A while back I sent Sojourn in Captivity to be reviewed by Red City Review. The five-star feedback was humbling and kind. You can find the official link here.
What I’d like to do most is take a moment to talk about one particular compliment.
“Essential plot pieces are set in place here for future series entries, but the real attraction is Weech’s world-building. Animals, trees and plants, domestic customs, and planetary weather phenomena are all described in detail, giving a well-formed view of life on Oron.”
The Perception of War series is huge, and my goal is to provide a truly universal story. This means the planets need to feel real. The aliens need to feel authentic. Is that what everyone will think? No. But it is my goal to help a number of readers feel like they’re on different planets interacting with creatures.
That comment from Red City Review was particularly validating because it showed that the effort I put into making Oron and the Seferam feel authentic worked, at least for that reviewer.
Honestly, I would have been elated for them to say that the world building was good, so to have the reviewer say the world building was the real attraction was actually a surprise, but a welcome one.
I’ve said a few times that I always strive first to have compelling characters. My new logo proclaims, “Great Characters. Clever Plots.” I want to stand behind that, but I also strive to grow with each project I work on. If I’m going to grow as a science fiction / fantasy author, I need to have immersive worlds, and this review indicates I’m off to a good start.
In related news, Sojourn is entered into the 2019 Red City Review Book Awards. I haven’t heard anything regarding whether or not it’s a finalist, but I’m hopeful. I truly do think Sojourn is a fantastic story (even if it’s short).
My hope is the review might convince you to give it a try if you haven’t already. If you have, even if you hated it, I’d sure appreciate a rating and review on Amazon or Goodreads.
I’m honestly just watching Kurt Hugo Schneider videos, and in a few, he “writes” a song for a popular singer. My wife and I frequently dance to his writing of an “Ed Sheeran” song. What he does is look for elements common to the performer, and that got me thinking about my brand.
So branding is an interesting concept. Some writers brand by genre. This guy may write horror while that guy writes romance. If you like the genre, a certain author will fill that need. I’ve had dear friends talk to me on occasion about how often I jump around. Honestly, I don’t have the first clue how to hold still. I can’t even type a blog like Thumper talking about the forest with Bambi.
That hurts some authors. I would probably be more successful more quickly (an important combination of words) if I stuck with one genre. Readers like to know what they’re going to get when they buy a book.
So if I don’t stay in one genre, what is my brand? What do people who buy my book get?
Please allow me to offer you a list.
Characters you connect with: If you read the first ten pages of one of my books, and you don’t feel an immediate connection to the characters you’re reading about, I’ve failed, and you probably won’t enjoy the story. I want people who buy my books to fall in love (or completely hate) the characters. Here are some examples:
Fast Pace: Even my longest book, The Journals of Bob Drifter, has a pace that moves. I typically write short chapters that let a reader feel like they’re flying through a book even if that book is 130,000 words. I want readers to feel like they’re on a roller coaster that set the world speed record. True, Bob evolves more slowly, but that evolution is spent building anticipation. This fast pace creates a story that’s hard to put down. Here are some examples:
Surprises: If you want at least one moment where your jaw drops, and you say, “WHAAAAAAAAAAT?” my books are for you. Honestly, I’m not sure which of my stories has the biggest surprise or plot twist. What I can say is that every time someone comes to me to talk to me about my book, they immediately comment about the surprise. Most reviews mention the end of my stories. Don’t believe me?
So there you have it. If you like fast-paced books with great characters and surprising twists, I’m your man. All of these were different reviews for different books from a number of different reviewers (though in honesty there are some repeat reviewers because they became return customers).
I hope this gives some of you who maybe haven’t tried my work a chance to see why you might be interested.
It’s a bit harder to share reviews for audiobooks because there aren’t any direct links to just those reviews (or at least I haven’t figured out the trick). However, I’ve gotten a number of reviews for a lot of these audiobooks, and so I wanted to take a chance to share some of the comments.
Caught: Caught has two ratings and one text review. It has an average 4.0 rating (again only two ratings) at the moment. The text review just kindly said that the reader loved the print version so much that they wanted to listen to the audio version while I work on Betrayed. The reviewer also took a moment to praise the plot twists, which I honestly think is the greatest part of the book.
The Power of Words: The Power of Words has four ratings for an average of 4.3 overall. It also has two text reviews. The most recent reviewer said the stories were entertaining. He appreciated the range of genres, which I was actually concerned would be a problem. He took a moment to praise the narrators on this (and I think Lisa and J.M. are indeed worthy of praise. This reviewer concluded by acknowledging that short stories don’t have the depth he typically looks for (“…they’re usually over before you can really get into them.”)
The older text review focused again on Lisa and J.M. The reviewer did say the collection “lives up to the title.” I appreciated seeing that.
