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If you are skimming a book, why even read it? What the ease of self-publishing has done to the “great” novel

I recently picked up a book that I was really excited about.  The premise was new to me, and the cover was stunning.  The five-star reviews on Amazon helped a bit too.  So I nestled down with my E-reader and delved into this wonderfully imagined tale.

swish swivel squiggle

***My bubble soon popped***

The idea of this story was great… elves live among us.  They look just like us, only a little shorter, and they are all quite beautiful.  The story is about an elf girl who is predestined to marry a particular elf, but they cannot meet until her eighteenth birthday. (Of course that gets screwed up or there wouldn’t be a story.) There is also this great buildup of a huge battle between dark and light elves.

(In respect to the author, I am not going to reveal the title or author. No one likes a bad review. And everyone should form their own opinion.)

The story sounded so exciting, but as I read, I had to wonder where all these five-star reviews came from.  Has the influx of bad novels stilted people’s reading so much that they would consider an average novel to be extraordinary?

I found tons of things wrong with this novel.  Long, unnecessary conversations with friends that have nothing to do with the story, several typos in the first few pages. (missing words) Scenes that seemed placed into the text just for page count that had nothing to do with the story, and so on.

But I delved on.  I figured all these stars had to come from somewhere.  So I started to skim, and skim, and skim. Then all of the sudden, the hero (future husband) pops up and gets jealous of a drunk guy hitting on his future bride (who he has not even officially met yet)…


Yeah… cold blooded murder. And then there is a conversation with his Dad about how it really didn’t even bother him to have killed someone.



I sooooooo don’t like this guy anymore. And I should like him, because the main character loves him. Right? (Or am I an old fogey and it is okay these days to have a murderer for a fiancée?)

I was resolved to see how the author would write her way out of that one… but she never did.

At the end, when I reached the big battle, I stopped skimming, but continued to be dissatisfied.

When I was done I shook my head.  How was this possible?  Why did I dislike this book so much when the premise seemed so good?

I looked back and checked to see who published it.  Yes, there was a publisher listed, so I looked up their website.  Guess what? No website.

[[Smacks herself in the head]]

Yep, I was duped.  This appears to be a self-published book with a fake publisher name to hide behind.  And the author did a great job…  good marketing and a gorgeous cover. I think they paid more attention to the cover and marketing than writing and editing.

Now… I am in no way shape or form saying that there is anything wrong with self-publishing.  There are some great self-published books out there. I think I gave a four star review to Sweet Blood of Mine.  It deserved it.

I know that many self-published authors paid their dues, learned their craft, and produced great works of art.  The problem is, these people are getting swallowed by the influx of people producing skim-worthy… or just plain HORRIBLE books.

I don’t even know what my point is. I guess I would not have been so bothered if there weren’t something like 250 five-star reviews on this work.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you have never edited your manuscript, or had a beta reader other than your mother, or if you did have a few real beta-readers, and you ignored their shouts of “Show Verses Tell” or their requests to delete a scene, or NOT HAVE YOUR LOVE INTEREST KILL SOMEONE.  (Yeah, that part really bothered me)

Anyway… If any of the things above apply, but you went out to query anyway, and your received rejections, you may not want to take the easy way out and self-publish. Maybe you should really look at your writing, and try to figure out WHY you are getting rejections.

This book could have been AWESOME. The writer just needed a heavy line edit, and a proofreader. A good developmental editor could have made this sucker EPIC.  I mean seriously, this book could have been stupendous!

Was it that bad?

Well, no, but the work reads like little or no attention was given to make this story sparkle.

Yes, self-publishing may give you personal satisfaction.  Yes, most of your friends will not know the difference and they will be excited for you… but all these books out there make it really hard to find a good novel these days.  And with all those five-star reviews on this one particular book, I have to wonder if readers, in general, are losing their capacity to even notice a well crafted book when they read it.

It makes me sad.

Then again, maybe what a “good book” is has changed. Maybe I’m the one who needs to catch up with the times.


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What do you think is the right price for an ebook?

There has been a lot of talk about this lately. I’ve heard both sides, and I completely understand all sides of the argument. For now, I’d like to take off my author hat, and speak as a consumer.

A few weeks ago, my son just HAD to have a particular book on release day.  I cringed when I saw the $14 price tag.

$14 For an Ebook?


Initially I told him he had to wait until it went on sale. But eventually I caved. The kid’s not asking for a video game, after all. It’s a book. Still… $14 for memory space?

As an author, I totally appreciate the time and effort in creating a book, and yes, I did pay the price. But I can’t help but feel a little scammed when there are so many great books out there without a “Best-Selling Author” tag that are $4.99 or less.

