Storybook Perfect

Always quirky, sometimes sweet speculative fiction

Category: Hmmm This Could Work (page 2 of 2)

Bad Reviews And How To Handle Them

A question that often pops up in the writing community is how to handle negative reviews. True I’m yet to receive a negative reiew, or a critique so nasty as to inspire my ire, but I have a system in place already for dealing with all that you wish you could say to a negative reviewer, but first, let’s look a the types of negative review. In my opinion there are two types of negative review: the critique and the troll.

You welcome the critique. Throw open your arms for it, because while this person didn’t like your piece, they will detail for you what it was they didn’t like and often even why. This is a learning experience. You may listen and work on it, or you may count this person as not one of the people you are writing for. Either way, this person has put thought into their response to your work and I find myself often able to say thank-you even if I totally disagree.

Never feed the trolls, that's exactly what they want

Never feed the trolls, that’s exactly what they want

You despise the troll. This is the person who writes a one star review on Amazon or Goodreads and just says “This book was shit, go back to your day job”. There is no thought or quality to their review and more often than not they are hurtfully phrased. Why? Because that is what the troll lives for. They want to make you feel like excrement and go cry in a dark corner folded into the fetal position, or even better they want you to fight back. Admittedly most of the time the troll is a disappointed customer. They bought your book (or at least you hope they did, why act so nasty with you if they didn’t waste their money?) and didn’t like it. They forget that you are a person too and if someone came into their place of work, knocked over their pot-plant and said “your spread-sheet on the P&Ls for last month was a veritable craptacular, Troll.” that they would probably hide under their desk for a little sob too. Then again sometimes the troll is just a troll, an angry bitter person who wants everyone else to be miserable too.

How do you not get caught up in the troll’s evil web of hate? Well, this is what I do. I open Word and type out a letter. It can be as snarky as I want it to be in the first draft. Once it’s completed I edit it. Remove all swear words. Remove all name calling. Fix up that grammar. Try and put a hook into the sentence structure, or make it snazzy. Fix up the vernacular, make it witty and verbose and catchy. Then save it into a folder called ‘snark’ or ‘trolltastic’ and move on.

I find by the time I’ve edited my reply letter to a solid state of quality I’m often much calmer and I usually look at the letter somewhat impressed with how articulate I can be. I never, NEVER send the letter out into the world. This is hate mail. You don’t want to send hate mail out into the world. It’s a karmic thing. Apart from the karma reason think about your professional image. If you’re seen ranting and raving at a negative review you will not improve your professional image at all. Twice now I’ve received links from other writers sending me to hilarious and shameful outbursts and every time I remind myself to never let that be me.

The letter is also a useful tool for arguments with friends or family, or for you fellow retail store assistants out there when you have a nasty customer who you can’t get out of your head. It just pushes all the anger out and onto the page(so you don’t have to hurt those you love or lose your job) and then just file it away.

Best of all is these trolltastic letters are great for recycling all of that well edited anger into conflict between characters(though do remember, conflict isn’t always about arguments!).

One Story or Two?

This guy is my hero

This guy is my hero

I’m working on an idea for an anthology my writers’ group is planning on creating, and have a fantastic idea. Or is that two? It’s difficult to tell.

I want the story to be set in the same mythpunk world which Charming, The Troll’s Toll, Groundskeeper, and The Wyvern’s Sting are set in, but the best part of the idea involves a trip into our world, and I’m not sure if I want there to be a physical link between Mythpunkia (definitely NOT the official name) and our world.

I’m not dead set against it. But it doesn’t sit well in my stomach. I prefer the thought to be Mythpunkia rides in the dreams of those who wrote the fairy tales and fables.

Also there’s a matter of word count. If we do have this trip to our world I’m fairly certain I’m going to blow the 5,000 word limit to shreds. Yet, if I remove the trip, my protagonist’s whole quest pretty much unravels. It would become too much of a quest of introspection and I’m not sure I want that.

I could always set it in a different world, but two things make that an even less appealing choice. Firstly, my protagonist Mizzy is perfect in Mythpunkia, it suits her from top to tail and secondly I want the story set in Mythpunkia because then anyone who reads the anthology and feels an interest in the world will seek out my other stories. So a feeling from the heart and a cold marketing strategy from the brain.

And let’s not forget I’m actually supposed to be editing at the moment >.<

I think I’ll just write it in the form it is now and hope I can fit it into 5,000 words. If it doesn’t then I can worry about how to split it into two.

Of Webinars and Newsletters

So the world didn’t end yesterday, which is good because I spent a lot of yesterday prepping for the future.

I took part in my first webinar: 7 Secrets For Amazing Author Websites. The webinar was free (the best price of all) and ran by Thomas Umstattd of Author Media and Rachelle Gardner.

Easiest way to keep your child quiet for an hour (to be used sparingly)

Easiest way to keep your child quiet for an hour so you can join a webinar (to be used sparingly)

Never having done one before I was very uncertain of what to do, and with my modem being older than my son I thought I should test the connection as early as possible so logged into the link half an hour before the start time. I was surprised that about thirty people were already logged in and one of the hosts was there. It took me a while to get the sound working loud enough to be heard over Toy Story 3 (the only way I could be certain Xander would be still and quiet for an hour), but I had everything ready with time to spare.

