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These are my writing posts from my former blog, spanning 2009-2012. To see new writing posts, click on the blog tab above. To see these archived post organized by topic, click "For Writers" above.

Entries in book reviews (13)


Five Tips On Being Naked In Front of an Audience


Photo by ephoz 

You know those dreams where you show up for your first day of school or to give a presentation at work and you look down and realize you're naked? Yeah, those suck. But guess what?


Welcome to being an author.

Writing can be a pretty solitary career. We sit in our little writing caves and type up the stories we can't get out of our minds any other way. We drag out all of our life experiences, our vulnerabilities, our fears, our quirks and pepper our pages with it--whether we realize what we're doing or not. Our voice is us. Even if the story is about someone who is nothing like us or about something we've never experienced. We are naked on those pages.

And unlike most other careers, our goal is to expose that nakedness to others and subject ourselves to public judgment and ridicule.

That's a pretty brutal position to put yourself in. We know we have to have tough skin. And we do have it. We've been through the gauntlet of critique partners, query rejections and editor feedback. We know how to take constructive criticism.

However, once your writing is OUT THERE. Like for the general public to read and comment on, it's a whole different kind of naked. And I don't think any writer can be completely impervious to others commenting negatively about his or her work. Agents, editors, crit partners--we can deal with their opinion because we know they are coming from an informed viewpoint.

But when your story is out in the world--ANYONE can share their opinion. I can't tell you how many times I've seen reviews on Amazon where people have rated an erotic romance one star because "this book had graphic sex in it." Hello. Their are half-naked people on the cover. It's called EROTIC romance. By definition, the sex scenes are fully described using all the fun words.

Or someone will give a bad rating because the bookseller didn't ship their book on time--like that should have any bearing on the book itself. And on Goodreads, people can rate a book before there are even ARCs printed. They can rate the book when the manuscript is still scattered on the author's floor! (You can learn more about that here on Adventures in Children's Publishing.)

And as authors, there isn't much we can do about it. People can do what they want. They can tear down your book in mean-spirited, completely non-constructive way. They can post spoilers that give away the twists of your book. They can give completely inaccurate information. They can basically tell you that you look awful naked and that you should never take your clothes off with the lights on again.

And you have no control over that.

All you have control over is how you react. That's where you need to put your focus. I know that's what I'm going to try to concentrate on once my book it out. I've already suffered a mini-anxiety attack just putting up the first chapter of CRASH INTO YOU on my website. The reactions have all been positive so far, but it still felt like I was stripping in front of everyone, lol. That's the longest piece of my writing I've ever made public.

But anyway, here are a few tips once you've taken off your clothes in front of the world...

Tips on Being Naked In Front of an Audience AKA Being Published:

1. NEVER respond to negative reviews. Ever.
Okay? Don't do it. It makes you look petty and oversensitive. Just don't say anything at all. Or if you have to say something, say thank you for reviewing my book, sorry it wasn't for you.

2. Do not let a bad review ruin your day.
Most of the big reviewers will tell you that a bad review often sells as many books as a good one because people think--ooh, that sounds awful! I must see how awful it is for myself. (Then hopefully you surprise them.) It's the "Eww, this stinks. Smell this!" mentality.

3. If you find yourself being distracted or personally wounded by bad reviews, stop reading them.
This will be the hardest for me because I'm one of those people who wants to know--even if it's bad news. But if I ever feel like I'm getting brought down by the negativity, I will step away. (And maybe let the hubs screen my google alerts for me.)

4. Repeat after me: You can't please everybody.
This is the one I constantly have to remind myself of. Someone will hate your book, probably many someones. But others are going to love it! Your story is going to be some person's favorite book of the year. Think about those Oscar winning movies--how many times has something won a buttload of awards but you totally thought it sucked? Every story is not meant for everyone.

5. There's no such thing as bad press.
Okay, that's not true 100% of the time. If you make a jackass out of yourself publicly, that's not going to be good. But, in general, you'd rather people be talking about your book than not. Think how many people tear down Twilight. I bet many, many of those Twi-haters are first in line when each new movie comes out, if nothing else but to go in and laugh. Buzz is buzz.

So what do you think? How do you react to negative reviews or how do you think you will react? Will you have to read them or will you avoid reading reviews? What other tips would you add to this list? 

And if you'd like to see me "naked", you can go here and read my Chapter 1. Feel free to tell me what you think. I'm pretty tough. Mostly. ;) (Over 18 only, por favor.)

