poetry review

3 Poetry Review Tips for Non-Poets

Baffling, I know, but the fact is: not everyone is a big poetry fan. 😀 However, even if you couldn’t tell the difference between a sonnet and a haiku (and wouldn’t care to), here are some tips to help you give your poet colleagues helpful feedback on their work in your writing groups and / or review the poetry of your favorite indie authors.

1. Relax and Contribute to the Poem’s Review

Even if you don’t think you “get” poetry, you can still be helpful. You do your fellow authors a disservice when you keep quiet just because you aren’t an expert (whatever the fuck that means) on poetry. Poetry is just another form of expression, especially emotional expression. Most poems are a mere reflection of an event (everything from a near-death experience to a passing thought while waiting for the bus) that the poet has strong feelings about. Treat the poem like that person is telling you about their day at work, that traumatic event, or that passing thought they had, in a flowery / gritty / cryptic way.

2. Be Honest About Your Reaction to the Poem

Guess what? Saying that you were confused is a valid answer!

There may have been parts of a poem that shocked you, intrigued you, scared you, or even lead you to feel angry or sad. If you experience any specific emotions, this can be what you share with the poet. There’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to react to a poem. Nodding back to tip number 1: Just relax.

 

3. Be Specific in Your Poem Review

If you were confused, try to flesh out why. Were there too many words used that you didn’t know the meaning of (signifying that the poet may want to look into simplifying the language)? Was there a total disconnect in your mind between what the poet wrote and what they said they were trying to convey (signifying that the poet may want to consider sharpening the imagery)?

If the poem lead you to feel sad, which line stood out as the most depressing to you? If the poem lead you to feel shocked, at which word, line, or stanza did you first have that reaction?

 

 

Arm yourself with these three tips whenever you go into a writing group that you know poets frequent and you should be able to stay involved in the discussion. Remember these as well when you are attempting to craft a review for a book of poetry in order to publicly support your fellow independent authors!

 

 

 

 

 

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Angel's Feather Alina Popescu

Volo Press Reviews: Angel’s Feather by Alina Popescu

Wondering if this dystopian, homo-erotic, science fiction story is a good fit for you? Read the official Volo Press review of Angel’s Feather by Alina Popescu and find out!

 

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Volo Press Rating System

0 – Couldn’t finish it. Wouldn’t recommend it to anyone in its current state.

1 –  Poor work. Brutal to get through, but did manage to finish. Painful experience. May be an acceptable read for die-hard fans of the genre AND the author.

2 – Sub-par work. Hard to get through. May be an okay read for fans of the genre or the author.

3 – Solid work. Multiple, minor issues / one or two major issues. Recommended for most people who need something to read on a road trip or bed rest.

4 – Strong work. Satisfying to read. A few grammatical or logistical errors, but nothing too distracting. Recommended for anyone.

5 – A fantastic read. Highly recommended to everyone.

6 – Virtually perfect. My life is incomplete if I don’t have a copy in my home. Will no-doubt read multiple times throughout my life.  YOU MUST BUY THIS BOOK! 

Sub-ratings:

  • Nope

  • Poor

  • Okay

  • Good

  • Great

 

Overall Impression of ‘Angel’s Feather’ (Alina Popescu)

Angel’s Feather is about a human male, Adam, who falls in love with a ‘Flyer’–angel-like beings with wings who monitor humans to make sure that they don’t try to escape from Earth. At this point in the (hopefully distant) future, humans have depleted Earth of most of it’s This Flyer is named Michael

If you enjoy fan fiction involving same-sex romantic couples, and aren’t normally bothered by character inconsistencies and grammar problems, you will probably enjoy Angel’s Feather.

Rating: 2.9

Writing: Okay

There were multiple things that bothered me about the writing, including grammatical issues and what appeared to be a lack of fluency in English. Recognizing that that could be an issue, I lifted the rating a little.

Examples:

“…had me staring at Michael, mouth gapping.” (Gaping)

“I latched on that spark of hope…” (Latch on to a piece of something, not a spark)

“…but that small ounce of trust…” (What’s a large ounce?)

And it wouldn’t have been quite as distracting if these all hadn’t happened within the first 15% of the book. The rest of the work continued on with similar issues.

