Thursday, February 18, 2010

Blogs Revisited

This re-run thing is starting to become a habit now.

Normally I avoid discussing blog/review sites because I think being too chummy with my judges might be inappropriate. Recently of course, I did post an article where I listed a bunch, but even more recently, I found another. This one is very new. Only four posts and not a single comment left on any of them. It is the personal review blog of an aspiring writer and it shows in the stylishly entertaining quality of the essays. I fully admit I only found it because the second review posted was for The Crown Conspiracy, but many people have reviewed Crown now, still this site caught my attention.

I will admit that I like some reviewers more than others, and it might surprise you to learn the difference isn’t based on how much they liked my books. If a reviewer took the effort to read my work at all and then post about it, they get points. If they appear to have approached it with an open mind, they get more. And if they demonstrate that they understood it—what I am trying to accomplish and why-—then even if they conclude that it wasn’t to their taste, I have a huge amount of respect for them, even if they trash it. As an author, you get used to being judged, and you can tell the difference between honest opinion, constructive criticism, and spite—-if you can’t, you soon will. Also those reviewers who go above and beyond by doing additional homework, like reading related articles, blogs, visiting my website, and going to the effort of checking the spelling of all the crazy names I invented, are truly heroic in their dedication to their craft.

I have been blessed thus far with shockingly positive reviews, each of which I analysis to discover trends. One of my present theories is that male reviewers appear to prefer Avempartha to Nyphron Rising as opposed to female reviewers, possibly because there are more female characters central to Nyphron Rising’s plot, or perhaps because Avempartha is a tad more action oriented. None of this affects my writing; it is just interesting to try to rationalize why one person likes what another person doesn’t.

Some reviewers love my books unconditionally while others are a bit more jaded; giving the impression, they have been burned before. Some simply don’t understand them at all, jumping to false conclusions by forming preconceived assumptions. They believe they have seen everything and can spot a cliché a mile off. (Pardon the cliché.) This can be a little dangerous with my series as I have, in some situations, relied on knee-jerk expectations to try and fool the more experienced readers. Some reviewers-—and these are the real gems-—truly “get it.” They write reviews that pinpoint all the significant aspects of my creations and strategies as if they could read my mind. These are very few, but such a joy to find. They are like cooking for someone who cleans their plate, licks the fork, then comments on the subtle seasoning and how the dining room’s décor complemented the meal-—the stuff you never thought anyone would notice much less appreciate.

The blog review site I recently found is called WITH RYE'S OVERLAND DETOUR, A Fantasy Review, and while it hasn’t yet proven itself to be that insightful, it is different. For one thing, it’s side scrolling, which gives it a magazine layout feel. The overall design heightens this effect with lots of “white space,” attractive graphics, and even typography. The result is quite beautiful, but then I was into that sort of thing once. Nevertheless, it seems the creator has some experience in graphic design. But perhaps the most compelling aspect to the site is the voice of the blogger, Kevin Zhang, which is bright and full of positive excitement. He admits he is new to blogging and the fantasy genre in general, and lacks the typical cynicism of the veteran commentator. I must admit I find this refreshing along with his exuberant admiration of authors. His site is like a pristine field of freshly fallen unblemished snow and looking at it you just hope it can somehow stay that way.

His site has only been up since January, and he only has two reviews, but I hope he continues to work on it, and I will be certain to visit it even if he hates the rest of my series, or worse yet…doesn’t even read them.


  1. Thank you so much for the plug and compliments, Michael. I'm all jittery from the praise and am so glad you found my site. My first reader! I'm looking forward to finishing the series, and will definitely read and review everything--especially if you insert some scenes of Myron learning hand-to-hand combat from Hadrian :O