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Guest post by Rod Raglin: Rushing to publish could mean blowing your best opportunities

Reblogged from BookLikes:
Rod Raglin is a journalist/photographer/writer living on the west coast of Canada. He is author of the five novels; THE BIG PICTURE - A Camera, A Young Woman, An Uncompromising Ethic, FOREST - Love, Loss, Legend, and the series ECO-WARRORS that includes SPIRIT BEAR, EAGLERIDGE BLUFFS, and NOT WONDER MORE - Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients.
Someone one wise once said: There is no right way to write. So true. But we all want to do it the right way, right? 
Rod decided to share his writing process secrets in this little piece about his personal writing experiences with some essential tips & tricks that may come in handy not only for writers but also readers and reviewers. Enjoy! 
So you’ve finally finished your novel.


What you’ve accomplished is significant and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. How many people do you know who have spent countless hours by themselves sitting in front of a keyboard creating an imaginary world?

It’s only a matter of time before your creation changes your life, and that can’t happen too soon. What are you waiting for? It’s time to start submitting it to all those fortunate agents and publishers you’ve selected, right?


I was once like you, full of enthusiasm and hubris upon completing my first novel. To get my masterpiece published I pulled in all my favours, two actually. I had an acquaintance who knew Jeffrey Archer personally (yes, that Jeffrey Archer), and I had a business associate who was an editor in a well-respected publishing firm.

The first response came from Archer’s agent. She suggested I take some writing courses. A little while later the editor returned my manuscript. She’d taken the time to line edit the first chapter complete with margin notes. Suffice to say the editing notes all but obscured the original text.

At the time I didn’t realize it, but I had just blown two really good opportunities in my rush to get published.  That manuscript is still buried somewhere in my filing cabinet. I’m too embarrassed to look at it.
Most recently I’ve taken on writing and and doing video book reviews* of the work of new, self-published authors.
I’ve written a lot of book reviews, but in this category – new, self-published authors the average star rating is 2.8, a bit better than I didn’t like it, but not quite as good as I liked it.
A few of these authors are brilliant, but most, though they have potential, are hampered by lack of craft. If they continue writing and reading I know they’ll improve. Writing is like most things – the more you do it the better you get.
I have to add a caveat to that statement. Your writing will improve if you continue to do it while seeking out constructive criticism and taking it to heart.
Most of the novels I’m giving two stars to have been rushed into publication. I know you’re excited, but remember – it’s never as good as you think it is, and it can always be better. Yes, always.
Here are some suggestions you might want to consider when you’ve completed your novel. It’s what I do and though it hasn’t garnered me success, it’s at least saved me further embarrassment.
- I revise the manuscript a minimum three times or until I feel it’s finished.
- I read it out loud (it drives my cat crazy).
- Then I put it away for at least three months or however long it takes to get it out of my system.
- While I’m waiting to be purged, I work on something completely different.
- Once I’ve put some distance between my ego and the book, I’m ready. I take out the manuscript and send it to as many beta readers for comment as I can. If you don’t have a stable of readers who are free from conflict of interest – that means no family and no friends, join a writing group, online or otherwise, and workshop the novel.
Once I’ve decided it’s time for the final rewrite I gather all the comments and criticisms together and begin.
When I’m finished I have another decision to make. Do I begin the traditional submission process or save myself a lot of time and frustration and go directly to self-publishing?
If you follow this method I guarantee your final version will be different and better than it was when you deemed it complete. And if someone does recommend your book to Oprah or the New York Times decides to review it, it will be perfect – or as perfect as you could make it.
Keep writing and remember what Nietzsche said:
The doer alone learneth.
* Video book reviews of self-published authors now at
Not Your Family, Not Your Friend Video Book Reviews: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH45n8K4BVmT248LBTpfARQN



