Everyone has an opinion. Here’s mine: Dear fellow authors, ignore the ratings and read the comments.

Voicing opinions is a human imperative. That’s one of the reasons why there are close to 150 million Twitter users; that’s why there are close to 200 million blogs. That’s why there are so many websites where we can rate products and professionals. We want to have our say.

Clearly, I am an active participant in this culture of opinion pandering. In particular, I have gone onto various book sites to rate and review novels I’ve read.  It’s easy and somehow satisfying. Sometimes I think, megalomaniacally, that I might even be helping to guide and advise future readers.


But, as a new author I now see all this from a new perspective. I have gone to goodreads.com and amazon.com to see what people thought of my novel and this is what I’ve learned: thoughtful reviews, including the negative ones, can be helpful and informative to me as a writer, while lone ratings, without commentary are not.

When I was a synchronized swimmer, at the end of a performance the judges would raise their scorecards and voila, I was ranked and rated. As a performer, these scores were not particularly helpful on their own. I did not know what parts the judges enjoyed, or the sections and technical elements in which I fell short. An 8.5 meant very little without the qualitative data to back it up. I wasn’t learning or growing as an artist-athlete. It was only after the events ended, when I had the opportunity to speak with the judges and hear their thoughts, feedback and opinions, no matter how difficult they were to hear, that I saw the bigger picture.

So, as an author I’ve concluded that I will pay close attention to those who take the time to comment (thoughtfully) and do my best to ignore the rest.

How do you view these rating sites?

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How do you give thanks? By Barbara Edwards

How do you give thanks? By Barbara Edwards.

Great blog entry about the power of giving and the art of showing gratitude.

Posted in Blogs I like, Uncategorized, Writing tips & other ideas | Leave a comment

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

Recently, best-selling author and all-around nice guy, Martin Crosbie, sent an email asking me to participate in a blog hop and answer some questions about my novel-in-progress. If you click on Martin’s name below you’ll see where he tagged me (but be sure to come back to this site to learn about my new work!).

Martin Crosbie

Here’s the low-down on how this works:  I answer a bunch of questions about my work in progress and then I tag up to five other authors (I chose 2 of my favourites instead). Hopefully, the chain will continue to grow for some time.

What is the working title of your book?

“The Way We Fall.”  This, of course, is a working title, and may change at some point.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

While I was writing “The Games” I was distracted by bursts of ideas on what other books I could write (everything from a business book about building an effective team to a collection of short stories about winter athletes to a book about finding community in suburbia). Call it A.D.D.. Call it creative inspiration. Whatever it was, I had to resist it at every step of the way and focus on the task at hand. One of the concepts that seemed to take hold and not obey my instructions to leave me alone, was the idea of writing a novel that is a quasi-follow-up to “The Games.” While my debut novel followed seven characters and chronicled the potentially destructive power of sport, this one will focus on one primary character, Grace, and illustrate how sport can be a saving grace in a broken life.

“The Games” is now all wrapped up and published, so “The Way We Fall” is underway.

What genre does your book fall under?

Literary fiction.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

For “The Games” I picture Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Sam and Ralph Fiennes in the role of Ellis. For “The Way We Fall” I envision Michelle Williams as Grace, and Natalie Portman as her twin sister, Abby. (That would be awesome.)

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m hoping that a publisher will pick this up, but I’m open to self-publishing.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It’s in the works. I hope to finish it before the end of 2013. “The Games” took four years, but underwent several significant overhauls over that period. I have a clearer idea of where “The Way We Fall” is headed, and a tighter outline, so I’m hopeful this will be a shorter writing process.

In brief, what is the book about?

“The Way We Fall” is the story of Grace, an Olympic diver-turned-businesswoman, and her tumultuous relationship with her twin, Abby, a talented runner-turned-runaway. Grace travels to cottage country to find her wayward and mentally unstable sibling, and in the week and journey home that ensues, struggles to not lose herself.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

As I mentioned in an earlier response, I wanted to show the positive side of athletic pursuits and how deep involvement in sport can keep some individuals on the straight and narrow, even when family history, psychological struggles and genetics push against them.  I also wanted to explore mind power–how extreme mental focus can help individuals rise above the din, and how untreated mental illness can pull individuals down. I felt that juxtaposing these ideas in twin sisters would create an interesting tension-filled tale.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

There’s been a positive response to “The Games” and many readers have asked to hear more about Sam, so I’ve included him in this book, as the love interest of one of the twins.

