Reviews: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Just do it.

It’s a common thing you hear from writers at all levels: if you liked a book, leave a review. In fact, this picture by a fellow Harper Voyager author has gotten around quite a bit on Twitter and Facebook.
Leave a Review
But what if you didn’t love the book? Or, even worse, what if you didn’t like it at all, or hated it? Well, I’m not going to tell you how to write a review or what you should put in it. That’s something for you to decide. Personally, I tend to keep my negative reviews (and I’ve done a few) straightforward. I just say what I didn’t like: I couldn’t connect with the characters, the story line didn’t hook me, I had trouble following the plot, etc. But even if you didn’t like the book, you should still leave a review.

Let me repeat that. Yes, you should leave a review, even if it’s going to be a bad one.
Now obviously there are people who have no problem doing that. Yes, some reviews can get ugly, and that’s just part of the business. I wrote about that here when an author on Goodreads replied to a review. No, this blog post isn’t for those people. They’re leaving reviews and for that, I sincerely thank them. Yes, I just thanked people for leaving ugly reviews.

Here’s why. All reviews help sell books. Yes, you read that right. Studies show that books with only positive reviews don’t always sell as well as books with mixed reviews (though usually with a positive average). Negative reviews show potential readers that real people (not bots, or just the author’s friends and family) have read the book. No one, not even us starry-eyed authors, expects everyone to like our stories. Of course we’d love it if they did, but we know that isn’t going to happen. So if you’re worried about hurting our feelings, thanks, but don’t be. I promise we’ll be okay. We have other writers, friends, family, beer, and chocolate to give us solace. If you’re worried about hurting sales, again, don’t be. As I said, you’ll actually help. Not to mention that most authors I know try to approach negative reviews as a chance to learn. Obviously we’d go insane (or more insane) if we tried to adjust our writing for every bad review, but if there’s a criticism that readers keep bringing up, it helps to shine a light on something specific we can reflect on and possibly use to help us grow as artists. I say this speaking from personal experience. Like I said in my last post, here, it wasn’t until my first book came out that I saw the tropes and stereotypes I was using. You can’t improve without seeing both what you’re doing well and not so well, and I know I always want to be improving my craft.

Here’s something else you might not know. Amazon.com, and probably Barnes and Noble as well, use an algorithm to look at how many reviews a book has. When it reaches a certain number (there is considerable debate over what that number is, and Amazon isn’t sharing) it starts showing up on the recommended books section of users’ screens. This is a HUGE benefit to authors and can mean the difference between drowning in a veritable sea of books or standing out enough that someone sees it and buys it.

Yes, I realize all this could come back to haunt me. It’s entirely possible that people who were holding off on bad reviews will suddenly come out of the woodwork and my book ratings will plummet. That’s okay, I’ll deal with it. Like wise, it’s entirely possible there is now a Kickstarter campaign with the sole purpose of hiring someone to kill me. Please don’t contribute to it. But, please, review the books you read. You don’t need to leave long reviews, and they don’t have to be glowing. In fact, the only thing a review should be is honest. You owe that to yourself, to other readers, and even to the author. Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, wherever, just please, pretty please (with sugar on top) leave a review.

Pwease

News, Events, and a Treat

One of the (many) things beyond your control when you get published is often when the information on your books gets released. When your publisher registers an ISBN number, it usually gets flagged on Amazon and GoodReads. If you’ve ever seen “UNTL” or something like it (I honestly can’t remember exactly, it means the book doesn’t have a title but it’s ISBN is registered. I recently saw Harper registered the ISBN for book four in the AFT series (third full novel). I had grand plans to announce the title, to great fanfare because I know you’re all waiting with bated breath. The time, it seems, is now. Book four in the American Faerie Tale series will be….

The Returned

*release confetti and balloons*

So, there you have it. You’ll just have to wait to hear what it’s about. However, I’ll say that like the previous books, this one takes place in a new city. This time, it’s New Orleans. Let your imaginations run wild!


This is also a good time to say my events/appearances page has been updated. I’m delighted to say I’ll be at Emerald City Comic Con (ECCC) in Seattle WA. This is exciting since The Forgotten was set there. I might even stop by and say hi to Freemont while I’m there (read the book).