Today, I ran across the same problem with a book that I was really interested in.  I came across a blurb for it on an agent’s website when it initially sold. Today, it came up recommended on Goodreads.  I was all ready to buy it. It sounds great.

But at the $9.99 price tag, I hesitated.

English: A Picture of a eBook Español: Foto de...

And the hardcover is $13.59. Does anyone else see a problem with this? Why spend $9.99 on an ebook when you can spend a few dollars more and get something you can hold?

I’m wondering… if Amazon hadn’t driven prices down so low on ebooks if I would have even blinked about spending $10 on a book that I wanted.  If all books were around this cost, I wouldn’t have a choice, right?


But this is my worry.

How many people out there are like me, and want the book, but decided to pass and get two other books for 4.99 instead?

Where, as an author, I’d like to see average book prices be higher, I have to worry and wonder about houses that charge so much more than other books on the market.  I suppose if they are throwing big marketing dollars at the book, that people will be influenced to buy no matter the price.

But what about the people like me who stumbled across the book by accident and just want to read the story? Are they risking turning them away?

This is one of the quandaries that keeps me in limbo about whether or not to submit to certain houses. I don’t want people to say, “Why is your book so expensive? All these other books a five bucks.”

I’m wondering what you think. If you are an author, try putting your author hat aside. Think as a reader, or a consumer/buyer of ebooks.

What do you think is the right price for an ebook?

And maybe another question:  Should ebooks be premium priced for the first several months, and then the price drop once the paperback comes out? Or would fewer books even get to paperback if less people are buying?

What are your thoughts?

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Happy Boxing Day! Boxing day? What the stink is boxing day?

Happy Boxing day!

Boxing day means a lot of different things, all depending on where you are.

Happy Boxing Day jpg

In the USA, we don’t really call it boxing day, but it is the day you take back all those boxes to the store… the day you get rid of the presents you didn’t want (Yes, I am looking at YOU Mr. Scrooge!)

Ha!  The day after Christmas was the most fun for me when I worked in retail. I loved working the return tables.  The lines were always out the door, and the day just flew by (yeah, I’m weird that way)

I’ve heard that in Europe, Boxing Day is the day that servants get to celebrate Christmas with their families. It is an old tradition handed down from long ago. Since servants had to serve their families on Christmas Day, they took the day after off to have their own Christmas.  They called it “Boxing Day” because they frequently took home a box from their employer that either contained a present, or leftovers or other goodies from Christmas for their own Christmas take-two on December 26th.  Sounds like fun to me!

Anyone else out there celebrate Boxing Day? What does it mean to you?

Keep it to yourself, jerk! — Rule #28 of 32 Simple Rules to the Writing the Best Novel Ever


I’m dissecting the article Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie, using it as a cattle prod to search for little nasties in my manuscript.  Yep, you can join in the fun, too.  Let’s take a looksee at topic #28

28: If an opinion expressed through dialogue makes your POV character look like a jerk, allow him to think it rather than say it. He’ll express the same opinion, but seem like a lot less of a jerk.

Hmm.  Depending on how this is used, he can still look like a jerk just thinking about it.

I’d like to expound on this and say be careful of making your main character unlikable. Period. I’m reading a novel for crit right now in which I really can’t stand the MC, and she has no concrete reason for doing the dumb things she does.  If I had picked up this novel in a bookstore, I would have put it back by now.

The author said “It’s good that you don’t like her. I’m doing my job.”

This author just doesn’t get it, and is waiting with bated breath for rejection #215 on her queries.

You need to connect with the main character.  No one is going to want to read about a character they do not care about.  They can be a jerk, but you have to make them relatable, and your reader has to care.

If you don’t have that engagement with your reader, you don’t have an audience.


A Review of Crossing Hathaway by Jocelyn Adams

I decided to give this book a whirl because I saw a few internet posts from the author saying it was a great seller for her, and she wasn’t sure why.

I think this is one of those classic cases of a beauty queen thinking she’s ugly or something… or maybe she just doesn’t have a mirror (or reading glasses in this case.)

Crossing Hathaway is a Contemporary Romance (not my favorite genre) But it had just enough of an “out of the ordinary” twist for me to make it interesting, and for me to really feel the peril that our Main Character is in.

Eva is an IT specialist who has to spend a week working for the obnoxious owner of her company when her immediate leader has to leave for a family emergency.  She ends up dealing with more than a jerk boss, though… In the end, her life is at stake.  Heart pounding!

Jocelyn Adam’s writing is extremely fluid, and far too easy to read.  For instance, you sit down to read for ten minutes, and two hours later you realize you are still reading.  It’s one of those “annoyingly good” things.

Tiramisu anybody?

