Reviews & Reviewing

Reviews & Reviewing

Reviews | Guy L. PaceI’m involved in a round-robin review group for Christian writers on Goodreads. I love writing and reading. Reviewing other’s work is a challenge.

I don’t mind getting reviews from others, be they readers or writers. I learn from them no matter how critical they might get. But, writing a review of someone else’s work … that can be a minefield.

Fortunately, the folks involved in the round-robin are honest and direct, and give good reviews.

I wrote a couple of reviews so far and they were honest, constructive reviews of stories that I liked. They aren’t my normal reading fare, but it never hurts to explore new material. I posted the reviews, then crawled into a corner until the authors responded positively to the comments.

Whew!

More Reviews

I’m well into another book that I’m enjoying and will review it soon. In addition, I have some new reviews for Sudden Mission, both on Amazon and Goodreads. In this next round, I hope to see more reviews of Nasty Leftovers. This round-robin works out well, and my reviews are increasing.

Granted, the new reviews are by other authors and not my target audience (teens). But, getting teens to review on Amazon or anywhere else is very difficult. I used a little meme on Facebook a couple of times to prod folks to review.

Reviewing | Guy L. PaceThe rules are simple, if not completely accurate today. I know Amazon has changed some of their rules for reviews. For example, they usually do not accept reviews of books by friends of the author, or family members. How they figure that out is beyond me.

The Rules

As for Rule #1, that is true. But, if you buy the book and review it, you get a “verified purchase” tag on your review. That might impact the “algorithms.”

Rule #4, though, is the most important. Authors need reviews. More reviews move a book’s status in the rankings on Amazon. They make the title more visible to other readers. They help other readers make decisions on what to choose to read.

Sure, not all reviews or ratings are five-star. Not everyone likes the same thing. My books aren’t everyone’s favorite genre. But, a review is a review and I appreciate every single one I get.

Hurts

Some comments in reviews can inflict pain in the author. That’s part of growing a thick skin–which we need to survive. No one is perfect, no author writes a perfect book. Accepting that and moving on is important.

I try to keep that in mind as I review other author’s work. No, the book isn’t my cup of tea. Maybe the book needs an editor. Maybe there are issues with the story. But, I can address that with constructive, positive comments. I made the mistake of being too blunt and critical in a review once. It hurt a relationship. That’s the minefield I mentioned earlier.

Care. You write and you read. The only way this business can get better is if we all care and comment positively and constructively.

Keep reading.

Keep writing.

 

 

 

Tabitha Caplinger

Tabitha Caplinger is a friend I’ve never met in person. We used to be fellow authors in the Booktrope Vox Dei stable.

Evidence

Evidence

Evidence | Guy L. PaceEvidence is a funny thing. Sometimes, what you think is evidence, isn’t.

As a jounalist (See SPJ’s Standards), attribution was always part of presenting facts. When you could not attribute information to a reliable source, an authoritative individual, or a direct witness, it became hearsay. When you reference an act and relate it to a possible perpetrator, you always use the word “alleged.”

For example: “Joe allegedly took the candy bar and left the store.” You don’t say he allegedly stole the candy bar, that would define the act. The act of taking the candy bar and leaving the store is an act of theft. However, the journalist is not law enforcement, nor judge and jury. The journalist is the conveyer of information. So, you don’t define the alleged act.

I won’t detail how certain recent New York Times articles completely ignore the SPJ’s standards.

Hearsay

As we move further into the story, we bring up more information.

“A witness said someone who saw Joe take the candy bar told them that Joe did actually take the candy bar.”

The above statement doesn’t name the source other than as a “witness.” Worse, the witness claimed that some other un-named person else actually saw the act. This can only be classified as hearsay and should have little or no place in the story. It encourages pre-judgement without direct evidence.

So, someone called the police, who arrest Joe and gather evidence. After review of the evidence, the police drop charges, and Joe goes home with his candy bar.

What Happened?

Well, evidence. There are rules of evidence and you can find them at these links:

Cornell Law

Rules of Evidence

I’m not going to go into great detail here, but the primary measure on evidence is relevance (See Rule 401). Hearsay does not stand up to the relevance standard.

If a journalist references third- and fourth-hand information (hearsay) without direct attribution, he or she did not do their job. So, they missed the part where the cashier told the police that Joe handed her a dollar before he left the store, and the part where the store security camera recorded the event completely (two examples of direct evidence collected by the police). Direct evidence shows “… the existence of a fact in question, without the intervention of the proof of any other fact ….”

Forensics

In my study and practice of digital forensics, my role involved identifying an actor and placing that person in a seat or in front of a device at a specific time. There is a rougher term for it I won’t use here. This involved gathering direct evidence from the device, from devices and/or services connected to the device, and from devices or equipment in the area (video cameras and recordings).

The important thing in the digital investigation was “chain of custody.” All devices and evidence gathered are carefully recorded, preserved, and the custody tracked. Any gap or mis-step that affected the chain of custody invalidates the evidence, and a judge will throw it out. Not only would a judge dismiss a case over a breach in chain of custody, your professional reputation as a digital forensics investigator could be ruined.

Relevance

So, what does this have to do with writing?

You must analyze a situation, scene, action in your fiction to make sure it reflects accurately any evidence, hearsay, and forensics practices you might use. Using these elements correctly, even in fiction, helps make the story more real, more believable.

Keep all this in mind, if you watch the television series, Wisdom of the Crowd. Crowdsourcing evidence is a slippery slope and violates so many of the rules of evidence, chain of custody, and promotes hearsay. So, exercise care and caution when exploring these topics.

Keep writing.

 

 

Write

Write

write | Guy L. PaceTo write, or not to write–that is the question:
Whether ’tis wiser in the heart to suffer
The stings and barbs of reviewers and readers
Or to take up pen against a sea of paper
And by writing, satisfy them.

(Apologies to Shakespeare.)

Okay, I promise not to hack The Bard any more.

Carolina Dawn is in the second round of editing with my editor. It’s been a year since I started the project during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I went through the rough draft a couple of times to fix a few things, make sure my timeline wasn’t all messed up, and polish it up. Then I let it simmer for entirely too long. I know. It was a busy summer.

I’m not working on a project this year for NaNoWriMo. I’ve done three NaNo’s, and produced three books. That’s a pretty good score for now. I plan to work on more short fiction and maybe put together a small collection. I may compile the Spirit Missions into a single, special volume and include the two short stories (Amy’s Lesson and The Gift) published here. That might be fun.

When I get closer to a publication date, I’ll keep you all posted and fill the Events page with readings, signings and all that. I hope next spring gets very busy with this third book out.

One of the best parts of writing, I found, is getting to meet readers. Especially young readers.

Keep writing.