Let’s talk reviews

I bring this up because on writer’s forums, there’s always a post or two that is discussing reviews – how to deal with great ones, what to think of harsh ones, etc, etc. I generally feel that people are allowed to review as they please. I DO feel that if the review attacks the person, rather than the work – eh. That’s a little much. You’re not reviewing the person. You’re supposed to be reviewing the work or the product. I know that’s the focus for me when I write reviews.

We all have a stereotype of what we think of reviewers. The sort of image that is often presented is something like this:

reviewer

In reality, reviewers, because I am also someone who reviews books, are more like this:

giphy

People review because they feel strongly about something. Good or ill.

I got a critical review recently, and of course, like most people, I have to look. I was a little nervous, honestly.

Ya know what? It was totally fair. And the reviewer – well, critical reviewers should take note. This person pointed out what they didn’t care for about the book. What they felt went against the standards for the genre, and what their problems with the story were.

They also threw me a nice compliment, so that’s good.

I read it, and then read it again. And I did something that I never, ever thought I would do when reading someone not liking my baby. I shrugged. Why? Because the comments were fair, and I knew there might be readers who felt the way this reviewer did. I’m totally good with a critical review that is balanced. Since this is the first time I’ve faced such, I didn’t know what I’d think/do/how I’d react.

I will also tell you, I went and look at the way in which I categorized my story, and the reader was correct, I wasn’t hitting the standards for one of the categories. So I changed it. Because it was a legit comment.

So the lesson for today? If you are not at a point where you can stay away from reading reviews, make your shocked face and then read it again, with an open mind. You may find there is just as much to a critical review as there is to a positive, glowing review.

To me, it’s no different than when I sit in critique group and hear what didn’t work for my crit partners. It’s hard. It’s hard not to jump up and defend our babies. But not all work will resonate with all readers, and I am glad they took the time to offer a fair, balanced critical review.

I also need to shout out to the wonderful reader who reviewed my book on two sites, and then put it on her blog! Wow! What a compliment! Thank you! Again, another thoughtful, critical review from someone who obviously knows the genre and is a dedicated reader. I LOVED it.

Last piece of advice for my fellow authors – DO. NOT. ENGAGE. This is something that I also see discussed. Just don’t do it. Reviews are generally not for us, the creator. They are for fellow readers, to let them know what’s what. We are just fortunate enough to get to read them.

Oh! One last thing – thank you to ALL my reviewers who have not posted spoilers. I read reviews of books I’m considering, and I don’t like reading spoilers in the reviews. I’m always thankful to read a review of my work or anyone else’s that doesn’t throw out the plot surprises. Or, a nice warning at the beginning of the review.

So there’s my PSA for today. I like to share with you all as I move through this journey of becoming a FT author. Not there yet, but every day is one step further down the road.

Now go write!

State of the Fab world

If you’ve read some of my earlier blogs, you’ll know that my nickname within my family, and particularly with my sister (SAP, for the record), is Fab.

I’ll tell you the story, and get to the point of my post tonight. My sister has this friend, and the friend is goddamned fabulous. I mean, seriously so. I love her fabulousness. So she gets being fab. This friend and my sis were talking and my sister is the endless font of Lisa stories. She tells me it’s because her life is not as cool as mine.

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. We’ll let it go.

Anyway, somehow, they are talking about how one gets some reality and perspective once one gets into the 20s. I was still dumb as can be, but it was better than when I was in my teens. And my sister tells her friend, “My sister said, Oh, hellz ya. I was totally and utterly convinced of my own fabulousness in high school. College was the first step down off my self-appointed pedestal, and then, it went down from there.”

The friend laughed herself silly, and The Fab was born. *sigh* Now, I’m The Big Fab. That’s an addition from my BIL. Everyone is a big something. It’s not the state of the union on the size of my backside, LOL. At least, I hope not.

