Best of Kindle Unlimited: Susan Ee

While most Kindle Unlimited authors are independent authors, there are a lot of wonderful traditionally published writers too. Susan Ee is another example of an author publishing through one of Amazon’s publishers and working with the Kindle Unlimited system to create a maximum audience.

Susan Ee’s work is marketed to young adults but the horror elements combined with griping story beats entertain all ages.  The story told in the Angelfall series isn’t unique.  I’ve read variations.  The beats didn’t surprise me as they may have surprised the younger audience.  But Ee creates full fledged characters readers can invest in.  Even if we know the story, we don’t know how these characters will handle it, and that’s what will keep adult readers engaged.

Take Aways from Susan Ee’s Success:

1.  Dark horror and the grotesque is for young adults too.  Ee’s books do not hold back in exploring the darkness in humanity.  She pushes body horror and explores all the ways people can be used.  Neither the “good guys” nor the “bad guys” flinch from acting in inhuman ways.  If “Angelfall” was a show or a movie series, I don’t know how it could get around an R rating.

2.  Creating relatable personalities and rounded characters is more than good writing, it will broadens a novel’s appeal.  Don’t shy away from differently abled characters either.  Much of the story’s conflicts come from the characters’ physical and mental disabilities and how that impacts them.  

3.  This a great example of a book series with a strong first book but better follow-ups.  Ee never faltered in her vision for “Angelfall” (or is she did, it doesn’t show in the final products).  Writer’s fatigue or a series decline in quality is not a constant fact of life!  The direction, pacing, and sense of stakes remains strong in each of Ee’s books.  

Looking for other great Kindle Unlimited Series? Check out our earlier write up on Amy A. BartolSara C. Roethle,  T. A. White, Charlie N. Holmberg, and Meg Elison.

Wondering why Kindle Unlimited?  Check out my post: 7 Reasons I read Kindle Unlimited

For further discussion on reviews try our “Would you Rather…” post that asks writers to pick between two different kinds of negative reviews.  Or try Do Critical Reviews hurt me as a Writer?

Or consider 9 Things that Make a Book Good (For Me)7 Steps I take Before Posting a Bad Review

Best of Kindle Unlimited: Meg Elison

While most Kindle Unlimited authors are independent authors, there are a lot of wonderful traditionally published writers too. Meg Elison is one author offering her work through Kindle Unlimited and winning the game.  

Elison is an essayist whose debut novel The Book of the Unnamed Midwife is a Philip K. Dick award winner.  In terms of quality, it’s hard to aspire for more within the science fiction genre.  Her stories are griping, emotional, and intellectual.  I love the questions her works pose and the journey her stories take me on.  Her presence on Kindle Unlimited helps to elevate the whole platform.  

Take Aways from Meg Elison’s Success:

1.  The female perspective and discussion of traditionally female centered issues have an audience.  While I’d argue “women’s’ issues” ARE human issues and everyone should listen and discuss them as they affect every man and woman, Elison does a beautiful job portraying that point within her fictional world.  She posits what would happen if women and children were rare commodities.  She explores several manners of extremism and different responses.

2.  LGTQ+ or GRSM (gender, romantic, and sexual minorities) as I prefer to group (it’s more inclusive and less letters to get there) and other controversial issues can be highly palatable and enjoyable in fiction.  Elison uses a fictional vehicle to explore core issues of identity and expression.  Self expression isn’t a minority issue, it’s a human one and this kind of exploration is compelling to a larger reading audience than a writer may assume.

3.  Don’t flinch from controversial subjects period.  Elison’s politics are all over her books and the view point creates a more interesting compelling narrative (even when one doesn’t agree with her take).  Perhaps the controversy even helps selling books?  I don’t know if Elison succeeds in spite of or because of the controversy in her books, but I know writers can take her success as a sign they don’t have to self censor to find a market.  We should write fearlessly and explore any theme we find compelling without angst.

4.  Play with different lengths and styles of writing.  Elison has a background as an essayist, if she’d stuck to that format she wouldn’t have an award-winning novel and a widely read series.  And who knows how much her essayist background helped form her style/craft to where she could pull together a thoughtful, griping, and lean manuscript.

5. Whatever you write and whatever your goals are, pursue them with a single minded passion.  When reading Elison’s book, it’s clear she cares about all the subjects she introduces to her manuscripts.  She’s invested in her writing and making her point and readers can see that level of commitment and will respond  

Looking for other great Kindle Unlimited Series? Check out our earlier write up on Amy A. BartolSara C. Roethle,  T. A. White, or Charlie N. Holmberg.

Wondering why Kindle Unlimited?  Check out my post: 7 Reasons I read Kindle Unlimited

For further discussion on reviews try our “Would you Rather…” post that asks writers to pick between two different kinds of negative reviews.  Or try Do Critical Reviews hurt me as a Writer?