Rod Raglin





This blog will touch on the experiences I have as a writer (not to be mistaken for my experience as a writer, i.e. how many books I've written, etc); the pleasure and the pain, the joy and the grief, the satisfaction and the frustration, the magic and the reality - have I left anything out, oh yeah, the rejection, rejection and more rejection,  the humiliation and the embarrassment, the jealousy and the resentment - that pretty much covers it, except for why I do it which perhaps I'll realize along the way. Are you totally confused? Good, let's begin... Go to Rod's blog ->

Luna's Lost Ball (Shiloh and Friends) (Volume 1)

Luna's Lost Ball (Shiloh and Friends) (Volume 1) - R.A. Milnes II When Luna the Labrador loses her favorite yellow ball, she asks Shiloh for help. Shiloh, in turn, seeks help from her many friends around the farm. Will Luna get her ball back with the help of Shiloh and friends?

Shiloh and Luna are two dogs based on the author's real pets. The story is told only in dialogue, with each character's speech designated by a small icon. As they become more proficient readers, the kids will have fun taking turns reading out the parts of the different animals.

The illustrations are bright and colorful, with plenty to keep young eyes occupied. The kids will learn their colors as they read along, with many references to different colored objects. They will also learn to identify different animals, with a selection of farm animals being featured. This might be a good opportunity to reinforce the different noises animals make, as well. You can even get the kids to count different things, such as the flowers, clouds, and trees. And it's all wrapped up with a nice message that friends can work together to solve a problem.

A fun read with a lot of teaching opportunities.

I received this book in return for an honest review.

Full blog post: http://booksdirectonline.blogspot.com.au/2015/06/lunas-lost-ball-by-r-a-milnes-ii.html

Bubbles: Big Stink in Frog Pond

Bubbles: Big Stink in Frog Pond - Ben Woodard, Fran Riddell Bubbles is a little frog who is a little bit different to the other frogs. He has a big, embarrassing problem - he can't help but make smelly bubbles in the communal pond. The other frogs all decide it's time for him to go. But when disaster strikes, who will come to the rescue?

The illustrations by Fran Riddell are beyond cute. The kids will have fun trying to spot the little red ladybug while they are reading the story. This book is a nice reminder that we are all different, but that our differences are not necessarily bad.

Recommended for children ages three to seven, especially boys.

I received this book in return for an honest review.

Full blog post: http://booksdirectonline.blogspot.com.au/2015/06/bubbles-by-ben-woodard.html

Mother's Nature

Mother's Nature - Wally Runnels This is another in Wally Runnel's series featuring Rocky, an ex-military, one-armed hitman. In this story, Rocky reluctantly agrees to find Moya, the aunt of his best friend, Hector. Moya is both a curandera (witch) and a nagual (shapeshifter). But what Rocky encounters is even weirder than even he expected.

Rocky is an interesting character with a skewed moral compass; he dislikes killing animals - even snakes - but has no problem killing humans - as long as he is paid to do so. The author skilfully interweaves Rocky's back story into the narrative, making us understand his motivations and his never-ending quest for his lost love, Bo Kwan. Set in the In-Ko-Pah mountain ranges on the border of California and Mexico, the author gives us a great sense of place and deftly creates a sinister atmosphere. And he has impeccable timing when delivering the final blow.


I received this book in return for an honest review.

Full blog post: http://booksdirectonline.blogspot.com.au/2015/06/mothers-nature-by-wally-runnels.html

The Sins of Castel du Mont

The Sins of Castel du Mont - Rosemary Bracco Greenbaum Kohler This is a fascinating account of the history of The Castel du Mont, where the author grew up with the dubious honor of being the first legitimate child to be born there. The author presents us with a history of The Castel, interwoven with three different stories pieced together from many years of painstaking research and interviews with the old villagers. There is the story of Bianca, who has an affair with Percivalle, the son of her husband, Count Di Massimo; the story of Clara, the miller's daughter, who undergoes an "initiation" at the hands of the Padrone of The Castel and his priest, Father Francesco; and finally, we have the heart-breaking story of Roxanne and young Father Claudio.