In the Fab world, I’m in editing. I’m playing hooky right now. I know it’s because my editor can’t look at it immediately, so I have been just doing a little self care, R-n-R. Sometimes I need that. I’m also writing, because Casimir is due…shortly.

In yet another discussion with my biz partner, and editor, the story has taken a twist. That happens when I have longer conversations with them. Thankfully, it’s happening before I have to do major revisions.

This month is even more Fab than me at my most Fab (usually late night at Dragon Con – just sayin’. If you see me there, say hey. I love Dragon Con. It’s less than a month away. YAY!) – One Night At The Ball is nearly ready to go, and Casimir’s Journey is almost there. Two books in one month. I’m psyched.

Then, Dragon Con. God, I love it more every year. If you haven’t gone, it’s worth it. It’s like no other con I go to. Then, my regional writer’s conference. There is something about being around other people like you, who do the same thing you do, who understand your head-desk moments that is like crack.

And then, Catrin’s Grimoire is out in November.

I’ll be starting a new series towards the end of the year. I’m looking at Dec/Jan for release. That also got a major plot revamp (thank you, Monica!) and I am really excited to be able to get to that.

I’ve also been getting requests to talk about what I’ve done to 1) get myself published and 2) to get myself out there, even in the little bit that I’ve done. I love sharing, so I am working on a massive doc for those who have asked. LOL, careful what you wish for.

I know I stand on this soapbox frequently, but one of the things I adore about the indie world is the sharing. I would not be where I am right now, even in my small state, if it were not for the generous sharing of others. It’s shaped my course, and helped me figure out what I want to do, set goals, actually consider a strategy for my career – which are priceless.

There you have it in under 750 words – the State of the Fab Union. Summer is almost over, so if you, like me, found that your normal schedule of production was disrupted by that thing called life this summer, school is nearly back in. Time to get the calendar out and set your schedule so that you are prepared. If you already have – good on you! You’re ahead of me.

See you later this week!

And just cuz, a Dyson gif – I’m a huge Lost Girl fan, and the cast will be at Dragon Con this year. Kris HR is a really nice, really TALL guy. This is hilarious.

Dysongif

Let’s talk fun!

The weekend is here. That in and of itself is fun. Everyone relaxes a little. Not that the Darling Boys and I aren’t relaxed. They’re still on summer break. But even Dad gets to relax, and that’s a good thing.

It’s warm, but my A/C is working great. Since our A/C went out two weeks ago – this may not seem like a big thing, or fun, but when your house sits in bright sun all day- a good A/C is priceless.

I am nearly back on track for the writing schedule. That makes me so very happy, I don’t even have enough words to express it. One of the best things about indie publishing is that you set your own schedule. Once you write it down, IMO, that’s the schedule. SO – I’m nearly there in regards to where I planned to be before I got derailed by summer.

We had an amazing, fabulous, unbelievable Southwest trip this summer. Drove like mad people, but saw some parts of the US I hadn’t seen before, and Darling Boys certainly hadn’t seen. They loved it, and still talk about it, which is what it’s all about. We ended the trip with a full day in Glenwood Springs, which is where most vacations should end. Or Mt. Princeton, or Pagosa, or the like. Hot springs are a gift from somewhere on high to the humans here on earth, no matter what time of year it is. I am so fortunate that we live in a place where we can visit a hot springs within a couple of hours.

School for us begins early – so I’m looking down the tunnel to the First Day Of School. I find I will miss the Darling Boys. Will I be more productive? Oh, to be sure. But I’ll miss them. Miss snuggling, taking the dogs for a walk, teaching them how to cook something simple, or serve themselves in the kitchen (as one who was woefully unprepared for the feeding of self, I don’t want my kiddos to struggle with that).

Watching them become young men. Where has the time gone? My little Darlings are growing up.

I couldn’t be more proud.

So hug your Darlings, and enjoy the rest of the summer.

Writing News…Sort of.

This has been one amazing week, from my POV as someone who wants to be a successful career writer. On a number of levels, but the one I wanted to share was the artistic side – and NOT my own. My covers.

