On Book Reviews – Good and Bad By Suzanne Quill

When my first book, If Love Were Enough, was published, I was excited to receive reviews from friends and family and looking forward to some from people I didn’t even know. My feeling is and was that any reviews, good or bad, bring attention to a book. I also feel very strongly that there hasn’t been a book written that hasn’t had people criticize it in a negative way. Even best sellers in all genres have their detractors regardless of the literary merit of the book. What one person thinks is a literary epic, someone else will see as nothing more than wasted space and time.

So, when I looked up reviews on each of my books the other day, the first as listed above, ONLY YOU and An Improper Seduction, my second and third books, I was not surprised in the least when I found both positive and negative comments. What also was interesting was that the reviews were four and five stars or two stars. No plain mediocrity here!

Of course I greatly appreciate the four and five star comments. These will help bring new readers. The ones I like the most are those where the reviewer has taken the time to share more detail about what she liked about the book. And how I love it when I read a review and can tell that this reader got it! This person understands exactly what I was trying to say in the story. It is as if I wrote the story especially for her enjoyment.

And I did! I wrote each book in hopes that the readers, each and every one of them, would grasp the message I was trying to get across and the dilemmas and growth the hero and heroine were trying to experience. It makes all the hours of writing and rewriting worth it when someone writes a review that demonstrates the purpose of my efforts was not in vain.

But how about the two star reviews, or even the one star? These, too, are important. These can teach me where I might have lost the thread, been too vague, too wordy, too complex or too simple. I can’t go back and change the published book but I can take these comments to heart in future endeavors.

And what about this reviewer? Isn’t it a compliment that the reader felt so strongly about the book, my book, she took the time to put her thoughts out there for others to read? Even if she didn’t get the point of the story or the trials and tribulations of the hero and heroine as I wrote them, she did invest her money and time in my book. I sincerely thank her for that.

So I feel all reviews, good or bad, can be appreciated. I would like to add, however, that some reviewers who are downright malicious could take a course in constructive criticism. After all, my book was not written to insult or injure any one so why does a reviewer need to write in such a negative way as to make it overly personal and hateful? It’s unnecessary and cruel. This is a review I would not take to heart or learn from. This is a review I would dust off as of no purpose except for the reviewer to be mean and spiteful without even knowing me.

I feel everyone who reads any book can find one or two good things to say about it even if they don’t like the story or the characters. Maybe they like the setting, the era, the book cover, a particular character, whatever. Wouldn’t it be nice to point out at least one positive thing in a book before you lambast the author on all other points? Obviously, the book wasn’t written for you. You bought the book, took a chance in good faith, but the author didn’t quite communicate to you. It happens, maybe a lot. But it’s not like the author, me or any other, set out to waste your time and money. We did our best it just didn’t work out for you this time. Thanks for trying anyway.

So there you have it, my personal comments on reviews. I hope those of you who read my books will take the time to leave reviews. I thank you for them and will take them to heart as I continue my writing career. If you don’t leave a review, that’s all right, too. I thank you sincerely for investing your time and money in my writing and hope that it was a pleasurable experience for you, so much so you’ll look forward to my next efforts and buy that one as well!

There are so many of us struggling authors out there that I hope you will…

Keep reading!

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RWA’s Writing Challenge: The End

Are you participating in The End? I am! RWA is challenging you to meet your writing goals. It began February 2, but you can jump in at any time, and it runs through December 2015. Participants aim to write at least 2000 words per month. At the end of each month, those who have met or exceeded that goal are eligible for the monthly prize. March’s prizejyxcpchc is a The End! T-shirt. Cute, huh? I’m really jonesing for that T-shirt. AND, for those who’ve met the 2000 word count goal every month, there’s a grand prize drawing at the end of the challenge.

When you sign up, you receive a daily email with “Writing Wisdom” from best-selling authors like Jill Shalvis, Eloisa James, Jude Deveraux, and Suzanne Brockman. There’s also a word count tracker that tracks your progress, monthly writing prompts, and discussion forums.

My WIP, Dreams of Her Own (Book #3, Dreams Come True) is already contracted and due August 31, so it will be completed long before The End, has, er, ended. But the challenge is motivating me to git ‘er done. I’m racking up the words, reading the words of wisdom from some of my favorite best-selling authors, and feeling the encouragement from my fellow “Enders.”

If you’ve got a deadline looming, consider signing up for The End. Maybe you’ll even win a prize or two for accomplishing your goals.

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Dialogue Tags – To Be or Not To Be?

