Happy 6 months to Magic & Mayhem!

It’s been six months since I started this blog. For some reason, it feels like a lot longer, but I think it’s because so much has happened in my real life since it started. Keeping up with a blog is not as much work as I had feared but more work than perhaps I was prepared for.

I love doing reviews. I enjoy helping other authors and readers — sharing the self-published gems I’ve found and contributing to that pile of reviews we all need to be successful. I’ve met some great people, and to be quite honest, I’ve been surprised at how professional just about everyone has been. I haven’t yet run into an ungracious author, although I’m 100% sure I have made some people unhappy by turning down reviews or publishing some brutally honest opinions.

Before I sign off, I wanted to do a quick round-up of the stats over the last six months. Since I’m listed on three sites (The Indie ViewThe Book Blogger List, and Kate Tilton’s Book Bloggers), I get more review requests than I could possibly handle, even though I wish I could help more. And here are the numbers from the last six months:

  • Total books reviewed: 49 (3 [a trilogy] read, written, and ready to be published)
  • Review requests received and responded to: 135
  • Review requests accepted: 23
  • Accepted reviews completed: 17
  • Reviews I didn’t reply to because they were unspecific and confusing, blatantly ignored my Review Policy, or were otherwise rude: 14
  • Number of unwanted spam email newsletters / Kickstarter spam requests subscribed to: 2
  • Number of unwanted spam email newsletters / Kickstarter spam requests that refuse to remove me from their list: 1 (And it’s political and not even remotely within my sphere of interests. Bad.)

And that’s the numbers for the end of 2013/beginning of 2014, since I love numbers. Happy six months, Magic & Mayhem!

Have you added my forthcoming release, Guarding Angel, to your Goodreads to-be-read list? You can also find me on Twitter and Pinterest.

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I’m looking for bloggers for a cross-blog critique event

If you’re a writer on social media (and you probably are if you’re reading this blog entry), you’re probably aware of the myriad critique events geared toward authors seeking representation: query critiques, first sentence critiques, first 250 word critiques, and other things of that nature. I personally haven’t seen any critique events geared toward self-published writers (though I will admit that I haven’t strenuously searched for them), but I think it’s time we had one!

Though nothing so exciting exists at the end of this event as an offer of representation, I still believe that it can be valuable to all of us as a community of writers to network and hone our writing. Not only that, but I’m not excluding anyone–traditionally published or those looking to be traditionally published can participate in two out of the three proposed events.

The event itself will be three weeks of critiques, each with a week-long focus. We bloggers will put out a call for entrants for two days. Then we will post the entries on our blogs and invite commenters to critique as many entries as they want, linking to each others’ blogs. We will need to moderate the comments, of course, but people have generally behaved themselves in other events I’ve seen, so I don’t expect trouble. (But we will be vigilant.)

Right now, I’m putting out a call for participating bloggers. At the moment, I have two confirmed participants besides myself, and I’m looking for at least two more (for a total of five). If I get more interest, fabulous! I’m not going to turn anyone down.

So let’s say there are five of us. We will each post five entries, one per day, throughout the week for a total of 25 entries. The submission window will be open for two days or until we reach 25 entries.

Here are the details thus far. Note that these dates are subject to change, depending on how quickly I can pull this together, everyone’s interest, and how this works with our schedules.

Weeks of May 12 and 19 – Post announcements and tweet that we’re welcoming participants
– Tues, May 13 – What is it? post + announcement of weekly giveaway
– Fri, May 16 – Who are the blog hosts? post
– Tues, May 20 – “Rules” post – Critique at least four other posts if you enter, be nice/helpful, don’t enter if you don’t want feedback
– Fri, May 23 – Reminder that NEXT WEEK is the first round of critiques

Week of May 26 – Critiques of first 500 words
Week of June 2 – Critiques of cover art (the only week non-self-pub can’t participate)
Week of June 9 – Critiques of book blurb or query letter

