August 30, 2011

Good Reviews, Bad Reviews and the Occasional Chocolate Chip Cookie

I have a special treat for you today. I’ve invited L. Carroll over to do a little writing at my place. I already had the chance to post my scribblings in her living room. Keep reading when she’s finished, and I’ll tell you a little about who she is, and what her books are about.


I used to manage a retail home décor store in a shopping mall. While this fascinating bit of information is likely to captivate and enthrall audiences for years to come, it's a particular incident that took place while I was engaged in this profession that I'm compelled to share now.

One lovely afternoon, a customer stormed through the doors and demanded to speak to the manager. While the rest of my crew showed support for their leader from behind an armoire, I -- armed with a sympathetic expression -- approached the lady to ascertain the nature of her obvious agitation.

Fast forward eleven years to the present day. I don't remember what this customer was upset over; I don't remember how the issue was resolved. I only recall what happened afterward.

There was a larger piece of furniture involved that I was to take out the back door of the store and load into the lady's car, but she asked me to give her a few minutes before meeting her there, as she had one last quick stop to make in the mall. When she arrived to pick up her piece, she had with her a bag containing a warm, gooey, jumbo chocolate chip cookie that she had just purchased from the bakery in the mall. Smiling, she handed me the cookie and thanked me profusely for helping her that day. Her gesture overwhelmed me, and (apparently) made an indelible impression on my memory.

So, what does this story have to do with books and writing, you may ask. Well, allow me to explain. Coming from a non-literary background, I was quickly humbled by what it takes to write a book. I was further humbled by the emotionally fatiguing, and oft times downright depressing process of querying agents and publishers. And, as if that wasn't enough, my pride sustained further injury when I realized that eighty percent of my time as an author would not be spent writing, but would be spent marketing, networking, begging and pleading.

The point is that independent authors work hard! They work long! They dump all of their selves -- heart and soul -- into their books. They don't have teams of editors, marketers and PR people escorting them around. They do it all themselves.

This singular shouldering of responsibility makes feedback so much more impactful on the indie author. Negative reviews are devastating, positive ones, invigorating. Lack of reviews? Well, let's just say that it takes a while to recover from that accompanying spiral of self-doubt.

Am I saying that you should jump on to Amazon and write gushingly, glowing critiques of every self-published book you read? Absolutely not! I know from experience that there are a lot of sub-par books out there -- both indie and traditionally published. What I am saying is that if you read an indie book you really enjoy, make sure that you let the author and others know. Gush on Amazon; shout it out to your networking buds; buy copies of the book to give as gifts; OR, if you're so inclined, send the author a warm, gooey, jumbo chocolate chip cookie.


About the Author:

L. Carroll is a wife and a mom of five who writes because she's found that if she pretends to travel to magical worlds, makes up wild tales, and carries on conversations with the voices in her head, it's considered mental illness; but if she pretends to travel to magical worlds, makes up wild tales, carries on conversations with the voices in her head and writes it all down; it's a perfectly normal "author" thing to do.

 About the Books:

Destruction from Twins

When an enchantress steals mystical powers from her twin sister, she sentences the world of Lor Mandela to an untimely death. Only one can save it; a Child of Balance named Audril Borloc. All hope seems lost when four-year-old Audril disappears.

Desperate to save their world, spies travel to Earth looking for the girl with black hair and bright blue eyes. Instead, they find sixteen-year-old Maggie Baker.

Maggie's existence is launched into a roller coaster ride of twists and turns as she bounces back and forth between her home in Glenhill, Iowa and the mysterious land of Lor Mandela. She must learn who to trust and who to fear. More importantly, she must find a way to convince the Lor Mandelans she is not their missing "Child of Balance", and her family and friends in Iowa that she's not going insane.

Could Maggie’s reality be the real fantasy, and does the fate of an entire world actually depend on her?

Destruction from Twins is available in print at CreateSpace, in ebook at Smashwords,  or your choice of format at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It’s free at Smashwords until the end of the month, so you only have two days to run over there and get it.

Four Hundred Days

When the heiress to the Lor Mandelan throne sneaks away to Earth to save one of her dearest friends, she finds that a power hungry tyrant from her own world has begun systematically obliterating towns and cities to get her to turn herself over to him.

On Earth, she meets a wildly eccentric old lady named Teedee Venilworth, whose imaginary butler/fiance supposedly holds the key to her success. But how can someone help if he doesn't exist? Could it be that creatures who dwell in shadow are not exclusive to Lor Mandela?

The second book in the Lor Mandela Series, "Four Hundred Days", is an action-packed whirlwind of intrigue and fantasy. Join the extraordinary characters from "Destruction from Twins" as they traverse the haunted corridors of Alcatraz Penitentiary; travel via portal to an ancient castle on the cliff shores of Ireland; and meet a race of mystic warriors known as the Solom.

Soar on the back of a large, horse-like creature to the Northern High Forests and discover that, on the picturesque world of Lor Mandela, your friends can become foes, your enemies your allies, and just because someone dies it doesn't always mean that they're dead.

Four Hundred Days is available in print at CreateSpace, in ebook at Smashwords, and in your choice of format from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.