Posts Tagged ‘book review’

Top three writing obstacles.




Ah the perks of the writing biz are great, to be sure, but let’s not sugarcoat it. There are some serious obstacles to making a go of it in this strange business. Here are a few I’ve faced personally.

1. You need an agent to get published… and an agent is looking for published writers.

Uh oh. Most publishing houses will not accept unagented submissions and most agents prefer a client with some publishing credits under their belt. That’s an obstacle, now isn’t it? How does one get around that? I published a three book series with Barbour before I was acquired by my agent. There are still a few houses (like Barbour and Harlequin) who will take unagented work, so you can try to build your career that way which will make you more attractive to an agent. You can also build your writing credits by contributing to magazines, ezines, blogs, etc. and even self publishing if you’re enormously committed to marketing that ebook. Every publishing credit can only make you more attractive to an agent.

2. Hours in….money out. It’s a time consuming business to write a book. The fastest I’ve ever managed is three months. As my agent says, “A good book is better than a fast book.” That said, the time investment is huge on a book that may never see the shelf. So what’s the remedy for that? There isn’t one, really, except to stagger your work and make sure there are several income producing projects afoot at one time. Also, books can be self pubbed, of course, but the quality needs to be just as amazing as it would be in a traditionally published novel.

3.  The “write what sells” vs. “what I want to write” dilemma. I know folks who absolutely love what they write and it sells like hotcakes. Me? Not so much. I tend to write “quirky” I’m afraid, and that doesn’t always translate into mainstream sales. Obviously, my publisher and I both want my books to fly off the shelves, but I can’t justify writing about topics just because they are popular. So what’s the answer? Somehow, I need to find that balance. I need to hear from my publisher what they feel is going to appeal to their readers (and they have a keen sense of this) and I must write my own story that balances both what the readers want with what I am comfortable writing. Best case is we hit upon a winner that makes us all happy.

What obstacles do you have in your work or daily life? How do you overcome them? Giving away a Starbuck’s gift card, a signed book and a fall treat this month.


Can you imagine being Fearless? A bitty book review blurb, Fearless, by Eric Blehm

FearlessHere’s another book from the California Women’s Retreat recommended reading list. Fearless, by Eric Blehm, is the story of Adam Brown, a Navy Seal killed in Afghanistan. His story, told through the eyes of his wife and fellow soldiers, is fascinating for many reasons. First off, it’s a description of the real life rigors a soldier must survive to become a Seal. Torturous, is the word that comes to mind. Second, it is the story of a man who struggled with addiction his entire life and the woman who steadfastly supported him to the end. Third, Brown’s testimony as a Christian who fearlessly faces struggles both internal and external is inspiring. I can only imagine what it would be like to live without fear. Adam Brown was truly a hero and I felt honored to be able to experience his life story. I believe you will, too.

Have you read this inspiring story? Can you recommend any other inspiring books about our soldiers?

The bitty book review blurb, Nearing Home, by Billy Graham

Billy Graham, Nearing HomeThis is a review one of the books I recommended at the California Women’s Retreat this month, condensed into a nice bitty blurb for busy bees.

There are a ton of books about how to stay married, how to raise kids, how to encourage a faith filled family, but Nearing Home, by Billy Graham is unique in that it focuses on the post retirement years. Billy Graham gives his perspective on “finishing well.” By this he means not just surviving the trials of aging and retirement, but how to make the most of our life in Christ during those years. He doesn’t sugar coat it, addressing his own physical failings and the impact of the loss of his beloved wife. I found it to be a much needed treatment of how to run the race all the way to the finish line.


A letter to Mr. Coben

Dear Mr. Coben;

I would just like to inform you that I am cranky this morning and there are sizeable bags underneath my eyes. Oh yes, I knew it was a bad idea to start reading your newest book, Caught, late in the afternoon.  Bad idea, bad idea, yet I still couldn’t resist and I continued not resisting until sometime after midnight. And the first line? I knew opening that red door would destroy my life? Was there really any way I could not be sucked into the story? I would like to say, for the record, I figured out the mystery around page 150. Then again on page 250 and again forty pages after that and finally the light dawned on page 438, the last one. Is that really quite fair, Mr. Coben? To write a book so filled with twists, turns and loop de loops that the poor reader is never sure until the very last paragraph wherein lies the truth? And the characters, Mr. Coben. Perhaps you could throw in a few of the cardboard variety instead of these fully fleshed, fully flawed types hiding secrets that are delicately teased out over the course of this maddening novel? Really, Mr. Coben, is it strictly necessary to toy with the reader in this way? And the absolute crumb on the cake, Mr. Coben, was the cruel way you inserted the chapter of Live Wire, your next installment, at the back. That was just beyond the pale. Imagine how many hours of sleep I’m going to lose  over that one. Please, Mr. Coben, at least have the decency to put a warning on the cover. DO NOT START THIS BOOK LATE IN THE DAY. Tired readers all over America will thank you.


Dana Mentink

A surprise sweetie!

Reviews are like boxes of chocolates, to borrow from Mr. Gump. You never know what you’re gonna get. That’s why the whole writing biz is slightly crazy making. You put your heart and soul into a project and it goes out into the big wide world where people are free to say that your precious tome was only fit to prop up a wobbly coffee table. Ouch! Being a writer of Christian fiction, that’s a double ouch! That’s why I was very pleased to read this kind review of Turbulence because it was written by a gal who doesn’t normally read Christian fiction. That means a lot as my goal is to write a good story that will lift readers up…all readers. I fall short, I am quite sure, but it is very sweet when I achieve the goal (or at least come close.) Thanks, Marisa! You made my day!