authors · On Writing · Random Musings · Reviews · Writing Advice

Tagging Authors In Reviews

Thanks to Angie Thomas, a much-needed and celebrated voice in contemporary YA fiction, the subject of tagging authors in readers’ reviews has exploded over the last few days.

Why is it such a big deal? Well, there’s a lot of back and forth between those for and those against tagging authors in reviews, especially when it comes to sharing negative ones.

Those for argue that they want to help an author they enjoyed, and expect the author to show gratitude that they’re spreading the word about their work. Consensus also seems to be that even negative reviews have a place in being brought to the author’s attention.

Those against argue that as soon as the book’s published, it’s no longer the author’s, really – it’s the reader’s. And any review the reader wants to share should stay amongst those it’s actually meant for.

As for my side of the fence, I am AGAINST tagging authors in negative reviews. With positive reviews I can see both sides, I understand why someone might want to show the author how much they squealed over that person’s work and how much it meant to them.

But in my eyes, nobody needs to be going about their day, only to get the “ding!” notification and see that they’ve been dragged about something in a novel they spent years working on.

I’ll try and explain why tagging an author in a bad review is not only in bad taste on the reviewer’s half but also unproductive.

Number one is that there’s only so many people’s feedback an author can listen to and implement in their work. For example, here I took “Planet of the Apes”:

Reviewer #1: Loved the romance but wish there were less monkeys.

Author: Right…. romance but less monkeys… got it.

Reviewer #2: LOVED THE MONKEYS. All the monkeys. Maybe include lemurs next time? Less of the romance, though.

Author: Oh….. so more… monkeys?

Reviewer #3: EVERYTHING WAS PERFECT AND I ADORED IT. WOULDN’T CHANGE A THING!

Author: …….. so don’t change the monkeys?

Reviewer #4: This was a garbage fire, DNF’d at 20%.

Author: *grabs bottle of wine*

Authors cannot possibly please every single reader. While one reader might have an issue with the writing, another won’t even notice it and simply enjoy the story.  While one might love the protagonist, another might hate them with a passion.

It’s understandable, then, that authors primarily write for themselves (or they should, because it’s damn hard to write for people whose reaction you can’t predict), and hope it resonates with their audience. Since the book is published, there’s a good chance it already resonated with an agent, an editor, their aquisitions team, and more editors who then worked to get it to the best possible version of itself before it hits shelves.

Authors write with the understanding nobody reads the same book. That’s why readers have different favourite characters, or favourite scenes in novels, it’s why some didn’t gel with the plot, or writing, or concept, where others might not be able to get enough of it all. It’s totally fine to have a different opinion, and to discuss it or post it on platforms other readers can see and make judgement calls for themselves.

With all this in mind — why would a singular reader believe tagging an author in their 1* or 2* negatively aspected review, think it is justifed? That the author must read it, and understand that their opinion should be included amongst the editors, agents, and publishers who helped get the book out?

I’ve seen it reasoned that the tagging-reviewer wants to help the author – that in some way their review might assist the author in understanding where they could do better in future. That they only want to help, and so they want the author to read the criticisms they had personally with the novel.

In some cases criticism is justified – harmful represenation, problematic plot, glorification of things which shouldn’t be glorified – this is 100%  necessary to voice because it could have a bigger impact than the readership. Books influence society, because they’re a form of art. Society consumes art. And I believe all art forms should not only be accessible and enjoyed, but critiqued so that we can learn from it.

Though… let’s say there’s nothing serious to point out about a book, such as a harmful racial stereotype or glorifying an abusive relationship, and that the tagging-reviewer simply disagrees with a plot point or character arc. Again, it’s not really clear why the reviewer would find it necessary to inform the author of their opinion where there is **nothing the author can do about it**. The book is out. In the world. In people’s hands. And if the author enjoys writing dystopias about primates taking over the planet, as long as there’s an audience who wants it, they will continue to write it.

It’s likely the publishers, agents, editors, will pick up on anything consistently pointed out in reviews and feed it back to the author to improve on in future. We all make mistakes, it’s how we learn. Authors want to get better at their craft.

But believing a singular opinion needs to be given directly to the author – who at the point of seeing the tag might be having a bad day, may be struggling, wondering if this is the career for them, even if they’ve had 15 books already published because **anxiety and imposter syndrome is a thing** – is not considerate. It’s entitled.

Do you want the author to notice your (negative) opinion? Ask yourself why.  If it isn’t to engage in a discussion about something harmful, why do you want to tell the author you didn’t like their book? Chances are if you didn’t like it, you’re simply not the audience for it. I’m personally not a fan of Justin Bieber’s back catalogue but I wouldn’t tag him in my 1* review of how “Baby” got stuck in my head too many times.