Repressed: Repressed has one rating and text review. The reviewer had issue with the tone and target audience of Repressed vs Caught (Repressed, as you may know, is based on Kaitlyn from Caught). I honestly accept this criticism and respect it. I had to make a choice on what to do here. I wanted so desperately to give Kaitlyn her own short story, but when I did that I had to gauge the content against those most likely to read it. So it’s completely fair and just to have this thought. My hope is, those who love Kaitlyn will appreciate this story. Those who love the darker, more horror driven aspects of Caught, it’s fair to say, won’t enjoy this.
The reviewer also took a moment to compliment Jennifer on her reading. I always felt she had the perfect voice for Kaitlyn, and I’m glad this reader agreed. My hope is Repressed get’s Jennifer plenty more offers.
And I think that has me caught up with the reviews for my work so far.
If you’ve read any of my work, I humbly request you take a few moments to toss up a rating and review on Audible, Goodreads, Amazon, or all of those above. I can’t tell you how much reviews help in so many different ways. Even if you hated it, feel free to spend however many thousands of words you feel you need to express your discontent. It’s still valuable feedback.
If you’re interested in any of my audiobooks, and you don’t have a credit you want to spend on one, just send me an email, and I’ll send you a free promo code for whichever (or all) you want.
I get to share a few reviews with you all today, and I don’t know that I’ll ever get tired of that.
The first is an extensive four-star review on Goodreads for Caught. J.M. actually has a Twitter account in which she does these super awesome book-quote pictures. It’s a clever idea, and I encourage you to give her a follow. I saw a quote from Caught and realized she was reading it. It was a thrill to see those, and this review is everything an author could ask for: praise for things she liked and honest clarification on what she didn’t like.
I’m always thrilled to see feedback, and it’s that much sweeter when it’s positive. I’d like to take this opportunity to ask you to consider leaving a rating and review if you’ve ready any of my work. Even if you hated it, I still value the feedback. If you haven’t tried any of my books yet, I hope these reviews motivate you to give one (or all) a chance.
There are simply no words to express how overjoyed I am. To say the giveaway was successful would be an understatement. I’d like to walk you through how things went.
The event kicked off with a start that already had me thrilled. Ninety-seven people downloaded Caught. I’m always happy when I get a lot of downloads during free events, and that was just amazing.
Day two brought similar results as eighty-two people downloaded the book. I was on cloud nine.
When I set up the giveaway, I also set up a BookGorilla campaign. I’d used them a few times before, and I wondered how things would change if the book was free. I went to church and then we got to my in-laws’ place. I brought up my phone, expecting to see another hundred or so downloads.
What I saw first was the bar graph KDP uses to show sales. The bar for that date was much higher than the others. Much. Higher. I zoomed in and touched the bar: More than 300 people downloaded the book. I jumped off my seat, telling my family what was going on. I rushed to Caught’s Amazon page and learned I was ranked seventh in my category (Paranormal Suspense).
I would have been out of my mind with joy if it had stopped there, but that bar just kept going. I saw that I had 500 downloads and moved up to fifth. 748 downloads later, I had landed in the top three. Number 3 in my category.
Monday came, and 183 more people downloaded my book. The campaign finished Jan. 30, and fifty-seven more people had downloaded the book.
In total, 1,166 people downloaded the book. There just aren’t words. I could say thank you 1,166 times, I could say it 1,166 times 1,166, and it wouldn’t be enough. To all of you who picked up the book, THANK YOU! I hope you enjoy it.
If I shut off the overjoyed artist for a moment or two, I can talk about the overall goal. The first goal was to get about 300 downloads. Well, that goal got obliterated. The next goal is one that I’ll have to track.
You see, it’s common for people to simply grab up a copy of a free book. Who wouldn’t? The hope is that any percentage actually read the book. My hope is about 100 people read the book. I can’t really track that, but the last metric gets to the main hope of the campaign. Every author hopes for the most cherished thing they can have. Purchases are nice. Compliments are wonderful, but the thing that really helps an author is a review. My goal for this? 10 reviews.
I’d love for all of those to be glowing praise for my creative mind, but if I get ten scathing reviews, it would still be a successful campaign in my eyes. I’ve already seen a bit of reaction. My Goodreads page for Caught shows two new ratings: One two star and one five star. I can live with that sort of breakdown.
Th campaign hasn’t even been over for two days, so the fact that two people have already rated the book is just amazing. Now all that’s left is the wait.
Even if I don’t get any reviews, it’s just amazing to see that so many people have at least shown the interest in Caught to download it. I can only hope everyone who tired it enjoy it. Whatever you think of the book, I just want you to know how grateful I am. You’ve made a silly old dreamer so happy, and I don’t even know how to show my appreciation.
