Conundrum: Should Authors Wear the ‘Reviewer’ Hat? (Part 2)

Hello again, and thank you for stopping in a second time this week. Here is where we left off (should you be a blog-post behind and want to catch up 🙂 ).

I’ve posted plenty of ‘thoughts on books’ at this blogsite. (They’re categorized under ‘Reviews’ and ‘Thoughts on Books”, but I no longer consider them formal ‘reviews.’ Perhaps I don’t feel qualified to ‘review’ someone else’s work. MHO maintains that critiquing someone else’s story implies I know something more and maybe that just ain’t so. )

Aside: Remembering to post my thoughts at bookseller sites is a whole ‘nother ball-of-wax. Kind of messes with the reasons why one writes them in the first place. 🙂

Like Carrie Rubin, if I do blog about a specific book, I’m going to keep it positive. Most authors invest a lot of time, effort and heart into their works. It’s no fun to feel all that input trashed by someone who didn’t like it.

I know first-hand how it feels to be on the receiving end of some really nice reviews. I’ve also had lower-number-star reviews. These were generally kind, but suggested my debut novel was just okay. (I appreciated the kindness and took the positive out of the reviewer’s thoughts.)

So how do I handle it when my (Ahem!) constructive feedback outweighs the encouraging thoughts?

One: If the book just doesn’t do it for me—even if I promised a review in exchange for a copy of the book—I’ve gone one of two ways. If I can get through it, I’ll keep it positive and hone in on the good stuff. Recently though, I emailed an author with my concerns and why I couldn’t FINISH his/her particular book. (Not that I received a response. Shoulder shrug.)

Two: I will voice my issues with a story in a blog post. I plan on doing so next time—namelessly. Not to trash the author or the book, but to offer suggestions to other writers about tactics, etc, that put me off as a reader, but as a reader-turned-writer too.

And this is where things get mucked up for those of us who wear the author/writer/reader hat. Is it a conflict of interest to consume the very product I produce? I’ve yet to meet a writer who wasn’t an avid reader. (I imagine most of us remain the latter.) My problem: my increasingly critical writer/editor side has messed with my willingness to slog through work that isn’t up to the standards I’ve learned—or have been told—should exist.

Finally, if the reader/writer ‘reviewers’ take that step back and don’t offer their opinions on fellow authors’ works, I think we’d be losing a host of highly insightful thoughts into what makes a book palatable. After all, I’m thinking we be the toughest nuts to crack when it comes to deeming a story a ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ read.

Should we post constructive thoughts, or just the glowing positive thoughts—at our blogs, review and/or bookseller sites?

If the constructive feedback is not terribly discouraging, disparaging and not necessarily overriding the good in the story, sure. I.e.,  ‘this worked for me, but I might have preferred if the author had…”

Hain’t ya glad I didn’t dump all this into a comment on your blog, Carrie?

Your turn, friends. Can’t imagine we’re lacking for thoughts on this. Let ’em ride! 😀

Happy rest of the week and weekend,

Joanna

 

 

 

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Linking Up and a Blog-Reveal Too

Hi everyone! Hope you enjoyed the weekend and the NFL championship games. All due credit and congratulations to the Seahawks, for pulling off the improbable, but what a heartbreaker for those of us rooting for the Packers. 😦

Australian Open Tennis Championships are underway! Yay!

The reveal: I’ve been working at developing speaker workshops for the past year or so, the mainstay of which will be parenting-related. To go with it, I started a new blog/website, where I will be posting all future parenting posts (among other related topics). Promise I won’t turn down any of the love or support any of you care to show by following it and/or sharing about it. (Just sayin’! 😉 )

Linking up: Figured I’d take the opportunity to hook y’all up with some of my most loyal supporters. Check their blogs out. Bet you’ll find something you like!

Carrie Rubin: The Write Transition–today she’s got a list of books you might be interested in reading. She also blogs on many different topics, typically infusing each with her unique style of humor.

At How the Cookie Crumbles, Tess is currently taking us on a virtual trip to China via a series of posts based on her current trip. She’s also awesome at 100-word shorts.

Young adult fiction author Stacey Wilk offers her take on parenting, growing up Italian and other topics.

Accent the positive and be inspired at Lewar’s blog–my latest find.

Have a wonderful day!

Joanna

 

 

 

 

Release Day: Christine Warner’s SECRET LOVE!

Happy Monday after the French Open final, folks!  Can you say it ten times fast? 😉  Hope all is well in all of your worlds!