I am SO fortunate that my first cover was done by Karri Klawiter (you can find her at artbykarri.com). We had some scheduling conflicts, so I had to look for another artist. I was really nervous, because Karri got my vision. You don’t know how hard it can be until you have to describe the feeling you want with your book cover until you’re sitting there, staring at the screen, trying to decide what to say.

Anyway, I was on the hunt. I happened to be on Kboards, and I found a couple of other artists. I emailed a few, and the one I ended up working with was Aria from Resplendant Media. http://resplendentmedia.com Who knew? I am one of those lucky people, in this respect, where lightening strikes twice. Aria also gets my vision. She has created some amazing covers and I am so, so thrilled! Let me show you how lovely my ladies and gentleman are. I mean seriously, even my crazy Catrin is fab.

The top two – are out. Thea’s Tale is free for a few more days, and Casimir’s Journey is on pre-order. One Night At The Ball will be released shortly. Catrin’s Grimoire is coming in November.

When you find someone that hears your voice, and can make your voice into a visual, it’s like a dream come true. And for me, it’s happened twice. I am a lucky, lucky lady.

TheasTale_ebook_Finalcasimirsjourneytype1A

catrinsgrimoireprevonatbtype1b

Blather

I sat here, taking a break from WIP, because I finished the previous WIP, and sent it off to my editor post-haste. I’m already regretting it, in spite of revision-ing for two days straight. I found my notes re: developmental discussions, and there’s more that needs to be in there. *sigh*

Couldn’t figure out what to title this, because late night is when I do a lot of my musing, and poking around on Facebook and Writer’s Cafe. I felt like letting some of my brilliant late-night thoughts out into the great wide world. (stop laughing.)

After some more chin-stroking (were I a guy, I’d have a goatee that I stroked whilst thinking. Not that I want one – just were I a guy, I’d have one), what I want to share with you are my thoughts on being selfish.

I’m an author. Not really successful at this point, but I’m working on it, and feel good. More than that, I’m a stay at home mom. That latter job is a recipe for losing your life.

I have to back up a bit. Before I met my husband, I didn’t think I would get married. I had a few false starts in the “We’re getting marrrrriiiieeeeedd!” department, but that’s all they were. When I met him, and I swear to god, I came home and told my mom, I knew I was going to marry him. True story. First night we met. Took me a month to get to meet him, because he completely ignored all my flirtation.

Since I was determined I was too much of a high-maintenance individual to find A)Someone who’d put up with me and still love me and B)Someone I’d love and want to put up with, I wasn’t planning on having kids either. Believe it or not, given how rabid I am about my kiddos, I was okay with that. Can’t miss what you don’t know.

But once we got married, and had been married a while – and folks, we got married and moved onto a 38-foot houseboat – and were there for two years – we started talking about kids. We weren’t sure we wanted them, but it was on the table. We decided it was time, and moved off the boat. I will say, we both still miss waking up living on the water.

I found that being pregnant, people fuss over you in the craziest fashion. Once you HAVE the baby, you get nothin’. Nada. Bubkes. It’s all about that squiggly bundle of joy. I remember thinking, I am more than Darling Oldest’s mom. While I thought that, I didn’t go any further.

Then, we had Darling Youngest. And I, for the first time in my adult life, stopped working. I became a SAHM.

OY.

I was happy to go back to work several years later. I LIKE work. Why? Because I am Lisa. Not just Mrs. Mani, or Darling Boys’ Mom. I was ME.

And there it is. I think we all struggle with that – with still being ME. Because once we get involved with others, and bring little people into the equation, we lose the ME. It’s not for negative reasons – it’s a good thing to want to give to those you love. But, and this is just MPO, and completely anecdotal, I think we lose all sense of balance.

There MUST be a balance of give and ME. You can’t lean too far in either direction. If you give too much, you begin to harbor resentment, and the things you are resentful over pile up, and it takes less and less to activate that resentment.