I’m also excited to have been invited to attend RavenCon in Williamsburg VA along with my friend and fellow Harper author, Harry Heckel (one half of the notorious Jack Heckel).

I don’t know yet what I’ll be attending at either con yet, they are a ways off still, but when I do I’ll update the page accordingly. So, if you’re in or around Seattle or Williamsburg, stop by and say hi. I promise I’ll be entertaining.


 

Lastly, in honor of Halloween, I’ve decided to share a treat with my readers. When I was at CondorCon, there was an author/artist working a booth near the bookseller I had camped at with. I ended up commissioning her, Cindy Diamond, to do character portraits for the main cast of The Stolen. I think she did a great job. For me, it’s how the characters would look in an animated movie of the book, along the lines of: The Secret of Nimh, Watership Down, etc.

Caitlin_SmallFiona_SmallEdward_SmallBrendan_SmallDante_Small

New Author Adventure – A New Kind of Giveaway!

It’s always a struggle for new authors to find creative ways to market our books without inundating people on Twitter/Facebook/Tumblr/etc. with BUY MY BOOK!!!! PLEASE!!!! IT’S AWESOME!!!! I think I’ve done pretty well in avoiding that. One common marketing ploy you’ll see repeated is the giveaway. Giveaways are a timed honored tradition in the publishing world, and it might surprise to know how many copies of their books publishers give out every year. I don’t know (well, it could surprise you) I’m guessing it’s a lot. I know copies are regularly sent out for reviewing, blurb requests, and of course to generate interest in the book. Who doesn’t like free stuff, right? Well, I’ve done giveaways for both books, and I’m not opposed to doing more, but I thought this time I’d do something different. I wanted to give something away that not only might generate some buzz, but also thanked my readers for their support. What is it I’m giving away?

*drumroll*

I’ll name a character after you! Yes, that’s right, you could have a character named after you in the book I’m currently working on (Book 3 in the series, due out next year sometime). But wait, there’s more! I’ll also mention you in the acknowledgments of the book. Become the envy of everyone you know! While it’s true this isn’t a truly unheard of giveaway—Chuck Wendig offered to name a murder victim after someone—I think it’s pretty cool. But, like all good things, there is a catch. You do not get to pick the character. Rest assured that it won’t be the literary equivalent of a walk on. While it won’t be a major character, neither will it be someone seen once and never heard from again. There is even the possibility of the character returning in future books. No, you do not have to use your real name, you can give me a nickname if you prefer (nothing obscene, please).

So what do you have to do to win this prestigious honor? Well, since I said this is a thank you for my readers, you’ll have to have read one or both of the books currently out there (or be sufficiently good at bluffing to fool me). But entry is simple, just post a comment to this piece and tell me who your favorite character is—and briefly—why. That’s it. I’ll even allow you two entries if you want to pick one character from each book. Or if you really like just one character, you can enter with them twice, but give me a different reason (presumably one for each book) with each entry. Make no mistake, I’m not asking for an essay, though if you’re feeling prolific, go for it! A line or two should be enough, though if you give specifics (show you’ve read the book) you’ll get bonus point.

One month from the day this is posted, I’ll close the comments and shortly thereafter, post the winner.

That’s it. Easy, right? Get to it then. Immortality awaits!

New Author Adventures – Guilty Pleasures

Auston Habershaw, despite how his name sounds, is not Benedict Cumberbatch’s distant cousin. His bio says that on the day he was born, Skylab fell from the heavens. This foretold two possible fates: supervillain or scifi/fantasy author. Fortunately he chose the latter, and spends his time imagining the could-be and the never-was rather than disintegrating the moon with his volcano laser. It should be noted I have been personally assured the aforementioned volcano laser is strictly for research purposes. He is also  a fellow Harper Voyager author and New Englander (Yankees suck). His first two books, The Iron Ring and Iron and Blood are both available, and as of yesterday are combined into a single volume called The Oldest Trick (various buy links below). Much like Tolkien, Auston had a single epic fantasy book that was so epic it had to be broken into pieces. Bonus points for doing a dualogy instead of the well trodden trilogy. But what do you expect from a winner of the Writers of the Future Award (Volume 31).

