Archive for the ‘Author Review’ Category

Author Interview: T.W. Dittmer

May 13, 2017

Today I’m re-interviewing a fellow Michigan writer, T.W. Dittmer, the author of the interesting novel, The Valley Walker, about his new effort, Five Toed Tigress.














T.W. Dittmer, Indie Author.

Welcome to “Painting With Light,” Tim.
Thanks for having me, Ron.

I enjoyed your first novel The Valley Walker, and I’m fascinated with your new one, Five Toed Tigress.
Thanks, Ron. I’ve been hoping you’d like it.

As I recall from our interview about The Valley Walker, you have an interesting background. What were you like in school?
I grew up in Gary, Indiana. My father worked in the steel mills, then turned to preaching the Gospel. My mother was a legal secretary. I was a dreamer in high school – not a bad kid, but not very motivated, so my grades were poor.

I liked reading, though, which got me pushed into the advanced English and Composition courses. After graduating, I joined the Army and volunteered for Vietnam, then actually reenlisted for Vietnam.

When my military service was complete, I went to college and studied music. My college grades were better than high school and I really loved music, but ended up working in an automobile engine testing laboratory. I have a two-year degree in Digital Electronics and a Bachelor’s in Information Technology.

Who are your favorite authors?
Stephen King, Thomas Harris and John Steinbeck.

Where do your ideas come from?
They can come from anywhere. An idea occurs to me, then works at me until I spend a lot of time pacing the floor and imagining it coming to life.












Five Toed Tigress

Do you have an “elevator speech” for your new novel?
The Five-Toed Tigress stalks the night, gliding effortlessly through the canopied forests of Cambodia – the Tiger’s Dance Floor.

She is on patrol, her mission to protect the downtrodden from the power of the greedy. Her movements are so fluid and graceful that her prowl is a thing of beauty, a dance to the music of life and death.

The Tigress is a solitary hunter, and she dances alone on her mission. She gives herself wholeheartedly to her dance, but desires a dancing partner – a mate.

How have you evolved creatively since your first novel?
I’m not sure I have. I want to do my best, though, so I keep trying to learn and improve.

I asked you this before, but I wonder if anything has changed for you since then. What’s the hardest thing about writing?
Worrying about whether people will like my work.

You told me before you don’t have a favorite quote, but almost everyone has one that sticks in their mind. What’s yours?
“All these negative waves.” – from the movie Kelly’s Heroes.

Do you have anything else in the works right now?
I have my next novel in mind. I’m doing research and tossing around some thoughts, scribbling on the whiteboard.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot / avatar / spirit animal?
The coyote. I know he’s a trickster, but I seem to get along with him.

Do you base your characters on real people?
Bits and pieces of people I’ve met find their way into my writing. Colonel Nguy, from The Valley Walker, is based on a Hoi Chanh I worked with in Southeast Asia. He joined our unit as a Kit Carson scout after coming over from the North Vietnamese Army in the Chieu Hoi Program.

What kind of research do you do?
I do a lot of reading, some travel and conversation.

What did you edit out of this book?
Not much. I thought about editing out the sex scenes, but was advised against it. A lot was changed as it was written and rewritten, but not much was actually cut.

How do you select the names of your characters?
I don’t have a real system. I just try to come up with a name that sounds cool.

What was your favorite childhood book?
I think White Fang was my favorite. I was a big fan of Jack London and Jim Kjelgaard.

Have you considered entering your books in any review contests? If so, which ones?
I’ve considered the Readers’ Favorite contest. I used them to get some initial reviews for The Valley Walker and was pleased with their service. It was nice for me to get some feedback from someone that I wasn’t related to.

Good luck, Tim … and thanks for doing the interview.
Thanks for having me, Ron. It was a pleasure.


I’m just about finished reading Tim’s remarkable book, and I already know what I’m going to say in my review:

Five Toed Tigress is one of those rare stories that grabs you by the lapels and forces you to keep reading. The character of Preston Hawke is so totally believable he will keep readers turning the pages to find out how his story ends. Well done! 5-STARS!

Five Toed Tigress is available as an eBook on Amazon, and you can discover more about this interesting author at these locations:


My books have all garnered some terrific reviews and you can see the ones I have available by using the Amazon link below. Look for them. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now amazon

You’re invited to visit my web site, BROKEN GLASS, or
like my Book of Face page. You can find me on Goodreads, or follow some of my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.


