In defense of fan fiction

In defense of fan fiction.


I Smell Like a Paperback; It’s Not as Great As it Sounds

ImageI think I may have an addiction problem when it comes to perfume. Seriously, I have cabinets and drawers full of the stuff. And the geek in me delights when I see something that is related to writers or books. So, when I came across Demeter’s Paperback, I couldn’t hit the One Click fast enough.

This is a case of the product delivering exactly what it advertises. It smells like a paperback book. I mistakenly expected a perfume with notes of old paper and leather, like my beloved Dead Writers, but Demeter doesn’t go that way with their fragrances. They are not “inspired by” or just “notes of”… They smell exactly like what they’re named and that’s all. No other fragrances blended in.

Paperback smells like fresh paper, ink and glue. It doesn’t have the warm spice of old paper; it smells like a book you just purchased at Barnes and Noble. And while it’s a scent I delight in, especially when it’s emitted from a heavy sack of books just purchased, it’s not a fragrance I would choose as a perfume. I wouldn’t expect someone who catches a whiff of me wearing it to say, “Oh gosh, you smell so good. What is that scent you’re wearing?”

Demeter carries a huge list of fragrances, from food to flowers, and even some very unusual scents like mildew and dirt. I also purchased the caramel, which smells absolutely luscious. The only drawback is it only lasted two or three hours, at most.

That said, I’ll probably end up ordering a few more, possibly in lotion or roll-on form. (They sell quite a few choices for each fragrance.) And maybe wearing Paperback while I’m writing will remind me of my end goal, to see my words in print.

20 Best Gifts for Writers

Sara Toole Miller - Fiction & Non-Fiction Writer

It’s that time of year again.  The time of year you start giving gifts to the writer in your life.  Gift giving? What? Shouldn’t this post have been back in November before the holidays?  Well, yes.  But think about all those gift giving opportunities on the horizon.  Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, June birthdays (I don’t know about you, but I know so many people with birthdays in June.  Maybe people just get frisky when back-to-school rolls around.), and teacher appreciation gifts.  Then there are summer vacations.  I’m always looking for great hostess gifts for the multiple friends who house us on our annual summer road trips.  See, anytime is a good gift giving time!

If you’re anything like me, you’re always looking for the perfect gift to put a smile on your favorite writer’s face.  I’ve compiled a list of my Top 20 Best Gifts for Writers.  Enjoy and be…

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I Smell Like Dead Writers & It Is Awesome


I saw something come across my Facebook feed a couple of weeks ago and decided I had to try it. It was a perfume called Dead Writers made by Sweet Tea Apothecary. I think I’ve found a new favorite scent!

I ordered the sample pack, which contains four different scents for twelve dollars; shipping was free. They arrived quickly and were prettily packaged in a little cloth bag, tied with blue string. It would make a nice gift. They also included a 10% off coupon in the package they sent me, which I thought was very nice of them.

The four bottles are small, but the perfume oil is powerful. Each contains enough for probably about half a dozen uses.

The Writers scents are unisex. I’ve always liked spicy, musky, woodsy scents as opposed to sweet and flowery or fruity, so these aromas really appealed to me.

The first I tried, of course, was Dead Writers. At first sniff, encountering it while still in the bottle, I wasn’t sure I would like it. It’s one of those scents that smells much better on the skin and the longer I wore it, the more I liked it. It’s a warm, spicy scent. Like all of the perfumes in this collection, it’s difficult to describe because there are a lot of different notes working together. There’s a faint undertone of sweetness under the cinnamony-spice. It reminds me of the smell of old paper, and aged leather. It’s a rich, heady scent and I love it. I ordered a full-sized bottle today.

The second scent I tried was Dharma Bum, a scent based on Jack Kerouac. It’s spicy, with a strong note of patchouli. Like Dead Writers, it’s a complex scent that defies description in simple terms. Every time I smell it, a different note teases my nostrils. I have a feeling I’m going to end up ordering a full-sized bottle of this one, too.

ImageThoreau is a very green, woodsy scent. It’s lighter than the other fragrances in this collection, so if your taste runs more toward sweet, delicate scents, this one may be for you. The woodsy notes could make this smell good on a man, sort of a fresh, outdoors-y kind of cologne.

I’ll admit, I thought I disliked Lenore when I first smelled it, and it was the last sample I tried. In the bottle, I thought it had an “old lady” smell of cloying roses. But, I decided to give it a whirl because the other scents had been so much better than they had initially seemed while still in the bottle. Lenore turned out to be the same way. The roses are there, but it’s sort of “surrounded” by other scents, some of the spice of Dead Writers warms it up and blends beautifully with the rose. There’s also a hint of the “green” scent which makes it smell like a freshly cut rose instead of the stale, heavy “artificial rose” you encounter in  some perfumes. I’ve never been fond of floral scents, but I really wouldn’t call this flowery. Though it’s not my favorite of this collection, I’ll wear it and see if it grows on me.

