That’s a whole lot of reviews

Mike Staton
The post was written by Mike Staton.

Sometimes a number can stun a guy.

For example, 1,009.

That’s how many review of fellow writers’ chapters I’ve done since joining an online writers’ workshop back in 2003. And I’ve gotten many, many reviews from other writers for my novels’ chapters. How many novels? Let’s see – The Emperor’s Mistress, Thief’s Coin, Assassins’ Lair, Blessed Shadows Dark and Deep, and my current WIP, Deepening Homefront Shadows.

My OWW Page
Here’s my homepage on the online workshop. Reviewing other writers’ chapters earns me points I can spend to post my own chapters.

A friend told me about the Online Writers’ Workshop of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror back in early 2003. I checked it out and joined. It’s hard to believe it has been fifteen years. The workshop has been a godsend for me. My writing has improved tremendously, and mainly because of the wonderful reviewers on the OWW.

Reviewers have come and gone. Some have even died. It’s been fifteen years after all. The ones I have now are priceless. They do quality reviews. I like to keep the number of reviewers at a manageable number – four or five. Now four men and women consistently critique my chapters for Deepening Homefront Shadows – Michael Keyton, Larry Pinaire, David Kernot and Robyn Wescombe.

Blessed Shadows Dark and Deep Front Cover-Final
I ran this Civil War novel through the Online Writers Workshop of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror, getting the manuscript ready to submit to my publisher.

Currently, Keyton is writing an alternate history novel where Lucifer and his horde of demons are trying to use World War II to plunge the human race into an age of darkness. Pinaire is running a science fiction novel through the OWW, the story of the initial colonization of Mars. Pinaire is doing a traditional sword-and-sorcery novel where the hero is snatched from our world and dropped into a medieval one where sorcerers cast magic spells. Robyn Wescombe, my newest reviewer, is doing an alternate history novel where Immortals are copulating with human women to breed immortal children. I enjoy reviewing them, trying to help my online friends improve their writing – plot, characterization, setting and dialogue.

It’s really hard to believe that I’ve done more than 1,000 reviews over the last fifteen years. In 2014, I joined the Henderson Writers Group and tried a couple of in-person reviews. Someone would read a portion of a chapter for five minutes and fellow group members would critique as he or she read. I read a partial chapter once, and found the results unsatisfying. On the OWW, they review the entire chapter.

Larenia's Shadow Trilogy5
I also workshopped my fantasy trilogy.

When I joined the OWW, I was 51 years old. Today, I’m 66. Over those fifteen years, I managed to write four books and find a small publisher to publish them for me. Now I’m working on my fifth novel and currently running the chapters through the OWW. The first three novels turned out to be a fantasy trilogy. Now I’m writing another trilogy – this one a Civil War saga with fantasy and romance subplots. I’m really enjoying my novel-writing career.

# # #

I’m an author with four published novels that include a sword-and-sorcery fantasy trilogy – The Emperor’s Mistress, Thief’s Coin and Assassins’ Lair. The fourth novel is a historical romance set during the Civil War. It’s called Blessed Shadows Dark and Deep. I’ve begun writing my second Civil War novel – Deepening Homefront Shadows. All my novels can be purchased via the website of my publisher, Wings ePress, as well as the websites of Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

8 thoughts on “That’s a whole lot of reviews

  1. How wonderful you found a group you can be invaluable to and who are invaluable to you. And how wonderful you have that many published novels under your belt! You are a very talented guy and I always enjoy your blogs. You have inspired me to do something I have been considering and that is to join an online critique group.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I sure hope so. I use a two-prong effort when reviewing — as a fellow writer looking at how they might improve their craft and as a reader letting the writer know what I’m thinking as I proceed through a chapter.


  2. That’s an amazing number of reviews. I know what you mean about becoming a better writer. The critique group I’ve been in for–eight?–years has help me so much. I wouldn’t be published now without their feedback. I might even have stopped trying. I wouldn’t have finished one of my stories if the group hadn’t insisted I couldn’t use the ending I showed them. I said it was LIT-er-ary, a death of the spirit. They said NO, if you’re writing a murder mystery, you have to have a BODY. One of them suggested an ending. I didn’t do exactly what she said to do, but her remark steered me toward the perfect resolution. I guess it’s perfect. They read it and didn’t complain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like you do have a good group of reviewers. And you understand the first requirement of getting reviews… read them, mull them over, and then decide what to use and what to ignore. I’ve known a reviewer or two who would dearly love to write your story for you.


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