Conversely, you go too much in the ME direction, and the other people living with you begin to resent the hell out of you.

For me, finding that balance feels a lot like the never-ending tightrope. I love my family. Marrying my husband and having my Darling Boys are the three best decisions I’ve ever made. Also, taking my husband’s advice when we decided that I would once again be a SAHM to focus on my writing was equally amazing. I’ve never been happier with my professional life. And I don’t even go into an office.

I have a lot of people that I know/like/admire/etc who seem to be experiencing marital discord, and those that I talk to – there seems to be that lack of balance between the give and the ME. I know I’ve watched the demise of relationships before my husband that fell victim to that.

When if we were taught, Yes, you must give, and you must put yourself on that list of people who are given to – we’d be happier people. In my humble, unlearned opinion.

I hate to see the discord. As someone who has struggled with ME vs what I think I’m supposed to do, I’d bet that struggle has a great deal in the reasons for discord.

So the TL; DR of all this – it’s okay to be selfish. It’s okay to give to those you love – as long as you put yourself on that list. It’s okay to want to be YOU.

jenuis

Publishing 101

Since I self-published, and am actually talking with people I know about it (it’s a weird thing – you get sort of shy, and don’t always tell people, because you’re tooting your own horn, and we’re taught that is not the best, but in order to be successful, people do need to know about you – regardless, I’m telling people about my writing without an ounce of shame) I have gotten a lot of questions about the hows and mechanics of the entire thing.

I’ve thought about writing a post about it, but frankly, I’m still too “in” it, if you KWIM. I know there’s a forest, and I try to remember that, but my POV is a tree. Maybe 12. So I am borrowing the words of another, and I really like this.

People, ANYONE can publish.

ANYONE. You just have to want to do it.

IMO, you need to decide why you’re doing it – is it a family thing, a cookbook? Memoir? Something with a specific, limited audience? Then not everything you read about re: indie publishing applies.

But one thing does – I want anything I publish to be commercial quality work. That means I have a good cover – one that tells the reader what this is about, and gives them a hint on the story – and genre, if you’re writing as a career.

Get the thing edited. I’m not wretched, but my editor still sends me comment boxes of ‘WTF????’ at times. See above for the whole forest/trees analogy.

And read this below. It’s a great article, not a long, drawn-out read, and it gives a starting place. At least, I think it does.

http://authors.choosybookworm.com/pen-pals-community-indie-authors/

Happy Writing!

ryanscenememe

Wha…where did June and July go????

Sooooo….here it is, end of July. I planned to to be SO much further along than I am now. Yes, I am still on schedule, and thank god, because I am sticking to my pub deadlines come hell or high water, but daaaaaang.

This is HARD.

I have the best two jobs in the world. Seriously. I get to stay at home with my kids. Not everyone does, and I can’t tell you how thrilled that I can. Our family has been fortunate that we’ve been able to do this, because my Beloved and I both believe that kids need a parent at home. It’s good for them. LOL – they may not think so when Mom’s always on them, and tells them daily that this is NOT a frat house, and I am NOT a maid – but it’s good for them.

animal+house+2

Nope. Much as I love this movie (SAP, my sister and I, can quote it on the fly to one another), this is not that house.No matter how hard they try.

And let’s not forget I have a tween. While my tween is a boy, so I’m not getting the hair flips of my past tossed back to me, I do get a lot of this:

docmeme

Well.

It’s not like either of my kiddos went begging for their attitudes. My dad just laughs into his drink when he sees this sort of thing. He can be heard muttering ‘Karma’ or something similar.

So that’s been my summer. Along with an amazing road trip that took us through the Southwest. You MUST go and see the Grand Canyon, and go to both the South and North Rims if you can. They’re very different.

Now that I am back into, sort of, some kind of schedule, I am slowly getting back to my pre-summer behavior. Wrote over 5,000 words yesterday. It felt good.

Both One Night At The Ball and Casimir’s Journey will be out shortly. Like, really shortly. Like, Holy Hell, is that the date shortly. My editor loves me.