  All content copyright of the author. Please ask permission before re-printing or re-posting. Fair use quotations and links do no require prior consent of the author. ©Roni Loren 2009-2011 |Copyright Statement|


Fill-Me-In Friday


Howdy, y'all! : ) I feel like I haven't talked to you guys all week with all the awesome guest posts. Hope you enjoyed them.
All right, now it's time for the weekly links round up where I fill you in on what you may have missed and you can feel free to fill me in via the comments on your favorite post of the week. 
A few of you have asked me how I find the posts that I put up here--i.e. when do I find time to go through my google reader when we all are suffering from blog overload. Well, to be honest, it's as simple as this--I pretty much only read blogs these days that I see links to via Twitter
I rarely have time to go through my reader lately, so I'm left with "bright, shiny link" method. Meaning, as I see post titles pop up on Twitter, I go--ooh, that sounds cool, and click over. Then when I come across ones that I want to share with you guys I use my Feedly toolbar to click "save for later". Then at the end of the week, I have this nice page I can go to that has a list of all the ones I've saved. If you're not using Feedly, I highly recommend it.

Anyway, on to the links!


On Writing: 

What Does Your Author Bio Say About You? by Jami Gold

10 Twitter Hashtags for Writers at Publishing Talk

Why Query Letters Matter by Tawna Fenske (I so agree with this)

Are You Wasting Your Time Trying to Get Published? by Jane Friedman of Writer's Digest

Why Every Author Needs to Know About Cover Design--Even If You're Not Self-Publishing at BubbleCow

Eve Berlin on Research and Writing Sex via Genreality

How To Get an MFA in Five Steps at Glass Cases (I don't totally agree with everything she says--particularly that you can't learn anything you don't know about writing from reading non-literary books. But there are some good tips in there otherwise.)

Building a Facebook Fan Page by Ebook Endeavors  (cool tip on how to create a welcome screen for your fan page)

On the Author Blog:


So those are some of my favorites of the week, what were some of yours? And how do you decide which blogs to read? Do you use a reader, email subscriptions, bright-and-shiny Twitter method? I'm curious to know.

Hope y'all have a great weekend!

All content copyright of the author. Please ask permission before re-printing or re-posting. Fair use quotations and links do no require prior consent of the author. ©Roni Loren 2009-2011 |Copyright Statement|



The Book Review Debate (and Some Announcements!)

Last Friday I did a post on writers nitpicking other writers. This post resonated with many of you and raised opposition in others. Some debating went on in the comments, which was great because I always love a good debate. And one of the topics that ended up being debated more in the comments than the actual nitpicking I was talking about was the question of whether or not writers should post negative book reviews.


Some of you choose to do this and say that a) you have a right to your opinion (you do) and that b) you do it in a constructive way (awesome) and that c) you think it provides a service to readers (it does)

However, even with all those points, I personally chose to stop reviewing books on this blog a long time ago and only talk about books online that I enjoyed. If I didn't like something, I discuss it with my friends, not publicly. I just don't mention it publicly at all. (I will never ever promote something that I didn't enjoy just to be nice for the record.)

So why did I make that decision to not post negative reviews?

1. The writing world is SMALL. 

The writer you one-star today may be the writer...sitting next to you at your next writers' meeting, may one day share an agent/editor/publisher with you, may be someone you have to do a workshop with, may be someone who's asked to blurb your book, etc. (Oh, and writers set up google alerts, so anything with their name will show up in their inbox. So don't assume some bestselling author won't read your blog.)

2. Agents and editors google you.

Say an agent or editor is on a fence about your manuscript. They decide to google you to see your web presence (because believe me, they do this, promise). Your website pops up and you have a one-star review talking about one of their client's books or one of the books they edited. You go on about plot holes and a TSTL heroine. Well, you've just told that editor that they don't know how to edit. SO, even if you were constructive in your review, do you think they're going to be as jazzed about working with you? They may think--well, our styles/visions may not mesh.

3. Usually, you don't see bestselling authors reviewing other people's books on their sites.

I take this as a here's-your-sign moment. Why aren't they doing this? It's not because they aren't reading. And it's not even because they don't have time. It's probably because they know better. You don't see other actors critiquing their fellow actors performance in a movie. There are movie critics and movie watchers to do that. It's kind of like peeing in your neighbor's backyard. It's just not wise.

4. The possible consequences do not outweigh the benefit (for me). 

If I save thirty people from buying a bad book, is that worth risking all the above stuff to do so? For me, no. There are wonderful book review sites and blogs out there. I'm a regular reader of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books; Dear Author; and RT Book Reviews. People can find out professional opinions on what someone thought of a book. There are already people providing this service and I don't need it to be me.

So if you still really, really want to do both positive and negative reviews of books online, what are some things to consider?


1. Don't say anything you wouldn't say to that author's face, to their agent, and to their editor.

And I mean REALLY think about if you were standing in front of that author and you're Ms. or Mr. Newbie Writer and they are Ms. or Mr. Successful Author or the editor you're pitching at a conference. Would you have the balls to say what you said online directly to them. If the answer is no, then don't put it online.

2. Consider a pen name.

This is an option that might solve the issue. You can write under your writer name and then have a website where you are BookGirl or something and can review as honestly as you want.