Congrats to the record-setting NINE-time champion, Rafael Nadal! (Good thing the match didn’t go to a fifth and deciding set. The champ and his opponent, World  No. 2 and highly likable Novak Djokovic were morphing into the injured playing the ill, respectively.)

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I’m taking a break from my regularly scheduled blogging to share about online friend and author Christine Warner’s latest romantic release, SECRET LOVE. Congratulations, Christine! All the best to you in your latest endeavor!

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Bio: Christine Warner is living her dream in Michigan along with her husband, three children, one laptop and a much loved assortment of furry friends. Besides laughing and a good round of humor, she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, reading, writing but no arithmetic.  A confessed people watcher, she finds inspiration for her stories in everyday activities. She loves to read and write about strong heroes and determined, sometimes sassy, heroines. A girl gone wild, at least where social media is concerned, she enjoys meeting other avid readers and writers on Facebook, Twitter and her website at christine-warner.com.

(Psst! Christine can be found at Goodreads, too!)

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* Genre: Sweet Nostalgic Novella

*   Length: 69 Pages

*   The Sweet Fifties Series {Book 1}

Please note: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of Christine Warner’s Secret Love for review and promotional purposes.

Christine Warner’s sweet romantic novella immediately landed me in the mid-1940s and 50s. This highly nostalgic short story did not lack for character development. Perhaps the story moved along a tad quickly, but in all fairness to the author, Ms. Warner provided enough backstory to seamlessly cut into the novella’s present. The prose is concise and the text well-edited. Detail is appropriate to the period. Like the songs of old Ms. Warner mentions throughout the story, nostalgia flows effortlessly via lively descriptions and dialogue, readily giving present-day life to a time long past.

Thirteen-year-old Lizzie Tarleton is a bit of a spit-fire. I happened to very much like her soap-eating ‘younger version.’ Not that I disliked her 23-year-old self, when the story proper picks up ten years after the reader meets her.) I was particularly fond of Lizzie’s willingness to jump out of her comfort zone to speak her mind, during a time period when girls were not raised to be forthcoming with their thoughts, let alone their feelings toward a boy.

Seventeen-year-old Wayne Whitmore is Lizzie’s brother’s best bud. His compassion toward Lizzie immediately endeared him to this reader, how he cared enough to spare her feelings in that first scene.

Ms. Warner does a nice job bringing her characters together ten years later. Lizzie is now a teacher at the high school where Wayne is the principal. (I did have a bit of a hard time trying to accept him in that role so young.) I didn’t find the story’s conflict to be terribly powerful, but I had no problem buying into it as real or universal. Ms. Warner took what could be a situation in any couple’s world, and built it into an engaging tale of how they overcame it to embark on their happily ever after.

The Story:

Lizzie Tarleton has always done things her own way—including the time at the tender age of thirteen when she confessed to her brother’s best friend she loved him. But now she’s a new teacher at the local high school, and independent enough to know that you can’t force love. She’ll find love when the time is right—even though her parents are adamant the time is now. The only downfall to her idyllic life is the fact that her childhood crush—who broke her heart—is now her boss. If only she could stop daydreaming about him.

Wayne Whitmore grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and worked hard to get where he’s at in life. Even though he enjoys being principal at the small town high school, he dreams of coaching baseball. When his best friend asks him to watch over his little sister at her new job at Wayne’s school, he agrees. What he doesn’t count on is how she’s grown from the pig tailed kid who told him she loved him, to the woman who breaks his concentration with her beauty and smile. Unable to get over his fascination, and afraid he’ll ruin his friend’s trust, Wayne applies for his dream job—one that will take him far away.

One night while decorating the school gymnasium for an upcoming sock hop, Lizzie and Wayne find themselves alone. They share a kiss and Lizzie realizes her childhood crush for Wayne has never died. Wayne decides he doesn’t want to let Lizzie get away.

Can they come to terms with their secret love and then overcome the other secrets they are hiding in order to get what they each want? Or is their timing for love still off?

An Excerpt:

She blinked away the heat of tears forming at the back of her eyes. Their conversation had grown too serious. She needed to lighten things up a bit. “Remember when we used to play ‘What if?’”

He laughed. “What if Lizzie wore a dress?”

“Either she was going to church, or her mom was having a ladies’ social.” Lizzie giggled. “Ricky hated that game.”

“He’d get so mad when you’d start it.” He made the final cut on a small snowflake and added it to the pile before him.

“What if Wayne couldn’t throw his famous curve ball?”

“The school trophy case would be one trophy short. What if Lizzie wasn’t teaching here?”