 

Characters: Nope

Main Character: Adam

Lover / Overseer: Michael

 

For me, the characters were more convenient than realistic. I try to be a little more forgiving since I am a licensed psychotherapist (and I know that my analysis of human behavior can be a little more intense), but even so, I can’t think of a single character that behaved in a away that seemed consistent.

For example, Michael was presented as cold because of his disappointment with humans breaking the rules and being executed for it. Yet, within minutes of appearing in the book, he hugs Adam and licks bodily fluid off of him (calm down, just tears ^_^).

Questions that arose from that single scene included:

  • If Michael has simply been assigned to do a job, why does he even care if a human lives or dies? It’s like a soldier assigned to assassinate someone being concerned about whether or not they have prostate cancer or a cold. If it helps him do his job to be emotionally distant, he’d probably remain that way or just resign or ask to be reassigned if he couldn’t (this is possible because he does get reassigned later in the book). Maybe if Michael had fallen in love with a human before that he’d had to kill or if he was half human himself this might have made more sense.
  •  If they’ve had no physical contact in the years since
    Spoiler Alert

    Michael killed Adam’s father

    [collapse]
    , why would he suddenly lick Adam’s tears and hug him? 
    Michael and Adam apparently see each other on a relatively regular basis, so why is Adam all of a sudden in tears about this and why is Michael all of a sudden a caring and consoling being(if that’s why you call tear-licking)?
  • If Flyers are supposed to be “emotionless” and cold, wouldn’t this unusual behavior have gotten a rise out of the crowd that was surrounding Michael and Adam at the time? It seems like there would have been some shock, outrage, confusion, maybe even fear from the other people of the village who were witnessing this, but they seemed to act like it didn’t even happen.

Adam, the main character, behaved in ways that seemed erratic as well. One minute, he empathizes with Michael, and the next he’s angry at him, and then he’s letting him hold him? All in the same few seconds? And even after this intimate, yet public, scene, Adam labels Michael “as untouchable as the fake angels in our religious books.” Why? You were LITERALLY just in his arms?!

I’ve seen this pattern before in my own and other people’s writing. It seemed as thought the characters did whatever the author wanted them to do to complete a particular scene that the author had in mind. This often results in characters seeming unstable mentally and emotionally, since they are swayed by the wind of creativity in the writer’s mind instead of their own motivations or the circumstances taking place in their world.

For Adam, empathizing with beings who were essentially his jailers seemed too happenstance. He was perfectly set up to feel resentment and anger towards his father and his uncle. Honestly, he could have felt that towards the Flyers, like everyone else, and it would have fit in seamlessly. But I have to have a stronger understanding of Adam’s psyche in order to be able to validate his feelings of empathy towards beings who kill people like him.

Plot: Good

In theory, this is a really cool plot. The idea of having made contact with a myriad of non-human life forms and trying to get off of a planet we abused irreparably is strong. I also like the idea of a charge falling in love with someone who has been told to monitor him, especially with the history between them. And, of course, man-on-man action gets me through my day, so that helped a lot. Even though there was only a single sex scene in the whole book! Boooo! ^_^

All that was missing for me was the solid execution of the details of a plot like this one. It’s like having all the puzzle pieces sitting on a table near each other, but never clicking them together to make the final, smooth, whole picture.

 

Have you read Angel’s Feather by Alina Popescu, yet?

Leave a comment if you have. If you haven’t, click here to get your copy now!

 

 

 

 

 

Supporting Indie Authors

3 Ways to Be a Great Fan

It’s one thing to like someone’s writing, but true fans are hard to come by for a lot of literary professionals. Here are three ways you can do your part to help your favorite authors become successful in their craft and be a sincerely great fan of their work!


 

1. Tell the World

Good fans read the books, blog posts, and magazine articles written by their favorite authors. Great fans encourage others to read their favorite author’s stuff as well. They tweet, blog, email, and post about the book. They pin and Instagram pics of the book when they get it in the mail or download it onto their e-reader. They recommend the author when they text, call, or chat. The never miss a chance to mention the author’s latest book when speaking with a friend, colleague, or family member. These are the behaviors of fans who help create careers for writers that last!

How do you measure up? When is the last time you tweeted about your favorite author’s work or passed one of their books along to a friend or co-worker?

 

2. Get Involved

Many authors (especially independent ones!) have ways that you can get involved with the publishing process for their work. This could mean anything from pitching plots or characters to joining an ARC list. Authors with a little more notoriety may already have a few Goodreads or Reddit groups about them. But if they don’t, a great fan may be the one who starts that group for discussion about the writer themselves and the works that the writer produces. Sometimes just realizing that there is someone in the world devoted enough to a particular artist to create a group based on their career is what can draw other people into considering becoming fans as well.