Each story is an account of the sex, lies, and scandals surrounding the aristocracy of The Castel and senior members of church. There are a number of editing errors in the manuscript but, overall, it is very well-written and the author has a great style that lends itself to historical fiction.

A real-page turner, this one will leave you wanting more.

Warnings: sex scenes, violence.

I received this book in return for an honest review.

Full blog post: http://booksdirectonline.blogspot.com/2015/06/the-sins-of-castel-du-mont-by-rosemary-kohler.html

Heaven's Vault

Heaven's Vault - Pavarti K. Tyler Maia wakes up in the desert and can't remember who she is. She fears someone is out to get her, but who? With the help of Jaren, she starts regaining her memory and is slowly able to piece together her past. But when she finally does, she struggles to find the purpose for her existence.

This is a lovely tale of longing, love, and sacrifice. We, too, must work to piece together the puzzle that is Maia's life. Another beautifully written and touching story by Pavarti K. Tyler.

I received this book in return for an honest review.

Full blog post: http://booksdirectonline.blogspot.com.au/2015/06/heavens-vault-by-pavarti-k-tyler.html

Simple Sleep Solutions: How to Profit from Your Dreams

Simple Sleep Solutions: How to Profit from Your Dreams - J.P. Nicolais, Roger Jones, Bonnie Damron In Simple Sleep Solutions, the author shares a simple technique that works for him 90% of the time. After discussing some basic factors that may influence sleep, he shares his technique and cites some reasons for its effectiveness. He also provides tips for adapting the technique to suit your own needs. The second part of the book deals with dreams and how they can affect both your sleeping and waking life. Tips for remembering your dreams are also provided. The book is illustrated throughout with photographs that help set the mood and promote relaxation.

This book is very spiritual in nature, and it is clear that the author is passionate about the subject and keen to help others with their sleep problems. The technique outlined is certainly worth trying if you have trouble sleeping. There is also a list of websites and articles providing solutions of a more physical nature.

I received this book in return for an honest review.

Full blog post: http://booksdirectonline.blogspot.com/2015/05/simple-sleep-solutions-by-jp-nicolais.html

Finding Harry Styles

Finding Harry Styles - G.B. Hope After an unexplained event takes out all electricity, communications, and transportation in the US - and possibly the rest of the world - we follow two men searching for the same girl: Michael Clavell is in Connecticut and is trying to find his way to his girlfriend in New York; and Liam McCalister disembarks from a cruise ship in Massachusetts and tries to find his sister. During their travels, Michael and Liam encounter extreme violence, but also great gestures of kindness, friendship, and even love.

Throughout the course of the book, we are introduced to an enormous cast of characters - too many to keep track of even with the list at the beginning. Most of the female characters are not portrayed in a very attractive light. However, most of the male characters are not to be admired either, being violent and/or sexually depraved. A couple of ruthless men take advantage of the situation and set themselves up as leaders, forming their own communities with hierarchies and rules, mostly for their own advantage. This book provides a surreal glimpse into what lengths some people will go to in order to survive, and what trivialities other people will cling to in the face of doom. While this book deals with a lot of serious issues, it maintains a mostly ironic and slightly humorous tone.

Overall, I felt that most situations were resolved too easily. However, be warned, there is a cliffhanger ending and many issues do remain unresolved.

I received this book in return for an honest review.

Full blog post: http://booksdirectonline.blogspot.com.au/2015/05/finding-harry-styles-by-g-b-hope.html

Darker Places

Darker Places - Shaun Allan Darker Places is a collection of thirteen poems interspersed with thirteen short stories, mainly horror or paranormal, with a hint of humor in some. They focus mainly on the themes of death, love, loss, hunger, and the passage of time.