She pouted. “She’d be sad. I have no idea what I’d be doing if I hadn’t found a job here. What does Lizzie have to do to show Wayne she thanks him?” She winked, enjoying their fun.

He cleared his throat. “What if Wayne said Lizzie owed him a kiss?”

Her belly trembled. What if?

“What if he stole one?” His voice lowered and he leaned in.

“Why don’t you find out?” she whispered.

Buy SECRET LOVE here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Christine’s Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Happy Release Day, Christine! And thanks to all of you who took the time to read through this marathon of a post! If you like what you read, would you kindly share and help Christine pass on the word!

Here’s to a wonderful week to all,

Joanna

 

 

Krista’s ‘Brilliant Disguise’ Prompted Me in Multiple Ways

Happy St. Patrick’s Day,  blogger buds!

Hope the weekend treated you well and that all celebrations were what you wanted them to be. I kept busy with a family birthday party; compiling related blog articles into booklets to go along with a workshop in-the-works; communicating with Debbie at The Cover Collection–see my rave about it here–and getting this post together (while working from an iPad and a laptop—I never wanted that first desktop, lol).

I’m also preparing my share of a St. Patty’s Day school breakfast: a cheese, pepperoni and cracker tray, oatmeal-raisin-cranberry-almond bars and a coconut cake with awesome cream-cheese butter frosting. (Yum.)

The above are just a few of the reasons I want to retire from school. Who has time to work?

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Clip art courtesy of clipartsandcrafts.com

Today’s post was inspired by a WordPress prompt. I subscribe to them and every now and again like the topic enough to pull together a response. I also believe it’s a great way to connect with other bloggers and possibly grow one’s follower base. (How it works: Comments are always closed on prompts. Pingbacks are enabled; if you link to the prompt post on your blog, your post will appear in the list below the prompt.)

This one was entitled Brilliant Disguise. Krista suggested writing about a time someone really pulled the wool over your eyes. (And just b/c I’m a distracted disaster my brain immediately started playing Bruce Springsteen’s title track to the CD by the same name—do we still call them CDs in this download-driven world?—and my favorite off that collection: All That Heaven Will Allow. If you’ve never heard that song, you HAVE to. Then make sure you come back, lol.)

Here’s my story: We were on vacation with another family at one of my favorite places on the planet: East Hill Farm in New Hampshire. (Fans of the movie Dirty Dancing will relate; this place reminded me of Kellerman’s.) We’d been out earlier in the day and passed a Harley-Davidson dealership.

Hubby was into motorcycles then. (Just a hair of background: we’ve always promised to discuss spending upward of a certain amount of $$ before doing so.)

Long story short, hubby went out with his friend for a while that afternoon, and came back in time for ‘cocktails’ on the lawn. This man, who could never-ever get a fib past me—I can tell from the way his lips look against his teeth whenever he tries; no I can’t explain it—told me he had a surprise and that he’d just purchased a brand new Harley.

Since money-rich is something we are so not, lol, I probably stared at this mouth and teeth looking for the fib. Maybe I was so floored at his ‘news’ I missed it. His buddy sat next to him, nodding and confirming what hubby said. Finally convinced hubby was telling the truth, and beyond hurt that he’d go there, I ran off, fighting back tears, as a romance writer would say.

I can still see his buddy calling across that giant lawn, and hearing his voice almost in slow motion: “Joanna! He didn’t do it!”

Hubby followed, dug me out of our room and told me the truth. (Might have been the first and only time he called me ‘sweetheart’ too. I usually go by ‘Babe’ or ‘Joey.’ When he calls me ‘Joanna’ it’s not necessarily for a good reason.)

So that’s what Brilliant Disguise at WordPress prompted me to write. How about you? BTW, comments are closed on these prompts but pingbacks enable you to connect with other bloggers responses. So, if you choose to share your story, just post a link to your blog in the comments as well, and maybe even connect to WordPress.

You never know where that could lead you. I’m still not convinced, but my follower base supposedly increased by at least 400 after I connected with one a little while back. Next week, I’ll share some links to some great posts I came across this week, simply to keep this one from getting any longer.

Have a great day,

Joanna

The Cover Collection–Stop By for Inspiration!

Hi all! Hope you fared a relaxing and/or productive weekend and got to do something special. I was thrilled to have found a nearby tennis court clear of snow, ice and puddles, where I played a couple of sets. Of course I lost (that’s just the way of it). Definitely had a rusty day (haven’t been out there since the fall), but I do find happiness in the spring-like weather swinging away at a little green ball.

