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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Conundrum: Should Authors Wear the ‘Reviewer’ Hat? (Part 1)

And should they do so at their author blogs?

Welcome, friends! Warmer temperatures are hinting at spring–Yay!–and we’ve sprung our clocks forward. (I’ll get over the loss of an hour’s sleep. More sun and light, please!)

So the other day fellow author and online friend Carrie Rubin referenced a blog post by social media guru Kristen Lamb. The question: should authors write reviews for books they’ve read and/or publish them on their blogs?

Of course, both articles got me thinking, enough to get into one of my long-winded comments. (The kind that has blog-post-of-my-own potential—all as I happened to be trudging through a book whose characters caught my interest, but had me tangling big-time with issues relative to the prose.)

As per Carrie Rubin’s post: “One of the things (Kristen Lamb) recommends is never writing a bad book review. In fact, Kristen suggests writers should not publish book reviews on their blogs at all: ‘“Our BRAND is AUTHOR, not ‘book reviewer.’ My opinion is we can’t do both.”’

Carrie tends to agree and ponders the notion that an author writing reviews could be a conflict of interest. She also supplied valid arguments for both sides of doing so—more so for NOT writing a bad review—with support noted for the benefit and/or need for reviews by indie authors.

I don’t disagree with Kristen Lamb on “Our BRAND is AUTHOR, not ‘book reviewer.’” At the risk of sounding full of myself (which I pray I am not), and as a reader—a.k.a., consumer-of-books—AND writer/author, I hope I bring an expanded (?) set of skills to the ‘review’ table.

In the interest of brevity, I’ll get into those a little later this week. What are your thoughts so far?

Have a great day,

Joanna

Working on Consistency (and Inspired Some More :)

Hi everyone. Hope everyone is having a great week and not overdoing any leftover Halloween candy. I’m always scrounging out the Mounds and Almond Joys. They’re few and far between, but M & Ms work too—anyone try the candy corn ones? Those are definitely different, in an addictive, not-sure-I-like-them kind of way. ;)) What are your favorites?

Life keeps handing me these highly convenient “coinkidinks,” as my boys’ kindergarten teacher used to say. And y’all know, when I’m feeling inspired, I like to tell you about it! (If nothing else, it’s a reason for me to write up a blog post, lol.)

So…

Recently, I took my mom’s car for inspection. She failed emissions and we finally got it to a place to check it out. She wasn’t thrilled with the repair-price tune of near-$500, so we took it elsewhere. The second guy said the quote we got was fair. Hubby wasn’t all that thrilled with the second guy, so a couple of days later, I took mom’s car back to the first shop.

No one was at the desk in the office. I waited a few minutes, and the door opened behind me. The younger guy who normally mans the computer came in.

“Is anybody helping you?”

I shrugged. “Not yet. Aren’t you the important guy?”

“I’m off,” he said, but headed into the garage. He came back with the older guy, who has to be 80-something.

I reminded them they’d diagnosed my mom’s car, but I was clueless about what I’d done with the printout, which listed the work that needed to be done. “I figured you have it in your computer and can pull it up, right?”

Older guy’s mouth gapped a bit while he offered a slight, negative shake of his head. He looked like a deer caught in the headlights.

Younger guy stepped in, tapped a few keys and out came my printout. More customers came in. “You want the car tomorrow?”

I smiled, nodded and pulled open the door. “Get out now,” I said in a loud whisper, before I exited.

Now tell me younger guy just happened to come in on his day off exactly when I needed him to be there.

Life changing?

Nah.

Inspiring?

Always.

Hey, I’m always up to stories of the like. How about sharing yours? And maybe this post with some of your friends, via one of the share buttons below?

Many thanks!

Be inspired, and have a great day, friends!

Joanna

Weekend Read: Our Little Secrets

Happy Friday and upcoming weekend, all. Wow. Can’t believe the Olympics are winding down already. So psyched about Andy Murray’s gold and first big win!

Just finished reading Our Little Secrets by Merry Farmer, indie author, fellow Twitter-pal (and PA ‘neighbor’ :)).

This captivating historical, set circa the early 1900s, caught my attention immediately.

