Why The Casual Vacancy Shouldn’t be Compared to Harry Potter

Note: This is not a book review. Just a general reaction to the general reaction surrounding The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling, released last week.

Yes, I’m just as much a Potter fan as you are. And if you don’t believe me, ask my husband, who, while also a Potter enthusiast, has found many a time to laugh and roll his eyes at me for my overly-in-depth knowledge of the series.

I’ve been (naively, I suppose) surprised at the reaction I’ve seen in response to Rowling’s new book ever since its existence was first announced. Of course I knew that many people would be comparing the new book to Rowling’s admittedly history-making series, but I’ve seen everything from incredulity that she can even write anything else good to outright complaints about her new subject matter (a small English town ripped apart by a political vacancy).

I have to admit, all of the above baffles me.

To me, this is like saying that Shakespeare shouldn’t have tried writing Henry V after A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Okay, maybe that’s not a perfect analogy, but my point is this: J.K. Rowling has proven to all of us that she understands the human condition on multiple levels, that she understands social tensions and their destructive capabilities, and that she understands mortality and morality, which she herself has admitted she’s a bit obsessed with. In other words: the very thing that makes most stories tick.

I’m not “worried” about this book. I’m not skeptical as to whether or not it’s going to be “as good” as Harry Potter. It’s not Harry Potter nor is it meant to be. Me, I’m looking forward to reading something new by one of my favorite authors, whatever it is. I’ll follow you anywhere, Ms. Rowling. Just keep leading on.

On Culling my Goodreads Reviews

Before I start, I have a post about No-Holds-Barred writing up over at the Dojo today. Swing by to check it out!

Confession: I’m an opinionated reader. I start a lot of books with high expectations because of back-cover copy or rave reviews, then I’m easily disappointed, because the style doesn’t match up with the atmosphere or the fictional world as I see it. Or sometimes the writing just isn’t up to what I want it to be. I can feel how much better a book could be, but when I dive in I find it to be somewhat half-baked.

Up until a while ago, I had been putting all my reviews, both good and bad, up on Goodreads. I felt like it was my own private corner to both praise books to the sky and say it like it is when I found fault. The closer I get to the writing world in a professional way, though, the more I see that I just don’t want to release my negativism out into the world like that anymore. I’m all for an honest review, but I’m not always the best at giving objective reviews, and I have to deal with that part of myself in a professional way.

And so, I’ve created The Book of Bookish Opinions, and have started to backlog all of my Goodreads reviews in it. Yes, by hand. It’s been fun to re-experience some of these books in a detached sort of way, and to see how my reactions to some things have changed over time (or haven’t!). As I’ve gone, I’ve been taking down the mostly negative reviews, because really, you don’t need to hear my opinion on something that someone worked very hard on. You can read other people’s probably better balanced reviews instead. I don’t want to hurt feelings, and if I ever do gain any sort of clout in this community, I don’t want to be known for stepping on others’ work or discouraging reading anything.

I’m keeping up my enthusiastically positive reviews, though. Because they’re much nicer. Also more numerous, thankfully!

Here’s to loving books, eh? And here’s to finding a productive use for one of the many, many blank journals I own (probably more than one… I’m already halfway through this one!)

How are things in your neck of the woods?

The F Words. Fear. Of. Finishing.

I worry sometimes that I am afflicted with the F words. Not that one you’re thinking of. These: Fear of Finishing.

This is a first-timer’s fear, I know. Because this first time is, while maybe not the hardest (how would I know?), HARD. Because I’ve spent my whole life, just about, thinking about getting published and how I probably have the stuff to make it if I work at it.

As writers, though, even when we have a story that we love and something that we would like to share with the world, sometimes the prospect of telling a story right is (or SEEMS) inhibiting. What if we get it wrong?

The fact of the matter is, when it comes to writing an original story, we’re the only ones who have any chance of getting it RIGHT.

This seems kind of silly to say, but it’s true. It’s YOUR story. YOU have to write it. Or it won’t get written. Simple as that.