As part of his journey to get his book out to every single human being, and any literate animals who can pay, he’s stopped by to share with us his thoughts on guilty pleasures.


On Frivolity

By Auston Habershaw

It all starts in a tavern. All pointless stories start there, since that is the place we can easiest imagine meeting others and doing something interesting, despite the fact that meeting in taverns rarely leads to anything more interesting than intoxication. There’s an elf and a dwarf, and let’s say an orc. Or ork – whichever. Everybody’s drinking ale (which is more interesting than beer) and the barmaid has an irresponsibly plunging neckline. Let’s presume she works for tips.

This is the point in the story where somebody runs in from outside, breathless and bloody. Or where some loud-mouth starts spouting off about ‘the only good orc is a dead orc’ or whatever. Perhaps some lunk gets handsy with the barmaid. Maybe somebody mysterious posts a note on the bulletin board. It says the following:

DANGEROUS ADVENTURE!

Wanted: 1 Warrior, 1 Thief, 1 Wizard (Elves, Priests, and Dwarves optional)

REWARD!

Meet the Creepy Stranger in the Inexplicably Empty Back Room

Maybe all of these things happen. The point is this: what happens next is a bar fight.

Why? Evidently such things are fun. Heroic music plays, as is fitting for acts of criminal vandalism and assault. The fight rages on, and heroes emerge. Why are they heroes? Well, they’re winning the fight, of course. They find in each other a ready ally, a surprise to no one save themselves. Maybe, at the end of all this, they rescue a princess in disguise (she was slumming it, you know. Why drink in the palace when there’s a perfectly good dive down the road where you might get assaulted by a dwarf?). Whatever happens, the drunk under the table never notices; he rises, alone, and is delighted to find free beer.

I mean ale. Sorry.

So begins a tale of adventure. High drama. Endless banter. Derring do on every other page. Maybe, by the end, the elf and the dwarf and the orc become friends. A little tear forms in the corner of our eye, but we refuse to ever acknowledge its existence. The tear is undercover, you see. Top Secret. Hush-hush.

 

I bet you were rolling your eyes up there. Chuckling, perhaps? Sure, and why not – the cliché is so banal, it’s comedy. Then again, though, there’s something to be said for mindless fun. There is an article by Adam Sternbergh in the NYT magazine considering the worth of so-called ‘guilty pleasures’. I enjoyed it immensely and enjoin you to read it.

Done? Okay:

Why do we feel so bad about liking things considered low-brow? I mean, isn’t it okay to have fun – even dumb fun – on occasion? Must everything be so deep and serious all the time? I confess to feeling the pressure myself. As an academic (or pseudo-academic, given that my terminal degree is not a PhD but rather an MFA), there is a certain pressure to make what I write and what I enjoy somehow important. Not all of it is, though, no matter what I do to it. When I confess to liking Armageddon or Army of Darkness, there isn’t much that can be said to give such works merit. Likewise my hobbies: despite its sophistication, there is nothing truly artistically redeeming about Warhammer 40,000 unless you put far more effort into painting miniatures than I do. And even then it’s suspect.

So what, though? I think sometimes we spend too much time decrying the frivolous, forgetting just how important frivolity can be. As much as being serious adults is important, it isn’t the only game in town. We also need to have fun. We also need to do things that are easy. All work and no play makes Homer…something…something…

Right then – let’s go to the tavern. I’ll buy you an ale. Later, when we’re riding dragons to save the King of Thumbershire from the Daemon Princess of Xoon, you’ll thank me. Dwarf’s honor.


The Oldest Trick is just as much fun and worth picking up.

Tyvian Reldamar gets betrayed by his longtime partner and left for dead in a freezing river. To add insult to injury, his mysterious rescuer took it upon himself to affix Tyvian with an iron ring that prevents the wearer from any evildoing.

Revenge just got complicated.

On his quest to get even, Tyvian navigates dark conspiracies, dodges midnight assassins, and uncovers the plans of the ruthless wizard Banric Sahand. Tyvian will need to use every dirty trick in the book to avoid a painful and ignominious end, even as he learns to work with—and rely on—his motley crew of accomplices, including an adolescent pickpocket, an obese secret-monger, and a fearsome gnoll.

