Cheap Guitars, by Mara Miller

Cheap Guitars, by Mara Miller

 Mara Miller’s debut novel, Cheap Guitars, tells the story of love lost and found and how you find yourself home, at last, with the person who completes who you are.

The beauty of Cheap Guitars-the aspect of the novel that truly stands out-is the ensemble cast, the love and friendship between the group, and how the lines of romantic love and friendship are sometimes blurred. The story focuses on Elise and Brandon, best friends since childhood, who allow one night of passion to destroy everything they’ve built. Their choices result in a four-year separation where each grows in different ways. Elise, who chose the most drastic path following the destruction of their relationship, is forced to mature the most as she finds herself disconnected completely from not only Brandon, but friends and family. Her return home sets off a series of events that no one expected, most especially the immediate escalation of the feelings that she and Brandon threw away four years ago.

Cheap Guitars is a self-published novel and while we find an infinite amount of gems that come from the world of self-publishing, this particular book doesn’t quite fit in that category. Though the cast of characters that make up the story are compelling and stay with you long after the book is finished, it is difficult to get past the poor editing. Miller has a good plot with a nice twist, but there are more places than not that the structure of the book is insubstantial.

After finishing the book I thought it might be interesting to get the author’s perspective of writing and self-publishing without the “net” of a team of professionals guiding her along the way.

Here’s what Miller had to say about her experience writing Cheap Guitars and the struggles, at least for her, with self-publishing:

“Ten times I almost talked myself out of self-publishing and just submitting it to Harlequin or something. But I was sure I would’ve gotten rejected and nixed that idea. I remember each time I slammed my computer shut in frustration because I was a second away from just deleting the whole story.

This story is not perfect. It’s not meant to be. I submitted it for publication on Kindle that tenth time I freaked out and ran into a whole whack of issues–yes, the reason Cheap Guitars was published that day was because I was trying not to talk myself out of it. I won’t defend myself against criticism. You don’t know how embarrassed and apologetic I am over the fact that about 500 people (who downloaded it for free) have the error, run-on sentence ridden version. I should have taken a few more weeks to look it over. There are two more books–if not three–in my Cheap series. Maybe that will get fleshed out better.”

I do admire the fact that Miller doesn’t shy away from admitting her struggles. For those of you that downloaded the original publication, Amazon does allow for updating when an author updates his/her publication. Check your account status to see if you have “automatic updating” on, then remove the original book from your device, upload it again, and sync your content to get the most up-to-date version of the book. I think you’ll find it worth your time.

If you’re interested in reading Brandon and Elise’s story, you can find it here on Amazon.

Cheap Guitars


2 thoughts on “Cheap Guitars, by Mara Miller

  1. This is so interesting- I don’t think I’ve ever seen a review on a blog quite like this, or on Goodreads or anywhere else, and it is so so hard when you want to be the best writer you can and you just don’t have the resources outside of yourself that you wish you had. I am incredibly blessed and fortunate to have a great beta reader, who has solid technical skills, a natural flair with words, and a style similar enough to my own that we tend to have the same idea about where a piece SHOULD go in order to be “good” in our eyes. But even so, there are times when neither of us knows exactly what to do to improve something that we sense is imperfect and I long frequently for a professional editor who believes in the good points of my writing and knows how to push it to be better in a way I can be proud of. But they are damn hard to come by. And I’ve also had the experience of working with professional editors that weren’t particularly rewarding, that wanted to change my writing in ways that I wasn’t proud of. And that, I think, is the biggest reason why despite the problems, some of us choose self-publishing. Because that way we can at least tell the stories in our hearts, even if we don’t have all the support we need to tell them perfectly. Kudos to Ms. Miller for having the courage to put herself out there and for continually working to improve, because the only day we truly fail as writers is the day we stop trying.

  2. My close friends keep joking that when I’m a best seller the error-ridden copies will be worth a fortune. I have a good beta reader for my fan fiction, but I refuse to ask her to look at my original work since she’s not in the same genre.

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