The format for each week would be:
– Sat prior to the critique week, 6 a.m. Eastern – Open for submissions to an email address I will setup
– Sun prior to the critique week, 5 p.m. Eastern – Closed for submissions – Or until we get (Number of bloggers) x 5
– Sun evening – I will sort through the entries and send them out to the bloggers
– Mon through Friday – Each morning at 6 a.m. Eastern a new batch of entries to critique goes live on each of our blogs (for a total of 5 unique entries each day)
– Fri, 5 p.m. – Weekly giveaway* ends – Blog post goes up with a reminder of next week’s critique or “end of event, thanks for participating”

*Giveaway – People love free stuff. If I get enough donations, we can also put on a Rafflecopter giveaway each week. So far I have the beginning of two sets of packages to give away:

1) To the entrants – One of the other bloggers is an editor and will provide a free critique of X pages (she’s still deciding how many) to one of the critique entrants, chosen by random draw each week.

2) To anyone who happens upon our Rafflecopter giveaway – I will donate e-copies of my new release coming out next month, and I have another person who will donate some money for an amazon gift card.

If you’re interested in donating, anything along those lines is appreciated (free copy of your book, editing services, money for amazon gift card). HOWEVER, it is not mandatory for any of the bloggers to donate to the giveaway. This was more of my “how to get the word out there” idea, and if it fizzles away with no interest, that’s fine with me. I’m not here to ask for your stuff.

Does this sound like something you’d like to participate in? Got some ideas for how to make it even more fabulous? Leave a comment here or send me an email at Samantha (dot) Saboviec (at) gmail (dot) com.

Review: Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Fellowship of the RingTitle: The Fellowship of the Rings, The Two Towers, The Return of the King
Author: J.R.R. Tolkein
Genre(s): Adult Fantasy

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Frodo Baggins knew the Ringwraiths were searching for him – and the Ring of Power he bore that would enable Sauron to destroy all that was good in Middle-earth. Now it was up to Frodo and his faithful servant Sam to carry the Ring to where it could be detroyed – in the very center of Sauron’s dark kingdom.

You might think it’s strange that even though I love fantasy, I dislike Lord of the Rings, but here’s the thing: It’s boring.

Yep. I said it.

Lord of the Rings is boring. The original books were boring, and the movies were boring. I forced myself to watch all of them, but it went like this: I had high hopes for the first one, even though I hated the book, which were dashed. During the second one, I sat in the theater, half an hour into the movie, wondering why I was subjecting myself to this torture. The third one I didn’t watch for years after it was released, and even then, it was on a lazy Sunday afternoon when I felt obligated to force myself.

In fact, now that I think about it, I don’t think I ever finished the books. I’m not sure how far I got, but since there were pages upon dozens of pages of “and they wandered,” I can guess it wasn’t that far. I mean, seriously, how long did they have to wander for? That phrase attributed to Tolkien, “Not all who wander are lost,” stirs my blood. The end of it should be, “… but even those people shouldn’t write a book about it.”

I’m sure fans of this series don’t agree with me, but honestly. I do not understand why people like it.

OK, I understand. It’s a magical world, with awesome creatures, interesting plot (when the plot finally happens), and a wholly new world. And it was at a time when publishing was a lot different than it is now. Back when I tried to read it, I looked up runes in an encyclopedia, learned how to write them, and covered my notebooks with runic phrases. (Mostly “Trust No One” because I was obsessed with the X-Files back in the day, as well.) I get the allure of the fantasy world, obviously, since I’m a big fantasy fan.

The thing is, I feel this way about a lot of the classics. Don’t get me started on Huckleberry Finn. I love Mark Twain. Interesting guy. But his books? No, thanks.

I’m sure this isn’t one of my most popular opinions, but I really felt like I had to get it out there. Yes, I like fantasy. No, I don’t like Lord of the Rings.

Phew. It feels good to get that off my chest.

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