My Novels

My Novels
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Aug 26, 2016

Let’s talk about bad reviews

Thumbing through reviews here and there, I happened upon a few where the author of the book decided to comment on a few one-star reviews. That is the impetus for this post, and I’ll get to that in a minute if you want to scroll down (the section header is bolded), but it got me thinking about bad reviews in general.
 
I like negative reviews of other people’s books:
When it comes to looking at reviews, I tend to pay the most attention to the 2 and 4 star ratings. But I also really like looking at the 1 stars. I like it because a) it reminds me that there are always going to be people who don’t like your book. (I know three people who HATE Harry Potter).
 
But the thing about reading other people’s negative reviews is that it allows me to remember that most negative reviews fall into one of three categories.
 
a) Spiteful. You read these reviews and you just know, either the person writing the review has something against the author personally, or they want to be the outlier.
 
b) Not enough information to matter. These are the one to seven word reviews that really tell you nothing about why they didn’t like the book. These can be discounted out of hand and for the most part, seem to simply be someone trying to drag the book’s ratings down. Idk.
 
c) The helpful. I’ve read a lot of 1 star reviews that made me walk away from books, but I’ve also read a lot that made me pick up the book. Either way, that was a helpful review.
 
I like types a and c (I could do without b, so stop that) because the former reminds me that reviews are often written without much thought beyond gut reaction and spite, and the latter is what reviews are for! Opinions made through understanding that everyone has a different reason to read a thing.
 
I like negative reviews of MY books:
I get why people don’t like negative reviews. It sucks to have someone tell you they didn’t like the book you spent months slaving over. I’m not disputing that. I just… don’t think it’s a bad thing when people don’t like a book.
 
Maybe I dissociate, I’m not sure.
 
The last negative review I got was one where in the reason for the review was simply that the reader in question wasn’t my audience. And you know what? I’m glad her review is there. If you’re not going to enjoy my book, I don’t want you to waste time buying it only to find out you hate it.
 
I think one of the main reasons I find it easy to not get worked up over negative reviews is that… I don’t know these people. Sure, I put my books out there with the hope that people will like them, but ultimately, those who review them negatively are just names on amazon/goodreads. I’m not saying reviewer’s opinions don’t matter—why would we have spaces to review if they didn’t? What I am saying is that I find it difficult to have my feelings hurt by a complete stranger when my notes to myself in edits are usually ten times worse.
 
The other thing about negative reviews that I enjoy is that the give me an opportunity to grow. Sometimes, you get nothing but category a and b up top, but when you get one that falls into c it can be really helpful to consider what that reader found wrong (not for that book, obviously. It’s done and out there) and weigh it against your own process/thoughts and potentially use it to grow as a writer. It might not be something you care to change, or it might be something you never thought of until that random stranger pointed it out.
 
Don’t comment/respond to bad reviews:
The thing about bad reviews is that they’re someone’s opinion. If they think your books sucks… they’re right. They think it sucks.
That doesn’t mean it sucks for everybody.
 
But as soon as you decide to comment—no matter how level headed you think you are—you’re going to come off snippy.
 
No one who’s written a review is going to be impressed by you telling them how they should have understood your book. No one is going to care that you did x thing on purpose because y (if they do, it won’t be because you decided to tell them).

Who cares if that one person hated something? Tossing your book out into the wild lays it open for criticism just as much as it does for praise. You can’t control that.
 
If you want to be able to respond to negative reviews, get good editors who will give you straight answers and point out the things that aren’t working and save your dialogue for them.
 

Aug 1, 2016

July Numbers/ August Goals


In Real Life:
We found out in the middle of July that the place we’ve been trying to move into for a year is finally ours! Which is great… but it also means that there’s a lot of packing and nonsense going on that has the potential to mess up my writing mojo for the next three months. I’m going to spin this to the positive side (in my head) for now and hope I can keep momentum up otherwise.

 

Reading:
4 Books
(Avg GR Rating 3)

Technically a cheat, I met this month’s goal by reading 2 novellas right there at the end and a 2 DNFs earlier this month.

It’s always depressing when you think you might like a plot line only to find that it’s poorly written and you have to toss the book away. 

Goal: 3 Books. Met!


Writing:
87,175-words in 30 days
(AVG 2905-words/day)

Focus was not my friend this month, at least not at the end. I got those 87k words in (if we exclude the random admin stuff) writing on 11 different projects!