It’s a new year, which means it’s time to share my top three reads of 2018 with you all. Goodreads says I’ve read 37 books in 2018. It wasn’t quite as much as last year, but it’s a solid amount, especially considering how much happened. This list was made without regard to publisher, format, or author.
How I did it: I kept track of books I liked and mentally compared one to the other. Without further delay, here’s my list.
#3 Colony Lost by Chris Philbrook: You can find my review for that book here. This book was my at one point my favorite that I read this year. It had a slow start, but man are those characters awesome, and I just love the action in the story. Of the three, I’d want this made into a movie most. I think this is the first in a series, and if it is, I’ll be picking up the other books once the series is over.
#2 The Core by Peter V. Brett: My review for it is here. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again; Brett is the new master of character arc! The Core was a completely satisfying conclusion to a fantastic series. Is it on my list of top series ever? No, but I’m still glad I read it, and if you haven’t, you need to. It’s emotional. It’s full of action. It’s magic system is interesting. And those characters are amazing! I don’t know what Brett has coming next, but I’ll be in line to read it.
#1 The Bible New International Version by God: I haven’t actually posted my thoughts on finishing it just yet since I’m so backlogged with reviews to write. Is this a cheat? No, while I finished the New Testament in late 2017, I finished the Old Testament in August of 2018. I wonder what readers will think of this pick. While I will post a review, I want to make a few things clear. This book well and truly changed my life. Before I started reading it, I thought it was more of a guideline. But after reading it once (and already reading through about 12 percent again, only much more carefully and this time I’m reading the ESV), I’ve come to believe this is the honest, true history of our universe. Some may choose to disagree, and you have that human right. But this book has become what I turn to in times of sadness and stress. It has amazing stories with wonderful characters. What more would someone want from a story? When I felt I was at my lowest, this book has lifted me up, and I’ll love it forever for those reasons. Will I make it #1 every year? No, because I only put books I finished in the year up, and it’ll take me into 2020 to finish it this time around. I would encourage anyone to read this. It’s fascinating. It’s structure is amazing. The characters are brilliant studies. Even if you don’t come to believe, you’ll still have done some of the greatest reading you’ll ever do.
So that’s my top three. What are yours? Why? Do you have a review you can link it to? I’d love to reblog it for you.
I’m still happy to report the blog is going at a fairly steady rate, and it’s all thanks to you! I’m honored to see more and more people take an interest in my thoughts and words.
As is usual when I hit a benchmark like this, I’d like to pay it forward by giving a shoutout to my five most-recent followers (as I type this).
Vibe a Little: This is a page that combines imagery with some prose/poetry. It has a very Instagram feel to it, but it’s great for quick fixes for those who want some creative fuel for their day.
The Geek Astronaut: Thiago (awesome name by the way!) blogs about mostly nerd stuff. You can pop by his page to see posts on Anime (and the like), books, TV shows, and stuff about his life. It’s eclectic in a lot of good ways. You might not be able to track what he’ll post about, but he’s consistently putting out content, and it’s entertaining.
The Working Writer: I haven’t dug into this page yet because it’s essentially a course. It’s designed as a writing-for-profit site that offers a free course on how to do just that. I’m interested, but I confess I haven’t had a chance to look at it, so I can’t offer testimony about how it works and the advice it gives. Fair warning: It makes you register before showing you any content. That puts some people off, so I thought it was far to at least tell you that was a thing.
Laura Bon: Laura is a christian author, which is cool as we have that in common. I haven’t read any of her books as yet, but her blog posts Bible verses and prose, and that’s alway since. It’s good to see fellowship on the blogverse.
What Irin Reads: This is a pretty new review site. They only have one post (that I can see), but I’m sure if you give the site some follows, that content will start surging. The review on the page is fairly detailed without being too long, so once those reviews start populating, they’re worth a read.
There were other bloggers, but their pages aren’t linking up. I’m not sure if it’s a hyperlink issue or if the sites are down, but they do exist and I will look into their pages once I get to a place where I can work a little more deliberately.
I want to thank these five bloggers and all the others who’ve decided to keep some sort of track of my antics. I can’t tell you what a blessing you are. I hope my blog is engaging. Please always feel welcome to comment or ask questions as much as you like.
Today must be bounce-back day in the review world. Just after my first one-star review for Caught, I get two, count ’em, two five-star reviews for the same book. You win some; you lose some. I’ll admit, having a few more positive reviews takes the sting off a bad one.
One review complimented the plot twist at the end, which was nice to hear as I worked hard to make it as surprising as it was satisfying.
The other review spoke to the horror aspect of the book. Caught was tricky to write, so having these reviews that speak to the areas I felt were most important feels good.
Like I said a few days ago, I appreciate all reviews; but it’s sure nice to see some good to counter the bad.