Rowsy   Rowsy kittens

These photos are for Tess. On the left is my Rowsy, who lived at least 22 years. Under the tabby gray was evidence of calico mix. It certainly showed in her kitties. 

Special welcome to Robbie! She found me via a pingback at NYTBSA Bob Mayer’s blog (How cool is THAT?!) to a guest-post I wrote a while back for author Babette James, when indie publishing was starting to really make its mark.

Promise to work really hard to keep the rest of this quick. (The other writing-related/workshop projects are lined up and waiting patiently. And hubby is looking forward to the egg-wrap I normally make for him on the weekends. )

A couple of posts ago I talked about some inspiring articles at author Joe Bunting’s blog, The Write Practice. Recently, guest blogger, author Carlos Cooper, talked about how perusing pre-made cover art for ideas and inspiration led him to buying a cover that caught his interest and inspired a book to go with it. Since I’ve done well so far with applying some of what I’ve read at Joe’s excellent stop-on-the-web for writers, I figured I’d go for it.

Like Carlos, I did a search. Landed at UK-based The Cover Collection and immediately fell in love with a cover under the Romance tab. Lined up to pay the ridiculously reasonable costs—via PayPal—for ebook and CreateSpace covers for the follow up to my debut novel. BTW, the latter is a print-book front-only option TCC offers to help authors save $$. Older Son is savvy enough to do spine and back cover work.

Virtually met and began interacting with Debbie. She has been utterly WONDERFUL helping me customize the stunning cover I bought. (I promise the images appear to breathe.) She is very generous with her time, open to suggestions and somehow, totally “gets” what moves me visually. One of the versions she made for the sequel—based on my requests—resulted in big-time pay dirt: perfect theme/story-related cover art for my debut, No Matter Why!

So, two lovely covers-in-the-works later, I am taking steps in the direction I’ve wanted to go all along. No cover reveals today; we’re still working on them. (Yes, very patient Debbie is kind enough to put up with me. ;).

So I suppose this is short enough a post for me. (Please feel welcome to differ and say so, lol. No offense taken, pinky swear!) I know, there were a lot of links here. (That’s what happens when you drop in at Jami Gold’s virtual-web stop.) For those of you daring enough to check out each one and somehow wind up back here—you far more focused than I.

Hope this has been as inspiring for you as for me. Thanks for indulging me.

Have a great week,

Joanna

On A Virtual Visit with Babette James…

Happy first Friday in August folks–hey! Didn’t July start just the other day? Where did it go?

I’m visiting with fellow Liberty States Fiction Writers member Babette James today! She’s been kind enough to offer me the opportunity to share the topic of my recent talk at the Howell Twp Public Library in NJ. So if you couldn’t be there in person, here are the highlights of my chat with some very nice folks who took time out of their busy Saturday to hear what I had to say.

You’ll find a little sneak-peak there as well. Come on over: http://babettejames.com/2012/08/03/what-id-do-differently-by-joanna-aislinn/

Joanna

Are You Published or Want to Be?

Happy Friday, friends! For those of you in the area who might consider joining me, I’ll be at the Howell Library, Howell, NJ tomorrow! I’d love to see familiar faces and some new ones, too!

Here’s the flyer!

What I Wish I’d  Known—and Done Differently—

 BEFORE I Got Published!

WHERE:     Howell Library   318 Old Tavern Road;    Howell, NJ 07731 (732) 938-2300

WHEN:         July 28, 2012    10 AM-12 Noon

That manuscript burned a hole in your hard drive. You prodded it, polished it to a blinding shine, then sent out query letters to agents and editors. Nothing to do now but wait for a response, right?

Maybe not.

New Jersey author of romance and women’s literature, Joanna Aislinn, has been there, done that and earned the tee-shirt. Armed with the knowledge and perspective only hindsight brings, Joanna will share important tips on what aspiring and soon-to-be-published authors should do while waiting for that first contract.

Joanna Aislinn’s debut novel, No Matter Why (originally published by The Wild Rose Press), was hailed by her editor as “…what a contemporary should be…an emotional journey…a beautiful story well told.”

When not working her day job or attending to a husband, two boys and two cats, Joanna is crafting sequels, planting seeds for future stories of love and commitment, judging contests, networking and expanding her writing and speaking horizons. Friend her on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/joannaaislinn) and follow her on Twitter (@JoannaAislinn).

                                                                                                             

For a variety of articles and tips on craft, social media and so much more, check out Joanna’s blog (https://joannaaislinn.wordpress.com) and website (www.joannaaislinn.com).