Tag Archives: vacation

Consider Reviews Wisely

Picking a good book to read or settling on a resort for vacation can be daunting tasks.  Some readers rely solely on reviews to guide their decisions.  Likewise, vacationers use word of mouth to guide them in spending their hard-earned cash.

Our resort had a run of scathing reviews. My favorite came from a gal who had never been to our resort, yet bashed it ruthlessly on several sites.  Kind of reminds me of those peeps screaming loudly from the top of the book bashing bandwagon even though they’ve never seen a copy of the book, let alone read the first page of it.

Other reviews obviously came from the pampered and pretentious with nothing better to do than bitch about how their air conditioner was down for four hours, or how the entertainment department failed to fill their every waking moments.  I guess these people didn’t realize they’d come to a resort renowned for its beach (ranked in National Geographic’s top ten).  Sun screen and swimsuit, anyone?

Sounds eerily similar to the reviews a writer of steamy romance gets.  “OMG, there’s sex in this book!  How horrible.”  What did they expect after seeing the sultry woman on the cover?  A child’s bedtime story?

Another joyous handful complained about how lousy the natives were at speaking English.  Really?  Why travel to foreign countries where everyone is homogenized into your own native culture?  And how well would the complainers speak the language of visiting citizens from the other 190 some countries of the world?

Uhm, some things are bigger than you.  Just sayin’.  And just because a book doesn’t speak to one person, doesn’t mean it’s bad.  It simply means it wasn’t the right book for them.  You, on the other hand, might find a treasured favorite between the covers.

So, I have one piece of advice regarding reviews: consider the source wisely.

Readers are as varied as vacationers.  Likes and dislikes can meld or clash with our own.  Taking a review at face value without considering the person behind it can be a bit like trusting the school bully when he tells you to drink from his milk carton.

And for the record, our vacation was marvelous.  The natives were charming and helpful despite our lousy grasp of their language, while the relaxing beaches fulfilled our entertainment needs.  Sometimes it’s good to experience for yourself before you let others decide for you.

Have you ever loved a book others hated?  Or disliked one that your friends gush about?  How do you handle reviewing books for others, whether on your blog, in a forum or via word of mouth?  How do you keep your reviews balanced and sane?  How do you keep yourself sane after reading a seemingly unjust review of your work?

Curious minds want to know.

Turn Your Novel into a Literary Destination

Yesterday, I took a few mug shots of my kids.  We’re in the process of getting their passports, and it got me thinking how books are passports to exotic destinations.  They take us on adventures unimaginable, with friends we never knew existed.  They show us horrors we never want to experience and provide us with experiences we are lacking in our every day lives.

As writers, we create these worlds.  We toil away beside characters we love and resolve conflicts in foreign kingdoms with new age technology.  We sweat blood and cry caffeine tears in the hopes that someday, somewhere, somebody will stamp our books into their literary passports.

So, where are these passports that honor our long hours and days and characters and scenes?  Where is the proof that such incredible worlds exist beyond our keyboards and how do we invite others inside our words?

In short, how do our manuscripts become destination spots for eager literary travelers?

Cat’s Passport Guide for Writers

Create a unique destination.  Few people want to visit an uninhabited island devoid of food and water.  As writers, we must build all-inclusive resorts for our readers.  Plot, character, yada, yada, yada.  We have to have it all, or nobody will book a flight.  We also have to provide something unique along with all our other amenities.  If our novels sound, feel, smell and taste exactly like the book it will be shelved next to…?  Seriously, what’s the point of trying out a knock-off resort author?

Customer service, baby.  Few people shell out cold, hard cash to stay at a resort where they wash their own dishes and dodge trash on the walkways.  Get rid of typos, cut down on wordy sentences and dispose of purple prose.  All those things detract from the experience and rarely garner repeat business.  Bad customer service = bad business.

Know thy audience.  A five-star resort with adult only beaches does not attract middle class families with small children.  Likewise, a water park resort with ice cream stands every fifty feet will surely turn the noses of prospective honeymooners.

Books must fit on bookshelves and in book clubs.  Librarians need to know where to place your masterpiece so it receives the best circulation possible.  “But, but, but, I have a crossover, multi-genre, space-opera, noir adventure for middle graders that everyone from age 8-80 will love,” you say.  “With hot cowboys telling fart jokes.”

To which I say,  “It’s doubtful this conglomeration–placed willy nilly within the historical romances–will be picked up by stay at home moms looking for an exotic escape while the kids are at school.”  Sexy cowboys or not.

Very few books have genuine cross-over appeal.  They are the exception, not the rule.  And breaking into the vacation market with an unknown is risky business.

Make connections.  Travel agents are great at directing customers to hot vacation spots.  Advertisements in the right magazines catch readers’ attention.  Discounts and deals make potential travelers feel good about their purchases.  A personal touch, a bit of history, a quiet sense of comfort.  These things effectively draw people to certain resorts.

