Tag Archives: novel

What a Review Actually Means to a Writer

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Review Tour of Movie Magic begins December 14. Watch my blog for details!

As I wait impatiently for more reviews for Movie Magic, I have been reflecting on the nature of the review machine. Authors are constantly asking for reviews. As a reader, maybe you wonder why. Why would we open ourselves up to criticism?

Here’s the thing, though. Reviews—even critical reviews—are not a bad thing for a writer. Sure, we gloat when we get a good review. What writer doesn’t count their five-star reviews on Amazon and feel a little gratified? But it’s the other reviews that truly reveal something to us.

For instance, my book Where the Heart Lies, published by Carina Press in 2012, has 14 reviews and a total of 3.7 stars. This book garnered me my first (though I am sure not last) two-star review on Amazon. It actually has two. Which were kind of “ouch” at the time, but both reviews are chock full of advice that I’ve put into play in my growth as a writer.

I read every review I get and I try to learn something from every review that doesn’t just say “not my cup of tea”. Because, you know, if it’s not your cup of tea, don’t drink it. If you do drink it and feel moved to say something, then say why it’s not your cup of tea. I can’t help it if you picked up the wrong cup of tea, but if I put something in your tea that you didn’t like, definitely tell me!

This is all a rambling way of saying reviews are not just status symbols for writers and we don’t just want you to write a review if you loved the book. Yes, I’d like to see a hundred or more five-star reviews on all my books, but not just because. I want them because I earned them. But if you feel I earned two or three stars instead, tell me why. Then read my next book and see if I paid attention. You might be surprised.

Would you like to review Movie Magic? Contact me for a free copy or sign up here:

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Please note, all review requests subject to approval by tour service/author.

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Interview with a magician: R.J. Lewis

With no further ado, then, please help me welcome R.J. Lewis (Arjay) to my blog.

Arjay interviewMGF: You started out as a puppeteer, went from there to performing magic and Broadway. You’ve written screenplays and been in movies and on television, and you’re now a resident magician for Princess Cruise Lines. I hesitate to ask, but how does all that lead you to write dark fantasy and horror?

Arjay: Actually I write in several genres, wherever the story takes me. My main series is a collection of murder mysteries that feature a psychic detective who is a professor of parapsychology. I have two books released in that series, Fire In The Mind and Seduction In The Mind. The Muse is a stand-alone, inspired by my writing of a short story The Dark, which appeared in H.P. Lovecraft Magazine of Horror. I used to avoid scary books, as I was a bit of a sensitive child. However, I have been won over by the writing of Dean Koontz and Stephen King. As a reader I just get pulled in so strongly by the writing and the excitement of the situations, despite the dark overtones.

MGF: Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Arjay: My entire life I have been surrounded by writers. My father wrote a novel, which I never saw, and the manuscript is long gone. I have written plays and live shows since I was fifteen or sixteen. Finally two of my mentors and friends were writers, Parke Godwin and Marvin Kaye. I learned early on the discipline of the work and the joy of when you have a good writing day.

MGF: You’ve mentioned the “call of the odd” to me. I used to write a little horror myself (not very successfully), and I’m still a consumer of horror, so I have an idea what this phrase means to me. What does it mean to you as a writer?

Arjay: I am attracted to the paranormal. Which is interesting, as I am a major skeptic. Since ancient times we have been handed down stories of unusual creatures and concepts that defy explanation, as well as tales of those with extraordinary gifts. I think there is a desire within us as a species to explore those concepts, and fiction is the perfect outlet. We can create entire worlds, but as writers we must people them with characters that will appeal and pull the reader into the story. If so, the reader will go anywhere you want to take them and they will enjoy the ride.

MGF: I have to ask, since it’s the anniversary of Harry Houdini’s death. Some people think performing magic led him to a belief in the occult and then to a desire to debunk fake psychics in his quest to find the real thing. Do you think your career in magic affected your decision to write about odd things like psychic detectives and parasitic creatures?

Arjay: Absolutely. On one hand I am a complete skeptic, and can debunk people who bend spoons and “read minds” with ease. But underneath, a part of me wishes to believe in the impossible. And that part is what makes me strive in my act to create effects that will leave the audience wondering. My act is the perfect counterpoint. On one hand, I tell the audience it is all a trick, but then I do things that leave them unsure.