OK. Back to the doc.

Summer thus far…

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The person who made the above meme is a genius. A friggen genius. Because in that one little sentence, it sums up my last month.

My kids got out of school in early June. Yay me, right?

No. Even though the last two weeks were a whirlwind of things to go to, be ready for, etc, it was nothing like the past month. I have had company, which I LOVED. Please don’t misunderstand. I love the people who are willing to come and stay with me.

But I get nothing done. And normally, folks, this wouldn’t be a bad thing. Because I love my days of lazy.

L-O-V-E.

However, I have been blessed and fortunate enough to stop working outside the home, and be an author. Yes, with Thea’s Tale now in digital and print form, I call myself an author. In a slight topic change, it’s rather scary to title myself that. I’ve never assigned myself a career before. It’s always been something I’ve been hired for, or gone to school for, or whatever. One more new and awesome thing about being Lisa Manifold, Author.

Back on topic. While everyone was in school, I had 4-5 hours a day to write. And I did. Now – pffffft. Nada. It’s late and I’m hiding out in front of the computer. I should be writing, and I have a project to finish. But it’s so nice, so very nice, to be here, sitting alone, in the peace and quiet for the first time in nearly a month that I am not hyper-focused on task, but am doing all the little things I’ve missed, like writing in my blog. Catching up on my boards.

On the positive side, I had an amazing time with my family. Mesa Verde, the Grand Canyon, and Glenwood Springs. All with kids old enough to see and appreciate the places we were. We clung to toe-and-footholds in Mesa Verde. Stargazed at the Grand Canyon. Did slides and sat in the therapy chairs in Glenwood. Those are memories that will be with me always. I hope that the same will be true for my kids. Just for fun, here’s all of us on a short mule trip. I wanted to get them introduced to the idea of mule rides, because one of my bucket list items for the family is a mule ride to the bottom of the canyon.

mules

It was amazing. So there’s that.

But I’m greedy. I want it all. ALLLL. I love what I do. I love that I’m a mom. Didn’t plan on it, ever. But decided to have kids, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. Love that my sweetie works hard for us all so one of us can be with the kids. I also love that I get to work from home, and do the best job I’ve ever had.

And THAT is what I am whining about. That I haven’t been able to go to work for weeks. I MISS it. Like crazy.

Having whined, and off-topic-ed all over you all, I am now going to report that Casimir’s Journey is still on track for August. One Night At The Ball is in final stages, and I am working on getting it to my editor. The cover is GORGEOUS. Absolutely gorgeous. For those of you who have read Thea’s Tale, this is the story of Catrin as a young woman. I’ve had readers ask, What is the deal with Catrin? She needs to have some wine and chill out.

Well, Catrin has…issues. She really does. She’s awful to Thea. Almost irrationally so. I’m hoping, with One Night At The Ball, it’s a little more clear as to why. Just for funs and teases, here’s the cover.

onatbtype1b

I’m really excited for this. Catrin’s story came to me while writing Thea’s. It made what happened in Thea’s Tale so much more…understandable to me.

SO. There’s my month. I’m looking forward to being back on track, getting some writing time back into my schedule, while enjoying the family for the last bit of summer vaca. I know, some of you are saying What? It’s only July! We have odd schedules here.

I’ve dawdled long enough. Need to get back to work.

The schedule of creativity

So.

I’ve been really REALLY lax about keeping this updated. I got home from Dragon Con, and my life just went cuckoo. I have no excuse. I will warn you also, you’re getting a major mind dump, because I have been mulling all this over just before I fall asleep.

I’ve been thinking about how I create, and when, and looking for time to maximize the creative flow. I can’t take any organizational credit for this, though. I am fortunate that at the end of next week, I will no longer be a W2 employee, and will essentially be a SAHM. And let me tell you, without a schedule, one that I tell others about, I AM that SAHM.

Parked in the crack of the couch, eying my next bon-bon.