THE OLDEST TRICK_

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
Google Play
Harper Collins
iTunes

You can find Auston on his blog, Twitter, Facebook, or writing to his cousin.

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A New Look

You might have noticed some changes here. Originally, I started this blog as a means of building a presence online while waiting to here from Harper Voyager about The Stolen. Now that I’m officially a published author (twice!) I decided my website needed a new look. As such, the main page for A Quiet Pint is now a static page with information on my books, both those published and those in progress, which I’ll keep updated. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop posting to the blog. If you come here via a link, you’ll go to the blog post. If you come here directly, you’ll see the main page first. At the top you’ll notice “Blog” has been added to the menu bar. This will take you to the blog page, where you can see my posts.

Since this is something of an experiment, I’m taking it another step further. Let me know what you think of the new decor.

Read an Excerpt of The Forgotten

The Forgotten - ExtraSmall

So it turns out you can read a portion of The Forgotten online, for free no less! What a remarkable world we live in. However, there were some problems with it so while it’s being worked on, I’m posting the first three chapters here, just for you my dear readers. Enjoy, but I make no apologies for a sudden compulsion to run out and buy the book to find out what happens next.

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3

 

Available on ebook here:
HarperCollins
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Google Play
iTunes

Or in paperback
HarperCollins
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Indiebound

The Forgotten Paperback Release Date (and CondorCon)

The Forgotten_Cover_Small

For those of you anxiously awaiting the paperback release of The Forgotten…well, you have to keep waiting, but now you have a date. The paperback will be released 4-14-15. Mark your calendar and pre-order now to beat the rush and prevent disappointment at it being sold out.

HarperCollins
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

Also, as for those of you in San Diego, because you clearly could not get enough of me, I’ll be attending Condor Con this year. I don’t know yet what I’ll be doing there, but I can assure you that when not otherwise occupied you’ll be able to find me at the Mysterious Galaxy booth. Stop by and say hi, and get a copy of The Stolen. I’ll even sign it for you, or any other book you might like signed by me.

Book Dates

BookDates

My fellow Harper Voyager Impulse authors and I are getting into the spirit of Valentine’s Day with something a little different. We’ve created dating profiles for the characters in our books! But wait, there’s more! You, the reader, get to suggest your favorite match up. Oh, but the real fun is that it’s across all of our books! Think Brendan would be a perfect match for a recent superhero girl who can bench press compact car? Now is your chance to let your voice be heard!

But wait, there’s still more! I promised that if I won the Qwillery best debut author cover of 2014, I’d give away three copies of The Stolen. Well, as it happens I did win. So if you post in the comments section of this thread, it will count as an entry into the giveaway. Don’t live in the US? No problem, as promised, this giveaway is open to anyone, anywhere!

So, what do you do? Simple, read through the dating profiles below, then check out the profiles on the sites listed below and then come back with your match up. Sure, it’s a lot of clicking, but we’re talking about a signed copy of The Stolen! Also, several of my colleagues are having giveaways as well! Think of all the stuff you could win! And really, isn’t that what Valentine’s Day is all about?


 

Brendan Kavanaugh

*Please note that due to a ridiculous aversion to modern technology, this is being entered by Dante. And now I’m being told his aversion isn’t ridiculous. Anachronistic tendencies are adorable. And now I have to tell him what Anachronistic means.
 
Age:
You wouldn’t believe it if you knew. Over 18 should be enough for now.

What is your job/career?
Musician/Defender of humanity against dark creatures

Where are you from?
Barr Na gCurragh, County Galway, Ireland

What do you do for fun?
A nice pint, good music, and a warm fire. Or turning a pack of oíche into clouds of twinkling lights.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Joining the Fianna

What is your most treasured possession?
A handmade claddagh ring

What is your favorite book/movie/band?
He doesn’t do too much reading. In fact, before his interjections at the beginning I wasn’t sure he could read.

If you were an animal, which one would you be?
Irish Wolfhound

Who was your childhood hero?
Fionn McCool. Really? No, he’s sticking with that.

