Validation – peer reviews are the best!

I’m still walking on air, despite discovering Amazon UK’s pitiful inability to support editorial reviews for indie author-publishers. Yesterday I received a splendid review from one of A Freebooter’s Fantasy Almanac beta-readers, Ronald E. Yates. I say yesterday, but in fact this came to me last Friday and promptly fell into the swirling vortex that was my email inbox, thanks to the dizzy success of the blog tour that had me zipping all over cyberspace the whole week.

Ron’s review lay there until yesterday morning, when I finally came up for air and recalled seeing his mail and attachment ‘over the weekend’, and then promptly forgot all about opening it – because I hadn’t… *blushes deeply*.
Enough wittering for now – here’s what Ron had to say about our bouncing babe.

Writing, as any author will tell you, is an intensely personal endeavor. We scribblers pour heart and soul into the scenes and incidents we create or recreate from our own lives. That’s what makes good writing unfeigned and heartfelt and it’s what brings readers back to our work again and again.

What Siân Glírdan has compiled in her “Freebooter’s Fantasy Almanac”—a work she calls a “sort of real cyberspace memoir”—is a deeply personal examination of her life. She opens the shutters and windows to reveal “struggles with health, achievement, emotion and, most of all, dreams and imagination.”

This is not a linear narrative or memoir, but an effort peppered with original poetry, painful recollections of personal tragedy and suffering, and inspiring reminiscences of happiness and exhilaration. It is a book interleaved with both fantasy and reality—a challenging work that will carry the reader on a journey of discovery.

It takes courage to write like this because in doing so, Siân Glírdan has opened herself up to great scrutiny. No doubt the impetus for this work is as much catharsis for her as it is an unearthing of emotion for the reader.

The following passage I found especially revealing:

“In our inner life we are all essentially alone with our thoughts and feelings, although those can be expressed of course. Thoughts however are another matter. We are selective in what thoughts stay that way, unspoken, and which are communicated. In a way this exercise is for my own thoughts that I hold close and don’t necessarily speak them to anyone, but want to get them out there somehow. Therapy if you like, but not to a person as such. My stunted way of steering my own course ‘as fair and true’ as I can manage these days.”

 As a true Freebooter Siân Glírdan is taking us, as she says, “into uncharted waters without a map of any real description, or even an idea of what to expect.”

Climb aboard for a cruise into an inspired sea of illusion and imagination, moored by authenticity and unremitting experience.

Ronald E. Yates

To say I was overwhelmed with gratitude, to be frank, is putting it mildly. This is not only because Ron has said nice things, but mostly because he ‘got’ what the Almanac (and, by osmosis, myself) is all about – exploring your own fantasies and hidden worlds as far and as hard as you can. To paraphrase him, writing fiction is, or should be, an intensely personal activity. If you can’t put yourself wholly into it, then you are doing yourself and your readers a disservice.

standing on the shoulders of giants ~ Sir Isaac Newton

standing on the shoulders of giants ~ Sir Isaac Newton

In an altruistic light, freebooting is comparable to ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’. As human beings, we are always learning from those who go before us. Even the best of us cannot become that way without using a blueprint, a model of inspiration or even excellence; working on a concept to improve and elaborate on it. Or, in the creative arts, to take what evokes our passion and imagination and take it on to the next level, or even in a completely fresh direction. In a post-modern world, where we’re told everything is recycled in some way, it’s hard to be truly original, to be a pusher of boundaries.

Let me tell you a little about Ronald E Yates and why I was so blown away by his review of my words. Or rather let me quote from his bio on his website –

I am a former foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and Professor Emeritus of Journalism at the University of Illinois where I was also the Dean of the College of Media.

To receive praise from such an accomplished academic and seasoned professional journalist is just breathtaking. In fact, I’m still pinching myself and keep looking at the word doc to reassure myself that he enjoyed my book and understood it so well. I’m posting this as peer validation, author to author, but in truth to receive such support from a person like Ron, who has risen to the heights of a life filled with writing, is humbling and like bathing in the cool shade of palm trees on the edge of a warm tropical beach.

Thank you so much, Ron, for letting me know I’m on the right path, even if the sales and the reviews never come, because I’m choosing to follow my own trail, writing about what interests and propels me as best I can, and not ‘settling’ for what sells, or will ‘do better’ if only it conforms to the familiar and ‘easy’ routes to popularity. The books I’ve loved best have always been the ones that challenge and move me profoundly. I want to write books that challenge and move the reader. Books that I want to read as well, even if that means writing them myself.

book coverA Freebooter’s Fantasy Almanac
is currently only out on Amazon Kindle for £2.10 ($2.99). It still lacks a Foreword so the paperback edition is waiting on that, but is expected to be available from all good online and high street bookstores (via ISBN ordering) by the end of July.


9 thoughts on “Validation – peer reviews are the best!

    • Certainly is, Joy! 😀 Praise coming from someone with a similar outlook and passion as yours, and whose work you admire is always the sweetest. And the thing with memoirs is that they’re so deeply rooted into you, it’s hard to detach from what’s said sometimes.


  1. Pingback: Validation – peer reviews are the best! | Skorn

  2. Reblogged this on Jan Hawke INKorporated and commented:

    We have some critical acclaim from fellow RRBC member; distinguished former Chicago Tribune foreign correspondent; Professor Emeritus of Journalism at the University of Illinois where he was also the Dean of the College of Media; and author of the Finding Billy Battles Trilogy, Ronald E. Yates

    Liked by 1 person

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