Plus, the whole thing is just plain tacky, I mean… come on. You wouldn’t like it if you posted some artwork online, or simply did your day job, and someone came along with a huge red ‘F’ and stuck it on your forehead, declaring to the world that they, a person, did not like The Thing You Created.

So before there’s any more debate about why it’s justified, I would like people to think why they feel the author should be grateful they took the time to include them in their distribution of a bad review.

They should be grateful the author wrote the book at all. Art is necessary, now more than ever. And we should be showing our support and kindness for creating in a world of destruction.


Editing services:Cover to Cover Edits

Twitter: @jadewritesbooks

 

 

Random Musings

The Reader’s Curse – Reading Slumps

If you’re a reader who devours many books at a time, you’ll probably have experienced the dreaded reading slump –

It happens without warning. You could be half way through a book and then… just don’t want to pick it up a few nights in a row. Concentration wavers. You’re distracted by something shiny.

Image result for tower of booksI look at books piled on my bedside table, calling to me to finish them, only to get in bed and turn off the light.

Maybe I start another book, hoping it’ll cure it but – nope. For some reason I can’t get *into* it, I’m anxious, I’m frustrated, my mind wanders. And so the leaning tower of Pages takes residence beside my pillows until it’s knocked over by my flailing-sleep arm or a cat demanding breakfast.

There’s nothing quite like struggling to read, in the worst of ways. For me, reading is an escape–a way to shut out the world around me and get lost in another. And when those portals to other words aren’t registering, or not working as well as they should, I immediately feel guilty that I’m not doing my authorly duty of actually devouring someone else’s words.

Reading fills up the creative holes scoured out by life. (How depressed does that sound? But coming from someone who experiences depression, expected.) When I can’t fill up those holes, it takes its toll.

So what can you do – or what do I do – to combat reading slumps?

Continue reading “The Reader’s Curse – Reading Slumps”

editing · Personal · Random Musings

It’s been a while!

Wow. Well.

It’s been a while since I blogged here, but I have an excuse! Several, in fact.

Image result for excuse gif

The main thing is that I have been Adulting, which means trying to organise bills, get money to pay bills, and generally working hard. I’ve been working on my WIP, handling my new diet (I turned Vegan and oh my god I didn’t realise how lactose intolerant I was before this) and health regime.

It’s been a struggle over the last two months, but generally I feel a lot more positive and stronger because of the hard amount of work I’ve done. I’ve had good news, some bad news, but overall it’s been worth it.

The bad news is mostly my reading slump – starting new books only to get brain-drained and end up wanting to do nothing but sleep before bed, rather than read. But since re-reading Vicious (on the last 30%!) I’m hopeful my slump will recover and I can review more books.

Related image

I recently finished Final Draft, of which I should review for you all. And I’m still going strong on my editing services! I now provide proofreading, so if anyone would like proofreading or developmental edits let me know.

The website where most of the information is at is here – https://jadewritesbooks.wixsite.com/mysite-1

Doesn’t it look pretty?! I love the background.

Thanks for bearing with me, all, and I look forward to discussing books and writing with you all again!

Random Musings · Reviews

The Problem With Jessica Jones Series 2

Related image

SPOILERS WITHIN – If you haven’t seen this series PLEASE don’t read this. Unless you CBA watching series two, in which case read on.

Almost everyone I know was excited for season two of Jessica Jones. Easily the most dynamic Marvel hero (don’t @ me) with her complicated past, box-breaking character and general sarcasm, Jessica Jones’ first series showcased a wonderful balance of heartbreak and malice at every turn.

Sure, it wasn’t without its faults. Some people lamented at the pacing, the straightforward plot, but I never found it dull. At the heart of it, the characters were what mattered, and they drove it. A wonderful sister duo were at its heart, who loved and supported each other completely, proving that not all female leads need to be loud, brashy and generally mean to other women to be written well.

Image result for jessica jones season 2

Continue reading “The Problem With Jessica Jones Series 2”

blog awards · Just For Fun · Random Musings

Mystery Blogger Award!

mysterybloggerThe Mystery Blogger Award was created by Okoto of Okoto Enigmas Blog ,and I was nominated by Hayley of Fangirl Fury — thanks so much Hayley!

The purpose of the Mystery Blogger Award is to honor bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do so with love and passion.