Who was your first crush?
Áine Connelly

What’s your perfect holiday?
A warm fire, good whiskey, and those who mean the most to you close by. Wow, I had no idea he could be so sentimental.

If you had friends over for dinner, what would you cook?
If they were friends he wouldn’t cook. Not if he wanted them to survive. And now he’s threatening to “kick my arse up around me ears.”

What’s your favorite childhood memory?
When he was eight years old, a Seanchaí (itinerant storyteller) came to his village. This storyteller also played the guitar, and taught Brendan how to play. Hey, I didn’t even know that!

Have you ever been in a fight? or prison?
Let’s just say he’s been in a fight or two and leave it at that.

If you won the lottery, which 2 charities would you give to?
Saint Jude’s and Saint Vincent De Paul

What do you think of children?
They are precious joys to those lucky enough to have them.

What is your ideal home?
A quiet home with some land and a view of rolling green hills. And I’d imagine a pub close by. And he just kicked my chair.

What is your perfect date night/day?
Anything that doesn’t involve a plot by dark fae.

What are you most afraid of?
Okay, he insists I put “Himself” but I’m doing it under protest.

What did your parents do? (Job/career)
They were members of the Fianna as well.


Dante

Age:
Ha! You REALLY wouldn’t believe me.

What is your job/career?
Magister – New Eastern Region of the Rogue Court

Where are you from?
Originally? Rome.

What do you do for fun?
I love theater, concerts, and good music in a nice night club. Conversely there is also something magical about a perfect cup of tea and an excellent book

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Finding an outcast Fian warrior and helping him find his place in the world.

What is your most treasured possession?
My Mustang. I love my car.

What is your favorite book/movie/band?
There are far too many books to list (I’ve had a lot of time to read in my lifetime) and I couldn’t possibly narrow the list down. Much the same for movies and bands. So how about this. My favorite authors include Dickens, Tolstoy, and this new author named O’Connell. I recently saw The Imitation Game and found it powerful and a reasonable portrayal of Alan Turing.

Do you have pets?
Just Brendan. And he just kicked my chair again.

If you were an animal, which one would you be?
Perhaps a falcon.

Who was your childhood hero?
You wouldn’t know them.

Who was your first crush?
Her name was Aeliana, and she was stunning beyond description. You’ve seen her, though you wouldn’t know her name. She was a popular inspiration for a number of sculptures.

What’s your perfect holiday?
I don’t really celebrate holidays, but in terms of time off, a perfect cup of tea and an excellent book.

If you had friends over for dinner, what would you cook?
Depending on my friends, but probably a nice salad of mixed greens, with nuts and dried fruit, dressed with a homemade honey vinaigrette.

What’s your favorite childhood memory?
Well, that was a VERY long time ago. Though the first summer sunrise over the ocean I saw, and it’s an image that I still carry.

Have you ever been in a fight? or prison?
Perhaps a fight or two, but never prison. Though I have been taken prisoner on a few occasions.

If you won the lottery, which 2 charities would you give to?
Make-a-Wish and Native American College Fund.

What do you think of children?
Fascinating and the most honest creatures on the earth.

What is your ideal home?
My penthouse apartment. I’ve had plenty of time to find my ideal home and create it.

What is your perfect date night/day?
A light dinner, a brisk walk through the heart of the city to a performance at a small theater, then dancing till dawn.

What are you most afraid of?
Letting others down.

What did your parents do? (Job/career)
My father was a poet and my mother was…well, very special.


 

Caitlin Brady
Age: 27

What is your job/career?
Registered Nurse.

Where are you from?
Manchester, New Hampshire.

What do you do for fun?
I think I remember fun, vaguely. Seriously, there isn’t anything much more fun than reading to my daughter and seeing her smiling at me as I do the voices.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Becoming a mother.

What is your most treasured possession?
My daughter. Beyond that, a cut glass barrette given to me by my grandmother.

What is your favorite book/movie/band?
Ireland, by Frank Delany. Hands down, Love Actually is my all-time favorite movie. For band, I’d probably say Gaelic Storm.

