Saturday, March 30, 2013

I'm participating in the A to Z blogfest this year. This is my third year in a row. I love doing it.

The A to Z Challenge is blogging the letters of the alphabet six days a week in the month of April. It’s a great way to meet new bloggers. Here’s how it works and some tips.

Start with A on April 1st
Then B on April 2nd
And so on

We post Monday thru Saturday. Sundays are a no-blog/letter day.

You can go freestyle or pick a theme, but the topic of your post must reflect the letter of the day.

Visit 5 blogs a day (or more) starting with the blog after yours on the list.

Short posts are essential!

Turn off word verification. (Or you won’t receive many comments.)

All of the co-hosts have helpers this year and we will be monitoring the list for non-participants.

Be sure to grab the badge above and link to the A to Z Blog

Your hosts:
Arlee Bird at Tossing It Out, Damyanti Biswas at Amlokiblogs, Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, Tina Downey at Life is Good, DL Hammons at Cruising Altitude 2.0,Jeremy Hawkins at Retro-Zombie, Shannon Lawrence at The Warrior Muse,Matthew MacNish at The QQQE, Konstanz Silverbow at No Thought 2 Small,Stephen Tremp at Breakthrough Blogs, Livia Peterson at Leave it to Livia, L. Diane Wolfe at Spunk on a Stick’s Tips, and Nicole at The Madlab Post.

For more information on the A to Z Challenge, visit the blog. If you haven’t signed up, click HERE to do so. Come join me and all of the other bloggers below in making April a blogging blitz. Below are the cool blogs that have already signed up:

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Reviews: What those stars mean to authors

What do those Amazon and Goodreads stars mean to you? How do you use them to rate the books you've read? An author friend of mine posted an eye-opening article on this very subject and encourgaged her writing buddies to share it. I told her I would be glad to do so. Check out her blog as well.

The Way Author Look at Ratings:

5 stars is an A or A- or even a B+. Great for authors. This means you enjoyed the book. It filled the measure of its creation. Meaning that a romance isn't judged as a general fiction, a teen story as an adult novel, or genre fiction as a literary novel. The 5-star novel was enjoyable, didn't have any major plot holes, and the writing was good enough that you'd recommend it as a nice read. These 5-star reviews help balance the 1 and 2 star reviews from people who picked up the wrong genre or wanted sex in a clean book (or vice-versa). Or the picky reviewer who found one typo and therefore decided the entire book was poorly edited (if that was the case, EVERY published book would be junk). Five stars doesn't mean the book has to be the best you've ever read, or even better than the last one you reviewed. It just has to be a good novel. This rating could also be given to a novel you would have rated only 4 stars but one feature (world-building, a character, or plot element) was so cool that you reward the author's effort by giving them that extra star (and you can say this in the review).

4 stars is a B or a B- or even a C+ novel. Okay for authors, but if they have an overall rating more than 4 stars, keep in mind that you are taking down their rating. The 4-star rating is for novels that you liked but had at least one issue with. A plot hole that disturbed your reading enough that you didn't enjoy the overall story. Maybe a few too many typos. Too much repetition. But you still found the story compelling enough to read in a short time and you enjoyed it. The novel doesn't have to be the best one you've read in the genre, it just has to hold your attention. Think of yourself as a teacher giving a grade. Again, if you had been going to give the novel 3 stars, but something cools really stood out, give the author the benefit of the doubt--and the extra star.

3 stars is a C or a C-. So only average. This really is the kiss of death rating. The "okay" novel. If you give a novel this rating, there should be serious issues. It should be one you didn't feel as compelled to finish, or one whose overall plot didn't quite make sense (and you feel wouldn't make sense to others). This is a novel that you wouldn't really recommend unless it was the only thing someone had to read and they were stuck in an airport for two hours.

2 stars is a D or a D-. This is a novel that has at least three major issues and you feel these issues will prevent others from enjoying it at all. There are sex scenes in a supposedly clean novel, the character think about their college literature classes entirely far too much, or the character isn't consistence. Maybe there are typos on every other page, or repeated use of wrong words. A 2-star rating could also be a book that you felt you really wanted to give one star to, but because it had some redeeming feature (great world-building, a character you really enjoyed), you gave it an extra star to encourage the author.

1 star means F. The author completely and utterly failed. That means there was no plot, it was riddled with grammar errors, and everything about it was boring, boring, boring. The author should throw the book away. Never give an author a one-star review unless you feel they really should give up writing and get a job at the local grocery instead.

Are my rating descriptions correct? You may not feel so when rating a book, but I bet you feel that way when reading reviews!

DOs and DON'Ts of Reviewing:

1. If you have have an picky issue, mention that, but rate the overall book not that one thing.

2. Don't give the book a terrible review because it's not a genre you like. Just don't review it. For instant, if you hate romance, people who love romance won't be helped at all by your review.

3. If a review contains explicit scenes (or violent, or religious, or whatever), don't give them a bad review because you hated that part UNLESS it goes against what was in the book description. So if a book description talks about fighting, don't be shocked if there's violence. It it mentions faith, don't be shocked if the characters see things through a religious point-of-view. If it says romance, don't be surprised if there is a love story. In these cases, your review will only make you sound like an idiot for not reading the description. And it's not fair to authors.

4. Don't mention if you got the book for free. Sometimes publishers will offer a book for free as a way to increase the number of reviews or to advertise another book in a sample chapter. But it is unlikely the book will be free for long. If you say you got the book for free, people will feel cheated if they have to pay, and that's simply not fair to the author or the publisher.