With that, I’ve been considering how I wish to order my day so that I might get the writing done I want to – the first publication date for Book One of the new series is May 5th, 2015, and it will go on pre-order end of this month/early March – and still be the one In Charge of the doings of the house and children.

Here’s what I noticed – I really only have two good creative days a week at this point.

Monday – am, get chores/shopping done. Creative late morning and afternoon, and then maybe a little if I’m lucky after school.
Tuesday – full on creative day, culminating with Awesome Critique Group in the evening.
Wednesday – workThursday – LOTS of work (it’s my longest day in the office)
Friday – half day of work, and then errands, and then family time
Sat/Sun – family time, and Sun usually encompasses getting things done for the next week.

Don’t get me wrong – I love my job. I am lucky that I don’t drag myself into an office with a job I tolerate. I actually love my job. Due to circumstances that have nothing to do with me writing, I need to become a SAHM. But in considering how to make sure I’m not the Crack-in-the-couch mom, I realized I have limited days in which to just wallow in my creative process.

What’s bad is I know others don’t even have that – they have to squeeze writing around a full time job, and after people are in bed. I do that too. So don’t take this as complaining. It’s not.

I have a good idea of how I am going to balance not going out to work with getting done the things I have to do for writing with my new full on responsibility for the house. My LSS (long suffering spouse) is a champ about splitting house and kid duties. After all, we both work, and it’s fair. But if I am not working – that is all on me. Which is fair.

But with three publication dates this year, I need to find that balance. I feel pretty good and only slightly guilty at my production thus far. My first two books are nearly written (lots of editing on the first one, because it’s the key to the entire rest of the series) and I have put dates to everything. Just to put it out there – May 5, August 4, and November 3. The first three books of the Sisters Of The Curse series – Thea’s Tale, Casimir’s Journey, and Catrin’s Grimoire. Somewhere in there will also be a novella, One Night At The Ball.

I am not the most organized person. But since I am being given the amazing opportunity to be at home, and WRITE, I figure I need to make the most of it, and get some organization.

I’d be interested in hearing about those of you who write for a living order your day. Particularly if you are also the SAHP.

Singin’ The Techie Blues

Technology Woes.

We all have them. Even if you don’t do anything other than fiddle with your smart phone, or play games on social media. There’s no escaping them.

However, in the world of online business, because let’s be honest, artists in today’s world have to see the online world as one of business, you really have to stay on top of things. Generally, I feel okay with this. I feel like I can hold my own in jumping into the technology pool.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Today, ladies and gents, I was bested, soundly by Facebook. I have an author page there, but because I jump before looking, I created, sometime last year, just a regular profile account. It means I must add people as friends, and it’s not an open subject page. Which, if you are promoting a business, you really want. Plus, Facebook’s TOS suggest you get your business to a Page rather than a profile.

So leaping before looking. There I was. I haven’t done anything about it since, even though it’s been on my to do list. Today, I went poking around. I took a massive leap once again, and created a Page.

No! No no no no no! Bad Lisa! Bad bad bad!

So off I go to….ah…actually read the directions. It seems one can take a profile and make it a Page. Open, your followers can add themselves, and it’s less administrative hassle as far as getting information out to your audience.

So I must go, delete the newly created Page, and take the steps to make my personal profile a Page.

The link crashes.

Yep. I crashed my own profile. It was not available for a good five minutes. Then I found it again, and went in to make the needed changes for my personal social media happiness.

It denied me. I was not allowed to make certain changes because I’d made too many. Apparently Facebook has a limit, and my fumbling had reached it.

Yay for me! I have to tell you, even though I am rolling my eyes at my ownself, I am also laughing. If I would just read the directions first – something my long-suffering spouse would have asked immediately had he been apprised of this debacle – the many steps and re-steps probably could have been avoided.

As well as the Facebook change denied message.

So there’s your public service announcement regarding tech today, chickens. Read the directions first, or show your online fumbling to the world.