This is the thought that has been pushing me along lately. This is my book. I want it out in the world. I want ME out in the world as an author, instead of shut up in my comparatively small corner of the internet talking  to the spare passerby reader who likes to look up “Posts on Writing” on WordPress. (Though I really appreciate you readers!)

So when it comes to the Fear Of Finishing… kick it. Out. Don’t even let it sink in. This is something I’ve struggled with, sure, and probably most writers have at some point. But the professionals get it done, no matter what. And that’s my goal in this plan over all, isn’t it? To become a professional? You bet your petutti it is. How do you spell petutti anyhow?

P.S. See that photo up there? That was scribbled and taken in haste by yours truly.  Following the recent blogger-gets-sued train of thought… that we probably should have all been doing in the first place… over the next few weeks I’m going to attempt to swap photos I’ve used with less-than-clear permission and find some Creative Commons License stuff or take my own pics. It’s about time, Lisa. It’s about time, blogosphere.

A Note on Deliberation.

Right now I’m 70K into what I’m guessing will be a 100K first draft. I’m planning to finish it by June 30th. This has been a little slow going the past week or so because I’ve been moving into a new apartment, so production has slammed to a halt, but as of tomorrow, I’m go for action.

You see, I did a little experiment the other day. Er, week. I was stuck at just over 65K, and I had a free day. On that day, despite the fact that I can usually write only 1000-2000 words per day, and that’s if I have the whole dayI decided that I was going to hit 70,000 words. I was going to do it. It took me fourteen hours and an obsessive lot of Pomodoro-ing (plus encouragement and a kind assent to not distract me from my husband), but I managed to write over 4600 words in one day. Just because I was really determined to do it.

This taught me something very significant about writing. Something that we all hear, but that I think every writer needs to learn for themselves: when it comes to writing, deliberation is key.

I don’t just mean writing deliberately—though that is very imporant. Every word you put down should count, at least by the end. What I mean, though, is that the act of deliberately sitting down to write is imperative in getting things done in this game. Me, I can tell you all the ways to not get writing done. Sitting down with a definite goal and time frame in mind is the only way I’ve discovered to really get results. Oh sure, there’s sitting around and waiting for inspiration to come, but I’ve learned that inspiration is a lot more likely to hit you if you’re out looking for it.

It’s like working door-to-door sales: you can’t sell anything if you don’t knock first.

So that’s my flash of inspiration for the day. I’ve figured out that in order to write my 30,000 words by the end of June, I need to write at least 700 words per day. That’s not even a thousand—I can do that. Of course, I’m a little petrified, because I don’t know 100% where I’m going in between major scenes, but that’s okay. I have a lot of material to work with, and a lot of places to go.

I’ll keep you posted as to how well I’m doing.

What are your writing goals right now?

On Hiatus

Hi all. Sorry to do this, but I have to go on hiatus for a bit. I’ve had to go out of town unexpectedly for some personal business, and I won’t have time to blog! I hope to get back to you soon… Definitely by the 19th!

Still moving. Definitely by the 26th!

Thoughts on Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

From Goodreads:

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.


If there was ever a book to skip reading and buy the audio, this would be the book.

This book is hard-hitting. I don’t want to say too much about it, because it’s such a journey of discovery that you’re part of as the reader. Ultimately, this is a book I’d highly recommend. It goes through the complexities of the consequences of each of our actions. How something as simple as staying quiet or going along with the crowd can be devastating for the one person who’s silently pleading that someone in the crowd is different.

Besides highlighting (in a very memorable, but non-teachy way) the signs you can look for in case someone close to you is in trouble, it also shows that suicide is really only the blame of the one who commits it. When it comes down to it, they are the only ones who could have stopped themselves, and looking for blame elsewhere just adds hurt upon hurt.

I can see how this book could have life-changing effects on people, both who might be suffering from depression themselves, or who might know someone who is. It’s a heavy subject, yes, but it’s well worth the read, I think. I highly recommend it.

For a peek at the impact it has made, check out the 13RW project.