MGF: The Muse was definitely part of that “call of the odd”. I know there’s a little story about how it came to be written. Can you tell us?

Arjay: In June of 1999, I had the desire to write a horror tale about a night guard who saw things in the dark—that were actually there. I had been a guard in my youth and always found the dark places in the warehouse I worked creepy and for some reason those feelings came to the forefront with that story. It wasn’t until the next day, when I read the news that Stephen King had been hit by a truck in Maine. I was overcome with an odd sense that something needed that story to be written and since he couldn’t, it moved to me. The thought stuck with me and I wondered what it would be like if there was something—an actual physical entity that could make people write—and not just write, but write best sellers. That concept became The Muse.

MGF: Okay, so your characters in The Muse go through some pretty dark stuff. Do you ever write something and wonder, Where did that come from?

Arjay: For me that sort of sums up that entire book. My villain in The Muse is a famous writer who is secretly a serial killer, and who has a symbiont living within him that influences him. I knew that the creature had to leave him, but I didn’t expect him to devolve into a monstrous killing machine. A lot of the book revealed itself to me as I went, and I kept saying “I didn’t see that coming” which was great fun.

MGF: I have to admit I haven’t started your series about the psychic detective (Fire in the Mind, Seduction in the Mind, Reunion in the Mind)—yet. They are definitely on my list. These books are coming out pretty rapidly. June, September and November of this year respectively. Any chance you’re going to take a break and let us readers catch up?

Arjay: I have six books in that series already written, so I intend to release the next three next year, fairly quickly as well. I have over a dozen finished manuscripts and I want to start to release them to build momentum and establish myself as a writer. After that I will have to write the new ones, so that will slow down the release a lot. However, I have rough outlines for eighteen In The Mind books, which will not only cover the lead character’s growth but the ups and downs of his relationship with the female lead.

MGF: So your first book was published in June of this year and you already have a backlist. You obviously write a lot. What is your writing routine like?

Arjay: I write every day and usually block out nine to noon for writing new material. I live on the cruise ship, The Ruby Princess , which allows me to wander to various place I have to write, even outside in a deck chair. In the late afternoon, I will do rewrites on books that are getting cleaned up for the copy editor. If I have a release date looming, I put in evening hours as well.

MGF: Not that you need to, but because it starts tomorrow—any chance you’ll be joining National Novel Writing Month?

Arjay: My daughter, also a writer, is rising to that challenge. My rule is that I do not start a new book while one is sitting half done. This is why I have over a dozen finished novels. I have a book that I must turn my attention to in the In The Mind series, and I have a release on November 20 of Reunion In The Mind, so I must focus on getting that work finalized. However I will attempt to raise my word count for the month.

MGF: Finally, thank you very much for being my special guest today. It means a lot to have you here. I know my readers can go to your website (http://arjaylewis.com) to find out more about you and your novels. Anything else you’d like to include?

Arjay: Yes, I want to take a moment to praise YOUR writing. I went through your novel, Movie Magic all in one day and it is a great read. My complaint with many romance novels is that they sometime can be slow—often as a device to build the amorous tension. However, your book takes off like a rocket and keeps going, with vivid descriptions and fully developed characters, plus a four act structure that kept me turning pages. Since I have a background in magic and filmmaking, you really got the “feel” of what it is like to work in those industries. Plus the male lead is a magician! What more could I want?

What more indeed? Again, many thanks to Arjay for taking the time to answer my questions (and read Movie Magic). I’m looking forward to reading the In the Mind series and I highly recommend The Muse to anyone who enjoys horror. It’s fast-paced, horrifying and fun. And the twist ending caught even me off guard. Check out Arjay’s author page here: https://www.amazon.com/Arjay-Lewis/e/B071P9NND3/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

 

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October 31 and magic

Why do I launch my magic books on October 31? Could be one of several reasons. For instance, did you know on October 31, 2011, the global population reached seven billion for the first time in history? Yep. That day is officially known as the Day of Seven Billion. So, you know, lots of potential readers out there.

But that’s not it.

October 31 is, of course, All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints’ Day or Halloween, depending on your religion or lack of it. It’s a day for remembering the dead. A day for spirits and magick.

But that’s not it.

When I first started out my quest to make magic romantic, I did a lot of research about magicians. I read about magicians and magic through history. I researched different types of magic from illusion to mentalism. I watched videos, old and new. From David Copperfield and David Blaine to Houdini. I found out that Harry Houdini, master escape magician whose water torture escapes still elude much of the magical community, died on October 31.