All four perfumes seemed long-wearing. Today, I wore Dead Writers while I was out and about. After four hours, I was still catching whiffs of it. I thought it was interesting that my nose didn’t become “numb” to it the way it sometimes does when I wear other perfumes. Out of all of the samples, Thoreau seemed to be the least powerful, which makes sense, considering the others are comprised of more powerful scents.

I also ordered the sample pack of Pomp and Circumstance, a collection based on historical women, such as Anne Boleyn and Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. I can’t wait to try them.

Blogger Book Fair

Check in to the Blogger Book Fair,
and book your trip to far away places!

July 22-26, 2013

Authors and Book Bloggers,

Sign ups for the July 2013 Blogger Book Fair will close on June 15 at midnight central time, so get your registrations in to participate!

As of 5/31/2013, we have:

Authors: 89
Books: 233
Bloggers: 14

If you haven’t yet registered, you can find all of the information on the Blogger Book Fair page.

  1. Check out the Code of Conduct
  2. Fill out either the Author Sign Up form or the Blogger Sign Up form (Deadline June 15)
  3. Kayla will match everyone with hosts and send out this information to you after sign-ups close
  4. Check out the events–all authors are eligible to participate in the events, and if you have an event you’d like to host, just fill out the simple Event Sign Up Form–all of this information can be found on the Events! page (Deadline July 8).
  5. If you’re interested in hosting a giveaway to drive traffic to your site, sign up via the Giveaway Sign Up form (Deadline July 15).
  6. And if your book will be FREE or $0.99 for the duration of the Fair, you can sign up on the Free and $.99 Book Sign Up Forms (Deadline July 15).


as of 5/31/2013

Art Fiction Gala hosted by Lucie Smoker

Does your fiction promote the visual arts–through featuring an artist, painting, sculpture, performance art, etc? Then, consider entering Lucie’s Art Fiction Gala.
The Art Fiction Gala is a virtual celebration of fiction that highlights the visual arts. Dress up in your finest, pick up some friends–a bottle of wine–and sample mind-blowing fiction that crosses the line between literary and visual art. Plus a gallery of art featuring reading.
More information & entry instructions

Three Wishes hosted by Kirstin Pulioff

Introduce your characters to the world.
Kirstin Pulioff invites you to ask your main character, “If you found a magic genie lamp, what would be your three choices?
More information & entry instructions

Flash Fiction Challenge II hosted by Thomas Winship

Get ready to exercise your flash fiction muscles.
For the Flash Fiction Challenge II, Thomas Winship will provide an opening line.
From there, entrants will craft a flash fiction piece of approx 500 words. Entries will be displayed on Thomas’ blog Vaempires during the BBF, spread out evenly across the five days, in order of receipt.
More information & entry instructions

Snapshot Synopsis Contest hosted by Fel at The Peasants Revolt

Challenge: chisel your synopsis down to 50 words or less.
Voting will be open throughout the fair for visitors to vote on their favorite Snapshot Synopsis.
More information & entry instructions

Reader’s Choice Awards hosted by Sherri at Shut Up & Read

All books registered for the Blogger Book Fair are automatically entered into the running for the Reader’s Choice Awards. Voting will be open from July 22 to July 25.
More information

Indie Soap Box Files hosted by Shah Wharton

Take a turn on the Soap Box.
Shah invites speculative fiction writers to write a guest post about being an indie (or hybrid) writer.
More information & entry instructions
Restrictions: Speculative fiction writers only

Monster Menagerie hosted by Noree at Trip the Eclipse

What’s your favorite monster or supernatural creature?
Feature your creature in a flash fiction piece (500-800) words to be featured on Trip the Eclipse. Visitors will vote on their favorite piece.
More information & entry instructions

Ways to Help:

Blogger Book FairDonate to the Blogger Book Fair via the BBF Donation Fund. To help get the word out about BBF, we would like to place ads on Facebook, Goodreads and other places, but to do, so we need a little help. We’d also like to have some BBF sponsored giveaways, so money donated would also go toward prizes. NO MONEY WILL BE KEPT BY ANY ORGANIZER OR PARTICIPANT.

Spread the word! Share the Fair on your social media accounts and show off the Blogger Book Fair logo in your blog’s sidebar.

Join us on:

How to Write a Book Review on Amazon


How to Write a Book Review on Amazon

by itlnbrt

The following post by Gwen Perkins (used with permission) is a perfect follow up to yesterday’s blog on finding book reviewers. It walks you through how to write an Amazon review and the impact reviews have on sales.