Premise: Girl seeking to escape her past steps off a train in a frontier town. She meets the general store’s owner, an apparently kind and clever chap with whom she immediately feels chemistry. He’s looking to change the town’s perception of him, shall we say? So, within 24 hours, Miss Charlotte Baldwin and Mr. Michael West agree to a business arrangement and marry. They make a pact not to ask questions about each other’s pasts. 

I absolutely loved the characters and liked the story circumstances that brought this pair together—especially a MAJOR twist—and helped them grow and change as individuals and as a couple. The author did a wonderful job creating chemistry between “Charlie” and Michael, as well as fun, witty interchanges between the two that were delightful to read. I also tend to enjoy stories where the hero/heroine are on each other’s side from the start. This story did not disappoint.

Being a reader who tends to go for the gorgeous alpha-looking hero with the beta-guy’s heart, I liked that I was endeared to Michael even though he wasn’t described as the eye-candy type. Who he was off the bat—and the inner hero brought about via the story events—made me often forget he wasn’t necessarily packaged in that traditional leading man model we romance lovers tend to expect. (BUT: Part of Ms. Farmer’s dedication was to her first celebrity crush named—hmm, Michael. Despite a clue she provided I’m still wondering who he is, lol.)

Set against the incredible Montana landscape (one I hope to visit one day), Ms. Farmer did a very nice job painting the setting and period details. I definitely felt transported to the turn of the century and felt grounded there the entire time. She kept me turning the pages and now has me looking forward to the sequel (to which she provides a sneak-peak at the end of the book).

A great weekend read! Get Our Little Secrets (and/or Merry’s other titles) here: Nook or Kindle

Visit Ms. Merry at her website.  Like her on Facebook and/or follow her on Twitter and let her know your thoughts on her works! (We authors LOVE that!)

And after all that, if you liked the content here, won’t you kindly SHARE below?

Have a great weekend! Thanks for your time,

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). 

Just in time for Super Bowl Weekend!

I’m celebrating my 200th post! To everyone who visits regularly, I so thank you for doing so. And to you first-timers, my humble thanks and a special welcome too!

So, friends, here we are on the Friday preceding the biggest Sunday of every football season.

  (Yes, I’m just a little excited about Sunday’s big game :D)

Photos courtesy of my older son and his I-phone–thanx! Love the Giants’ colors, too. Oh, and before I go further I’m adding a disclaimer: I don’t pretend to fully understand that whole (somewhat complex) wildcard and Rounds 1 and 2 progression parts of the Road to the Super Bowl. Please forgive any errors as I’m still learning a lot of how it all comes together on that first Sunday in February. 

Anyone out there been following NFL post-season play? Excuse me, but did somebody bother telling the NY Giants that they weren’t going to make it to Super Bowl XLVI?

Maybe it’s just me, but seems like Eli Manning and the boys missed a few memos, and those may have gone something like this:

You may not beat the Dallas Cowboys to win a wildcard spot.

Let’s see you get past the Atlanta Falcons to win the wildcard game.

Forget winning against the Green Bay Packers, Super Bowl XLV winners and super-season record holders of 15-1.

You’ve got your work cut out to get past the San Francisco 49ers, those mega-aggressive guys who literally snatched the win from the Saints the week prior—now there was a nail-biter of a game—to become the NFC champions AGAIN.

Oh, and you could get past the New England Patriots, seeing as you upset the H-E-goal-posts-minus-the- crossbar last time y’all met? (I mean, has anyone been watching footage of the last 90 seconds of that match-up? Eli was Houdini getting out of the pocket—he had NO business not being sacked. Then David Tyree had even less business making that too-amazing-for-words catch to set off that final, victory-claiming, drive.)

  It’s a mother-son thing! We both turned down SuperBowl parties to watch the game together at home.

I mean, all I’ve been asking myself since the Sunday night they manufactured the 2011 season’s miracle is: How did they get here? Pull off what may be their most memorable run yet? And how do they continue to do it?

I wrote this as I watched Rafael Nadal walk off the quarterfinal court victorious at the Australian Open Tennis Championships. At end of the second set, Rafa was one set-point down.