 

 

The Rules

  • Put the logo/image on your blog.
  • List the rules.
  • Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog.
  • Mention the creator of the award and link their blog.
  • Tell your reader 3 things about yourself.
  • You have to nominate 10-20 people.
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.
  • Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question.
  • Share a link to your best post(s)

3 Things about Me

  1. I bake–I think people will already know, but I love it. I make my Mum’s birthday cake every year.
  2. I once skipped school after my piano teacher reduced me to tears. The afternoon class was P.E so I was like “Peace” and basically left the piano lesson and walked home without telling anyone. I was fine, cause it was only a few streets away but I think I almost gave my grandma a heart attack.
  3. I keep a dream diary because my dreams are weird

I nominate:

Anna Mercier

Lex @ Lex Writes

Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Mikrael 

Heather @ The Sassy Book Geek

Kristi @ Confessions of a YA Reader

If you’ve done the award already or you’re currently writing like you’re running out of time enough, no worries!

My Questions:

  1. If you could make ONE character come to life, who would you choose?
  2. What was the first book you remember being obsessed with?
  3. Have your favourite genres changed over time?
  4. If you could cast yourself in a TV Show which one would it be?
  5. You’re stuck in jail. Your favourite Disney princess is in there with you. Who is it, and what did you get jailed for?!

Hayley’s Questions For Me:

If you could revive any past TV show, what would it be?

BUFFY. That show was incredible when I was a teenager and I loved how much I saw women being strong and vulnerable all at once. I wanted to be Willow so bad and it completely fit my spooky little aesthetic far more than Charmed ever did. It also showed vampires in their (imo) best incarnation yet.

Do you celebrate any holidays during the winter season?

Mostly Yule and Christmas. And the winter solstice, which is Yule, but sometimes I take it without the pagan reference. OH and my birthday which is 7th November — while it’s technically autumn it’s cold enough to be frickin winter 90% of the time.

What is or was your favorite subject in school?

Art and English. I loved being creative. I also got my highest marks in that. Not sure what the lesson came under, but I also loved weather–where we did little experiments outside or learned about clouds. Anything to do with nature was a plus for me.

If you had a soundtrack of your life, what would be three songs on the album? 

  1. May It Be by Enya
  2. Wicked Game by Chris Isaak
  3. Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend – Moulin Rouge! version

What books are you hoping to get to before the end of 2017?

The Hate U Give
Scorpio Races
Language of Thorns
Forest of A Thousand Lanterns.

I can do it, right?! I haven’t read so much lately because of PitchWars edits/revisions but I hope to remedy that and fulfil my 40 books read this year.

Random Musings · Writing Advice · writing process

Query Breakfast – A (weird) Analogy

I was making my breakfast this morning when – either out of hunger or sleepiness – I likened queries to cereal.

By the time I sat eating I’d gone off on a completely new train of thought to do with queries, but all about food (I was REALLY hungry).

So here is a (probably weird) post about queries, what’s needed within them, and what you can do to make sure yours stands out.

CEREAL

Image result for soggy cereal

As if you don’t know what cereal looks like. I mean.

You don’t want to give someone a cereal query. This is where it’s just the grains of your story and nothing else. Even if it’s something fun with a free toy (ok I might be going a little overboard with this analogy…) the grains of story doesn’t give whoever is reading your query a strong idea of what your book is about. If you just throw in the basics, chances are it won’t be the most interesting cereal query in the world. For example –

“17 year old Jessica Lisa Eisenstein wants to win a talent show. If she wins the talent show, she’ll get a crown and £100. A boy, Marcus Orelio, thinks Jessica is too much competition so he ruins her dress. To get her revenge Jessica thinks up a huge plot to ruin him – publicly – in front of everyone.

We know the characters, but it sounds pretty boring – it doesn’t really GRAB people’s attention and say READ ME (unless you want to read about Jessica’s revenge). WHY is the talent show important to Jessica? Why does Marcus want to win so much and think Jessica is competition? What happens if Jessica fulfils her revenge?

STAKES, PEOPLE.

Ooo, Steak.

TOAST

Image result for toast

This is the play-by-play, read my book, I’m doing this but I don’t think I have a shot query. You can dress it with marmalade or chocolate all you want but it’s still burnt bread – dry and without flavour. If you’re not inspired when writing your query, they won’t be inspired reading it. Where there’s no personal lilt to a query, it can come across as bland as toast.

THE BEST BREAKFAST / QUERY

Image result for cereal orange juice croissant

In my view, the best thing you can give to me as a query-breakfast is the staple hotel morning welcome;

ORANGE JUICE /  CROISSANT /  CEREAL.