And that’s it.

That’s it because not only did he die on October 31 but because of a pact with his wife, Bess, to do his best to contact her from beyond the grave, a seance is still held every year on the anniversary of his death. In fact, multiple seances are held. There’s even an online one. Harry Houdini, 91 years after death, is still encouraging people to believe.

That’s what I want to do with my writing. It’s why I started writing about magicians. I love that magicians can help us believe in something beyond ourselves, even when we know there’s a trick. A well-performed magic trick can, even for an instant, help us believe that maybe there’s something more out there.

Speaking of believing: This is the 90th year of the Houdini Seance. Do you believe Houdini will choose this year to contact us?

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Happy Launch Day, Movie Magic! (Check out the reading at the end…)

It’s October 31, and that means the launch of my new book, Movie Magic. I so enjoyed writing this one, and I’m so hoping you will enjoy reading it.

Today, we celebrate. At the end of the day (about 5 p.m.), I’ll draw names from all my commenters for prizes. Everything from signed copies of Movie Magic to Amazon gift cards. Every comment is eligible, and multiple entries are encouraged.

By the way, Ann Marie was the winner of the special edition Sleight of Hand perfume from Waft.com. I’ll be in touch with her to arrange delivery!

I leave you with this. It’s me, reading from chapter one of Movie Magic. I’m not big on public performances, but I really believe in this book.

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To my readers: Let’s get together.

In twenty-one days, Movie Magic hits virtual shelves everywhere. Meaning my part is done, and it’s up to you guys, my readers, to take it to the next level. You want to know what that feels like for the author?

For me, at least, it’s a strange sort of terrified resignation. I have such great hopes, and I know they can be dashed. Because they have before. Twelve books now—each one well-written with good plots and engaging characters (this from reviewers, not my personal assessment)—but not a bestseller among them. And no matter what I say about writing for myself, it’s not totally true, and I know it. I’m really writing for you.

Who are you? I’ve had the distinct pleasure of hearing from some of my readers. I love reviews because they give me an opportunity to know what I did right and fix what I did wrong the next time, but I never reply to them, although I always “like” them if given the option by the platform. Emails are even better. And I’ve even been invited to speak at a couple of book clubs. So much fun to discuss my book with someone who has read it!

I’m planning something special for the release of Movie Magic. A way for you guys to get to know me, if you so desire. It’s something that’s way out of my comfort zone, so I actually have to make sure it’s something I really want to do, but I’m thinking I’ll be able to do it. If you want to know more, join my Facebook party by clicking the graphic below. I look forward to seeing you there!

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Movie Magic release party!

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Abracadabra: A Facebook Party!

Hope you’ll join me on Facebook on October 31 for a Movie Magic release party!

Sleight of Hand Series 2-page0001

Movie Magic release party!

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Abracadabra: A charm of magic for you

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all find a little magic?

I look for it constantly. I glimpse it sometimes. In the faces of my children, in ripples of water, in the sight of a cardinal sitting outside my window. Rainbows are magic. Music is magic. Sometimes I smell a sweet smell on the breeze and can’t see the blossom it came from. Magic.

Abracadabra. The troubles of the world melt away leaving wonder and admiration.

With Movie Magic’s release date rapidly approaching, I’ve designed a giveaway for my readers that I hope will help spread a charm of magic to those who want it. I took a trip on Waft to create a perfume inspired by the magic I have seen in the world and tried to incorporate into my Sleight of Hand series. The winner of my contest will receive the magical fragrance and a copy of my newest Sleight of Hand book, Movie Magic.

How do you enter? Leave a comment here on my blog about the magic you’ve experienced. These comments will be monitored for suitability (I keep my blog as close to rated PG as possible), and if they are approved, the author is considered eligible to win.

So dig deep. Tell me what magic is to you. Have you seen it? Tell me about it and let’s spread a little magic to the world!

Contest ends October 28, 2017 and winner will be announced at 10 a.m. Eastern October 31, 2017 on this blog as part of my release day festivities for Movie Magic. Entrants should check here for details on how to provide me with a shipping address in case they win. I do plan to come up with second and third place prizes, but only the grand prize winner will receive the exclusive fragrance from Waft.

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