Several days this week, my work schedule had me up at 3 and in the office by 4:30. And while that (oddly) made getting high word counts pretty easy, early mornings aren’t great for me being aware enough that I can get through the patch-work I’m doing on my priority #1 ms. Hopefully, the next two weeks will change that.

The unfortunate fact is… I didn’t pay attention throughout the month, and sort of forgot that I needed 90k. So I was working toward 85… which I met. Oops! Guess I’ll have to make it up.

Goal: 90,000 words. Not Met.

 

Publishing:
I took another break but August has a fun one for you.

Goal: Take a break. Met.

 

 

Reading – 4 books
And this time, I plan to get 4 full length novels that are finished in. If I have more DNFs or Novellas, great! But I’m going to try to drag myself out of my reading slump without cheating.

Writing – 90k words
And this time, I’ll be sure to write down this goal in my monthly spreadsheet, so I don’t lose track of myself again.
I’ve got 40k words earmarked for completion this month on one project, so it’s just a matter of finding the other 50!

Publishing – 1 Book
My next book comes out August 22nd! If you want to read the first chapter, sneak a peek at my July Newsletter (and sign up for future previews).
Oath Breaker is the first in the Death of Empire series.

Other –
Pretty sure I’ve talked about this before, but 2013 was a banner year for word count (1 million!) but it left me with a stack of finished manuscripts that were hastily written and in need of “floor-to-ceiling” edits. I’ve been avoiding those—which is a shame. So toward the end of last month, I pulled out the one I believe is closest to being “done” and started editing. My hope is to have her cleaned up enough to send her off to the next part of my process by the end of August…. We’ll see what happens.

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Jul 22, 2016

Fixing the Mess that is your Manuscript

I’m working on the third rewrite of a book right now and I thought I’d share some of the things that work for me and some that haven’t.

First thing’s first: How do you know if your manuscript needs major surgery.
There are a few clues.

One of the biggest clues is what people often refer to as “writer’s block.”
When you’re staring at your ms and your set goal is just not flowing, something’s wrong. It could be that you’ve been staring at the page for so long words no longer make sense. If that’s the case, take a walk or do something else to give your brain the time to reboot. If that doesn’t work, you may have written yourself into a wall that just can’t be scaled.

Another clue is that the book has stopped making sense.
You’re subplots are tripping up the main plot or they’ve gotten out of control like a patch of Himalayan blackberries. The tract of Plot A doesn’t mesh with subplots a and b anymore, but c might still work. Maybe. It’s possible that you can tweak those plots and herd them back in the right direction, but it might be too late for that.

There are lots of other ways to discover you’ve got to take a scalpel to a book before it will work, but you’re going to be the best qualified to know what went wrong.

Secondly, determine how much surgery you’re going to need.
Is this an appendectomy? Or a full amputation?

Maybe all you need to get back on track is to go through, figure out what happened where and make some minor adjustments. Maybe you need to go in and delete thirty-thousand words. The phrase “kill your darlings” is apt in this situation. Clearly if you’re in this situation, you need to get rid of the things that don’t work. Sometimes, those things are great scenes. They’re just wrong for your book. Evaluation of your plot and how each scene works into that is KEY.

And last, but not least, you have to “get your hands dirty.”
There’s no way to fix a broken manuscript other than to buckle down and just do it. It’s going to be painful and annoying and time consuming and hard…. But it needs to be done. So get out those pens or fire up track changes and dig in.

Jul 1, 2016

June Numbers/July Goals


In Real Life:

June started off with a bang (or a bash?) Comicon was the 2nd through the 5th, and as with last year, it was just a ton of fun. Got to meet up with some friends I made last year, found a few authors who’s books have now landed in my TBR list, harassed my tattoo artist (right leg), went to a screening of a friend’s short film and just had a ton of fun.

And then, it got quiet.

Since we recently bought a car, we’ve gone on a spending hiatus. Honestly, I want to pay that sucker down as quickly as possible and refinance. It’s not like the expense is huge… I just don’t like bills in general, and the more I can lower them, the better. On top of that, it’s just been really nice to stay in, get work done in the evenings, snuggle my ewok and enjoy my husband’s company. (after 7 years, you’d think we’d be tired of each other (at least that’s what people keep telling me).

