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

 

 

 

Advertisements

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

Weekend Read: Mary Reed McCall’s The Crimson Lady

Hi all,

Just a little behind this weekend, but I wanted to get my second weekly post in. Hope all is well with everyone on this day!

Disclaimer: The following is my opinion of Mary Reed McCall’s THE CRIMSON LADY. This book was purchased by me at Who Dares Wins Publishing and I’m sharing my thoughts simply because I want to!

Guess the lovely cover art caught my attention but this wonderful tale kept me turning the pages. I happen to love stories where the hero and heroine find peace with each other early on and spend the rest of the story battling the story events (and a few of their inner demons) to find the way to their happily-ever-after. (I can give that part away. The story is a romance.)

Braeden de Cantor (such a cool name, too) is exactly the type of hero every woman wishes would walk into her life. Although we meet him a fugitive, he is steeped in honor and integrity. Reluctantly, he upends Fiona Byrne’s world by making her accompany him, certain she is the key to finding his missing foster sister. He also needs to confront his uncle, who imprisoned and tortured Braeden, most likely kidnapped his sister and marred his good name in a world where honor is everything.

Fiona is three years escaped from the world of prostitution, into which she was sold at age fifteen.  That time she spent burying her alter-egos, Giselle and The Crimson Lady. She has also re-established herself as a respectable widow in a world where prostitutes are looked down upon and are not to be associated with by people of genteel society. Braeden’s quest is a major threat to her fragile peace, especially when he leaves her no choice but to lead him to the group of outlaws with whom she partnered in the past, as they are the only ones who can connect Braeden with the man who is responsible for his sister’s disappearance. This same man, who purchased and imprisoned Fiona (physically, mentally and emotionally) is also the only one who can restore Braeden’s good name.

Neither of these well-developed characters needed long to discover the goodness in each other. Braeden is frequently at odds with the juxtaposed images he has of the hardened Crimson Lady and the warm, compassionate woman he is drawn to immediately and ever more as he knows her through her words and kind actions, especially among the outlaws. Fiona needs time to realize she can be loved despite the hell she lived at the hands of multiple men. (Braeden, of course, is just the loving kind of warrior to do it. And he’s pretty hot, too! ;))

This story was well-written and peppered with enough period detail to get me looking up words and learning more about medieval times, the clothing of the time and vocabulary specific to that era. I look forward to more from this author.

Have a great day and weekend everyone. Please remember to take a moment and click a SHARE button if you’re so inclined. See y’all next week!

Joanna