Whether we self-pub or use travel agents and traditional publishers along the way, the key to booking sales is tasteful visibility–to the right audience (as proven by number 3 above).

Lastly, don’t brag.  Vacationers love to spill when they return from a fabulous island hop.  Their word of mouth often sells others on the same resort, while their pictures frequently entice on-the-fence travelers to pack up their bags.  Not so with the resort owner–who lives in this exotic locale–who can’t shut up about sipping frozen drinks while you literally freeze in sub par temps.  Not so much when her weekly vial of cornmeal beach sand arrives in the mail just as you vacuum your kid’s daily deposit of pea rock from your front rug.

It is unbecoming of writers to oversell themselves.  Let your novel speak for itself.  Then sit back and let your satisfied customers rank your book with five stars, making your story the hottest literary destination around.

Are you a frequent flyer, buying books to support the industry while getting a better handle on what is available?  Do you know your competition and strive to provide unique characters, settings and stories?  Have you ever been surprised to see similarities between your manuscript/idea and pubbed books?  How do you reconcile that within your own writing?   Which similarities can make a novel?  Which ones can break any chance of every getting published?

Curious minds want to know.

Aaaand, I’m off!

Canada, here I come!

I hope you all have a lovely weekend.  I’ll see you back here on Monday.

hugs~

Seven Deadly Sins Writers Make

Tomorrow I leave for the National Youth Gathering down in New Orleans.  Some 40,000 plus kids will sing songs, pray and perform community service work.  They will also examine their faith.  One thing we will not do, however, is focus on the Seven Deadly Sins.

So, I’ll do that for you.  Because, really, writers have a set of cardinal rules they should follow if they want to succeed in the biz.  And since I’m a writer, I’ve committed all of the Seven Sins at least once. 

As I’m not Catholic, I don’t know if the sins have a particular order that must be followed when discussing them.  I’ll simply post them in whatever order strikes my fancy. 

  • Gluttony on Friday (because I already wrote it)
  • Envy on Saturday (because I have an idea ready to write)
  • Pride on Monday
  • Sloth on Tuesday
  • Greed on Wednesday
  • Lust on Thursday (not looking forward to that one)
  • Wrath on Friday

Notice Sunday is missing.  I did this on purpose because I am just slothful enough to not want to come up with another topic while I’m gone.  Also because Sunday is a day of rest for faith based individuals, and since I’ll be gone for a Christian gathering, it made sense.

By Friday I shall be dead tired and have bus sores on my rear end from the looooong journey.  My ears may bleed as well from the excited screams of so many kids doing the teen thing.  I wonder if duct taping children is a sin in New Orleans?

Yet I’m looking forward to this adventure on many levels. 

Even though I can’t answer while on the road, please continue to comment so others can hear what you have to say.  I’ll answer you all when I get back.  New commenters, don’t fret if your comment doesn’t show through right away.  I look forward to meeting you upon my return.

~hugs

Prepped and Ready to Go

Today is a great day.  I get to fly off into the sunset…scratch that, I’ll actually be heading east and will have a better chance of watching the moon materialize in the night sky.  Regardless, it is still a great day.

DH and I are going on a much needed trip.  I have my Kindle, a few swimsuits and my DH.  What else does a good vacation need?

Right.  Peace of mind. 

Thankfully I have that as well.  My in-laws (two of the most amazing grandparents ever) are coming down to stay with the kids while we frolick on the beach.  The emergency phone numbers are written down.  Schedules are printed.  Dates and times of events are laid out in an orderly fashion.  Closets have been organized, the house cleaned and the cupboards full.  My check list is done.

Ever wonder why we put so much effort into vacation plans and barely any into our writing careers?  I used to write simply to appease my muse.  However, the writing community has encouraged me to take a much more proacrive approach.  My career path is no longer as distant as the Carribean is from Minnesota.

With our crunched economy and the down-sizing of the publishing industry, I have started considering my writing as a whole and the impact of everything I do on my futre career.  Due to technology, writers have to weigh their words today to keep them from nipping us in the butt like a swarm of sand fleas five years from now.

Gone are the days of simply prepping our manuscripts.  Now e have to prep ourselves.  We have to set out on a journey with clear destinations in mind (picture book, non-fiction, horror, romance, big house, little house), all the while hammering planks into our platforms to support our choices.  In short, we have to come to agents and editors prepped and ready to go.

One can no longer book a flight out of country on a whim.  Without the forethought of securing a passport, we will never board the plane.  Likewise, without some sort of plan in place, we will never succeed in seeing our work on book store shelves.

Prepare, oh writer friends, prepare.  Research your destination and lay the ground work for a smooth and worry free vacation.  Let your writing journey be a pleasure cruise…

Do you have clear cut goals beyond “getting published”?  Have you written a marketing plan or anything else concrete?  What have you done to build your platform and give yourself agent appeal? 

I will miss you all while I’m gone, but will return to catch up on my blog and yours on February 8th.  Until then, keep writing!