The author comes up with some truly memorable lines in both his stories and poems, but the rhyming in some of the poems is a bit forced; I much prefer the free verse. The stories are well-written and full of atmosphere but can become a bit repetitive, with death staring everyone in the face. As such, this collection is probably best sampled in small doses, much like a box of fine chocolates. Enjoy!

The poems:
Summer Loving
Swept Away
The House on the Hill
Little Dead Riding Hood
Never Again
The Face of the Storm

The stories:
The Coming
The Masquerade
The Lake
The Crow
Stolen Moments

I received this book in return for an honest review.

Full blog post: http://booksdirectonline.blogspot.com/2015/05/darker-places-by-shaun-allan.html

Ollie the Orca

Ollie the Orca - Laura Maw Bubba the dolphin meets a creature with a dorsal fin and a tail similar to his own. It turns out to be Ollie the Orca, who is in need of rescuing. Find out how Bubba saves Ollie and makes a new friend.

The illustrations by Mike Motz are extremely cute and help bring the story to life. There is a nice lesson for the kids here about not venturing out alone.

I look forward to sharing the further adventures of Bubba and his buddies.

I received this book in return for an honest review.

Full blog post: http://booksdirectonline.blogspot.com/2015/05/ollie-the-orca-by-laura-maw.html

Lola Carlyle's 12-Step Romance

Lola Carlyle's 12-Step Romance - Danielle Younge-Ullman Lola's friend Sydney is in rehab and so is Lola's crush, actor Wade Miller. So, when Sydney asks Lola to join her for a detox holiday at Sunrise Rehabilitation Center, Lola fakes an alcohol addiction to get admitted - only to find out that Sydney has checked herself out! Now Lola is stuck in rehab with two roommates who cause her grief and a seriously bossy mentor. Lola is forced to confront a few home truths, but she might find romance in an unexpected place - and this fake rehab stint might turn out to be the best thing she's ever done.

This book is laugh-out-loud funny in some parts, especially when Lola is checking into rehab and during the trip to Disneyland. Lola is funny, sassy, and slightly misguided, but you can't help but like her. It's nice to see her growth over the course of the book.

A light, funny, romantic story with a few sobering (excuse the pun) moments.

I received this book in return for an honest review.

Full blog post: http://booksdirectonline.blogspot.com/2015/05/lola-carlyles-12-step-romance-by-danielle-younge-ullman.html

Rachel's Day in the Garden: A Kids Yoga Spring Colors Book

Rachel's Day in the Garden: A Kids Yoga Spring Colors Book - Giselle Shardlow, Hazel Quintanilla Join Rachel as she plays in her garden with her dog, Sammy, on a typical spring day. You will learns about the different colors as they relate to nature. Rachel also demonstrates ten yoga poses, each with a corresponding keyword in the text (e.g., sun, rain, tree, etc.). The poses are summarized at the end of the book. There is also a Parent-Teacher Guide to help you get the most out of sharing this story with young children.

The collage-like illustrations by Hazel Quintanilla are absolutely breathtaking. You'll have to go back over the book just to admire them. This is a beautiful and educational book, perfect for spending a bit of quality time with the little ones and to encourage them to get active.

I received this book in return for an honest review.

Full blog post: http://booksdirectonline.blogspot.com.au/2015/05/rachels-day-in-the-garden-by-giselle-shardlow.html

The Truth: Diary of a Gutsy Tween

The Truth: Diary of a Gutsy Tween - Barbara Becker Holstein A young girl shares her secret diary, in which she reveals the "truth" about her life from ages 11 to 13. She tells us about her family, her best friend Angela, the new boy Paul who she has a crush on, her inability to communicate with her mother, her annoying six-year-old brother, getting picked last for the kickball team, and even a few "gross" personal secrets.

As you can see, this book covers a diverse range of topics. It will open up the lines of discussion for parents to talk to their tween girls about getting their first bra, having a crush on a boy, swearing, parents fighting, younger siblings, mean girls, independence, wearing makeup, self-esteem, fighting with their best friend, animal cruelty, the Holocaust, school grades, keeping healthy, menstruation, the fear of growing up, death, suicide, moving home, coping with homework, taking drugs, and body image.

