Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Wattpad and publishing

This week I got a lovely review on Wattpad for ‘I’ll be Home for Christmas’.
[Thank god, I mean 10,400 reads and only two reviews… don’t get me started on Wattpad.]
But in any case, this is what they said.

And this confused me.
It’s not my story. It’s fanfiction. This is as published as it will get. The characters belong to Stephenie Meyer while the story - beyond the canon of the books - is mine.
Did they not know they were reading fanfiction? It’s clearly marked as such. The cast is listed as the people who played the characters in the movies, with some extra additions of my own.
Do they not understand that fanfiction cannot be published when the original work is within copyright? Not without pulling the names and changing everything. I write too close to canon to do this. And I feel it’s wrong, in any case. [I’m looking at you 50 shades]
I don’t know what they were thinking and I didn’t ask. I just reminded them it was fanfiction and thanked them for taking the time to review.
I can always write my own original stories. Assuming I can finally get around to getting them published. Still got no idea why that is more of an issue for my original stuff than it is for my fanfic.


Sunday, 9 April 2017

I am the number 25 top reviewer in Australia on Goodreads

Yay, me.
I’ve worked hard on typing up reviews for everything I read and a few that I can’t even finish. I put in quotes from the work to support my critique. I think I’ve learned a lot about writing from doing this and sometimes I can see why a book fails for me. I only read genres I like. I’m not tossing out one star reviews for things I don’t have a taste for. That’d be mean.
But it is a personal thing. I am more likely to be critical of a book where the character expresses behaviour I don’t agree with. I saw a title on Bookbub this week where the author had got the racism right upfront in the book summary. Ewww.
One time, giving a one star rating and a long review that listed just why it was so awful attracted the attention of a sock puppet who then argued with me and gave ALL my works one stars in retaliation. What a dick. [Don’t sock puppet your readers. Don’t be a dick.]
Goodreads has a star rating system. According to the site, the stars have the following values:
  • 1 star - I did not like it
  • 2 stars - it was OK
  • 3 stars - I liked it
  • 4 stars - I really liked it 
  • 5 stars - it was amazing.

There is one negative star. Four positive to one negative, if you want to look at it that way. I don’t give everything five stars either; that’d be equally pointless. My average rating is 3.39. I really hate the idea that you should be nice just because someone published a book. But what’s making me think about this is recently I’ve heard the same message from several different sources.
* Rachel Abbot says never give negative reviews because you always seem to run into those authors at book conferences, or trade meetings. She was talking to Joanna Penn in a video interview and she agreed.
* Dean Wesley Smith argues that every book critic is a failed writer. They turn their inability to finish and publish successfully into criticising others.
* Austin Kleon’s rule #8 was: be nice, the world is a small town.
* There was an article in the Guardian from an anon who had tried to write two books and had given up. In their letter they badmouthed female British literary writers. The next week’s opinion piece told them off for it, said the writer community supports each other, and pointed out two books was nothing. They called the anon a quitter not a failed author, and suggested they’d need a tougher hide if they really wanted to succeed. True that.
High level book reviewers get free advance review copies, publish their reviews on their own sites and (hopefully) earn some kind of return on their investment. I’d do it for free books! If I somehow managed to get through my ‘to be read’ pile first. But being a book reviewer isn’t my dream. I want to be an author.
So, maybe the issue is that if I want to be an author I can’t be a book reviewer as well? It’s like having a foot in both camps. There are a few people I follow on GR who do this but they’re in the early days of their writing career when the people listed above are all past that stage.
Plus, now Amazon owns GR, it is starting to send you a direct email with parts taken out of the reviews from people you follow for a book you just completed yourself. First off, I don’t understand this. I’ve finished the book. Why are you sending me other people’s views on it? I already saw them when I posted the review. Are we supposed to discuss it amongst ourselves? I don’t know that I want my reviews sent right to others. Some I even untick the twitter box so it doesn’t go out publicly.
I have always said that GR is for readers, but I also use GR as my ‘books I own’ record system; a failsafe so I don’t duplicate purchases. I am especially hopeless at updated covers; I see them as a new book. I can look up GR on my phone at a second hand sale and avoid that. My other book database is about to go offline and I’m looking for a replacement but not having a lot of luck so far.
I’d better keep looking.
Dean Wesley Smith - the Essentials workshop week 2
Austin Kleon Steal like an Artist
The Guardian - you're a quitter

Monday, 3 April 2017

And then what happened?

This week I have been listening to Stephen Fry read the complete Sherlock Holmes.
One story, the Adventure of the Crooked Man, tells a locked room mystery. The husband is found dead, the wife is in a brain fever, there are mysterious animal prints in the room, and the door key is missing.
Spoiler warning.
After some investigation, Watson and Holmes discover that the couple were happily married, childless, and that the husband doted more on the wife. Nancy is described as ‘striking and queenly’. She had been into town to a church meeting with her friend, come home, had an argument with her husband that the servants could hear some of, and then the disaster struck. The local police think the wife hit him with a poker. ‘Coward’ was a word the servants overheard her shout at him.
On questioning her friend, she confesses that they met a disabled man in the street. The wife and he had quite a conversation that she did not overhear. He was new in town and did magic tricks for the soldiers.
The autopsy exonerates her. James died of shock. After some more digging, they track down the man she met and question him.
Watson says: “The man sat all twisted and huddled in his chair in a way which gave an indescribable impression of deformity; but the face which he turned towards us, though worn and swarthy, must at some time have been remarkable for its beauty.”
When Nancy was a young woman she had two suitors; both in the army. One was a sergeant James, and the other, more handsome one Henry, was a corporal. Her father, a colour sergeant himself, thought Henry was unsuitable as he had a reckless youth.
During the Indian mutiny, the town was under siege. Henry volunteered to try and get out a message for help. He discussed it with James, who betrayed him and then reported to her that Henry was dead. She and James married and thirty years later, are stationed back in England where he is now a Colonel.
Henry tells them how he was treated as a slave, tortured and punished each time he tried to escape, until he is the crooked man of the title.
The animal? “It was a mongoose!” Holmes cries as if that was the big issue, and off they go back to London.
It is famous for being the story where Holmes ALMOST says, ‘elementary, my dear Watson.’
But my writer brain wants to know what happened next.
Did Nancy and Henry reunite? How could she possibly compensate him? Can he claim decades of lost Army pension? Does she still love him? Can he forgive her for marrying his rival?

That’s the story I want to read. Sighs… maybe I’ll have to write it myself?