Monday, 29 September 2014

Readers never read the book the author writes..

I read somewhere that ‘readers never read the book the author writes’.
And to a certain extent this is true. Two readers will have a different experience whilst reading the same book. Each reader brings their own mix of likes and dislikes, expectations, experiences, imagination and so many other factors to the table. No reader is the same, so why should their reading experiences be?

Sometimes, though, when I read reviews I wonder whether we were reading the same book! As an example, I picked a book at random, one I read and enjoyed a while ago. I read it before looking at any reviews, not wanting to be influenced by what other people think, and wrote my own review before checking anyone else’s.

So, to the example – well-known book, well-known author. I checked out the one star and the five star reviews and tried to look for similarities of content (but obviously not opinion!). Here’s what I found

1*  no real conclusion
5*  brilliant ending

1*  shallow
5*  brilliantly disturbing

1*  pretentious
5*  dark and bitter, like good chocolate

1*  boring
5*  gripping

1*  hackneyed storyline
5*  original storyline

1*  predictable
5*  great twist

1*  unlikeable characters
5*  believable characters

1*  talked about irrelevant rubbish
5*  one of the best novels I’ve read in ages

1* I didn’t get it
5*  kept me guessing

I think the moral of the story is – don’t be too influenced by reviews. What you might love, someone else is bound to hate, and vice versa. Though I will say at this point, that if the majority of a book’s rating are 1* and 2* then I might give it a miss on the premise that not everyone can be wrong.
Saying that though, there is a reverse side to this assumption – I was recently asked to review a novel, the blurb was good, the genre one I enjoy and was in the mood for. But I couldn’t even get half way through. To me it was clichéd, there were loads of typos and spelling errors (yes, I know, I’ve been guilty of those, too, but I put them right, and learned from my mistakes… I hope), repetitive words and phrases, stereotypical characters, and a weak storyline.  I gave up, then checked out the reviews to see if it was just me. Looks like it was. The book had numerous reviews, hardly any of them less than 4*.

            My conclusion? They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so are books!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

I've been interviewed!

A lovely lady called Kimi C interviewed me on her blog earlier this week. Check it out - I think she's done a great job (okay, I might be slightly biased...), and she's also got a great blog.
Here's the link:

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Scribophile - not convinced...

     I joined Scribophile a few weeks back, and when I first set eyes on it, I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. I even joined the paid version, but after using the site for a little while, now I'm not so sure...
     It may be the perfect tool to hone some people's writing skills, but I'm having some problems with it. The main one (and please correct me if I'm wrong, or have missed something obvious on the website),  is that WIPs are fragmented. I know this is part of the process for Scribophile, but I prefer to critique whole novels. I'm not bothered about whether they are first or second drafts, I just want to read the completed thing, to see how it hangs together, how the characters develop and how the plot pans out. I find it impossible to jump into a random chapter  in the middle of a novel and be able to critique it, and I don't see how anyone else can, either. It's probably me being anal, or something, but I'd be worried that I would make a comment about something that had been covered in a previous chapter.
     I have done a few critiques, trying to find WIPs in their early stages, but I know full well that by the time the next chapter is released for critiquing I'll have totally forgotten what happened in the previous one I read.
     And as for having my own work critiqued, again, I have some issues. The main one is the speed. I'm aware I have to be prepared to critique alot of stuff in order for mine to be in the spotlight, but I simply can't get through that volume of work, especially when I feel the need to start at chapter 1 all the time!
     I do see a great deal of value in critiquing first chapters - these are the words that hook the reader into the story, giving him/her a vested interest in reading beyond chapter 1. If this first chapter doesn't work, then the odds are the reader will give in, give up, go read something else, but as for jumping into chapter 20 because it has more karma points...
     I'll stick with it for the time being, especially since I'm now part of a writing circle (don't want to let the others down), but I'll plough on with my writing, and not depend on critiques to move it along, then send it out to betas in my usual way, and offer my services as a beta in return.
     Anyone want any help?

Monday, 15 September 2014

Prologues - hmmm

Personally,I loathe prologues. I never read them, unless I'm beta reading or critiquing, and then my advice is to get rid of it.

Anyway, if you are thinking of putting a prologue into your novel, check out these links below - I've tried to be unbiased (and probably not succeeded), but these explain the issues with prologues much better than I ever could.