I believe this is an updated version of the book originally published in 2007. While there are many modern references (e.g., computers, Facebook, cell phones, email), there is also reference to a phone with a dial (not buttons) and having to retype a three-page paper (not necessary if you're using a computer). The books the girl reads are also really old (e.g., Nancy Drew, Little House on the Prairie, Black Beauty) and, even though this is somewhat explained later in the book, it still feels like this is more what the author herself would have read as a child.

I encountered a few other problems: the diary entries are a bit too far apart to be real (e.g., the girl skips over Christmas two years in a row); the girl's friends should have come over on July 17 when she was going to teach them how to bake brownies, but this didn't happen until August 7); there are unanswered questions, such as how her fight with Angela is resolved; the girl only mentions her new friend Dawn a few weeks after they first meet; from the beginning of the diary to December 5, each entry ends with a "truth", then there is no mention of the "truth" until June 30 the next year.

As an adult I found the book to be a bit contrived and preachy, but it is probably well-suited to the 10 to 13 young adult target audience. It brings back memories of first love and the intense emotions of friendship and wanting to fit in. The story is followed by discussion questions for kids.

I received this book in return for an honest review.

Full blog post: http://booksdirectonline.blogspot.com/2015/05/the-truth-by-barbara-becker-holstein.html

Death and Jelly

Death and Jelly - Cara Doll Every woman Markus comes into contact with, dies inexplicably. His only friends are Bach and Gian, the tutor of the awkward sixteen-year-old Violett. Markus becomes obsessed with Violett but spends his time actively avoiding her, as he doesn't wish any harm to come to her. But then, they finally meet ...

As Violett says about Markus, she is "already in love with his style of explanation ... ". Well, that's how I feel about this author's writing. The writing is beautiful, whimsical, funny, and heartbreaking. It is full of dark humor and longing, and reminds us of those intense feelings of first love.

The paranormal element surprised me but, at that point, I already loved the story and the characters so much that I didn't care. And the ending ... Why did it end like that? Why didn't anyone tell me there is another book after this one? As much as I hate cliffhangers, I still have to give this book 5 stars.

My top pick of the year so far. Absolutely delightful.

I received this book in return for an honest review.

Full blog post: http://booksdirectonline.blogspot.com/2015/05/death-and-jelly-by-cara-doll.html

Katie and the North Star

Katie and the North Star - Katie Lopez, Bethany Lopez Katie and the North Star is written by Bethany Lopez and her daughter Katie, after whom the main character is named. In the story, Katie befriends a fallen star and wants it to stay with her. However, she finds out this star is Polaris, the North Star, who must make its way home. Katie learns about the importance of the North Star in helping travelers find their way.

The illustrations by Hetty Mitchell are absolutely delightful; I just wish there were more of them. They give the story an old-fashioned feel and, because of this, the story is timeless.

This book will teach your little ones about friendship - and even a bit of astronomy!

I received this book in return for an honest review.

Full blog post: http://booksdirectonline.blogspot.com/2015/04/katie-and-the-north-star-by-bethany-and-katie-lopez.html

Caterpillar Shoes

Caterpillar Shoes - Angela Muse, Ewa Podleś Patches is a caterpillar sporting all the colors of the rainbow. Follow along as she tries to decide which shoes she should wear and what she should do today. And find out why caterpillars have so many feet!

The illustrations by Ewa Podles are bright and colorful and full of texture. Unfortunately, the rhyming text doesn't flow very well, and there are a couple of editing errors. Nevertheless, this is a cute book that can help your child learn about colors. The story is followed by interesting caterpillar facts.

I found this book during a free promotion.

Full blog post: http://booksdirectonline.blogspot.com/2015/04/caterpillar-shoes-by-angela-muse.html