0449.lowresby Linda Bennett Pennell

Man, there certainly is a lot of advice for authors floating around these days! If interested, a writer could spend most of his/her time reading, rather than slaving away on the ole manuscript. Some advice can be ignored, but one area is a must read. The importance of improving one’s craft cannot be understated. Every facet of craft can be researched and explored ad infinitum, but the topic that seems to get some of the widest degrees of variance in advice is dialogue tags. You know, those little two or three word things that come before or after the quotation marks, things like “he said” or “she asked.”  Some writing coaches firmly believe there should never be a single dialogue tag to muddy up the reader’s immersion in the fiction experience. Others say there should be tags so that the reader knows who is speaking, but by all means limit them to the minimalist “said”, “asked”, or their simplest synonyms. Finally, there are those who advise using them as one wishes, including turning body actions into dialogue tags. They are even so permissive as to suggest that the much maligned adverbs and adjectives are okay as well.

dialogue bubblesBy way of example, let’s play around with these three differing theories. They are theories, after all, since no one has written the absolute, definitive, never-to-be-surpassed Craft Rule Book to End All Rule Books.

The scene: two men in a bar, John and Dave, argue over a debt.

 

Example 1. (No tags.)

John glared at Dave. “You owe me. You’re not going to weasel out of paying this time.”

“Who owes whom is a matter of opinion, old boy.” Dave smirked. “Have you forgotten the five hundred you bet and lost earlier this year? I have yet to see any of that sum.”

“Now see here. I never meant to make a wager. I thought we were simply joking.”

“Nonetheless, the wager was made.”

Example 2. (Minimal tags.)

John glared at Dave. “You owe me. You’re not going to weasel out of paying this time.”

“Who owes whom is a matter of opinion, old boy,” Dave said and smirked. “Have you forgotten the five hundred you bet and lost earlier this year? I have yet to see any of that sum.”

John replied, “Now see here. I never meant to make a wager. I thought we were simply joking.”

“Nonetheless, the wager was made,” Dave said, pounding the table for emphasis.

Example 3. (No holds barred.)

John glared. He leaned in so that he was eye-to-eye with Dave and sneered, “You owe me. You’re not going to weasel out of paying this time.”

“Who owes whom is a matter of opinion, old boy,” Dave replied with a broad smirk. “Have you forgotten the five hundred you bet and lost earlier this year? I have yet to see any of that sum.”

John frowned and stated loudly enough that the heads of fellow patrons turned,  “Now see here. I never meant to make a wager. I thought we were simply joking.”

“Nonetheless, the wager was made,” Dave hissed sharply, his fist pounding the table for added emphasis.

So tell us, what’s an author to do with such mixed messages? Does genre make a difference in the use of dialogue tags? If you are a reader, which do you prefer and do you have a genre preference? If you are a fellow author, what is your strategy?

 

 

 

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Those Devilish Details

My fourth-in-series romance, Waking Up To Love, pits nerdy Kyle Pennington and luscious Lyssa Doughty against charismatic bad guy Rand Cunningham. This was my first experience with a villain, and I enjoyed exploring all the ways the ill-intentioned Rand could mess with the hero and heroine and their relationship.

As I wrote Kyle and Lyssa’s love story, it became apparent that the two of them have inquiring minds, albeit different styles. Kyle is relentlessly logical and is cleverer than any bully he might encounter. Lyssa tenaciously follows the money story and shamelessly flirts with villains and innocents alike. The two of them simply had to spin off a cozy mystery series with romance in every chapter. Now that Waking Up To Love is under consideration, I’m writing the first cozy.

Writing a cozy mystery, for me, is a very different process from writing a character-driven romance. As the author, I have to know, in depth, the backstory that led to the murder, while my characters know none of that at the start of the book. Their job is to ask the right questions and pursue their leads until they solve the who-done-it mystery. The process reminds me of the logic puzzles I loved so much in the middle grades. You remember: the man with the collie lives across from the widow in the house with the purple shutters; the vamp has three cats, and so on; whose pet bit the mailman?

In their first cozy mystery, when Kyle and Lyssa have to salvage their reputation in their new neighborhood after a shooting in their backyard, they turn their good-will tour into a fact-finding expedition. I dove right into that scene! However, at the end of the day, I had two completely different people living at number 52 Seneca Street and the same problem at number 59 Seneca Street. OMG! There was nothing for it but to sketch the street, add in the residents and their bits of knowledge, and re-route Kyle and Lyssa so the clues they collected added up correctly to new leads.