Since it gets so hot here from May through September, I’m looking forward to another few months of not going out in the heat unless I have to. On top of the 110+ degree weather, we’re in to monsoon season which means rain! An awesome thing to watch… from inside, with the aircon on. Humidity is not my friend.

Reading:
1 book
(AVG GR Rating 0)


I feel like I’ve been running around like a madman. The only books I read this month were rereading things for research purposes. Nothing new, nothing to mark down, aside from my latest book.
Goal: 10 books. Not met.

Writing:
84,584-words in 23 days
(AVG 3677-words/day)




One of my “goals” this month was to work on my focus. I managed that pretty well. Aside from Admin stuff (orange), I only worked on 4 projects. Two of those were edit related.

The beginning of the month was a rough patch. Between comicon and some heavy edits, my daily numbers were low, but I made up for them with the end of the month. Overall, I’d call this the best writing month I’ve had all year, even if it didn’t hold the highest word count (that honor is still held by April)
Goal: 75,000 words. Met

 

Publishing:
1 book



My June release came out on Tuesday. The fourth in my Clockwork Fairytales series, Jack & the Mechanical Beanstalks is a fun almost-Frankenstein-y retelling of Jack & the Beanstalk (never say!). Unlike the first three in the series, no familiar characters show up and it could be treated as a stand-alone (though none of them require that you’ve read any of the other books first)
Goal: Jack & the Mechanical Beanstalks. Met.  
 
 
Reading – 3 books
So last month, I made the decision to slash my book goal for the year in half. Now I only need to get 50 books under my belt. I did this for a few reasons.

1) I know myself well enough to understand that keeping the 100 book goal now that it’s improbable I’ll hit it is just going to result in bad things.
2) Related to #1, I’ve accepted the fact that this is a part of my self-care that outweighs my desire to beat myself at everything.
3) Less stress means I’m more likely to pick up a book.
4) Who cares how many books I read in a year, really?

Writing – 90,000
The goal might be lofty, but I’m confident I can make it (especially given the next goal). In 2013, I managed to get over 94k—which wasn’t even my best moth of that year—and I’m always good at pushing myself to finish goals. I’m a completionist, after all.

Publishing – Another break
I’m wrapping up a book I plan to release in August and some fun little things I’ll be putting up for free in September, so I’m taking July to get the first finished and the bulk of the second taken care of as well.

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Jun 27, 2016

When Edits Won't Leave You Alone

www.amazon.com/author/abkeuser

It’s happened again. That manuscript I thought was “done” has come back from an editor and somehow there are one hundred and one changes that I’m finding on the lasts read through. (Note, this is after her changes have been addressed.)

A manuscript is never truly done. You’ll always find things you could have changed.
I don’t remember who said that (there are probably multiple people at this point) but someone did, and I’m paraphrasing it now because it is so apropos.

Draft seven is what I’m going through right now. Draft eight might be the one where I have to accept the way things are and learn to be less neurotic.

Then again, this edit was meant to be one where I went through and removed a subplot that dragged the rest of the story down. (Pink highlights!) The amount of extraneous changes are a little out of hand.
That page has more edits than any other, but I’m still changing things on almost every page.

I’m still on Hiatus, and largely because of things like this.

Talk to you later, kids.

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Jun 23, 2016

Giveaway 4 of 4: Signed copies of Silver Vol 1 & 2 by Stephan Franck (CLOSED)


Silver Vol 1

Expanding Bram Stoker’s original universe fifty years hence, into the pulp era of the 1930’s, SILVER introduces James Finnigan, a witty but (figuratively) soulless con man, who sets out to separate the living-dead from their precious silver.

Personality conflicts, emotional entanglements and character comedy abound, as Finnigan assembles the crew of talented but broken misfits needed to pull off the heist of the last ten centuries.

Silver Vol 2

Continuing the adventures of master-thief James Finnigan, Rosalynd "Sledge" Van Helsing, and their team of talented but troubled individuals, as they endeavor to steal an ancient treasure hidden in Dracula's castle. Suspense, humor, intense character moments and enthralling world-building ensue as the team reaches the castle, and the veil continues to lift on SILVER's rich and unique mythology.

More Info:
Amazon
GoodReads Vol 1 | Vol 2


The Giveaway!

To win these books, all you have to do is answer this question in the comments:
What is your preferred method of killing vampires?


GIVEAWAY ENDS AT MIDNIGHT PST 6/26/15.
WINNER WILL BE CHOSEN FROM THE COMMENTS VIA RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR.
GOOD LUCK!