For something free there was a lot of quality information, which is a surprise sometimes, though with Rachelle Gardner’s name attached I assumed a certain level of quality (hence signing up and making the time for it). I know there were a few things I was already doing (or planning to do) but there were also plenty of things I had not yet thought about but now will.

I appreciated the fact they also looked at websites for authors from the perspectives of different types of authors and how they would need to address matters, eg/ fiction vs. non-fiction, traditionally published vs. indie published, published vs. not-yet-published. That they took the time to address these matters shows a lot of thought and I’m sure everyone was grateful for the extra consideration.

The thing that keeps popping up WHEREEVER I go on the net about author sites, book promotion ect, an idea everyone praises as the second coming and that is the newsletter. The newsletter is where you (literally you, not me) give me(the website owner/writer) your email address so once a month I can send you a newsletter updating you on what I’ve been posting and doing. Most sites offer people some incentive to give up their email address, like a free ‘how to self-publish guide’ or ‘how to be a better writer guide’. I don’t want to be one of those people giving advice on a field I’m not an expert in, so I thought perhaps it would be better for me to offer an exclusive short story. Free of charge, only available to newsletter subscribers, this short story will serve as a sample of my writing as well (since most of my blog posts are written in a different style to my actual novels).

Does that sound interesting to anyone? Would such an offer encourage you to sign up (as well, of course, as the promise I don’t spam you or sell your email to anyone)?

To wrap up, the webinar was detailed and fun. I loved how the organisers stayed on after the official finish time for quite a while answering questions. Sincerely, thank-you Rachelle Gardner and Thomas Umstattd. I will definitely be keeping my eye out for other webinars.

The Australian Speculative Fiction Authors Challenge

December is here, so long to National Novel Writing month, you were good to me and my third novel. You got me 58,577 words into what I’m estimating will be a 100-120,000 word novel. For anyone interested in how I did it, read my previous post, but for those who are curious as to the content of my novel you’ll be glad to hear that in a few days I will be posting as part of a blog hop. ‘The Next Big Thing’ blog hop is being hosted by Mary Tod over on A Writer of History and my post date is December 5. I’ll be giving you some great info on the story and how the idea came into existence, so watch this spot.

An idea has been brewing in my brain for a few months now, ever since I first stumbled upon the Australian Women Writer’s website and saw their Australian Women Writer’s challenge. I started thinking: how much do I read Australian speculative fiction? Well, I love Kate Forsyth from back at high school’s end when I was reading the Witches if Eileanan saga which somehow I never finished reading (I know, what is wrong with me? It was a case of the books were coming out as I read them and there was a big gap, I lost track and bam, ten years later),  Isobelle Carmody was the woman who inspired me to write fantasy with her Obernewtyn Chronicles (yes, blame her! Before that I was writing children’s slice of life (I was ten) and Goosebumps inspired tales (repeat, I was ten)). Aside from those Aussie goddesses of fantasy I haven’t read much Aussie stuff. For shame!

So here’s my self-inflicted wake up slap. I challenge myself to read at least one new Aussie spec-fic author each month next year. My champion challenge will be to finish any series I have not yet finished by those authors as well.

I’m also hereby inviting you all to join me. If you’re struggling to think of any Australian spec-fic authors, let me give you a hand:

Alison Goodman

Alison Croggan

Lian Hearn (ok, not aussie born, but she’s lived here for nearly 40 years, you’ve got to hand over citizenship for that)

Kim Wilkins

Pamela Freeman

Garth Nix

Fiona McIntosh

Traci Harding

Kate Forsyth

Isobelle Carmody

Tansy Rayner Roberts

Rowena Cory Daniells

Marianne DePierres

Paula Weston

Now this list is obviously incomplete, if you know any one missing let me know, if you are an author and want your name added tell me and I’ll include you. I will not hold being self-published against you either, so give me your name, I’d love to add it.

I’m working on making a Goodreads group for this challenge as well, so if you’re keen, join me there to take part.

Fun With QR Codes

A very cool QR code on a billboard in Tokyo

Now this is cool. What a great idea.

Reader Engagement With Transmedia (How To Use QR Codes)

For those too lazy to read the linked article I’ll summarise, QR Codes can be used in e-books to enhance reader interaction, linking to soundtrack music, additional information and more.

I’m quite in love with my QR code I made for this site, and you’ve probably seen that I included it in my business card. How fun would it be to do something like offer bookmarks at a book signing with a QR code on the bottom which leads to an exclusive site (which you only reach with the code) containing extra content for the book, like a short story, alternate covers, initial character sketches (if you’re arty) or other stuff that might intrigue. If word got out about these book marks at your signings perhaps more people would come, meaning more face time with readers and more people in local book stores (lifts up sign ‘save the book stores’ and waves it around).

If you like that idea you can run with it, I’m happy to share, but I’d love if anyone asks where you got the idea from if you’d link them back to me.

I’ve been obsessed with QR codes since I went to Japan just over two years ago. Even back then QR codes were on EVERYTHING! They were on the massive billboard on Shibuya 109, they were on a1 posters around train stations, on little advertisements on vending machines, even on the tissue packs the cute promo girls give you out the front of train stations(you’ll never run out of tissues in Tokyo!). I was curious what they were and excited when I learned more. Sadly I didn’t have a smart phone back then, but I have since and trust me it gets a workout.

The thought of playing with QR codes like this really excites me, and the ideas are coming at me at a mile a minute. I hope I can get them all down… and eventually get back to my NaNo novel.

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