Visit my web site to hear the remarkable interview about my novel “Blood Lake” by The Authors Show. By the way, “Blood Lake” was recently selected as a 2016 Forward INDIES Book of the Year Finalist!


I plan to attend the next Freelance Marketplace Writers’ Group Meeting at Barnes & Noble on May 16, 2017. I also plan to attend the 10th Rochester Writers’ Fall Conference at Oakland University on Saturday, October 21, 2017.


Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

What’s the Main Task of a Storyteller?

March 27, 2015


I recently came back from Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic (I know … tough duty, but someone’s got to do it).

My bride and I met our eldest son and his family there for a week. I enjoyed seeing them all and relished the opportunity it gave me to recharge my batteries. Now, back to business.

In my last post you heard me grouse again about my writer’s block. It’s safe to say most of that has passed. But I’m still struggling to get my latest novel written and edited by the end of May.

Why? Because I want to submit it to this year’s Readers Favorite contest for review.

Why Do I Bother?
I watched the movie “Birdman” here at home on Tuesday with my wife and youngest son.

Michael Keaton plays a former movie star/action-hero (Birdman) named Riggin Thomas, who opted out of the franchise and hasn’t had much movie success since.

The Thomas character has supposedly adapted the Raymond Carver story “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” for Broadway; writing and directing the play in the hopes it will revitalize his career.

One of my favorite scenes featured Edward Norton, who plays an actor named Michael Shiner, a not-so-very-likable-character. In this scene he defends Thomas to Tabitha Dickinsen (played by Lindsay Duncan), a smarmy theater critic he sees sitting in a bar.

“He’s taking a chance. He’s willing to lose everything for this. What are you willing to lose?”

I think Tabitha, a character name undoubtedly chosen for its witch-like associations, serves a twin narrative purpose.

The first is to serve as a convenient antagonist. Her character has apparently decided in advance to give the play a lousy review, so she embodies evil incarnate.

The second is to highlight the purpose real critics have served for as long as there has been a creative process: the need for validation. It’s something the Michael Keaton character desperately needs to preserve his own creative sanity.
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Why Do Reviews Matter?

January 21, 2015

gray cat with glasses

It might sound simplistic to ask whether reviews really matter. Every author knows they’re important but I’d venture to guess every indie author who goes through the process of seeking them ends up asking the same question.

Why is this so hard?

Getting reviews can take a significant amount of time, effort and money … and as an indie doing it all yourself, with no publishing house support, you’re bound to ask yourself whether it’s all worth it. Yes, it really is, for one very good reason:

The biggest hurdle any indie book faces is getting discovered.

Consistent big volume sellers like Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, James Patterson or John Grisham are rare in the publishing world and they tend to be viewed as virtual ATM machines.

When their publishing houses announce a new book from one of these stars, the pre-orders alone make them oodles of money.

But that’s not true for most writers and certainly not for indies.

Getting Noticed
According to Publishers Weekly (July 17, 2006) the average book in America never sells more than 500 copies … and those average sales have fallen in the years since that statistic was written.

According to BookScan, the average U.S. book is now selling less than 250 copies per year and less than 3,000 copies over its lifetime. The reason is simple.

It’s crowded out there.

Bowker, one of the main issuers of International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs), reports that over two million (2,352,790) books were published in the U.S. in 2012, which is a million more than the number of books published four years earlier.

More than two thirds of them are self-published books, which is where most of the growth in recent years has taken place. And those numbers don’t include books without ISBN numbers (which many self-published digital books don’t have).

That’s a lot of new books vying for attention.

In a crowd like that, even a book that’s well-written, well-edited, and beautifully crafted may only sell a few copies … unless people somehow learn it’s there.

Reviews Matter
If your book is going to get noticed in that mass of words, you need good reviews you can quote in promotional materials, and you want online shoppers who land on your book pages to see good reviews from readers.

However, if you’re an indie author shopping around for reviews you have to be careful. There are a lot of disreputable operations that will guarantee you a good review for a fee. Guarantee it.

But trust me, they’re a waste of your time and money. No one gives them any credibility at all because their words of praise are worthless, except, perhaps, as a salve for your ego (and I won’t even bother to mention any of them here).