Have you gotten this deeply involved on behalf of your favorite author(s)?

 

3. Buy Direct

As much as you are able, try buying directly from the author. This could mean purchasing their work from their shop, their website, their booth at a book fair, or directly through their publisher’s site. Purchasing through third parties such as Amazon or Barnes and Noble often takes a healthy chunk of profit out of the author’s pocket. While it isn’t always an option based on where you live, how far you’re able to travel, and other factors, consider doing what you can to deal as directly with the author as possible.

 

 

What else do you do in order to help your favorite author’s succeed in the publishing world? Leave a comment and let everybody know!

Writing Group Indie Author

How to Accept Constructive Criticism in Writing Groups

Writing groups are a great way for independent authors to get support, make connections, find resources, and–perhaps most importantly– hear critique on their works in progress. However, getting this feedback without becoming resentful, angry, or sad can be tricky for some. Here are three things to remember during the critique delivery process that can help you actually enjoy it.

 


 

1. “This is what I’m here for.”

Remembering this can help ease some of the defensiveness you might feel when people start dissecting your writing. The entire reason that you joined the group and decided to submit your book / chapter / poem for critique was so that you could get honest feedback about how it could be better. If you didn’t join the group for this express purpose, then the fault really lies with you for presenting yourself as someone who wants to strengthen their craft, yet all you really wanted was for people to kiss your ass unjustifiably.

 

2. “How bad would it be if I’d published without knowing this?”

Many independent authors are self-published. This means that they have full control over the creation, revision, publishing, and marketing of their writing. Unless you’ve created a Cartel like I have, there’s a good chance that your writing groups are the only thing saving you from publishing something that is full of plot holes, grammatical errors, character inconsistencies and the like.  If you find that your writing group is bringing up a bunch of problems that you missed, don’t look at it as an attack on you or your writing. See it as your reputation being pulled back from a cliff!

 

3. “No one is perfect.”

I have read books by many authors who are traditionally published (meaning they have teams of people and bundles of cash at their disposal to make sure that their writing is consistent, error-free, and as strong as possible), yet have several errors in them. If these bestselling authors with publishing powerhouses behind them can’t produce a perfect manuscript, how sane is it to believe that you will do so on your own? Hell, even with the feedback of your group?

 

The point is: Relax. Take the feedback you think is helpful. Ignore the feedback you don’t think fits. Just don’t ignore solid feedback because you didn’t like hearing it. That’s not fair to you, your writing, or your readers.

Have other tips for getting through the critique process? Leave a comment!

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Just another great Volo Press exclusive! Click the pics to buy! 

 

Bestseller: Beneath a Scarlet Sky (Mark Sullivan)

Grab this bestseller that, to date, is still holding on strong to a 4.9-star rating after over 1,200 reviews!

Beneath a Scarlet Sky: A Novel by [Sullivan, Mark]From Amazon

Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, Beneath a Scarlet Sky is the triumphant, epic tale of one young man’s incredible courage and resilience during one of history’s darkest hours.

Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He’s a normal Italian teenager—obsessed with music, food, and girls—but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior.

In an attempt to protect him, Pino’s parents force him to enlist as a German soldier—a move they think will keep him out of combat. But after Pino is injured, he is recruited at the tender age of eighteen to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, General Hans Leyers, one of the Third Reich’s most mysterious and powerful commanders.

Now, with the opportunity to spy for the Allies inside the German High Command, Pino endures the horrors of the war and the Nazi occupation by fighting in secret, his courage bolstered by his love for Anna and for the life he dreams they will one day share.

Fans of All the Light We Cannot See, The Nightingale, and Unbroken will enjoy this riveting saga of history, suspense, and love.

Get your copy now from Amazon.com!

 

Get Yours Now: Tablet Mount

Kiss your carpel tunnel good-bye! This nifty bit of hardware can help you read, browse the internet, watch movies, and video chat in a convenient, hands-free way. As writers and readers, it’s critical that we take care of our hands, so instruments like this are essential. Mount it on the side of a table, the seat in front of you, or even your headboard to read as you drift off to sleep. Would make a fantastic gift for anyone who owns a tablet or e-reader.