Sunday, August 19, 2018

Reviews & The Hating Of Goodreads.

You know...as a writer, I understand the importance of reviews. I need them, not only as a marketing tool, but as a tool for growth as a writer. Constructive criticism has been invaluable in helping me improve my craft.

But here's the thing.

It seems to me that book reviewing has become a bloodsport, where the objective is not to review a book in good faith. Rather, it has become an exercise in grandstanding - of unloading with the snarkiest take downs, of maligning the writer with the slickest burns possible. It's been apparent on #Goodreads for a while - (Like, what the fuck is it with these *reviewers* and gifs??) It's also an emerging trend on Netgalley - (minus the gifs).

I generally turn around a title in 18 months to 2 years. I pour countless hours into it - honing character, setting, story into a cohesive whole. I work with an editor, a publisher, a marketer to refine the project & polish it into the best product it can be. I sweat over it. Experience sleepless nights. I run the gamut of all the highs and lows that a creative endeavor offers.

Then I, along with my publisher put it out there to garner advance appraisal, months before release. We hope for reviews because, as I said, they are important. They help to build an awareness for the product and, hopefully a positive buzz that will translate into readers.

Generally, I take a lot of notice of 3* reviews (even more than 5* or 4*) because these offer the most in terms of constructive criticism. I have yet to encounter a 1* or 2* review that offer anything of value.

Often, these reviews hide an underlying agenda and I've come to view them as the reviewer trying to build a brand of their own, which has very little to with the noble art of reviewing a book. 

Appraising an entire project, simply because a character "pissed you off" is not worth the keyboard strokes. Seriously! It just makes you look like an arsehole. Did you consider maybe that was the intention? And a 1* review that damns a project, simply because it's "Slow"?



Not every reading experience has to move like a freight train! Tell me why you thought it was slow. What was it about the structural elements of the story that failed to gel with you? Tell me why the character pissed you off.  Don't just drop these in my lap & walk away without fleshing out your reasoning. It does nothing!

There should be a commitment to learning the art of a review - & there is an art. If you're going to invest the time in crafting a review, at least work on making that review one that can help an author, rather than discourage them. If you can find nothing of value in a work, don't write a review at all. Keep your slick burns and your smart arsed gifs to yourself.

I am a writer. I believe I'm good at it - but I also believe I have more to learn.

Teach me.

DFA.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Why It Is Important To Be Creative.

I'm back with a post as part of my writers' group August blog chain challenge and, this month, the topic put to us was a question - Why is it important to be creative?

At first glance, the question appears fairly easy to answer doesn't it. 

However, I struggled to come up with an adequate answer and, for the longest time, I couldn't figure out why. It eventually struck me that I was trying to answer the question by looking outward - as though trying to impart reasons why anyone should be creative. But, that's the wrong way to tackle it. Creativity is a very personal thing and it can take so many different forms. The relationship one has with creativity is unique. It goes then, that any consideration of its importance requires that one look inward, rather than outward. So why is creativity important to me?

My love of writing began at an early age. I've often said my Grade 3 primary school teacher, Mrs. Furnell, was the individual who unlocked my creative streak during the creative writing sessions she used to run in class. Ever since then, my desire to create, to tell stories has been insatiable. It has become as much a part of me as breathing or walking.
  

As a Registered Nurse, having practiced for over 20 years in many clinical areas, I have been witness to the extremes of the human condition. A lot of these experiences have been positive - like Nursing newborns who need just a little bit of help at the beginning of their lives or Nursing various bumps and scrapes children have sustained on the sporting field or in the back yard. Things that can be fixed relatively easily. Through the tears and the worry of the patient and their family, there are often smiles and laughter and comradeship. Plenty can be fixed with a Zooper Dooper icy pole.

There have been a lot of other experiences though - like being present at traumatic presentations in the ED, like motor vehicle accidents, violent assaults - sometimes involving weapons, drug overdoses. Or in the ICU - Nursing complex disease processes, the extension of those ED presentations, children who have acquired virulent illnesses like meningococcal sespsis or have been diagnosed with cancer. Many of these cases survive and recover. Many of them do not. There have been catastrophic outcomes. There has been death. 

These experiences imprint on you and they do affect you.


Creativity in the form of writing has been a means to decompress, to escape the accumulated muck of that side of my life and engage with an art that is completely separate. Sometimes, I have written down vestiges of those clinical experiences simply as a means of trying to make sense of them, to remove their subjective effects from my mind and see them as objective experiences, which I can address, deconstruct and move on from. Sometimes, those experiences have found their way into my writing, which has been therapeutic in itself.

It's ironic isn't it. I've credited my Nursing as being an influence on my writing for this reason, but also because of the structure Nursing requires to practice effectively. Nursing involves an adherence to inquiry, to diagnosing, problem solving and crafting solutions. These tools are invaluable to me as writer as I sculpt stories using them in much the same way. So, while I write and create as a way to separate myself from my Nursing, my Nursing inevitably creeps across the fence.