I’ve had a few days to rest (at least a little), and I think I’ll be back to work in another day or two. It won’t be long at all before my next event, which is Shore Leave. I’ve just learned bout some more opportunities coming my way, so stay tuned for that. With that said, I wanted to give you all a bit more insight as to how AwesomeCon went.
First off, some special thanks. The first must be my helpers. They get the chance to attend the event and have some fun, but they have to help me sell books and give me periodic breaks. Events like this take a ton out of me as it is, and I wouldn’t be able to do them without help, so I’d like to offer special thanks to Peggy Trujillo and Keith Simmons. They made it so I could step away when I wanted. They made it so I could attend my panel (more on that later), and they made it possible for me to check a few items off the bucket list (yes, more on that later, too). A note about Keith, turns out, his cosplay costume was well liked by the AwesomeCon folks. He made their list of favorite costumes.
Next I’d like to thank Andrew Hiller. He actually joined me at my table this year. Teaming up with him gave me another person to talk to. I’ve read A Halo of Mushrooms, and A Climbing Stock is on my TBR. It was a pleasure working with him, and I want to make sure I say thanks for sending some traffic my way and keeping me company.
Last, but in no way the least, is the new group of friends I made during my panel. I didn’t have anyone to be on my panel with me, and I truly wanted those in attendance to get the most out of the experience. So I approached a group near my table and asked if they’d care to join me. They call themselves the Awethors, which is a clever name if I do say so myself. They were a super group of people to meet. Jeffery Cook, D.R. Perry, and E.A. Copen were fantastic additions to the panel, and they made it a huge success. I had several people come up to me and tell me they loved it. I owe that success to them. Thank you all for joining me.
For those interested in the marketing side of things, this is the spot you should be interested in. Jeffery wrote a book called, “Working the Table, An Indie Author’s Guide to Conventions.” I can’t wait to dig into that. I brought around 300 business cards, 75 bookmarks and a ton of QR-Code cards I’d made a while back. I should have brought more of the bookmarks and business cards. I ran out of those on the first day, and I think they were effective. All told, I sold about 10 more books than I’ve ever sold. Caught finally gained some traction, and I’m hoping readers start posting reviews soon. I’m also nearly sold out of soft-cover editions of The Journals of Bob Drifter. I’m proud of the fact that I sold enough product to make up the table, gas, new books (sorry, TBR pile), and parking. By any standard, that’s a success. I’ll admit I didn’t reach my super goal, but I’d still call that weekend a success.
I think my favorite part of the event was having people approach me and tell me how much they liked my work. I posted about that earlier, but I can’t say enough what it means to me for people to show their appreciation. A lot of those conversations gave me some much needed motivation to stay true to my dream and keep at it. It’s amazing to think anyone would take time out of their day to stop by and just say they liked my books. Thank you!
A note on the value of reviews: I had a large number of people who spoke to me about my book. They took a night to think on it and then came back. A lot of them said my reviews on Goodreads made a convincing argument to try my books. I’d like to thank those who reviewed my books. I’d be ever so grateful to anyone else who’s read my work to do the same. They really do matter. If you hated them or loved them, there is no such thing as a bad review in my eyes.
The convention wasn’t 100 percent business. Last year, I made it a point to meet Summer Glau. This year I had a chance to meet someone who was fundamental to my dream to become a writer. If I’m being honest, Stan Lee was far too busy to do much more than sign a comic, but this Uncanny X-Men #101 is right up there with my signed copy of The White Dragon. I honestly only need one more autograph to have my own personal Rushmore of authors (ok, look, Tolstoy would be on that list, but I don’t think that’s in the cards). I didn’t pay for the photo or any of the events, but having that signature on my favorite comic ever is really special, and I’m glad I got the chance to do that.
It feels weird. This post is under 1,000 words, but I feel like I only scratched the surface. I wish I could talk about every conversation and every cool thing I saw, but there’s just too many. All I can do is say it really was a great time, and I can’t wait for next year!
First thing is a big thank you all for your patience. I have a LOT of followers (at least I think so) who stop by my page. I simply haven’t had the connectivity to like pages or post. I’m back to full power now, and I’ll be resuming my visits to your pages and replying to your comments. I promise I didn’t fall off the face of the earth, I just had to get all my stuff in my new place and get the internet installed, which was actually pretty hard to do.
Now, onto some big news! First, I’ve mentioned C.L. Schneider a few times in reviews of her Crown of Stones Trilogy. She’s become a dear friend. She recently posted a 5-star review of The Journals of Bob Drifter. Her review was simply amazing and too kind. It’s always nice to have someone review your work and think well of it, but I genuinely respect Cindy, and for her to think this highly of the book really gives me a boost of morale. She’s been a huge source of support and encouragement since I’ve met her.