And I imagine that the Tiramisu scene has probably had some chatter on the internet and other Romance circles.  I believe this is the longest love-making scene I have ever read… and it didn’t even seem like overkill.  I honestly don’t think I will be able to order tiramisu at a restaurant again without a snicker.


The chemistry between the two main characters and the MC’s best friend is flawless.  I easily could place myself in her situation.  I believed it all.

Was this the perfect book?  Well… no.  For one thing, there were no explosions, but I’ll forgive her that because the rest of it was so dern good.   There were two flaws though.  The more minor flaw was that I saw the climax coming from a mile away.  I was concerned about what was happening, but since I’d figured it out, I was just waiting for “it” to happen.  The good thing was that the book didn’t end there, like I thought it would.  It kept going in a way that I didn’t anticipate, and I felt completely satisfied with the ending.

The only real flaw that bothered me (and this won’t bother most at all) was the Main Character’s mouth in the beginning of the novel.  Her language did clear up by the end, and the author was probably using it as a plot device, but it didn’t resonate with me.  Okay, yeah, I may be a prude, but I can understand if someone stubs their toe and says “oh Sh*t”, but curses just hanging out there for really no reason at all bothers me.  In fact, I mentally deleted them completely, and the narrative read fine.  It almost seems like they were inserted after the fact, which I found odd.

So I’m going to dock this story one star just for that, but feel free to give it five stars in your mind if you don’t mind erroneous cursing.

Oh, and Jocelyn Adams – If you are still wondering why this novel sells so well – it’s because it is AWESOME. And well… Tiramisu probably has a lot to do with it, too. 😉

Purchase link:  Crossing Hathaway


Learning to Draw Manga #6 – My first inked drawing

Okay, I have succumbed to peer pressure!

This week I moved on to the older character lesson.  When I looked at all the “odd” lines that I’d have to add, I was sure I’d mess this up.  When I was done, it didn’t look much like the sample drawing, but I was still pretty pleased with it.

I decided to “take the plunge” and go for the inking.

Before I did ANY erasing of my guide lines and sketch marks, I inked over them with the artist pens I picked up for Dude a few weeks ago. Then, when it was all “permanent”, I erased the pencil marks.

What jumped out at me was the eyes.  I wish now that I’d taken a picture before the inking and after, because looking at it now, I don’t even believe that I drew this.

MANGA 6 granny

It blows me away the “finished” look that the ink gives the drawing.

It almost makes me want to try color.  I said almost.  Someday.


Learning to Draw Manga #5 – Profile

I cringed when Dude said the next pose was profile.  I looked at that crazy single line of the nose and chin and thought “that’s never going to look right”

Again, following the directions, and taking one step at a time it was not that hard.  Here it is darkened, but before I took out the guidelines

MANGA 5 LINEDI am still an epic fail with the hair.  I look over at my son and see these awesome elaborate hairdoos, and I have to stare at a picture and draw the lines exactly as the book tells me to place them.  I just can’t fathom how the odd lines play out into the shape of hair.

Dude thinks it’s because he reads and watches manga, so he’ used to looking at it.  Could be.

Here’s the finished product.  Not to shabby.  I’m actually pretty pleased with this one.

mANGA5 SIDE CLEANDude wants me to start “inking” which means finishing a drawing, and then drawing over it with permanent artist’s markers.

Ummmmm.  No.  I’m not there yet.  I’d be pretty ticked at myself if I drew something I liked, and then I screwed it up with a permanent marker.

“Believe in yourself, ” Dude says.  Ummm, maybe next week.


A Review of “A Touch of Greek” by Tina Folsom

Okay, honestly, this is the type of book that I normally wouldn’t admit to reading. I’m not really even sure why I picked it up.  I was looking for something “light” to read and something brought this to my attention, so here we are.  Ugh… I’m embarrassed to say that I really enjoyed “A Touch of Greek” [[cringe]]

The premise is that Super-Hunky Greek God Triton gets caught sleeping with the wrong woman.  Zeus gets ticked, and due to Triton’s history of womanizing he decides to teach Triton a lesson. He strips the young god of his powers and sends him down to Earth. He can only get his powers back if he can convince a mortal woman to love him.  And just for fun, this woman ends up being blind, so she cannot even be attracted to his godly good looks.

Yeah, yeah I know – the whole idea just makes me want to barf too, but I still liked it!

Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you that the writing was awesome.  In fact, I thought I was reading a middle grade book to start, and ageless Triton spoke like a middle-schooler in the early chapters.  He was totally unbelievable… but I pressed on because “something” and I’m not even sure what, held my interest.

By the end, I was really rooting for Triton.  I got scared when I should be scared, and happy when I should be happy, and really nervous when the God of the sea was not there to stop a natural catastrophe.

Come on!  Fall in love with him already!  Don’t you know thousands will die if he doesn’t get his powers back???? Geesh!