Creativity is an antidote for a restless mind. I have a mind that is constantly working. I find it difficult to switch off. The world around me is such a vivid place and I often take in everything. I work it over, consider objects, smells, tastes, experiences. I ask myself questions, analyze, ponder. The noise in my head can, sometimes be deafening and it can be distressing. 

Writing is a means for me to unpack my mind and get things out so that I can become an observer of ideas, rather than a participant in them - does that make sense? Having a creative process, a method if you will, that is structured and coherent allows me to work ideas into a pre-existing project or catalog them for a future one. I've come to regard even the most disparate ideas as valuable. They are as tangible to me as a flower or a leaf, a Star Wars figurine or a piece of fruit.

Creativity, for me, is a means of maintaining mental well being as much as it is a satisfying pursuit of story telling. 

I'm sure I could explore other reasons why it is important, for me, to be creative but I think these two top the list. They represent the two greatest influences on me as a writer and also as a person. 

So, what about you? Why is it important for you to be creative? Let me know in the comments.

DFA. 

Saturday, August 4, 2018

The Artisan Heart Official Spotify Soundtrack Playlist

To help establish the mood of my upcoming novel "The Artisan Heart", I'm pleased to share the official Spotify soundtrack playlist for the novel with you. 

Over the past little while, I have been curating a selection of music that inspired me while I was writing the novel and I've put together a soundtrack. Featuring the music of Swear and Shake, Josh Pyke, Paul Kelly, Greta Bradman, Stereophonics, Cold Chisel and many more, this soundtrack playlist will take you on a musical journey through the story and give you an aural experience that I hope you'll enjoy. 

Just click on the image below to open the playlist in your Spotify app.




The Artisan Heart by Dean Mayes, in-stores everywhere from September 1st, 2018.




Hayden Luschcombe is a brilliant paediatrician living in Adelaide with his wife, Bernadette, an ambitious event planner. His life consists of soul-wrenching days at the hospital and tedious evenings attending the lavish parties organized by Bernadette.

When an act of betrayal coincides with a traumatic confrontation, Hayden flees Adelaide, his life in ruins. His destination is Walhalla, nestled in Australia’s southern mountains, where he finds his childhood home falling apart. With nothing to return to, he stays, and begins to pick up the pieces of his life by fixing up the house his parents left behind.

Isabelle Sampi is a struggling artisan baker raising her hearing-impaired daughter, and has no time for matters of the heart. Yet the presence of the handsome doctor challenges her resolve. Likewise, Hayden, protective of his fractured heart, finds something in Isabelle that awakens dormant feelings of his own.

As their attraction grows, and the past threatens their chance at happiness, both Hayden and Isabelle will have to confront long-buried truths if they are ever to embrace a future.


THE ARTISAN HEART IS AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER!


                 

     




DFA.



Announcement - Winner of The Artisan Heart Trailer Share Competition.

During July, I ran a competition to celebrate the release of the book trailer for my forthcoming novel "The Artisan Heart". I invited people across my social network to share, comment on and tell me what an artisan heart means to them. 

By entering, I offered up the opportunity for one lucky reader to win a fabulous prize pack! In partnership with Janesce Australia and Swear and Shake, this included;


* A signed paperback copy of "The Artisan Heart".
* A Gift Certificate from Janesce Australia to the value of $50 (valid on-line or in-store).
* A copy of Swear and Shake's 2016 studio album "The Sound Of Letting Go" (which served as the musical inspiration for the novel).

Today (finally!) I am pleased to announce the winner of that competition.


Bernni Davies-Jackson
of Adelaide, South Australia.

Bernni did a fantastic job of sharing the trailer across her network and calling attention to both it and the novel and I'm really thankful for her efforts.

Congratulations Bernni!

Thank you to everyone who participated in my competition. Keep your eyes on my website and blog in the coming weeks for a brand new opportunity to WIN with "The Artisan Heart." In the meantime, you can pre-order the novel ahead of its September 1st release via the links below. 




Hayden Luschcombe is a brilliant paediatrician living in Adelaide with his wife, Bernadette, an ambitious event planner. His life consists of soul-wrenching days at the hospital and tedious evenings attending the lavish parties organized by Bernadette.

When an act of betrayal coincides with a traumatic confrontation, Hayden flees Adelaide, his life in ruins. His destination is Walhalla, nestled in Australia’s southern mountains, where he finds his childhood home falling apart. With nothing to return to, he stays, and begins to pick up the pieces of his life by fixing up the house his parents left behind.

Isabelle Sampi is a struggling artisan baker raising her hearing-impaired daughter, and has no time for matters of the heart. Yet the presence of the handsome doctor challenges her resolve. Likewise, Hayden, protective of his fractured heart, finds something in Isabelle that awakens dormant feelings of his own.

As their attraction grows, and the past threatens their chance at happiness, both Hayden and Isabelle will have to confront long-buried truths if they are ever to embrace a future.

THE ARTISAN HEART IS AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER!


                 

     





DFA.