5. Be kind with your wording. Authors are real people with real feelings.

6. If you were having a bad day when you read the book, consider not reviewing it at all.

7. If you there is a certain subject you hate, and it happens to come up in the book, consider not reviewing it at all, or at least mention your bias in the review. Again rate the entire book, not just that scene.

8. Don't tell everyone what happens in the book unless you put SPOILER ALERT. Even then, I wouldn't do it. Readers won't buy the book if you tell what happens. The author was careful in the blurb not to give it away. You shouldn't either. Remember, this is the author's JOB. They get paid on how many books they sell. Careless reviews make it hard for authors to keep writing.

9. Do say what in particular you liked about the book. Use specifics without giving away plot.

10. Do give a 5-star review if the book fulfills its purpose. It doesn't need to be earth-shattering or the best book you've ever read. It just needs to be a good, compelling novel, comparable with a novel of that same genre. Some people feel they're not being critical enough if they rate something with 5 stars. I say baloney. If you enjoyed it and would lend the book to someone, give it a good rating.

11. Do click to report reviews you feel are abusive.

12. Do comment on other reviews if you disagree or feel they are being too harsh. But do so KINDLY. Better yet, write your own review and rate the book higher to even out their negativity. But don't hassle other reviewers. Everyone has a right to their opinion.

13. Do comment on other reviews to thank the reviewer for good information they’ve included, especially if it helped you buy the book.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Cover Reveal of my newest book: Literary Loom

I'm excited to announce the release of my newest book, Literary Loom: The Big Debate, and reveal its cover:

This book is the first in my Literary Loom series--YA urban fantasies with historical twists that will both entertain and inspire not just teens, but any reader who is looking for more than candy for the brain.

The first book in the series, The Big Debate, is scheduled for release on April 24. My official book launch party will be Friday, April 26 at Eborn books in downtown Salt Lake City starting at 6:00 pm. (following a podcast recording with Nick Galieti for his radio program, The Good Word.) I would love for everyone who can to stop by. There will be prizes and discounts on books. I will be signing alongside A.L. Sowards, a fellow LDS author of historical fiction.

This book has been a long time in coming, and I am so excited for it to finally be published. Watch for more information as it is made available, including the blog tour that will accompany its release.

(Please don't be shy, I'd love to hear what you think about the cover.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Book Give-a-way Winner--Connie Hall

Congratulations, Connie Hall is the winner of a copy of James Dashner's A Mutiny in Time. Connie, if you happen to see this post, email me at carolyn frank at rocketmail dot com and give my your mailing address. I will also try to contact you. I hope your grandkids enjoy the book.
Thanks to all who entered.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Multi-author Series: Good Idea or Bad?

I'm giving away a print copy of  A Mutiny in Time, the first in the Infinity Ring series. I picked up a copy of the book at a recent Sci-fi/fantasy conference to give away on my blog. I was also anxious to delve into this new series in which Scholastic had invested so much hype, money, and time. I found the concept behind the series fascinating. Scholastic had gathered together six of their top children's fantasy writers and assigned each author a different book to write within the series. Each book was centered around a different break in time that needed to be fixed, and would also to provide clues to help the kids play a companion video game. I was especially interested in the success of this series because I know three of the six authors personally: James Dashner, Matthew Kirby, and Jennifer Neilsen--all local authors.

Unfortunately, I found A Mutiny in Time boring. I've read numerous of Dashner's books and found them all engaging, pulling me in at the very beginning. I kept reading, wondering when the story would kick into gear. I was almost to the half-way mark before the kids actually used the infinity ring and went back in time. Because my reading time is so limited, and I have some major research I'm doing for the second book in my Literary Loom series, I opted out of finishing the book. Perhaps if I would have stuck with it, I would have ended up enjoying it. But I figure that if a book can't engage me before half-way through, I've got better things to do than to finish it.

I kept asking myself, "Where was Dashner's flair?" As exciting as this concept is--that of multi-author series--perhaps it works better on paper than in real life. One of the authors, Matt Kirby, is in my critique group. I remember him mentioning while he was working on his book in this series, that it wasn't his funnest novel to write.He had to suppress his normal style and try to conform to a generic style that all of the authors were to use so as to make the series consistent. Perhaps that is what Dashner did  in A Mutiny in Time.

What happens when you strip away an author's personality in their writing? My guess is you get a boring book. I think the concept of a multi-author series is awesome. I just think there needs to be someway to connect all of the author's books while maintaining each individual writer's flair.

That said, I'm still giving away a copy of A Mutiny in Time, by James Dashner. It's so easy to enter to win. All you have to do is follow my blog and leave a comment. You can enter between today and next Tuesday, March 19. March 20 I will announce the winner on this blog. (I will mail it for free within the continental US. If you live outside that area, you will be responsible for paying the shipping fee if you want the book).

Friday, March 1, 2013

Free book: The Key of Kilenya, by Andrea Pearson

My friend, Andrea Pearson, has just had the
fourth book in her young adult fantasy series published. In celebration,
the first book, The Key of Kilenya, is available for free as an
eBook, and the second book, The Ember Gods, is available as a $0.99
Kindle eBook until March 3rd.

The Key of Kilenya has been in the top 100 for teen fantasies on
Amazon since last May and has been very popular with young (and adult)
readers. They compare it to Harry Potter along with Brandon Mull's
Fablehaven and Beyonders books, with a hint of Narnia
and Lord of the Rings.

Check out Andrea's blog for more info.