Foremost Press  -
Kristen Lamb's Blog -
Book Riot  -
Pretentious Title -

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The problems with blurb

     I've been scrolling through a whole host of books, trying to find a selection to download to read on the beach. I don't normally do this quite so intensively, usually stopping after I find a novel I like the sound of, but this time I wanted at least ten new novels on my Nook. And after reading blurb, after blurb, after blurb, I know what I don't like.These are the things that put me off buying:
  • Spelling - if there are spelling mistakes or glaring grammatical errors on the back of a book, what on earth is the inside going to be like?
  • Please use capital letters eg: gemm - a troupers tale. There was no capital letters anywhere in this extensive blurb (I only lifted one sentence, just to give you a flavour), but well done on the full stop...
  • Giving it all away. Here's an example: Claire goes back to her home town after many years of being away. She finds a job and  a place in the community, and discovers the love of her life. So, tell me - why should I buy this book? The author has told me the whole story in two short sentences.
  • Giving nothing away - all the information we get is something like... another best seller from XXXX. That may be okay if the author is well known, like Stephen King, for instance (I may buy it because of who the author is), but normally I like to know what a book is about before I start to read. And if the author is unknown to me, there's no way I would buy a book without some hint of its contents.
  • Ridiculous claims (see the point above) - another best seller from XXXX- when this was only the author's second novel, and the first had iffy reviews.
  • Telling the reader how wonderful the book is eg: Exciting sci-fi novel! or 'Packed with action, adventure and romance! I'll decide for myself whether it was exciting or not, thank you!
  • If you like Fifty Shades of Grey, then you'll love this! Claims like this, especially for a new or relatively unknown author, are dangerous. The author is comparing their work to a very well known novel - that's a big expectation to give a reader, and woe betide the author if their novel doesn't deliver.
  • Superfluous information, eg: This is the first novel that I wrote. I don't need to read this in the blurb, although 'début novel' may be okay. I also don't want any other information about the author in the blurb - for instance, I wrote this book as a way to explore XXXX. And I don't want to read They are related but they don't find out about it until chapter 10, either!
  • Too simplistic - Everything is bad. Then everything changes. Seriously, I haven't made this up, this is actually taken from a real life blurb.
  • In the fictional town of XXXX  - I get it, it's fiction, I know that, there's no need to tell me. That's the point of fiction - it's made up. I want to believe that it's true for the short time I'm in the story, so there's no need for the author to tell me in the blurb that he/she made it up The author may as well say: 'In the fictional ton of XXX, a fictional woman is attacked by a fictional zombie... See what I mean?
        These are some of things I came across recently that put me off when choosing a book, and I intend to apply all these don'ts when writing blurb for my own work. All I've got to do now, is to work out the dos. Easier said than done, methinks!

Thursday, 28 August 2014


    Why haven't I come across this before? It's brilliant! For all you authors out there who haven't heard of it, you must check it out (and no, I'm not on commission). There's a free version, which I'm using, though I might well get the paid version at a later date.
    I'm so pleased I've found a site - and I'm sure there are many others out there - where my work can be critiqued as I go along. I don't expect betas to do that: they are there for the mostly polished finished product. But to have someone, or several someones, who are all writers, give me the benefit of their opinion and expertise, chapter by chapter, is wonderful! Hopefully this should make for better and cleaner writing.

 Here's the link, if anyone wants to check it out:

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Not really a girl.

     Yes, I was born female, and yes, I still am. My husband definitely says I'm female, and mutters something about being moody, unpredictable, nagging etc.

     But I'm not really a girly girl. I style my hair in the morning and then forget to look in the mirror for the rest of the day to check it's not all over the place. I put lipstick on before I go out, but by the time I get to the end of the street I've licked it all off - and it never occurs to me to reapply it. And I'm not that bothered about clothes shopping, although there is a certain something about shoes..., but best if I don't go there.

      I've had my moments, though. For instance there was the time when my daughter and I decided to have a pampering session. I was talked into having false eyelashes; you know, the ones that are stuck on in little clumps and can last for a couple of weeks? Not on me they didn't! For a start I looked like a startled llama, and by the end of day three I looked like a started llama with alopecia as the clumps began to fall out. Then there's the false nails fiasco. I'm so unused to them that I can't do anything: typing becomes seriously interesting, as does taking out contact lenses. So eventually I end up nibbling them off, leaving a tattered mess on the end of my fingers. Oh, and let's don't forget the fake tan effort - I looked like a side of streaky bacon.

     Then there's dirt. I seem to attract it. Take yesterday - fresh from a shower I decided it would be a good idea to check the oil on my car. The grease went everywhere. I even had to change my socks.I really don't know how I do it!

The whole reason for this winge came about after a visit to get my eyebrows tinted. I'm blonde - they are not. Nuff said.