OHOT News

Book Review

Posted by Doug Shidell, December 8th , 2020.

This review of “On His Own Terms” was posted on Amazon November 26, 2020.

On His Terms takes us beyond the secret intimacies that make up life into the journey on the land itself. We not only learn about the struggle of Delone’s life, but the range of vibrant and knowledgeable information about the landscape of his journey. Through dialog the author creates vibrant, deeply human characters and the result is an interesting and moving novel.

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Fake Book Reviewers

Posted by Doug Shidell, December 1st , 2020.

Geneva Barnett wanted to review my book. Send her a free copy, she said, but don’t respond in the public forum. Please contact her via email.

This is the fourth such request I’ve gotten this weekend. It’s a scam.

Like every independent book publisher, I have to compete with the 10,000 new book titles published every year. It’s a challenge, so when someone offers to review my book, please contact them, the temptation is to respond immediately, and breathe a sigh of relief that my masterpiece is finally getting the notice it deserves.

But there is a catch. I’ve been publishing for a few years. I know that legitimate book reviews start with someone buying the book, reading, it, then feeling compelled to write a review. They don’t start with “Give me a free copy, and I’ll write a review.”

But Geneva, definitely not her real name, isn’t just trying to scam a free read. If I were to respond, I would soon find that she has 10,000 people following her reviews, they all fall into my target audience and I will soon shoot to the top of the Amazon sales charts. There will, however, be a small fee for such stellar results.

Geneva will have to look elsewhere for clients.

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High Praise from Minnesotans

Posted by Doug Shidell, November 27th , 2020.

Just for fun. None of these are real

It’s OK

Dave, a satisfied reader

Not that bad

Don, an enthusiastic reader

It has a lot of talking in it, but that’s OK.

Betty, another writer with a pretty good book.

If you forced me to read it a second time, I probably wouldn’t hate you for too long.

Kylie

The author is, like, as old as my grandmother so, like, I’m not going to say anything bad about the book, but the chapters are too long. They should be, like, the length of a FB post if you want to attract a younger crowd. And the humor, OMG. Get to the point. Only old people need, like, a full paragraph for a joke. You won’t find me RAOTFL if you can’t get to the punchline in five words or less, preferably less.

BTW, learn FB Eng. Your never going to make it if you write the hole word every time. Only old folks read that stuff anymore, and their dying off.

Ashley

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Win a free copy of “On His Own Terms”

Posted by Doug Shidell, November 20th , 2020.

Enter today for a free copy of my eBook novel “On His Own Terms.” Goodreads.com will giveaway up to 100 copies of the novel on December 20. (If more than 100 people enter, Goodreads will randomly select the winners.) This is an eBook novel that is readable on the Amazon Kindle.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

On His Own Terms by Doug Shidell

On His Own Terms

by Doug Shidell

Giveaway ends December 20, 2020.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

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Effigy Mounds

Posted by Doug Shidell, November 19th , 2020.

Effigy mounds, ancient burial mounds, can resemble animals such as bears, eagles and long tailed underwater creatures. They are unique to the Driftless Area of southwestern Wisconsin and prominent along the lower Wisconsin River. “On His Own Terms” mentions them briefly, but they deserve much more attention because of their archaeological significance and unique formations. One of my favorites, Shadewald Mounds, shows a bison and eagle among other effigies and can be seen in Google’s aerial photos. They are located near the intersection of Highways 60 and 193 and north of Muscoda, Wisconsin. A series of conical mounds, thought to be a calendar for agricultural purposes, is preserved across Highway 193 to the west.

Shadewald Mounds near Muscoda, Wisconsin
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Villa Louis

Posted by Doug Shidell, November 11th , 2020.

The Fourth Ward in Prairie du Chien was a neighborhood on Feriole Island in the Mississippi River. After a massive flood in 1965 nearly wiped out the neighborhood, many families abandoned their homes and left the island. Two years later another flood inundated the island. All but one of the homes was removed and the island became a park.

Villa Louis, an historic estate sits on high ground on the island as does the Historic Dousman Hotel below.

Historic Dousman Hotel, now called the Dousman House
Dousman House as seen from a kayak on the flooded Feriole Island
Brick walk and flooded basement of the Dousman House

Heavy rain in 2019 flooded the island again, so I toured it by kayak. The garage door for a park board storage building was left open, so I paddled in and took pictures.

Inside a park board storage building on Feriole Island
Outdoor chairs on Feriole Island, Prairie du Chien

The Fourth Ward and nearby Wyalusing State Park play an important role in my novel “On His Own Terms.”

Filed under: OHOT News, Paddlesports

Beta Testing A Novel

Posted by Doug Shidell, October 28th , 2020.

Beta testing is the final round of testing before a product is released to a wide audience. It usually refers to software releases, but it can have a role in publishing a novel, especially one that hasn’t been locked into print.