Or consider 9 Things that Make a Book Good (For Me)7 Steps I take Before Posting a Bad Review

Would You Rather….

image from open clipart.org by oksmith

 

Fellow writers: would you rather a reviewer tell you that the book’s story and characters were amazing but the writing quality didn’t meet expectations or that your book’s writing was mind blowing but the characters and story were cliche retreaded territory?  Follow up bonus question: are your feelings hurt by either or these critiques?

 

I’m asking because I write a lot of book reviews (check me out on Goodreads/shameless plug) and they are critical, even on books I like. I wonder like many aspiring writers might, what effects if any of my reviews have on the authors and on my ability to reach out/break into their world of publication.  Am I speaking to other readers or do authors also follow discussions on their books?  Am I closing doors by breaking a book down or am I showcasing a thoughtful and attentive mind by considering so many facets?  For me these answers break down to whether my comments are offensive and insults are often in the eye of the beholder.

 

Assuming for the moment that critical discussion on aspects of a book don’t automatically equal injury, I want to know what specific kinds of critical discussion would be fair to discuss with an author.

 

Personally, I’d rather have characters and plot that a reader falls in love with than pitch perfect writing.  Things I want to hear include: “The characters felt very real,”, “I felt like I knew everything about these characters,”, “I needed to know more,”, “I’ve never seen this kind of story explored this way.”

 

That said, I have a distinctive sing song almost poetic style in all my writing.  I have an unique “tone.”  If someone compared my writing to another person’s style, I’d be curious to read more of that person’s work and excited to meet a kindred spirit.  If someone doesn’t like my style, I get that too.  It’s heavy in description, relies on alliteration, and is simile/metaphor heavy.  I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

 

Grammatically, I know I need serious help.  Critiques to that effect can dishearten me after I’ve gone through editing that relates to correcting grammar, but it doesn’t cut me.  Either I can go back in and correct the grammatical errors (a bonus to electronic publishing), or I’ve made the error in favor of how a phrase flows or draws out a feeling fragmented instead of a full detailed thought.

 

Does it all boil down to where we as writers are insecure?  My confidence in writing style makes me believe problems in my book must be character/plot related, and therefor I’m more concerned with feedback from those quarters.  I still want the feedback.  For me there is never enough feedback or feedback that’s too harsh as long as it comes with specific examples so I can follow another’s thoughts.

 

Please give me your thoughts.  Do you fear another kind of feedback?  If someone published you would negative or mixed reviews hurt your feelings?  And how do you rate books/media?

Author’s Blogs and Websites

This isn’t really an exhaustive list. I’ll dig up some more and add them later or post in a separate post. Most of these authors I’m friends with or follow and Facebook and they cross post or link their blog articles to their Facebook pages. I really need to find more blogs about writing itself – the posts in these vary between promotion, cross-promotion, reviews (not just of books), and some politics (but I’ve omitted the ones who are mostly political).

Adam Troy-Castro is a novelist and short story writers who writes most SF and horror. He also writes book review columns. He has a huge Facebook following because he’s witty, opinionated, and likes to engage people in discussions. In fact, he posts occasionally to remind people who’ve followed him for other reasons that he is a professional writer. There are a lot of good, in-depth movie reviews here.

Steven Barnes is a writer I’ve been reading a long time, starting with his collaborations with Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle in the 1980’s. He teaches Lifewriting seminars and writes a lot about life coaching, Afrofuturism, and martial arts.

John Scalzi is a hugely successful SF writer. He isn’t very active on Facebook, but is all over Twitter. His blog, Whatever, is extremely popular and often controversial. One of the cool things he does is to use his large audience to let others promote their books (look for the posts titled The Big Idea:)

Ari Marmell‘s blog, Mouseferatu, is mainly used to keep his readers up-to-date with what he’s working on. Ari has written for RPG games and has quite a few novels as well, including one of the funniest fantasy novels I’ve ever read, The Goblin Corps, and an urban fantasy series set in the 1930’s about a Fae detective named Mick Oberon. He has a Patreon which gives his supporters free stories, beta reads of chapters as they’re completed, and a few other perks.

Stephanie Osborne is a local Huntsville writer who is retired from NASA. Several of her books are small press published, including her latest series, the Displaced Detective, which are about Sherlock Holmes transported to the modern day United States. She’s also collaborated on several books with Baen authors, including Travis Taylor, another Huntsville native (and star of the show, Rocket City Rednecks).

As far as what I read online about the process of writing, I’d say it’s most often Reddit’s r/Writing or some of the other subreddits about fantasy and SF writing, reviewing, etc. Maybe that should be another blog post to go over the various writing subreddits.

BONUS:

John Picacio is a cool artist and an acquaintance of mine from a few conventions. I like his art (I have two framed prints of his at home and several of his Loteria series cards) and he’s a cool guy. I used his Loteria painting La Sirena as a partial inspiration for “The Rusalka’s Embrace” story I wrote recently.