Tag Archives: Review

A Review That I Had to Share

I’ve seen other authors share their reviews.  Honestly, I couldn’t understand why.  I remember thinking as I read them, “Gee, do they so seldom get a 5 star review?” or maybe, “Was this review a certain milestone for them?”
If you’ve read my previous posts, then you know how important reviews are for writers.  We live and die by them.  Numbers matter.  Whether you work in an office and have to get quarterly reports out in time or if you work on an assembly line and have a production quota, numbers matter.  As a writer…so much weight is put into reviews that…well, it isn’t worth rehashing here.  Just trust me when I say, they MATTER.

So, what made this particular review so noteworthy?  What made me keep going back and re-reading this review?  I’ve received numerous 5 star reviews in the past.  I’ve received more than my share of 4 star reviews.  I’ve even received a 3 star review.  Heck…I even got blasted by one guy who handed down a 2 star review.  And the ONLY reason he offered up 2 stars instead of 1 was because the story had solid editing.  Of course, of all of his nitpicking, he only had one valid gripe…but is it worth going online and arguing with someone and proving them wrong?  Will it change their mind?  Will it cause them to suddenly admit they were wrong and raise their rating?  No, of course not.  Pappy always said, never argue with an idiot.  They’ll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.  Besides, reviews are OTHER PEOPLE’S OPINIONS.  You can’t blame someone for having a different opinion or for not liking what you offered.

So, back to the point of this blog entry.  What was it about this one particular review that had me going back to it time and again, re-reading it and smiling each time I read it?  I’ll let you decide.

Whispers – A true masterpiece!
Before I begin, I just want to say that no matter how hard I try to write a deserving review for Heath Stallcup’s “Whispers”, I fear there is no way I am going to be able to do it justice. Read the book and you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
Descriptive writing can be quite the challenge for authors, so I’ve been told. Too much description – too little description; there’s a fine line between the two. Heath Stallcup has without a doubt found his “comfort zone”. In my opinion his descriptions are dead on, creating the perfect imagery for me, the reader, to envision the characters and their surroundings. Speaking of character’s – there are several main character’s, each one is well developed with a personality and voice distinctive to them. As Heath tells his story, switching between the characters is clearly defined. I never found myself confused by the story line or the character’s roles. The dialog between character’s is genuine and flow’s effortlessly.
Without saying too much, told in the prologue, “Whispers” unfolds far back in Western times. The tragic events surrounding Sheriff James “Two Guns” Tolbert and the love of his life Mary O’Dell drew me in and I was hooked, compelled to continue reading. Chapter one sets the scene in present day as local law enforcement personnel, faced with a string of grisly murders, work diligently to solve the crimes. Though I am not educated in the legal field I found Heath’s portrayal of legal behavior and the interactions between these characters believable; true to life.
I strongly recommend “Whispers”. It is so suspenseful it will keep you anxiously turning the pages wanting more, desperately needing to find out what happens next. I had difficulty putting the book down.
Treat yourself, read “Whispers”, you will not regret it, I promise.

Is this review really any different than what others have said?  Is it simply a compilation of what others have written, just strung together?  I don’t think so.  I think she nailed the hammer right on the thumb…well, okay, you know what I mean.  I’ve said all along that this was one of my favorite stories to date.  I still think this is one of my best works.  Although I’ve questioned the quality of what I do, it’s reviews like this that make me think it’s all worth it.

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Posted by on December 19, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Today’s the Day!

Or rather, ‘Tonight’s the night!’


The plan is for my publisher, Denise Brown, to ‘push the button’ to time the release around midnight.

The problem is…Amazon doesn’t always cooperate.  Sometimes it can populate as quickly as two hours, sometimes as long as the next day.  She has the files pretty much ready but there’s still some work to do.

I wanted the release to coincide with my wife’s birthday but this is close enough.  Too many readers like to have a weekend to enjoy a new book and I’d rather get it out in time for people to enjoy.

So, without further fanfare, I’m announcing the release of Whispers and hoping that those of you who read it will truly enjoy it.  If you do read it, whether you love it or hate it, please leave a review.  As I’ve stated before, we live and die by reviews, so every little bit helps.  So far, I’ve been fortunate in that one beta reader and two of the ‘characters’ in the book have already put up reviews for it before it is even available for purchase.  How cool is that?  I doubt there are many books out there that have had HONEST reviews put up for it before it was available for public consumption.  Fortunately, it was well received by those who read it.



Posted by on October 18, 2013 in Uncategorized


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What’s In a Review?

Ask just about any author and they’ll tell you that we live and die by reviews.  You wouldn’t think that much weight would go into such things, but they really do.  I’m sure there’s even more to a review than I am aware of.  Reviews are, in their own way, a lot like baseball statistics.  You can take a quick glance, see how many five star reviews, how many four star reviews, how many three’s, two’s…please, not ONE’S!  But yes, numbers count.

