A Writer’s Christmas Wish: Reviews

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If I could have one thing for Christmas this year, it would be more reviews of The Demon Within on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, and other retail and review sites.

We are in an era where new books are being published in hard copy and electronic format every single day. But what that means is that any individual book has a harder time standing out from among the masses. We’re competing for people’s time and entertainment dollars with not just other books, but with television, movies, computer games, smartphone apps, etc., etc., etc.

With so many books out there, it can be hard to separate the ones we’ll like from the ones we won’t. It’s easy to be skeptical about a book when it only has a few reviews, and it makes people less likely to want to spend their money on that book.

Andi Cumbo-Floyd, an author and editor I’ve gotten to know this last year through her blog and social media pages, posted a video a few months ago about the importance of reviews, particularly Amazon reviews. (Amazon uses its review system to do a lot of cross-promotion through those “You May Also Be Interested In” links and their direct e-mails.)

So that’s why I’m asking if you could do me a solid this Christmas. If you’ve read the book, I would be super duper grateful if you posted a review. It doesn’t have to be long or involved. Just a couple of sentences saying what you thought about the book.

And hey…even if you didn’t like the book, I’d still appreciate the review. Don’t get me wrong: I’d much rather you liked the book. But I get that my book is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s okay. What you disliked about the book may be exactly why someone else likes it. All reviews are helpful, because they give people different perspectives.

I’ve got to admit, I’m a pretty negligent reviewer. I read a lot, but I don’t review nearly as often as I should. But I’m going to try to remedy that this holiday season. I’ll be spending some of my time off writing reviews for some of the books I’ve read this year, especially for the authors who are not as well known.

Whether it’s for me or someone else, it’s a small thing you can do that will make a huge difference to an author.

 

 

Rogue One: A Good Movie That Should Have Been Great

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Rogue One is a good movie. But it could have been a great one.

So let’s start with the good stuff. This is the darkest of the movies in the Star Wars universe. Not necessarily the bleakest—I think that award goes to The Empire Strikes Back—but thematically and tonally, it is the darkest. The irony here is that the movie spends a lot of time talking about the necessity of hope. It is, ultimately, hopeful—but it also shows you that the cost of hope can be insurmountably large.

It feels much more like a war movie than the other films in the Star Wars universe. Yes, tragic things happen in the other films, but they’re so largely focused on the hero’s journey that they feel, by and large, like adventure movies with coming-of-age themes. In Rogue One, we’re focused more on the scope and the costs of the decades-long rebellion against the Empire—one that has lost almost all hope.

Anyone who has watched A New Hope knows how our rebels’ mission—stealing the plans for the original Death Star—is going to turn out. But still, director Gareth Edwards has managed to give us a movie that is exciting and suspenseful. He’s aided in no small part by a great cast, led by Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso.

I’m absolutely in love with the fact that they brought the long-dead Peter Cushing back as Grand Moff Tarkin. When I heard they were going to digitally insert him into the movie, I figured he’d be in the background for maybe a few seconds, but no—he’s actually got a substantial role in the story! The process of bringing Cushing back involved CGI, a stand-in, and a voice actor. Others disagree with me, but personally, I thought it looked fantastic. I would not have known that there was anything different about Grand Moff Tarkin if I didn’t realize that Cushing had been dead since 1994. (Also, I really, really hope his estate got compensated for this!)

(On a side note, I’m very excited to see where this technology goes as it improves. Could we get a screwball comedy starring Katharine Hepburn and George Clooney? This is a thing that absolutely must happen!)

As for the not-so-good…

The movies in the Star Wars universe are at their best when their focus is on characters. That’s where Rogue One fails. Story-wise, Rogue One had the potential to be better than The Force Awakens. Rogue One charts out entirely new territory in the Star Wars universe, whereas much of The Force Awakens feels—purposefully, I would argue—like a re-tread of A New Hope. But The Force Awakens introduced new characters, showed you who they were and what their motivation was, and made you care about them. By the end of the movie, I was completely invested in the fates of Rey and Finn.

But the characters in Rogue One—even Jyn herself—feel terribly underwritten. There are six—six!—leading rebels in Rogue One. Each of the characters seemed to have potential, and if Rogue One had been a television miniseries the large leading cast could have been an asset. But in 2 ½ hours of screen time, each of them kind of blends into the background. If they had halved the leading cast, and dug deeper into each of them, the movie would have worked much, much better.

And so we’re left with a movie that could have been—should have been—incredibly powerful and emotional. Instead, when I left the theater, I was like, “Okay, that happened.” Don’t get me wrong: I enjoyed the movie. But it’s disappointing when I think about how much better it could have been.

Sale on THE DEMON WITHIN

Amazon has The Demon Within paperback on sale now for $4.73. I have no idea how long the sale is going to last. So if you’re thinking about buying the book but you’re short on cash, now might be a good time.

Second…I sent out the Goodreads giveaway books on Saturday. US residents should have received their books today. Canadian residents should get them in another week or so. If you don’t receive your book, please feel free to contact me via the e-mail listed on my website.

Happy Holidays, everyone! I’ve been a little busy of late, but I promise a more substantive update soon.

Goodreads Giveaway Update

I finally signed and addressed all the books from the Goodreads giveaway. They will be in the mail tomorrow morning.

Winners were notified by Goodreads. If you don’t receive your book in the next few weeks, feel free to contact me via the e-mail address on my contact page.

I hope the winners enjoy! Stay tuned for more giveaways soon.