I would have put bacon etc on here but I’ve turned vegetarian so my piggy friends will leave it off this list.

ORANGE JUICE – the refresher

Orange juice is a wonderful, refreshing taste which just zings up your mouth and gives your tongue a little dance. This is what you want your query to do – zing with the tang of your story, your voice and your style to whet the appetite.

CROISSANT – the thing which makes your book UNIQUE

If you think of a croissant chances are you will associate it with France. It’s one of the most uniquely identifying things of France around the world bar the Eiffel Tower. That’s what you want for your book – something which will identify your premise as UNIQUE, what makes it new?! Exciting, bold? Is it the characters, is it the layering of plots? SHOW US YOUR CROISSANT.

…. there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.

CEREAL – GRAINS ARE STILL NEEDED, PEOPLE

You can dress up your query with Croissants and OJ but you need to also have the basis of your story, except in this case – with the help of the above – your cereal is like little bits of bread, creating a little trail for query-readers to follow while you ensnare us with your writerly-wiles.

So there you have it – my thoughts on how to write a query based on breakfast foods.

 

 

Just For Fun · Random Musings

What Makes Me DNF A Book?

I, unlike a lot of friends of mine, DNF books I can’t handle.

I know, sometimes the book turns around in the last and actually surprises you, I get it. But in my opinion life is too short to read books you’re just not into.

Whether it’s content or the way it’s written, many things can cause people to stop reading. It’s why books are so subjective. Not everyone likes the same TV shows either. For instance *prepares for barrage of stones* I don’t like Game of Thrones.

But what are the particular things which make me so uninspired I choose to stop reading?

Read on, if you care.

  • Writing style.

Image result for author gif

This is a biggie. A lot of the time I view writing as a rhythm. Sometimes, particular writers have a sort of style I need to read a few chapters to get into, like a song you need to listen to a couple of times to truly enjoy or understand.

Case in point for me – Uptown Funk.

Once I understand the rhythm I can enjoy a book no end. But a few writers I’ve read and either DNF’d or come close to abandoning, have a very staccato style of writing and it throws me off. Terry Pratchett is world renowned for his humour and writing style, but I’m not a fan unfortunately. I couldn’t ever wrap my head around what he was trying to say and the flow of the writing always felt disjointed to me.

It’s the same when some writers are very to-the-point with the writing, it becomes less of a flow and more of a play-by-play. So… I like it lyrical, not too jumpy, but also not too lyrical.

If you tell me each leaf colour I’m going to scream.

  • Characters.

Related image

Whether it’s acting out of character, doing Dumb Shit, or simply skimming the surface of what could be an interesting personality, I stay with books for characters. Even if nothing much happens dramatically, if there’s characters rich with personality and voice, I’ll stay.

Of course there are some exceptions – if the MC is far too whingy or weak or just not my kinda person, I usually read on for the side characters but there are some times where everyone is on the same level of either one-dimensional or nasty personalities, or a combination of that and the first reason, then… yeah. It’s annoying.

  • No plot. At all.

Related image

I am a fan of character-driven novels, but if all you’re doing is having characters talk to each other and nothing else? If your story is just a romance of will they won’t they dragged out over 270 pages and the only thing that happens is she goes shopping?

I will be bored. I’ll be more than bored, actually, I’ll have closed the book and be running around the garden singing songs.

Slow pacing is fine a lot of the time done well, but if there is NO ACTION at all I will be asleep with the book for a pillow.

  • INSTA LOVE.

Related image

I get it, especially in YA, that hormones can make you lust after someone. Again in YA, teenagers can say they love someone after an hour. I know I felt really connected to people when I was 17 and formed a very intense, hormonal bond.

HOWEVER, I’m sick of the image of teens who would readily die for someone because of insta-love after 2 days. I’m sure some teens feel so deeply they would, but there are some teens who wouldn’t really believe it as a be-all end-all. I think it sometimes does teens a disservice to imagine that they’d blindly follow someone they love just because they love them.

Like, yeah love is blind sometimes but does it always have to be damaging characters? Follow me off a cliff or else? Psh.

  • The One Mistake Of Death

Image result for o don't do it gif

Everyone: Feyre, no!

Feyre: Feyre, yes.

You know, when someone is told 100x NOT to do something and they do it anyway? Without remorse? Or second guessing?

I will put the book down, heave a huge sigh, and may or may not pick it up again. IF they go against someone’s advice who knows better, and the character KNOWS they know better, at least give them a fucking good reason to defy that advice. Not just “because I must!”.

What are your dealbreakers for novels?