Thursday, April 30, 2015

All Hail the Whale and Review Musings

This week, I'm offering some brief (and random) thoughts.

As a crime-fiction writer, I spend a lot of time worrying about word counts. Should my mystery be 70,000 words? Is that too short? Is 100,000 words too long?

As a reader, I like longish books. I'm dragging around Stephen King's 11/22/63 right now (800+ pages), and I love Moby Dick (all hail the whale!), which weighs more than my six-year-old. I'm a slow reader, so both are major commitments.

But they're commitments I enjoy making. These two books and Great Expectations and Crime and Punishment are big books that will entertain you (and probably teach you something as well). If you're looking for a summer read, you can't go wrong with any of the four.

Second, in something of an epilogue to my post "First-World Problems," in which I mention the Kirkus review for my June novel – a review that gave me about 15 minutes of heartburn – I must share an excerpt received Monday from the second advanced review to roll in: “This edgy and emotional thrill ride will captivate readers.”—RT Book Reviews (4 stars).

The RT review is positive from start to finish and makes me wonder if the two reviewers even read the same book. These two contradictory reviews for the same book lead to many questions: Did one reviewer skim?

For me as author, will 50% of my readers miss the mark? (If so, that's clearly on me.) And what to make of reviews in general? How much do they mean and to whom? Who writes them? How much time is put into them? And so on. And so on.

I'd love to get readers' thoughts on those questions.

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