First Cup of Coffee – June 7, 2019

If you’ve been waiting for the second Sorcerous Moons compendium, books 4-6, it’s out! Also talking about reviews and why authors shouldn’t try to improve craft by reading them. And updates on my broken contact lens.

Book Marketing, Author Branding and the Long Game

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is reviews: do they really do any good?


Serendipitously enough, this topic dovetails with something I’d already noted on my list of Things to Discuss, which is author branding and the long game. I’d been thinking about it since I was interviewed last week on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast. Since it aired, I’ve received a lot of great feedback and appreciation for my “down-to-earth” marketing strategy and advice.


I found that description kind of amusing – because I don’t think of myself as “down to earth” in general – but I also get why they say that. I think it’s partly because a lot of my marketing strategy is grounded in author branding and the long game.


I’m also thinking, as one does days later with these things, that I didn’t say exactly that in the interview and I wish I had. So I said it here. 



When Reviews Get It Wrong – *Really* Wrong

This was my view from the bed this morning when I woke up. The mountain bluebirds love this water fountain – and they always feel like a good luck visitation to me!

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is “Dealing with an almost willful misinterpretation of the text.” Come on over for my take. 

Reviews Are for Readers – Or Are They?

Our topic this week at the SFF Seven is on our calendar as “Reviews – I’m rubber, you’re glue.”

Which gave me pause, I’ll admit. The phrase comes from US playground taunts among children (do other countries have this one?) where the teased child will reply “I’m rubber, you’re glue. What bounces off me, sticks to you.” In other words saying that any insults hurled at us bounce off and stick to the the one flinging them. Come on over for my take. 

How a Vicious Review Opened My Eyes

This is one of my favorite photos from the RT Booklovers Convention in Las Vegas last week. Darynda Jones and I were on a panel and I think we were laughing here about people dissing fantasy heroines as unrealistic while loving Conan.

Hard to say, but it makes me smile every time.

I’m over at Word Whores today (name soon to change!) talking about reviews, especially vicious ones

Getting Book Reviews and Odious Comparisons

elephant butte 5 cropA rare sight of Elephant Butte with snow, from the Christmas storm in New Mexico. We caught this on the drive home from Tucson, and now that I’ve turned in THE EDGE OF THE BLADE, I’m digging photos out of my camera and sharing. Yay!

The last few days, I’ve been in a range of conversations with writers at various stages of their careers.

One friend is not yet published. She had been discouraged by a string of rejections and has resolved to take her series out via self-publishing this year. (It’s a contemporary romance series that I think is excellent and will be excited to tell you all about when she’s ready.) We’ll also strategize another series for her to query with traditional publishing. For her, everything is about cracking that first barrier – getting her first book out there. 

On one of my author loops, several extensively published authors bemoaned not being able to get book reviews. One commented that her latest self-published release got zero reviews. On another loop, more published authors complained of the same, asking for tips on getting more reviews.

Meanwhile another author friend yesterday celebrated the one-year anniversary of the publication of her book – and that it just hit 1,000 reviews on Amazon.

Me? I fall somewhere in the middle of all of this. I get a substantial number of reviews, from wonderful, enthusiastic readers – but I got nothing like 1,000.

So, what did we learn today, boys and girls?

There’s a saying that hearkens back to the fourteenth century, credited to John Fortesque, that’s been repeated by many, such as Lydgate, Shakespeare and Swift.

Comparisons are odious.

And no, that has nothing to do with odor. The word “odious” comes from the Latin odium for hatred. Something that is odious is hateful, disgusting or offensive.

In other words… DON’T DO IT.

Don’t make comparisons, people. And I’m speaking to myself, too, because when my darling friend announced hitting 1,000 Amazon reviews, the first thing I did was go look at my comparable book. How many? 54 Amazon reviews.

But hey, it’s better than zero reviews.

And it’s better than not having a book published yet.

Actually… it is what it is, right? Comparisons are odious because they’re meaningless. I reminded myself of that, shrugged it off, and closed the Amazon page.

We all do what we can do.

The Tears of The Rose Available on Net Galley!!

BzYfDXzCEAA8285Oh Blogalicious Peeps! Look what’s up on Net Galley for your requestation delight!

You can request digital ARCs for review here:

If you have problems, I can get you a widget!

I also have a few paper ARCs still, if you prefer! Just ping me and ask!

Sweating the Small Stuff

One good thing about dark winter mornings is that I’m awake for the sunrise. Not something I would otherwise make an effort for, but look what I miss in the summertime.

Today is our 21st anniversary. On this date, lo these many years ago, David took me out for a drink and to see a movie after the Superbowl. I’m terrible at dating and neither of us had much fun. Still, he persisted and I liked him, so we had a little fling.

We’re still flinging.

Funny how that works out. More and more I think that life, the universe and everything doesn’t take well to being planned out. Certainly not to being controlled. That’s why I like the idea of Tao – grab a wave and do your best to ride it without drowning.

It seems I see a lot of people grasping for control lately. Maybe it’s a feeling of instability embodied by that deathless phrase “in this economy.” I don’t even know what that means anymore, except that it somehow conveys that people are afraid. And fear often makes us hold on tighter, with clenched fists and squinched-up eyes. We might become less tolerant, rather than more flexible. Less inclined to let the small stuff go. Less able to see that it’s all small stuff.

One of my book blogger Twitter pals posted this today – a contract that an author sent to a book reviewer. It seems to be yet another attempt to control the uncontrollable – if, when and how a book gets reviewed. And, it’s ultimately an unenforceable contract. I’ve heard of other authors telling reviewers that they can only post reviews of three stars or better. Or arguing with readers who give story “spoilers.”

Ultimately it’s like trying to keep Tom Cruise from being cast in your movie: it might be terribly wrong, but it’s not a fight you can win.

As my friend Laura Bickle says, “I don’t want to die on that hill.”

A particularly poignant way of pointing out that we have to pick our battles. Fight for what you want, for what’s right, necessary and important.

But, really – don’t sweat the small stuff.

(Hint: it’s pretty much all small stuff.)