The Secret by Taryn Taylor on Big World Network

I have something exciting to tell you about today. A whole new (FREE!) way to enjoy a story. Last year Big World Network started up:

BigWorldNetwork.com began in early 2011, created to offer a distinct and entertaining way to read and enjoy both fiction and non-fiction in an episodic format, not unlike a television series. The concept is unique in today’s world of tablet readers and mobile devices, but not new. Series writing has been around since before the 1800s, and many authors have gotten their start by publishing with serialized installments (including Charles Dickens).

The average BigWorldNetwork.com episode is between 4-7 pages, the perfect length to sit back and relax while catching up on your favorite series. BigWorldNetwork.com has also created an exciting, creative outlet for our writers. Many works published on BigWorldNetwork.com will go on to be published as complete eBook and print anthologies in the future.

What I think is particularly cool about The Big World Network is that they have audio chapters to their books, too! Just in case you’re more of the podcast type!

Today I’m featuring “The Secret” by Taryn Taylor.

Seventeen-year-old Delanie Hart has a past she wants to keep hidden. Moving to a new state and attending a new high school seems to be just the thing – until she accidentally sees a mark exactly like her own. When the people she is running from come after her, Lanie is left with a choice – give up what she wants or save her friends.

I’ve just started reading this, and I’m very curious to know what Lanie’s secret is. She’s a very relatable character already, and I’m curious to know just what her secret is, especially since she doesn’t seem to be the only one with that secret!

The secret has already finished one “season” of 12 episodes and is coming back for Season 2 on Monday,  so don’t miss it!

Taryn Taylor grew up moving from small town to small town every few years. This helped her gain an appreciation for good books, loyal friends, and the fact that a home is a lot more than a house – it’s the people that love you. After receiving a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Communications, she finally began putting all of her stories down on paper, finding it most helpful to eat chocolate during this process. In between raising four amazing boys she loves to go on dates with her husband and watch movies late into the night.

Keep up with Taryn Taylor at her blog, here, and read “The Secret” here!

Type Set, Inc!

Happy New Year, all! I have very exciting news to share today! Selena Green (a fellow Drollerie Press editor) and I have opened up our own editing service! It’s called Type Set, Inc.

Typesetting, in its hey-day of movable type, was composed of setting each letter for printing in place by hand, with careful precision to avoid errors.

Type Set Inc. endeavors to devote the same type of meticulous care towards editing and formatting for today’s digital world. Whether looking to land an agent or self-publish your own work, Type Set, Inc. will do its best to help you put only your very best material forward.

Selena and I will be offering line edits, content edits, in-depth edits (a combo of the two) and formatting services for all electronic formats, including .pdf, which are a reader favorite. (These are a special love of mine, I make a pretty gorgeous .pdf, if I do say so myself!).

And right now, as part of our grand opening, we’re having a giveaway of FIVE twenty-five page edits! Go here and see how you can win!


Spooktacular Blog Hop: Book Swag Giveaway! (US ONLY)


Big thanks to I am a Reader, Not a Writer and The Diary of a Bookworm for hosting this GINORMOUS blog hop!

Over 400 participating blogs are offering a book-related giveaway and we are all linked up together so you can easily hop from one giveaway to another.  The hop runs from Monday, October 24th through Monday October 31st.

On my blog I am giving away a WHOLE BUNCH of book swag:

Look at those beauties! Altogether we have:

  • A Bloodlines/Vampire Academy Tote
  • A Love Never Dies DVD Book Sampler with sample chapters & exclusive content from TEN different books: Fallen  & Torment by Lauren Kate, Fairy Tale & Sleepless by Cyn Balog, The Forest of Hands and Teeth & The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan, Revolution by Jennifer Donnely, Give me a Call by Sarah Mlynowski, The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart, and Kiss Me, Kill Me by Lauren Henderson
  • Two Vapire Academy Graphic Novel promo cards
  • An Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon promo card
  • Two Twilight Graphic Novel postcards
  • A set of EIGHT additional book cover postcards including: Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor, Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi, Sweetly by Jackson Pearce, The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch, The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl, Gossip Girl: Psycho Killer by Cecily Von Ziegesar (perfect for Halloween!) and Glee: Summer Break.

Sorry guys, but this one will be US only.

To enter to win this GREAT prize pack, fill out the form below. Must be subscribed to win:


Continue reading