As is true of most tennis champions, set and match points are simply something to get past. It’s a mindset. Rafa is frequently described as relentless, as he bats away ball after ball until he forces an error or hits a winner. (His forehand has this lasso-like action that’s so cool to watch, and I’m noticing current Number One Novak Djokovic using a very similar motion with his forehand. Hmm!)  Oh, and Rafa is also known for this quote: “Every point is match point.” (BTW, Rafa wound up rallying from 2-5 in the fourth set to tie things up in the final match against Djokovic, and take it to their first five-setter–wound up being one of those matches one wishes both players could win.)

Years ago, when I first got into tennis, my first all-time favorite player was Stefan Edberg. Like Rafa, he was a pretty humble champion and one who never gave up. During the 1992 US Open he was down three match points to hard-hitter Ivan Lendl.

Want to guess how that one turned out? I’m sure the little bit of rain that suspended play until the next day didn’t hurt, but Stefan fought off those match points and went on to win not just that match, but the whole darned thing as well. (Was I happy then. I had tickets to the final and got to watch my first mega-favorite win his last grand slam title.)

Brings to mind the Giants and their past five games. As I said, they don’t seem to have gotten the memo—or, like any great champion(s), they blew it off.

As a writer—and an occupational therapist, I’m a watcher. Observation skills were usually my forte on most of my evaluators’ write-ups. So, I watch Eli Manning’s game.

Now mind you, I’ve gotten highly annoyed with him at times. Not that I could coach or head up a team but I’ve learned a whole lot about the mental part of football this season. (Think I need one more season under my belt before I totally get the ‘running game.’) I am, however, starting to get Eli’s game—and his brilliance. And having watched the Giants these last five weeks—and even some old footage from Super Bowl XVII—the word relentless comes up over and over.

So do the notions of “progress not perfection” and “easy does it.”

Watch how, little by little, Eli inches his team down the field toward the red zone. He obviously keeps his eye on the prize (i.e., touchdown or field goal) but tends to use smaller efforts to get them there, as in one first down at a time, and of late, a third-down conversion (kind of that “never say never” attitude over and over until payoff).

Not only did the Giants not get the memo, but I don’t think they realized they weren’t going to be Super Bowl contenders this year, especially going in to play the Packers. (I hated seeing Aaron Rodgers roughed up, but his team kind of fell through a little on that one too. Almost a smaller-scale version of what the Patriots did to Tim Tebow and the Broncos—and there’s more fodder for that never-say-die attitude: what rookie Tebow accomplished with his flailing team this year.)

OMG, make sure you check out these photos: the best shot ever and another that show it all!

Yes, I’m done now. For now. Who are you rooting for and/or which teams would have made up your dream Super Bowl?

TTYS and go Giants!

Joanna

Just for Fun: Awesome Buys

Happy Thursday, friends!

Yay! This is post #197—three to go to my 200th! Next goal: bring the number of followers into the triple digits! (Translation: if you like what you see here, please click one of the share buttons below. And, as always, thanks so much!

Life looks like it’s getting exciting around here; I’ll share more detailed news when the time is right! For today, because the post I had in mind grew a life of its own and won’t be ready until next week, I’m posting a simple and hopefully, fun topic—just in time for bargain hunters, flea market and garage sale junkies everywhere:

Share with us your most ridiculous surprise and/or awesome buy ever.

Mine: Backpacks I picked up for my sons at Five Below when they were about 10 and 8 years old: ful backpacks, with $49.99 price tags still attached. Had never heard of them but they looked sturdy enough—and for $5/piece? Sure, why not try it out?

Had I known then what we were getting, I probably would have bought six or more. My younger guy, now in 7th grade, still uses his and it’s in awesome shape. The older one wishes he hadn’t let his friends mess with his. He’s had two or three different backpacks since his ful and still misses it.

(BTW, Five Below has great padded cases for almost every kind of portable electronic you can think of: sturdy, colorful and simple enough not to look tacky.)

Just thought I’d share that and looking to have some fun with your responses!

Have a great weekend, everyone! See you next week!

Joanna