought about giving it up altogether.  Then I looked at my track record with non-indie books.  I've never hesitated to review a book or tell what I think about it.  Why should indies be any different?   I'm reviewing them as a READER, not a writer.  I think I've earned the right after my many many years of reading to review any kind of book I want.  

On that note, onto the review.  If you've gotten here to the end, you are amazing and I hope it's worth it.  :)

Today I'm going to review Wings of Evil by JR Tomlin & CR Daems.  After reading this book, I did a bit of research(you'll see why in a moment) on the authors.  I couldn't find anything on Daems, but JR Tomlin has another book out called Freedom's Sword that is a Scottish Historical novel.  I haven't read it, so I couldn't tell you who did most of the writing for this book.  Perhaps you could check out the other book yourself and see, I don't know.  I've got a full plate for reading right now.

I was really confused by this book. I had to re-read the synopsis just to make sure I hadn't missed something, but I think the authors would have done well to label this a juvenile book: ages 11-14.
The storyline is a good idea: A girl makes friends with some persecuted creatures and makes it her mission to save them. She travels through three countries, makes friends with a spy, and finds herself dodging evildoers every step of the way.

Unfortunately, this is not a book that would appeal to those in the YA genre and definitely not adults. The language, descriptions and dialog are simple, as though they were written for a younger person. When I was reading it, I was reminded strongly of Jenny Nimmo's Charlie Bone series, which is another example of writing to a specific audience, in the language that audience can understand.

Yet nowhere is this book labeled as YA or juvenile fiction in the description (I later found it under Amazon's categories as teen fiction). As a result, I think it will have a hard time competing in an adult market. The plot and characters don't seem to understand complex situations, for instance, at one point, Liada is almost kidnapped by what is certainly a child molester (or teenage molester?) but she has no idea why he would be interested in her, even though she knows that he makes a habit of taking young attractive girls.

She several times refers to herself as a woman or adult, yet when she is apprenticed to a master cook, she spends most of her time composing snarky comments in her mind and sticking her tongue out at him when he's not looking. These are not the actions of a woman, but more like a jr. high school girl.

Yet, I also find it hard to believe that the one part of the story that fascinated me, the cooking scenes, would be palatable to a juvenile reader. They go on in such detail and few children are interested in such domestic things, that I have to wonder where exactly the authors were hoping to place this book in the fantasy market.

My advice, adult readers, pass this book on by, but if you have a girl, 11-14, I think she will actually like this book. The creatures are interesting, the world is inventive and definitely a different take on the average fantasy genre.

Just do yourself and don't go by the book cover and the title, because I feel like they are also completely misleading to the actual content.

That's all for now.  Hope to have good news on the Sunday update!
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