Good old-fashioned graph paper saved the day! Here’s my map:

Scene-of-Crime copy

I’m curious what techniques you use to keep things straight in your books, your series, or your more complex works? Hope you’ll share! –katie o’boyle

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The Renewal of Spring

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I thought long and hard about what to write this time for my blog. So many things went through my head and one theme kept cropping up – spring. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, spring has arrived—on the calendar anyway.

In Northwestern Wisconsin, we had a brief, but delightful week of warm weather. I could feel the dark web of winter sly free with the higher temperatures, bright sunlight, and NO SNOW. It’s all everyone talked about. People wore shorts and flip flops. A few brave, and I say crazy, people even wore tank tops. They smiled, and there was a definite spring to their steps. Local stores started roping off portions of their parking lots for gardening items. You have to understand—it was in the fifties, after all.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????We found excuses to be outside. Of course we couldn’t plant or rake or lay in the grass, but our dreams of doing those things seemed more realistic. I kept a close eye on my spring flowers to see if any of them were brave enough to peak through the soil. I started thinking about whether my summer clothes would still fit, and I itched to put out the patio furniture and my planters. I put away my dark, winter bedding and curtains and replace them with bright, cheerful ones.

Everyone knew it wouldn’t last. And it didn’t. We’re back in the 20s (that’s above zero, so we’re making progress), have had snow, and the wind has been ferocious. But the days are getting longer, the birds are returning, and those brave spring flowers are popping up. ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

notebook-computers-green-grass-background-42808325What does this have to do with writing? I love to write outside. On the deck, in our boat, while camping—it doesn’t matter as long as it’s outside. With the renewal of spring, comes the renewed interest in starting a new project. I’m ready to shake off story ideas that are set in the winter. I want my characters to swim, boat, hike, and camp. No more sitting in front of fireplaces or watching the snow fall. My characters are even getting excited.

So, from Northern Wisconsin, Happy Spring!

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WELCOME THE “SPRING INTO LOVE” BLOG HOP!

Spring For Love blog hop buttonStarting today, prepare to have some blogging fun! Cynthia Gail is hosting a blog hop for Soul Mate authors, with a Rafflecopter giveaway and twenty-six participating authors.

The Blog Hop runs from March 27 through March 29.

Check the links below to get in on the fun:

Cynthia Gail’s Blog and Event Info:

Rafflecopter Link For Giveaway:

Facebook Event Page:

Great blogs and great prizes. See you there!

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It’s About A Wedding by Terri Patrick

Tami Lund blog“It’s about a wedding” is a really a great tagline for promoting a romance novel. Weddings are those rite-of-passage celebrations that emphasize our ingrained desires to be connected to someone special regardless of how fulfilled we may be as an individual. This is the backbone of every romance story ever written, or lived.

When I first drafted Checkmate First Mate I chose the activities around a wedding as the plot and pacing structure of my novel. The story spans the three weeks leading up to the event, and the following week as the romantic leads in the story return to ordinary life. Weddings can include a whole cast of characters who invest a lot of emotional energy into that main event, and their effort does not end with a honeymoon. Weddings are also a great setting for the unattached to muse over their desire for, or against, a romantic partnership.

I forgot about the wedding angle as I designed my marketing blurbs when Checkmate First Mate was published. This romance was originally written to be the second book of a trilogy where all the stories had the “wedding” tagline. Making this novel into a stand-alone story means I can’t just rework the other companion stories, and my title for the trilogy doesn’t work for a stand alone. As I’m  currently reshaping the entire world and cast of characters it was a happy coincidence that I saw Tami Lund’s call out to us Soulies for submissions to her Matrimonial March blog posts.

This is the biggest benefit for an author to be connected to, and networking with, others in the genre.

Our email exchange for my participation spawned the idea for an interview of two of the surprise “Wedding Dates.” This was a fun enough twist in my story to make it a solid subplot. Everyone who attends a wedding wants to do so with an escort, especially the maid-of-honor and mother-of-the-bride. In Checkmate First Mate it is the bride who does the most meddling to get her MOH and mom well escorted for the day, and for the photos that will be perused in future decades.

Escorts for the bridal party are a big deal.

Now I’m working on the story about those escorts, a father and daughter who were quite content in their quiet lives until they became caught up in the wedding festivities. Their dates for the event are both global travelers and fluent in multiple languages. Now the wedding is over and hanging around the family owned marina doesn’t feel as fulfilling as it did before that special day. Ha! What had seemed like a solid subplot is now becoming a new novel.

The father and daughter are interviewed by a teenage niece who thinks the escort story is exciting.

Thank you, Tami Lund, for featuring me on your site this month!

Learn more about Tami and her novels at http://tamilund.com/

Visit me at www.terripatrickbooks.com.

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