Wednesday, February 25, 2015

I Knew I wasn't the only one who hated that Book!

If I read a book I don’t like, chances are good I’m not going to post an online review of the book. The philosophy has nothing to do with the old adage ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say’. Instead, it’s about professional courtesy. As an author, I don’t feel right posting a bad review of the work of one of my peers. I think writers have a responsibility to support one another, especially if they’re independent writers.

Last week, I bought a book from an author I’d read before. The author was offering the first four books of her five book series in one package for only ninety-nine cents. That price, combined with the fact that I’d read the author before, piqued my interest.

Unfortunately, the books went from terrible to worse than terrible. The characters were poorly developed and shallow. The plot was sound but it wasn’t well developed. The way the characters treated one another, the male lead in particular, was deplorable. There were times when I actually cringed at how terribly this man behaved while professing to love this woman. Take the scene where he blindfolds her, telling her that he’s going to take her on a surprise date and instead takes her to a crowded bar and has her hike her skirt and ride him in the middle of the bar. Why? Because he wanted the bartender, who’d expressed an interest in the female lead, to see that she was off limits. And she actually forgave the SOB for this! Forgave him! Now, do you see why I cringed?

The further I read into the series, the angrier I became. Eventually, I cut my losses and gave up reading. I thought about posting a scathing review of the book, but I didn’t want to disparage a fellow author. The thing that was bothering me the most was that the author is a NY Times bestselling author. If this is why she made the list, it’s more than disappointing. It’s frustrating.

I don’t think I’m a great writer. I think I’m good. I’m a solid writer who continues to develop her craft. If you compare my earlier works to my current works, you can see improvement. Well, I can anyway. The fact that something so demeaning to women and poorly developed could make a bestseller list and I can’t quite honestly pisses me off. 

I felt so strongly that I started to think this was nothing more than good old fashioned jealously. The other author did the same thing I did. She wrote a book, offered it for a low price and promoted it. The difference was that she had the means to reach a wider audience so she made the bestseller list.  There was nothing wrong with her work. I was simply arrogant enough to think I was better or at least her equal and deserved the same honor.

Despite telling myself this, I couldn’t shake how much I hated the book. It struck such a strong chord with me that I broke down and got online to check out what other readers were saying. Normally, I don’t do that. Book tastes are unique so I don’t like to allow myself to be influenced by the opinions of others. In this case, I’d already read and despised the book so I felt it was justified.

And do you know what I found? There were a significant number of one star reviews for this book. Many readers felt as I did about the plot and the characters and the writer’s mechanics. After I saw that, I felt a small amount of vindication. I knew I wasn’t the only one who hated that book! It’s comforting, but the disappointment is still there.

No matter how we all feel about this book or this author, she’s already made the bestseller list. No one can take that away from her, nor do I want to. I just want my piece of the action!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Coincidence or Fate?

At the beginning of the year, I shared with you my plans for approaching my writing career in 2015. I set several goals for myself, some lofty and largely out of my control and some that I could easily manage to meet.

One of the smaller decisions I made was to cease and desist entering any writing contests. I started entering these contests several years ago. I told myself it was so that I would have some writing credits to add to my query letters for agents and publishers since I had no published work. That was true, but let’s be honest. There was also a little bit of ego involved. Winning or even placing high in the standings is not only gratifying but it validates your talent; gives you a reason to believe you should keep trying.

The one contest that I was still on the fence about, and having a hard time letting go of, was the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, also known as ABNA. With the exception of one year, I’d entered every year since its inception. The contest was attractive to me because of its lack of entry fee as well as its Amazon sponsorship. Everyone knows Amazon is a major player in the online retail industry and book sales and publishing is no exception.

ABNA typically starts around mid-January and goes through several rounds before the winner is announced in mid-June. Over the last few years, it’s produced some great novels and there have even been authors that weren’t winners who still managed to catch the attention of agents and publishers based on their standings in ABNA. There’s also a camaraderie between the participants that you can’t find in any other contest.

With so much to offer, I’m sure you can see why I debated about entering ABNA. The funny thing is, I let it slip my mind for a bit. I got busy working on my third and fourth books in the Time for Love series. I was writing one and editing another. And I was having so much fun that I didn’t think much about ABNA. Once in a while, it would cross my mind, but it was gone just as quickly.

Last week, it occurred to me that the entry deadline had probably passed and I found it odd I hadn’t received an email announcing the contest. I took a moment to do a little research and found out ABNA is no more. It’s been replaced with the Kindle Scout program. According to information obtained on Amazon, this is a reader powered program. Authors submit manuscripts, along with their book cover, and readers vote for their favorites. The winners are given a $1500 advance and a five year renewable contract with Amazon and are supposed to be able to keep their rights.

Reactions to the death of ABNA are mixed, but most past participants seem devastated, some with good reason. Apparently, the announcement to ax ABNA came around the same time the opening of contest was normally announced. Those writers who spent the last year diligently working on their manuscripts felt cheated. I understand those feelings, but I don’t feel cheated at all. I find it rather interesting that the same year I decide to move on from writing contests is the year my favorite contest is no more. 

Is that an amazing coincidence or the finger of fate pointing me in the right direction? Who knows, but it’s certainly something to think about.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Tough Times is Here!

No, that title is not a grammar error. I also don’t mean to say I’m having a tough time. When I say Tough Times is here, I’m speaking of course of my third novel in the Time for Love series.

The day Chelsea’s been waiting for is finally here. Justin Jacobs asked her to marry him and she couldn’t be happier. There’s just one problem. Justin has cancer. Before they can plan their wedding, they’ve got to face the reality that it might never come. Will Justin and Chelsea be able to make it through these tough times, or will Justin’s cancer destroy more than their relationship?

I must confess that release day always makes me nervous. I hope you find the story moving, fun, well edited and an all-around good read. The fear that you’ll hate it always weighs on me, especially since I know how much these characters mean to many of you.

Once you read the novel, I hope you’ll be kind enough to post an online review and share your thoughts with the world.  And I’d love it just as much if you stopped by my Face Book author page to share those thoughts as well.

To find out what’s next for Justin and Chelsea, you can pick up Tough Times for your e-reader for only 99 cents. Just follow this link:

Happy reading!