[Snicker] I am soooooo laughing at myself.  Despite this books flaws, it was genuinely entertaining.  I turned off my ever-present internal editor and just enjoyed a light, fun to read story.

I’ll subtract one star for the hokey beginning, and poor dialog from Triton in the early chapters, but I can forgive the rest for the genuinely fun read this was. And the writing seemed better as the novel progressed too, so it is quite possible that the tone of the writing in the early pages was a plot device that was just lost on me.

Rocket Science this is not, but sometimes ya gotta just relax and read something just for the fun of reading, you know what I mean?


Success! – Dealing with a child with behavioral issues: Total Transformation #16

Littlest Dude came home the other day with a big surprise.  With a huge smile on his face, he opened up the grand-daddy of “Good Kid” prizes from school… The sticker chart.

Now, this might sound silly, but both his brothers have won the “sticker chart” in the past.  Dude #1 won it twice.  For those of you who are not familiar with this marvel of modern teacher-hood, let me explain…

Each child in the grade is placed on a list on this big poster board.  Every day they are “super good” they get a sticker.  If you make the special list (I think it’s called “Qualified Student” –picked by the principle), you get three stickers for that day.  The first person to get 35 stickers wins.

Littlest Dude Won!  Can you believe it?

Hubbs burst into tears.  I slathered the little guy with hugs and kisses.  There was even a really nice encouraging note attached from his teacher.

We made a super big deal out of it, but we need to be careful, because Middle-Dude said, “You didn’t make this big a deal when I came home with straight “A’s”

Ugh… you can’t win, ya know?

We explained to Middle Dude that his brother was having such trouble, and that this was a HUGE deal. (Hey, it’s a huge deal even if you don’t have ADHD)

(And then I reminded him of that special shopping trip we went on to celebrate his grades… oh how soon they forget)

Anyway… Celebrations are NOT to be thwarted!  I’m off to go hang a sticker chart on Littlest’s wall.

Yay1!JenniFer_Eaton Sparkle__F

Review of “The Glass Man” by Jocelyn Adams

Strap yourself in.  It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

I actually finished this book last year, and it was in my top five reads for 2012.  I never got around to reviewing it, so here’s a quick overview.

My opinion? I want to be Jocelyn Adams when I grow up.  Well, not completely, but I would love to have the “flow” that her writing style has.  She is really “readable”.

Have you ever read a great book, but it was easy to put it down?  Well, Glass Man is a great book that your husband has to pry out of your hands to make sure you go to bed at night… I call that “flow” because there is no hard break in the writing… as a reader, you just keep reading without knowing what’s going on.

Glassman is a story about a girl with supernatural powers and has no idea why she has these powers.  She is being chased by “The Glass Man” – a man who killed her entire family when she was young, and has been hunting her ever since.  Yep, this is one of my favorite tropes – the CHASE NOVEL.  Wahoo!  Action abounds!

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel from beginning to end, with a few very minor nit-picks.

Nit Picks:

#1 is the language. Yeah, yeah, stamp me a prude, but I cannot relate to a heroine with a gutter mouth.  I’ve said before, using the word sh*t or even the F-bomb if you fall and hurt yourself is okay.  It’s natural.  But riddling the dialog with profanity bothers me.  I have to subtract a star for this.

#2 is that the main character is wearing a ridiculous outfit for a long time during the climax near the end of the story. Why Why Why? Is all I have to ask.  The narrative, which is otherwise outstanding, high energy and tense, is challenged, and at times ruined by the dumb outfit that the bad guy made her wear. I just don’t know where the author was going with that.  Maybe it was supposed to be comic relief, or maybe titillation… for me, it just made me roll my eyes.  So for this, I need to subtract another star.

Now let’s chat for a second about the character of the Glass Man.

Best Villain I have ever read

 Like EVER

Wanna lesson on how to write a villain?  Pick up Glass Man.  I mean DANG.  I actually found myself rooting for him most of the time.  He is just so darn bad you have to love him… and I just love a hot sexy villain.  He’s not bad… he’s doing the right thing!  Who cares if everyone else thinks he’s a psychopath?????

Pure brilliance on the villain, and I would LOVE to see a prequel that was based solely on his character.  There is a mention of an earlier event with the MC of this story where the villain actually “won”.  I would LOVE to see that made into a book.  Let’s cheer on that bad guy. Yahooooo!

Okay, so, if you didn’t catch my enthusiasm, I was trying to say that the villain was awesome, and for him alone, I will give this book an extra star.

So that’s a total of four stars for the Glass Man.  If you like paranormal stories, and can get in to a chase novel with a dash of romance and two supernatural being kicking the crud out of each other, you will just LOVE this.