As anyone who is or knows an author knows, many of us frequently go around wishing and hoping that our book will receive reviews on that book giant, Amazon. (I also wish and hope for Powell’s and Barnes and Noble’s but as more and more authors publish exclusively through the Big A, that’s what this blog post is about.) I thought that I’d explain my own reasons for wanting reviews and how they work. I’m choosing to address this via questions that I’ve received from friends and family.
1) I’m no good at writing an Amazon review. What do I say?
The beautiful thing about Amazon reviews is that you don’t have to be Roger Ebert. You can click a star rating and then write a couple of sentences about the book. Reviews can be as simple as “This book was really good. I wish there was more romance” or really elaborate.
Here are some things you could put in a review:
Adjectives that describe the book (it was good, it was awful, etc).
Say something you liked about it. Things that you could focus on could include the plot, a particular scene, characters, how things changed during the course of the story, etc.
If there was a moment or character that personally impacted you in some way, don’t be afraid to say so. Put yourself in the review. Authors love to know their readers and I know that I’m always touched when I can tell someone made a personal connection with what I wrote.
Talk about what you wanted to see more of or what needs improvement. Do you wish another character was in the book more? Say so. Did bad spelling distract you? Tell us that too.
Tips to remember:
Don’t be afraid to be honest. Do, however, remember to be helpful. Don’t just say “it sucks” but tell everyone why it sucked.
Don’t give away the ending of the book. You can allude to it very vaguely (“the ending surprised me”) but don’t say specific plot details.
You’re not being graded. Write a review as long or short as you want. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece of art—think of it more as a conversation or what you might tell people you know about this book.
Make sure that you read the book before you review. This seems like it should be obvious but… it’s not.
2) Do Amazon reviews actually affect a book’s sales?
I have to be honest with you and tell you that I don’t yet know for sure as I don’t have the “magic number” yet. This is what I understand to be true from conversations with my publisher and other authors:
Around 20-25 reviews, Amazon starts including the book in “also bought” and “you might like” lists. This increases your chances of someone finding your title.
Around 50-70 reviews, Amazon looks at your book for spotlight positions and the newsletter. This is HUGE. This is my personal goal although I use Amazon reviews for other reasons (more later on in this post).
Number of reviews may affect Amazon sales ranking. (Again, this is anecdotal–I have no actual proof of it.)
Some websites will not consider or promote your book unless you have a number of reviews on the page (this is very true of those sites that highlight free promos—I can attest to this).
And, of course, readers may read through your reviews and decide to purchase or not purchase the book based on this.
3) Whatever. I don’t care if you sell this wonderful/awful book. Why should I write a review if it doesn’t change how you write the next one?
Oh, but it does.
When I read my Amazon reviews, they tell me things that my editor might not. Let’s face it, an editor is only one person and even with beta readers, you’re working in a group of people who are familiar with the craft of writing. What an author also needs is the opinion of the average reader, that person who just picked up their book and doesn’t have an English degree.
While you have to have a tough skin about reviews, as an author, they’re very helpful. They can reaffirm something that you were already working on. For instance, I’d already decided to make one of my minor characters in my first book a point-of-view character for the second—my reviews have told me that people wouldn’t be uninterested in him. They can also point out things that you need to work on. In my case, exposition!
Likewise, positive reviews tell you what you’re doing right. If people rave about your characters, then that’s likely a good place to keep going. If reviews talk about the fighting scenes in a positive light, then you know you’re making a difference.
So, in short, yes, what you write in that review is fairly likely to change something about the book I’m working on now. Writing is a process.
4) But I really hated the book! Should I still review it?
Here is where I probably differ from some other authors so I’m going to speak only for myself here.
Yes. Absolutely. How will I know where to improve unless I get reviews that tell me so? Yes, it can be painful to read some reviews but am I ever going to say that there isn’t truth in them? No. After the initial sting, I’ll read it again and take something home from that. I’ll be a better writer for it. To be honest, not everyone likes every book. There are people out there who hate Harry Potter. It would be a little presumptuous to think that all of my reviews would be golden for any book (they’re not now and I don’t expect that to change. Especially not if anyone reads this post.).
The only thing that I ask is to please make sure you have something to say about why it is bad. The only review that I’ve ever been really irritable about was a one-star on an old short horror story I posted for fun where the reader said they were underage and hadn’t read it.
Having said all of that, it is really tough to be a small press or self-published author (I am the former). Bad reviews can kill a novel if they’re the first ones a book receives or if they’re all that the book has. Please hold this in mind if you decide to go forth. This post by Anne R, Allen does a good job of explaining the impact in more detail than I’ll get into here.
(Feel free to share this post or copy it for your own blog. All I ask is that if you do, please keep my author note.)
Gwen Perkins is a fantasy novelist who is always on the hunt for Amazon reviews for her first novel, The Universal Mirror (Hydra Publications, 2012). She can be contacted through email at
Kathy here: If you read my book, The Ruby Brooch, I hope you’ll write a review on Amazon. Matter of fact, I hope you write reviews for all the books you read! I know I will for now on.