Do you have pets?
Just a rug rat.

If you were an animal, which one would you be?
As Lois Griffin said, “I’m like one of those bald eagles you see on TV, graceful and beautiful, but if you mess with my chicks I’ll claw your ######## eyes out!”

Who was your childhood hero?
My mother.

Who was your first crush?
Oh, I’m not telling you that! He might see this!

What’s your perfect holiday?
A tree with lots of presents and watching Fiona’s delight as she opens them.

If you had friends over for dinner, what would you cook?
I’m strictly opposed to poisoning my friends.

What’s your favorite childhood memory?
Sitting on my mother’s lap, eyes closed, listening to my father singing.

Have you ever been in a fight? or prison?
No and no.

If you won the lottery, which 2 charities would you give to?
Saint Jude’s and Make-a-Wish.

What do you think of children?
Mine is a perfect angel, yours is probably an unruly hellspawn.

What is your ideal home?
Any home that has love. And Timothy Olyphant wouldn’t hurt.

What is your perfect date night/day?
Staying up past 9pm. Or going to bed early…with Tim Olyphant.

What are you most afraid of?
Anything happening to Fiona.

What did your parents do? (Job/career)
My mother was a librarian, and my father was a musician.


 

Edward Huntington
Age:
34

What is your job/career?
Psychiatrist. Despite common misconception, we don’t “head shrink,” that’s really what psychologists do. I work with neurological disorders: schizophrenia, dissociative disorders, and the like. I also do keep my medical license current so I’m also a General Practioner (MD).

Where are you from?
Concord, New Hampshire.

What do you do for fun?
Enjoy a nice whiskey while reading in my library

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Graduating medical school is very high on my list, but learning to use magic is right up there.

What is your most treasured possession?
My books, and my friends. Okay, friend.

What is your favorite book/movie/band?
Hard to pin down a book, I love so many. I’m a sucker for comic movies, and I’d say The Guardians of the Galaxy is my favorite. I don’t have a favorite band, but Tom Waits is my favorite musician.

Do you have pets?
I’d like a cat, but I’m allergic.

If you were an animal, which one would you be?
Well, I’d like to think of myself as an Osprey, but others would probably say a mouse.

Who was your childhood hero?
My Taid, Grandfather.

Who was your first crush?
Um, let’s just skip this question.

What’s your perfect holiday?
Fiona’s birthday, seeing her brilliant smile as she eats cake and opens presents.

If you had friends over for dinner, what would you cook?
Well, I make a fabulous Chicken Kiev, but my lasagna is pretty good too.

What’s your favorite childhood memory?
Graduating high school. Please, no Doogie Howser jokes.

Have you ever been in a fight? or prison?
Never been to prison. I don’t know as what I do in a fight qualifies as participating.

If you won the lottery, which 2 charities would you give to?
Saint Jude’s and Make-a-Wish, and also Toys for Tots.

What do you think of children?
I love children, though admittedly my experience is limited.

What is your ideal home?
The one I have is pretty amazing.

What is your perfect date night/day?
Dinner and a movie?

What are you most afraid of?
Spiders. Yeah, go ahead and laugh.

What did your parents do? (Job/career)
My father is a computer security specialist, and my mother is a lawyer.


Now, go forth and find a match for these poor, lonely souls! (my characters, not the authors listed)

A.F.E. Smith
Ingrid Seymour
John Ayliff
Lexie Dunne
Laura Liddell Nolen
Christi J. Whitney
Brooke Johnson
Jack Heckel
Alison Stine

My Favorite Books

As part of being the featured author in January on Drey’s Library, you can read the original post here, this week I’m talking about some of my all time favorite books. It wasn’t easy to get the list down to something manageable, but I did. The giveaway is going on for another week, the details are here. If you’re outside the US, don’t fret, you can enter as well!

I’m a Featured Author!

Have you ever heard of drey’s library? No? Well you should really check it out. She has a ton of great reviews, interviews, and some giveaways. Also, if you need another reason,  I’m her featured author in January! So clearly she has exceptional taste as well. Right now there is an interview up, and I’ll be doing a couple of guest posts through the month. The interview was a lot of fun. You can read it here.