One entrant, one winner. Congratulations, Katie!

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Giveaway 3 of 4: Signed copy of Strangely Beautiful by Leanna Renee Hieber (CLOSED)


Strangely Beautiful

Originally published as two books, Strangely Beautiful unites Leanna Renee Hieber's critically acclaimed novels in a single revised volume, restoring the author's original vision for the work.

Miss Persephone Parker—known as Percy—is different, with her lustrous, snow-white hair, pearlescent pale skin, and uncanny ability to see and communicate with ghosts. Seeking to continue her education, Percy has come to Queen Victoria's London, to the Athens Academy. What she will learn there will change her life forever.
Athens Academy is the citadel of The Guard, an ancient order that battles the forces of evil. The Victorian Guard, led by professor Alexi Rychman, is incomplete. They cannot defeat Jack the Ripper— who is more than the serial killer he appears to be—or the greater monster his appearance heralds.
Percy's lifelong habit of concealment combined with Alexi's fevered search for the Guard's missing seventh nearly prove disastrous as ancient Greek myths begin playing out in modern, gaslit, Victorian London. Percy and her new friends and allies must overcome their preconceptions about each other and their own histories before they can set the world to rights.

 More Info:
Amazon
GoodReads


The Giveaway!

To win this book, all you have to do is answer this question in the comments:
If you could communicate with ghosts, who would you seek out to talk to?

GIVEAWAY ENDS AT MIDNIGHT PST 6/26/15.
WINNER WILL BE CHOSEN FROM THE COMMENTS VIA RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR.
GOOD LUCK!

One entrant, one winner. Congratulations, Katie!

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Giveaway 2 of 4: Signed ARC of The Last One by Alexandra Oliva (CLOSED)

The Last One

She wanted an adventure. She never imagined it would go this far.
It begins with a reality TV show. Twelve contestants are sent into the woods to face challenges that will test the limits of their endurance. While they are out there, something terrible happens—but how widespread is the destruction, and has it occurred naturally or is it man-made? Cut off from society, the contestants know nothing of it. When one of them—a young woman the show’s producers call Zoo—stumbles across the devastation, she can imagine only that it is part of the game.
Alone and disoriented, Zoo is heavy with doubt regarding the life—and husband—she left behind, but she refuses to quit. Staggering countless miles across unfamiliar territory, Zoo must summon all her survival skills—and learn new ones as she goes.
But as her emotional and physical reserves dwindle, she grasps that the real world might have been altered in terrifying ways—and her ability to parse the charade will be either her triumph or her undoing.


More Info:
Amazon
GoodReads


The Giveaway!
To win this ARC, all you have to do is answer this question in the comments:
What skill set would you bring to a reality survival show?


GIVEAWAY ENDS AT MIDNIGHT PST 6/26/15.
WINNER WILL BE CHOSEN FROM THE COMMENTS VIA RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR.
GOOD LUCK!

One entrant, one winner. Congratulations, Katie!


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Giveaway 1 of 4: Signed ARC of Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan (CLOSED)

Age of Myth

Since time immemorial, humans have worshipped the gods they call Fhrey, truly a race apart: invincible in battle, masters of magic, and seemingly immortal. But when a god falls to a human blade, the balance of power between men and those they thought were gods changes forever. Now, only a few stand between humankind and annihilation: Raithe, reluctant to embrace his destiny as the God Killer, Suri, a young seer burdened by signs of impending doom, and Persephone, who must overcome personal tragedy to lead her people. The Age of Myth is over; the time of rebellion has begun.


More Info:
Amazon
GoodReads


The Giveaway!

To win this ARC, all you have to do is answer this question in the comments:

What is your favorite mythos and why?

GIVEAWAY ENDS AT MIDNIGHT PST 6/26/15.
WINNER WILL BE CHOSEN FROM THE COMMENTS VIA RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR.
GOOD LUCK!

One entrant, one winner. Congratulations, Katie!


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Jun 2, 2016

Goals for Phoenix Comicon this year


1. Try not to fangirl Alyssa Wong too hard

2. Avoid everything relating to Sanderson and Rothfuss if possible

3. Annoy Michael J. Martinez less this go around

4. Study Beth Cato’s mannerisms and inflections so my clockwork automaton will blend seamlessly

5. Get a copy of Red Rising signed for Shash

6. Convince Jamie Wyman we can take over the world

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