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Having Fun With a Negative Review

Sometimes you just gotta have some fun with negative reviews (even if they are from 2011).

Review for Darlington Woods:

Cartoonish characters set in improbable situations. I could not identify or symphathize with the heroes nor fear the unrealistic villains. I struggled to complete this poorly written book. I rate it as the worst Christian novel I ever read, and I have read hundreds of them.
My reply comment:
Thank you for your honest review. I always wanted to be number one at something. Thanks for giving my book the distinction of the worst Christian novel you ever read . . . wow.
I hope the reviewer receives my reply in the spirit it was written . . . all in good cartoonish fun. No hard feelings 🙂

The Bestseller That Never Was

Darlington WoodsBack in early 2010 I was getting ready to release my third novel, Darlington Woods. I’d released The Hunted in 2008 and it enjoyed some moderate success, enough to land me another contract. Then in 2009 I released Scream and that did even better, almost doubling the sales of The Hunted.

So in preparation for Darlington Woods I planned for a big release that would net big results. I truly felt it was my best writing to date, both in style and storytelling. The plot was engaging and fast-paced, the characters were interesting and unique, the theme was right from the heart and I knew it would touch many lives. It was the first full-length novel I wrote after battling colon cancer and so much of myself, my journey, my emotional roller coaster was poured into every page of the story.

To launch the book, I’d scheduled a handful of book signings in Pennsylvania and Maryland and a fairly comprehensive online book tour I called the “Light the Darkness Tour”. Emotionally I knew, just knew, that this one was going to be big, this was going to be my break-out novel, the one to “put me on the map.” I spent a lot of time in prayer, dedicating the book to the Lord for him to do whatever he wished with it.  Then, just a month before the big release Publisher’s Weekly reviewed the book. Here’s an excerpt:

No shortage of vampire books stock bookstore shelves today, but few combine Christian themes with ghoulish vampire villains like this headlong rush of psycho-spiritual suspense . . .  Never indulging in long boring tangents or fussy character descriptions, Dellosso’s pacing is perfect and passionate. Even though the choice of setting and parts of the plot mirror the popular novel The Shack, readers familiar with that book will find this new combo of Christian vampire fare a quick and breathless read and will scream for more.

Now, remember, this was when the Twilight saga was at its prime. Vampires were the in thing. And the fact that Publisher’s Weekly not only called it a vampire novel but also compared it to The Shack . . . well, I was sure that would seal the deal. And why wouldn’t it?

The big day came and to make a very long story very short . . . the book flopped. Sales were mediocre but worse than both Scream and The Hunted. I couldn’t understand it. I’d prepared more for this release than either of the other two. The book had gotten more exposure than I even planned for. Publisher’s Weekly had given it a glowing review. And both vampires and The Shack were still very hot. What went wrong?

You know, three years later I’m still asking myself that question. I still think Darlington Woods is my best book. It’s my favorite of all my titles. I look back on that release and the subsequent trip and can’t understand it. I think part of it is the environment of the Christian fiction industry. One, supernatural suspense as a genre was on the downslide in the Christian market (and still hasn’t recovered) and horror was never a hit. And two, maybe vampires were hot in the secular market (and still are) but in the Christian market there was (and is) little interest.

Funny thing is, never once in the book are the creatures referred to as vampires. They’re called darklings and though they act like vampires I didn’t even think of that while writing it. But it seems that Publisher’s Weekly comparison turned out to be at least one stake in the book’s heart.

The other truth I need to face is that it just wasn’t God’s time. I don’t know why and may never know but I have to accept it. So much of this business of writing is skill and talent and marketing ability, but so much more is reliance on God and faith in him to do what he knows is best. It’s a walk of trust every day.

And isn’t that so much like the rest of life?

Another Giveaway: The Last Hunt FREE

thelasthuntI’m in the giving away mood!

The Last Hunt was a short story I wrote a few years ago. I recently revised it and it is now available for Kindle and for FREE for a limited time.

This story will make you think twice about ever going into the woods again.

Today through Thursday you can download THE LAST HUNT for FREE! (After that it’ll be only $0.99.)

Download it now and please help spread the word about this special offer. Share it on Facebook, Twitter, and whatever other social media venues you frequent. Thank you!

New Interview Posted

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Nora St. Laurent over at “Finding Hope Through Fiction” recently interviewed me for the American Christian Fiction Writers book club pick for February.

The interview is now posted here and you can win a free copy of Darlington Woods.

Besides that, it was a fun interview and she included lots of interesting graphics and pics. Check it out. It’s worth a few minutes of your time.

Quick Update

Hello all . . . whew it’s  been a while since I’ve posted anything. I do have a reason for this. I’ve been busy, busy finishing up Darkness Follows. During the second and subsequent drafts I like to stay focused on the story to maintain the flow and remember details. That means all other writing (i.e. blogging) must be put on hold.

And here’ s the good news: Darkness Follows is done! And a whole month and a half ahead of deadline! I’ll give it a few weeks to simmer on the back burner then go over it one more time right before sending it off to the editor by September 1. The release date is still May, 2011 so watch for it.

For those who want to know what the story is about . . . it’s a love story, plain and simple. You’ll have to wait for the rest.

In the meantime, I’m going to begin work on my next book, tentatively titled Midnight is My Time. I don’t have a release date on this one yet but my deadline is January 1 so I better get cracking!

I also have another project I’ll begin working on in the next few weeks but can’t say anything about that one yet. When the time comes you’ll get the full story . . .

Now, can I ask a huge favor of you? If you’ve read Darlington Woods would you mind going on Amazon and posting a quick review? Nothing long-winded or eloquent, just a few words saying what you thought of the story. It may seem like something little, something “the other person” can do, but each review really does help. Please?

Birthday Party for Darlington Woods


For the rest of this week, Kim Ford over at Window to My World will be hosting a birthday party for Darlington Woods. The party will include a review, an interview, and a really cool giveaway.

Stop over today, check out her review of Darlington Woods and an interview we did, and leave a comment to enter the contest.

A Couple New Reviews of DW

Today we have the first stop on the virtual leg of the Light the Darkness Book Tour. Over at Thoughts of a Sojourner, Mark Buzard did a review of Darlington Woods today and tomorrow will run a guest post I wrote.

Also, check out the review Deena Peterson did at A Peek at my Bookshelf.

By the way, the CT scan yesterday went smoothly. I should get the results by Friday.

And don’t forget, for those of you who live near Hanover, PA . . . Saturday is the first brick and mortar stop of my book tour. Walden Books, North Hanover Mall, 11:00 to 2:00. A signed book makes a great last-minute Mother’s Day gift!

Three Ways to Win Free Copies of Darlington Woods

Here’s three ways you can win a free copy of Darlington Woods (and other cool stuff):

1) Click on the “Darlington Woods Contest” tab above and follow the contest rules to win prizes ranging from free books to the Light the Darkness Survivl Pack.

2) Go to the Mike Dellosso Contest page of the Unveiled website and leave a comment.

3) Go to Tim George’s review of Darlington Woods on the Unveiled website, leave a comment, and click the “Follow Blog” button.

Don’t delay. It doesn’t take but a minute to enter and, who knows, you may just win!

Contest at Unveiled

It’s two weeks until the official release of Darlington Woods and you can win a free copy (and a free collection of all three of my books) over at the Unveiled website. 

Go on over and enter for your chance to win. You don’t have to do anything but leave a comment.

Limited effort . . . maximum benefit.

PW Reviews DW

One of the holy grails of authorship is to have your book reviewed by Publisher’s Weekly. Well, today I got word that Darlington Woods has been reviewed . . . and it’s favorable. Check it out.

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