Rating System:

Final Verdict: Rating (x of 5) Not Recommended Needs Improvement Recommended Highly Recommended Outstanding!  Final thoughts, if any.
  • Not Recommended – I had to suffer through this; you shouldn’t have to. Item under review plagued by poor production values, poor writing, bad editing, awful presentation or some combination. Nothing here to salvage.
  • Needs Improvement  – There is something here, it’s just hamstrung by bad grammar, poor word choice, a noisy production, awkward pacing, miscast actors, etc. If you’re feeling charitable, give this rating a shot.
  • Recommended  – Definitely worth a listen. Good story, adequate production values, decent pacing and vocalization. Nothing glaringly out of place. There may not be a soundtrack or website. The audio file may have limited branding embedded.
  • Highly Recommended  – A must listen! Compelling story and characters. Professional level voice work (diction, intonation, characterization). Has a supporting website and show notes. Utilizes a soundtrack. Good branding of the audio files.
  • Outstanding!  – A highly recommended rating plus an extra umpha. The story is especially daring, provocative or evocative. The production brings something we haven’t seen before to light, or shines a different light on an old, familiar topic.

Shorthand Phrases

I operate under the belief that in order to be a good writer you also need to be a voracious reader and meticulous reviewer. When I review a work I do so operating within an understanding that I call:
Standard Caveats Apply

  1. I read both Action and Adventure so that should cover about nearly everything, right?
  2. I have found that I enjoy a good book, regardless of genre and there is very little that I won’t at least try. (Though Romance in general and sparkling, dead things in particular give me gas.)
  3. I do have some favorite genres, which is not to say I won’t read outside of them, just that I may not get it and that’s an important distinction.
  4. I have zero street cred in the publishing community. Nada. I’m just this guy that likes to tell stories. I’ve been doing it for over forty years (admittedly, writing them down is a recent thing), so that leads me to believe that I either hold people’s interest or that I hold them hostage.
  5. This is simply my opinion, nothing more. It is neither right nor wrong, it just is.
  6. I do not give “constructive criticism”. That has become a weasel phrase for “If I don’t like what you say, then it isn’t ‘constructive'”. I will give you a thoughtful and specific critique of your work. Which leads me to the next point …
  7. It is not my intent to be deliberately rude or offensive. Having said that, if you are offended, get over it. If you’re looking for “Gee, this is great” then I’m not your guy. Every point I make will be directly related to some part of your story; “I liked ‘this’ because of ‘that'” or “I didn’t understand why your character did ‘x’ in the face of ‘y’.” Good writers have thick skins. I’m not going to hurl abuse or make personal attacks, but I will be very pointed and direct about what I did like, what I didn’t like and why.
  8. I have been known to speak with great authority in areas where I have none. You have been warned.
  9. Having said that, I’ve been known to be reticent regarding things I know a great deal about. Go figure.
  10. My tastes are not necessarily your tastes. I prefer mine, but I’m willing to entertain yours.
  11. If I am waxing on and on about something I clearly know nothing about, or if I’m plainly in the weeds, feel free to ignore me. It happens.
  12. Sometimes, I don’t get it.
  13. And sometimes I do.
  14. I do not defend my critiques. They are a snapshot of my opinion the day and place I made them. Time and experience change everything.
  15. Take everything I say with a grain of salt. You’ll live longer and enjoy life more.
  16. If any of the above makes you uncomfortable, then I’m probably not the droid you’re looking for.
  17. I’m big on plot tension, world-building, the story’s internal consistency, character development and interaction:
    1. What is your story’s hook?
    2. Does it grab me?
    3. Is my interest peaked?
    4. Does your story have a point?
    5. Is it going somewhere?
    6. Is the reader engaged enough to care? I’m going to notice these things and point them out.
    7. Where is the action taking place?
    8. Does it seem real?
    9. Using your descriptions, can I picture it in my mind?
    10. If your character uses transactional magic (“lifting that with magic makes me tired”) in one chapter and omnipotent magic (“my spell can level a mountain, then we can run across the continent”) in the next, that’s going to be an issue.
    11. Whatever rules your world uses, they need to be defined to the reader and then followed by the characters.
    12. If problem solving equates to “And then a wizard walked by …”, that will get my attention and not in a good way.
    13. Are the characters real?
    14. Do they grow out of their stereotype?
    15. Do I care what happens to them? These are all things I notice.

BIC – Butt In Chair – The only way you’ll write is if you sit down and write.

Draft Copy – A raw, unedited story likely to be replete with misspellings, questionable grammar, odd phrasing and tenuous logic. Draft copy may or may not appear in a finished product, or it may be substantially changed, altered or edited. In other words, enjoy it while it lasts, it may not come around again.