I didn’t set out to do Beta testing. My goal was to get the novel in front of friends and family, and to get feedback. If the feedback was good, I would continue promoting it. If it was negative, or indifferent, I would call it a day and move on. Later, after getting feedback from half a dozen readers, I realized that a third option was possible.

On a scale of one to five, I was getting threes. “More good than bad,” as one reader put it. Three isn’t good enough to get enthusiastic about, but not bad enough to toss the whole thing into a digital dumpster.

I took a dive into the reasons behind the mixed reactions. For one reader, it was the distraction of grammatical errors and misuse of capitalization. Two readers, neither of them bicyclists, got bogged down with technical details about bike equipment, and all readers felt the book started out slowly, then picked up halfway through.

Hearing that the last half of the book read well was encouraging. Could the first half be improved to match it? The first step was to hire a copy editor to catch the grammatical mistakes. That was embarrassing. I notice grammatical errors, and couldn’t believe I had let so many get through.

Then I read the book from start to finish, but with a focus on the first half. The stumbling blocks jumped out. Those technical details about bike parts and lengthy descriptions of bike rides were jarring, especially when read from the perspective of a non-bicyclist. They were a rich vein to mine.

My writing is better when tightly edited, so reducing the page count became a goal, but removing words just to reduce the page count is haphazard and destructive. The sentence has to be read to make sure it still holds together, then the paragraph has to be evaluated, perhaps the whole page or even a chapter. If it all holds together, I forget what was removed and the scene flows smoothly. I repeated the process multiple times and reduced the first hundred pages to ninety. Those ninety pages more closely match the flow of the last half of the book.

“On His Own Terms” is being formatted into a digital file and will be updated on Amazon and other formats within a week. Then I have to wait again to get reader reactions. Those reactions will determine my next steps.

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First Review- From a Friend

Posted by Doug Shidell, October 7th , 2020.

Real reviews come from people who don’t know you: readers, editors, professional reviewers, etc. But sometimes a good friend can get past being positive to just being honest. My friend Siah did that for me. He reads for escape, and westerns are his favorite form of escape. He acknowledges that they are formulaic, and has read so many of them that he makes a game of anticipating the direction of the book. He expects a predictable ending.

He has no connection to bicycling and this book is not based in the west, so normally he wouldn’t pick it up. He did it because he knows me. His reaction?

He waded through the bicycling parts and admitted at one point that he wasn’t sure if he could get through the book, but an interesting chapter a third of the way in hooked him. Suddenly he found himself reading later into the evening than anticipated and finished the book within a couple of sittings. He admits that a couple of characters made unanticipated reentries and the ending wasn’t as predictable as he would have liked, but he liked the book overall and considered rereading it to pick up on details he missed on the first pass-through.

Frankly, his reaction is reassuring. I managed to hold his attention on a subject that doesn’t interest him. He wasn’t falsely positive about his reaction to the book, and he is even considering rereading parts of the book. What can be more satisfying than a reader choosing to go back and read something a second time?

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A Long Time in the Making

Posted by Doug Shidell, September 23rd , 2020.
On His Own Terms

I moved to the Twin Cities in 1980 with the idea that I would write a novel. It was a sweet, naive dream, with at least a dozen aborted attempts. The most ambitious was in the 1990s, when I submitted a manuscript to publishers. It was rejected.

I started again in retirement with the luxury of free time and few responsibilities. Two years into the project, I submitted the manuscript for review through the Loft Literary Center’s “Manuscript Critique” program. The feedback? Throw out the last third of the book and heavily rewrite the first two thirds. The rest is OK.

It was a brutally honest, professional response; a crash course in Novel Writing 101. If you’re serious about writing a novel, you have to go through some version of this process. If you don’t come out of it bruised and deflated, you probably haven’t had the manuscript reviewed by a professional editor.

I worked on the rewrite for another six months and had it reviewed by three more readers. It took another couple of months to work through their comments.

The process was a deep dive into humility and it brought up every bit of insecurity buried in my bones. Now it’s done. Impatience and fear prevented me from submitting it to a publishing house. I had to publish it myself. On that, at least, I have experience.

Now it’s out as an eBook. It’s available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble , on my website, and through any outlet that sells eBooks. Eventually I’ll try to get it into libraries, but each step of this process takes time.

In some ways, I’ve already met my goal. The novel is written and I’ve told friends and family about it. I could let it go at that, but I’ve been a writer for decades and I like putting my works out there for the public to read and react to. I’m waiting for the initial reactions, setting up the distribution channels, figuring out marketing. adapting my website, and waiting.

The waiting is tough. I want to know what those first readers think, but they have lives to live, other books queued up and urgent needs to address. I can’t push them. I have to let them come to the book and read it on their own terms. It’s one more lesson in patience and humility.

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