Five Things I Learned From 500 Reviews

Five Things I Learned From 500 Reviews

Allison Maruska

When I published my first book twenty-one months ago (two years ago come February, so you don’t have to math), I didn’t know what to expect. I knew I’d sell some copies, probably my friends would read it, and it would get a handful reviews (hopefully good ones).

If you’ve followed the blog for a while, you know how things really went – 20,000 ebooks sold in the first year and thousands more sold since its first birthday.

500-reviewsToday, it got its 500th Amazon review (thankfully, it was a 5-star review), which is an exciting milestone. I tried to find the average number of reviews for published books and didn’t get anywhere, but I know the majority of books see far fewer than 500, my other books included (so far. *knocks on wood*). So being on this side of 500, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned along…

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Decide my fate

city v sifnos

It’s important to know where you stand; it’s important to know where you place your feet. And where I stand today is in between. I stand in two places at once, two heres, two nows. I stand with one foot in London and another foot in Sifnos. Two parts of me, and as I lean towards the one, the other draws me back. I am a pendulum, but this lovely swinging motion is making me a little dizzy.

So I’m leaving it to the universe; I’m leaving it to fate. I’m leaving it to you. I am your puppet on string: you can do with me what you want.

After 18 months of playing the reclusive author in Sifnos (and writing two books), and six months back in London, I find myself in Sifnos once again. But do I stay, or do I go? Where do you want me?

I can treat this trip to Sifnos as a holiday, eat some good food and get a bit of a tan, and go back to London in a couple of weeks, and do the things that people do there, and wear a raincoat a lot. This option will please my City Girl persona, who’s been looking very nervous ever since we arrived on the island, and keeps flashing her Oyster card at me at regular intervals.

I can stay here, and take it one day at a time, and write about those days as I did before, and see where that takes me. This will invariably involve frequent philosophical musings, posting lots of photos of beaches, clouds and sunsets, and possibly adopting stray kittens, in defiance of anything that can be described as common sense. It will also mean giving voice to Sifnos Chick, who has absolutely no sense of style, but knows all the best places to pick fresh herbs on the island.

So – should I stay or should I go?

Please vote for City Girl or Sifnos Chick in the comments below. 


This cannot be the end



This cannot be the end

because people

are not just bodies,

not just limbs,

not just bones and tissue and skin,

not a collection of cells,

not just a sequence of genes.


Because the heart

is not just a drum

that beats out the tune of a life.


Because a life

is not just the body

that contains it

this time around.


And the soul

barely even notices these things

as it passes through,

as it crosses our paths,

brief lifetimes,

with a nod.


But we notice.

Those of us still contained

within these bodies,

still defined

by our genes

and our words

and our deeds,

still tethered to our paths

by hearts that beat.

We notice when you pass.


But regardless, regardless –

and no matter what box they put you in –

this cannot be the end.


Because I still have words

to describe you.

Because we are all of us magicians

and we can conjure people up

in our hearts.

Because you defined me, in part,

with your part in my life.


Because a life

is what you make of it

and I will make yours last,

with my words

and my deeds

and my heart,

with a nod

towards wherever you are,

until our paths cross again.