However, there are some really good book review companies. Most of them also charge a fee for their time; but notice I didn’t say anything about them giving you a good review.

No reputable company will promise you a good review.

Some Reliable Review Sources
When you deal with a reputable company you get an honest, well-written review delivered for a set price, on a set schedule. In most cases, they publish it on their web site and distribute it through other channels. You can also use the review (or an excerpt) in your promotional materials.

These companies may differ in the fees they charge and how they distribute their reviews, but none of the reputable review companies will promise you anything but the truth … and an honest review sometimes hurts.

Before deciding to use any company, make sure you understand exactly what they offer and read some of their reviews so you have some idea of what to expect.

More importantly, before you seek any review at all … try to write a good book.

I knew you were going to be curious, so I’ve listed six of the top review sources that the industry (not just me) consider reliable:

Kirkus Reviews has long been considered the gold standard in book-reviewing companies. Kirkus Reviews of traditionally published works are published, whether they are good or bad, and Kirkus is known for some pretty harsh reviews.

Kirkus now also offers its reviewing service for indie books. However, as an indie (and only as an indie), you have a choice: keep your review private or publish it, without charge, on the Kirkus web site. Bad reviews never have to see the light of day. You can chalk it up to an expensive learning experience.

If you choose to publish it, you can then use it in promotional materials and Kirkus will distribute it to Google, Barnes & Noble, Baker & Taylor, and other venues. It could also appear in the Kirkus magazine or email newsletter.

Kirkus Indie Reviews charges US$425.00 for standard service (7-9 weeks) or US$575.00 for express (4-6 weeks). You send in your book by mail, or by uploading a PDF or Word document, and receive a review of 250-350 words.

But the review will be good only if your book is.

Blue Ink Review works much like Kirkus, but was founded more recently and deals exclusively with indie books. Their fees are and timelines are in the same general range as Kirkus: US$395.00 (7-9 weeks) or US$495.00 (4-5 weeks).

If you choose to upload your book as a PDF (rather than sending a printed copy), Blue Ink Review charges an extra US$19.95 to cover the cost of printing a paper copy for their reviewer.

Like Kirkus, Blue Ink’s reviews run 250-350 words. Once you receive your review you have ten days to choose whether to keep it private or allow it to be published (note that by default it will be published – to keep it private you must notify the company by email). Blue Ink also distributes their reviews through Ingram, Publishing Perspectives, and Self-Publishing Review.

———- is a popular web site devoted specifically to indie books and issues related to indie publishing. The review fee is US$100.00. Their reviews are guaranteed to be at least 300 words long, with a rating from one to five stars, delivered within 8-10 weeks. Their reviews are posted on their own site, on Amazon, and on

Self Publishing Review is another specialist web site devoted to indie publishing. They offer reviews for US$75.00, with a minimum of 500 words delivered within one month. Their reviews are posted on their site, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and, in some cases, the personal blog of the reviewer. Like Kirkus Reviews and Blue Ink, Self Publishing Review also offers the option of keeping the review private if it isn’t favorable.

Publishers Weekly is widely read by publishers, editors, librarians, and agents … and it also offers an indie book promotion package that at least offers the possibility of a review.

PW Select is a supplement to Publisher’s Weekly that comes out six times a year. For US$149.00 you can purchase a promotional announcement in PW Select that will include basic information about your book. Included in the price of your fee you also get a 6-month digital subscription to Publishers Weekly.

However, not all indie books submitted will be reviewed. Only about 25% of the books that appear in PW Select will be selected to be reviewed, and there’s no guarantee your book will be one of them. Neither can you opt out of having a bad review published.

Readers Favorite is the fastest growing book review and award contest site on the Internet. It reviews books for all the major publishing houses, as well as indie authors.

They will post 4- and 5-Star reviews on popular trade and social media sites, to help readers discover your book. Lesser-rated reviews will not be made public, but they are sent directly to the author as information they can use to improve their writing.

Readers Favorite will review your book for free, but they also sponsor a highly competitive annual contest covering multiple genres that you can enter for a fee (generally less than $100, depending on how many genres you select).



My books have garnered some terrific reviews. You can see the stories I have available by using the Amazon link below.

buy now amazon

You’re also invited to visit my web site, BROKEN GLASS, or like my Book of Face page. You can also follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.


Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

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