You might wonder, which is better, to have few reviews, but all of them five stars, or a LOT of reviews and they run the gambit from low to stellar?  That’s a good question.  It’s my personal belief that the old adage, ‘there’s no such thing as bad press’ tends to ring true.  Reviews mean READERS.  Good, bad or indifferent, the higher the number, the more attention your work will get.  Don’t believe me?  Well, let’s take a look at a book that hasn’t really been out a long time, but has a TON of reviews that range from 1 star, to 5.  I’m sure you’ve heard of Fifty Shades?  Yeah.  No, I haven’t read it.  I’ve had plenty of people who have read it tell me not to waste my time.
So, what are the numbers?  We’ll get to that in a moment.
Currently, this book is being made into a movie.  That should tell you something.  Does it tell you that it must be an amazing story with a wonderful plot and perfectly developed characters?
Uh,….no.  What it tells us is that Hollywood has run out of potentially entertaining original ideas and is turning to commercialism.  Take a healthy dose of a nude Scarlett Johansson, sprinkle with a dash of Chris Hemsworth and rather than getting Avengers 3, you get Hollywood’s version of Fifty Shades.  Yeah, THAT should sell at the box office.
Let’s talk numbers now.  Since it’s release in April of 2012, FSG currently sits on Amazon with 21,247 reviews.   Honestly, that’s a ton!
Of those reviews, a healthy 9,372 are five star reviews.  That means that clearly 44% of the people who read this thought that it was top shelf stuff.
Roughly 11%, or 2,341 people thought that it deserved four stars.  That’s a pretty good score.  Four stars is respectable.  Any author would prefer five stars, but four stars beat…
Three star reviews sit at 1,914 or roughly 9%.  Well, hey.  That’s like less than 1 in 10 so…pfft.
Two star reviews.  Yeah.  These pretty much say that you suck.  No if’s, and’s or but’s about it.  They’re telling you something here.  FSG has 1,884 of these bad boys.  That’s 8.8%.  Close enough to round up to 9.  Yeah, I wouldn’t be happy.  But, when you consider that in the grand scheme of things, this is really a small number compared to the total of reviews, right?  I mean, at over TWENTYONE THOUSAND reviews??  Okay.  If I could get that many, I’d take the 8.8% of 2 Star Slams.
Here’s where things get…nasty.  ONE star reviews.
To say that FSG wasn’t well received by quite a few people?  Well, 5,736 people slammed it with a one star.  Some of the comments left are more entertaining than the book according to the huge number of replies that the comments got.  You need to keep in mind, this is 26.9% of the people who left a review.  I think we can safely round that to 27%.  That’s more than 1 in 4.

So what’s the point?
I haven’t read FSG so I’m not about to comment and say, ‘this story is awesome, ignore the numbers and dive into it!’, nor will I say, ‘this story was horrible, don’t waste your time’.  The point is what I was trying to say earlier.  ‘There is no such thing as bad press’…but with a caveat.  When your FIVE star reviews outnumber your ONE star reviews almost two to one, then it’s a safe thing to say that bad reviews are still GOOD PRESS.
But if all you have is five or six reviews and they’re all one, two or three star?  You need to find out what is wrong and FIX IT.  Read the reviews, see what the readers are complaining about and correct it.  If they say that you can’t spell, for crying out loud, run your work through a spell checker!  If they say your grammar is so bad that they couldn’t follow your line of thinking, rewrite and hire an editor.  If they say the story is just lame, well, maybe you should take up an easier profession than writing.  Maybe astrophysics?

Reviews aren’t just there for the public either.  Places like Amazon use those numbers to ‘rank’ books and authors.  Rankings are then used to determine all kinds of internal decisions that we’ll probably never understand.  Spotlights, favorites lists, recommendations, referrals to other readers in the same genre…it all comes into play.  But only if the numbers are there.

Reviews are the lifeblood of this profession.  Most readers simply aren’t used to leaving them.  Writers have to sometimes get creative to help coerce their readers along.  Don’t be afraid to use your imagination.  I’ve seen authors use all kinds of gimmicks to help.  From simply asking, to having contests, prizes, awards, even drawings to have the readers name used in an upcoming novel.

Got a favorite author?  Have you ever referred a friend to their work?  Then do your favorite author a solid and leave an honest review the next time you finish one of their books or short stories.  If you referred a friend or loaned a book, encourage your friend to do the same.  Your actions could make the difference between your favorite author or their book being spotlighted or even noticed by someone looking to make it into a screenplay.  Yes, your review could have that much power.
Now, go forth and REVIEW.



Posted by on September 24, 2013 in Uncategorized


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