Books Anne has written or has a chapter in.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Interview with Heather Powers

Be sure to check out my interview with Heather Powers at Earth's Book Nook:

Comment on the interview and you'll be placed in a drawing to win the set of novels Thin Line Between and Shaman's Blood!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Rosemary Beach Writers Conference 2011

Spent most of this past week in beautiful Rosemary Beach, Florida, attending a stellar writers' conference masterminded by prolific south Florida novelist John Dufresne. Teaching master classes along with John were poet Michael Hettich, author/editor Lynne Barrett, and novelist Laura Lee Smith, plus a number of other writers (including myself) rounding out the faculty.

Although a small conference, I must say it was one of the best-run, most precisely organized conferences of this type I've taken part in. Excellent camaraderie, well-paced daily events, and inspirational surroundings: a combo hard to beat. Rosemary Beach is like a postcard from some vaguely European village. Sure, it's all faux Paris or Austria or Milan or Barcelona...or maybe all of those tossed into a blender, but somehow it works. And with the weather cooperating, it was a great place to spend 4 days. I managed to read through several manuscripts while sitting in a shady park serenaded by a troupe of little birds warbling their hearts out.

I think the high points of the conference for me were the late afternoon/evening readings that took place each day after all the classes and discussion panels were done. I heard some amazing literary voices in a wide range of styles, and came away energized and eager to get my own writing back in gear. Completed a flash fiction story and got a good start on my next novel. Also really enjoyed the one-on-one discussions with conference attendees, some published and some not. So many fun moments... not to mention the death-by-chocolate creme brulee that nearly did me in at the tapas bar on the block where my little pensione hotel was located.

So thanks, John and everybody who took part in the conference - it was just what I needed.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Musings on Reviews

Book reviews... if you're a writer you have to live with them, like it or not.  My second dark-fantasy novel, Shaman's Blood, is shaping up to be one of those books readers either love or hate. 5 and 4 star reviewers "got" what I tried to do and loved it, while the 1 and 2 star reviewers didn't get it and didn't want to, not one bit.

So it goes. As a writer, while I don't enjoy the bad reviews, on some level I'm still pleased that a lot of people seem to be reading the book. And in this digital age where anyone with access to a computer can create a blog or join a site like Goodreads and call themselves a book reviewer, reviews carry less critical weight than they used to. If you've spent time learning the craft of writing knowledgeable, literate book reviews, you'll be slightly appalled to see that much of what passes for book reviews these days is pretty pitiful. Misunderstanding the plot and rehashing it badly is not a book review.

There are still competent reviewers out there, of course, and when you get one of those, it's like a gift from a dragon's hoard. A skillfully written book review, even an unfavorable one, can reveal things about your writing that are useful in honing your skill. It can help you spot aspects of plotting, character development, tone, diction, and so forth that you may need to work on. And praise for doing something well is golden.

How writers deal with reviews--whether positive or negative, competent or amateurish--is as personal as the books they write. I have a fantasy writer friend who becomes paralyzed when bad reviews surface. She says her muse goes into hibernation and refuses to come out, threatening to never let the author pen another word. Eventually she gets over it, but on some level, her joy of writing her books is lessened.  Another friend of mine who writes M/M mysteries & romances says he never reads his reviews. He doesn't write for reviewers and really doesn't care what they write about him, one way or the other. He writes for himself and his many fans. He's been criticized for having this attitude, but that's how he deals. And it seems to work because he sells a lot of books.

I guess my own attitude toward book reviews falls somewhere in between these two. A really poor review might leave me stunned for the time it took to read it, but unless I feel there's something useful for me to glean from the review, I let go of it and move on. This is especially true if the reviewer is not literate - I allow myself a moment to despise those types of reviews, acknowledging all the while that the so-called reviewer has just as much right to post what they think as anyone else. 

I tend not to read every review I find, but instead just look for trends. If there's something everyone mentions that was a problem for them, I take note. Or if some aspect of the book continually gets high marks, I remember to keep that going. The important thing is not to let reviews sap your writer's creative energy. As my friend says, who are you writing your books for, anyway?

I'm curious to know how other writers deal with reviews. Have you published and gotten reviewed, for better or worse? How did you deal with it, and have the reviews had any effect on your style or creative output?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Writing Weekend

I spend so much time running my small literary press Kitsune Books that I often don't leave time for my own writing ventures, sometimes going months without writing anything of my own (marketing fliers for Kitsune Books authors don't count!). So with the long Labor Day weekend at my disposal, I'm setting this weekend aside for some of my own projects that have been sitting patiently curbside, waiting for a little attention.

I also figured out how to get back into my personal Facebook account, which I'd been locked out of since the new "improved" privacy/security measures went into effect. After about six days of locked-out frustration, I finally figured out that if you click on the "Yes, this is me" button, you won't get back into your account - you'll just go around in a endless loop, always ending back on the "Your account has been temporarily locked" screen. So I finally wised up and clicked on the "No, that wasn't me" button, which then gave me a bunch of nifty ways to prove the account belongs to me. So essentially, I lied and got back in. Go figure.

The point is that I'm no longer distracted by trying to crack the FB ridiculosity code and can focus my full attention on my writing. I have this great notion for a short story (too late for JournalStone's competition, but there's still Absent Willow Review) that's been bubbling for awhile and I think is finally starting to cook. Time to get fully immersed in the wordstream and let the ideas flow. But... wait. Insert real life snake drama out in the yard, where a fat 5 1/2 foot long Diamondback decided to take up residence in the leaf litter around the carport and started challenging me a good 30 feet away when I went out to burn some trash. Bill points out this is a good thing, because there is a gradual trend evolution-wise toward rattlesnakes that don't alarm-rattle as a survival trait. Because normally when a snake rattles at a human, it (the snake) gets shot dead. Those that stay invisible survive. They're the ones you step on without seeing them. This snake was clearly not one of the new breed and did in fact get shot dead. Bill nailed it on the first shot. Not bad for self-professed "old geezer" with questionable eyesight!

But back to my story. Totally lost the thread of what I wanted to write, but was cheered by the knowledge that the Diamondback encounter I'd written for Shaman's Blood was accurate as to the sound of the rattles and the state of excitement of the warning snake. Yeesh.