And, as promised, here are the authors I chose to tag. Next Wednesday you can click on their blog links to read their posts.

Andrew McAllister

Deborah Serravalle

Posted in New writing, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Best places to write? There’s no one-size-fits-all location.

In preparation for this trip to UK, I researched the best places to write in London. I found a plethora of interesting and opinionated articles detailing the pros and cons of particular artist hubs and cafes. One blogger denounced coffee shops as the worst places to pen a work due to the traffic flow and music, another rated his picks based on the quality of the lattes served and the availability of wifi, a third favoured spots where she felt she was in the company of other artists.

Bottom line? There are divergent opinions out there about what environments are conducive to artistry and productivity.

I began to consider that finding the right spot for you and your writing is rather personal.     Perhaps the key is to know yourself — your work habits, your attentional style, and your current writing/research needs.

Know yourself and your work habits: Perhaps you’re notoriously cheap and don’t want to have to have to buy an espresso and croissant in order to occupy a table for a few hours. Your preferred spot may be your kitchen table or the local library.

Perhaps you’re more a creature of routine and you like returning to the same scratched up café table day-after-day.

Maybe you’re a little like me. Whenever I’m in the city (not out in the suburbs where I live), I try out new places to write. I rarely return to the same place twice, not because I thrive in a new environment but because I like to be a “flaneur”– and when I tire of walking, I find the closest place around to sit down and write. Sometimes I choose the location simply because it has a clean washroom, comfortable chairs (in my opinion) or an electrical outlet where I can plug in my dying laptop.  When I’m in the suburbs, my practical side kicks in and I write wherever I happen to find myself when I have the time to write.

Your attentional style: Are you easily distracted? Then it’s possible that Starbucks and its long lines of jabbering teenaged frappucino drinkers are not for you.  Perhaps you’re inspired by the movement of people and find that ideas flow to you in the busiest of settings. A trip to the local McDonalds may be sufficient to advance your productivity, Big Mac-induced heart burn notwithstanding.

Maybe you can narrow your focus, block everything out, and escape into your own imaginary world. Well, for you, perhaps, anything goes. But if you want to be able to return to the real world from time to time and enjoy a decent deli sandwich (or whatever your culinary preference), you might pick your venue accordingly.

Your current writing/research needs: It’s also possible that your preferred writing locale may change depending on your mood or what you’re working on. Writing an article that involves heavy research may require you to find a place with access to the internet or book stacks.  Or, a bout of awful writer’s block may require you to find a spot that inspires or motivates you. A piece that forces you to dig deep down into a particular emotion may be aided by a venue that allows you to explore that emotion in some way, or  a place that gives you access to a memory that evokes that feeling.

My point? We all differ in so many ways and there may not be a one-size-fits all magical space where authors can go to produce the next Pulitzer Prize-winning tome.

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing tips & other ideas | 2 Comments

Grub Street Reads endorses The Games

I received great news yesterday. Grub Street Reads, a website that reviews, critiques and endorses indie books, gave The Games a thumbs up!

Check out the link at www.grubstreetreads.com, click on Grub Street Greats.

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Let the blog begin.

I had a blog for about three minutes back in 2005.  Since then I’ve been doing so much writing for business clients and my PhD program, I couldn’t fathom spending another moment poised in front of a computer.

But I’m ready now. I suppose I feel I have something important, and hopefully interesting to write about…

My debut novel, The Games, was released in October and since then I’ve spent time reading about other indie writers who are engaged in the struggle to get their work into the hands of readers, are stifled or buoyed by the complaints and praise of reviewers, and who, despite all the chaos, seem to be able to find solace in the clatter of the keyboard.

In this blog, I will share some of the tips I’ve picked up along the way as a writer and communications consultant. I’m doing all this in the hopes that someone will gain some insight or inspiration from this documentation of what I’ve learned and observed.

Write on,


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