3. Make sure the benefit of what you're doing outweighs the possible consequences.

Determine what you are getting and giving by doing the reviews. Do you have a large enough platform that you are really helping readers? Are you getting good publicity for yourself by doing reviews?

Alright, so that's my take. Like I said in the comments, I have no issues with writers doing constructive, honest reviews, I'm just sharing why I personally have decided not to do them.


Now a few announcements....


  • Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of Leah Peterson's 5-minute Fiction Challenge. And I am the guest judging the entries! Prizes are involved. Go check it out and enter!
  • And, if you live in the DFW area, I will be speaking at a FREE writer's workshop in Denton, TX on Saturday June 4th. Kristen Lamb, social media guru, will also be speaking. To register, please go here. Here's my workshop description:
  • Hooks, Queries, and Closing the Deal -- Strategies on crafting a killer query, determining if your story is high concept, and what to do when you get THE CALL (after you totally freak out, of course.)

Alright, so what do you think of the whole book reviewing debate? And are any of you out there planning  attend tomorrow's 5 minute fiction or the workshop in Denton?



Book Are Not Babies: Should You Post Bad Reviews?


Project 365 #85: 260311 The Best Laid Schemes...
Photo by comedy_nose

Last weekend the first ever RomCon, a convention for romance readers, was held in Colorado.  I didn't have the pleasure of going, but I did follow the hashtag on Twitter of people who were attending and got some play by play of some of the sessions.  (This is why if you're not on Twitter, you need to get on it.  You never know what kind of interesting conversations and helpful information you're going to find.  If you want to follow me, you can click the button in my sidebar.)


One of the hot topics that ended up burning up the tweets was the issue of book reviews.  Apparently, there was a panel at the convention on how readers can help authors.  Authors talked about Amazon and how if you like a book, take the time to review it on there.  But the issue of bad reviews also came up.

Some authors argued that no book should get one star because shouldn't they at least get two stars for the effort of completing a book?  The adage books are our babies came up as well.  Well, many of the people tweeting were book bloggers and got a little annoyed with these statements.  Some said, that no, you don't get stars for effort--they've spent their hard-earned money on the book and expect an enjoyable experience.  They also insisted book are NOT babies, but are a product that you are SELLING.  (They even started a hashtag #booksarenotbabies to point out all the ways they are different--hilarious.  For instance, you can't tuck a baby under the bed if you create a bad one.)

Authors also said that negative reviews should be constructive so that the author can learn what not to do next time.  However, book bloggers responded that this is not their job--they are not the editor, critique partner, beta reader.  They are the consumer.

So, what do you think?  I personally don't do bad reviews on here or post bad reviews on Amazon.  I'm a big believer in karma and if I don't like something, I just move on.  Now, if I loved something, I do review it, tweet it, and tell friends.

However, I do feel that book bloggers and readers should have the right to give their opinion--good, bad, or indifferent.  I read reviews on Amazon before I buy a book and I do put stock in them.  I appreciate when someone reviews honestly (although I tend to ignore 1 star ratings because those people usually are ranting.)  I also don't think anyone has the obligation to be constructive.  Don't be ugly and personally insulting, but it's okay to say how you feel.

Whenever I get published (see, still trying to do positive thinking), I hope that I will be able to take the range of opinions in stride.  We can't please everyone all the time.  All we can do is write the best book we can and go from there.

So what's your opinion?  Should the reader consider how a bad review will affect the author?  Should reviews be constructive?  And just for laughs, how are book different from babies?  (My fave was from an author who said something to the affect of "Call my daughter a tramp, I'm sharpening a shank.  Call my heroine a tramp, I'm making promotional buttons!")


**Today's Theme Song**
"Don't Treat Me Bad" - Firehouse
(player in sidebar, take a listen)



Gone: A Review

Gone (Wake Series, Book 3) (Wake Trilogy)

Author: Lisa McMann
Genre: Paranormal YA
Heat level: Toasty 
Rating: ★★★★
Back Cover (from Amazon):
Things should be great for Janie--she has graduated from high school and is spending her summer with Cabel, the guy she's totally in love with. But deep down she's panicking about how she's going to survive her future when getting sucked into other people's dreams is really starting to take its toll. Things get even more complicated when she meets her father for the very first time--and he's in a coma. As Janie uncovers his secret past, she begins to realize that the choice thought she had has more dire consequences than she ever imagined.


I've mentioned this series before.  This is the third book, so if you haven't read any, you need to start with Wake and Fade, then go to this one.  They are superfast reads not just because of the suck-you-in plot, but because of Lisa McMann's unique writing style.  She's one of those who has figured out how to break the rules and make it work.  Her sentences are short and choppy much of the time.  And there is *gasp* some telling instead of showing.  But it works amazingly.  Her stark writing style makes for a breakneck pace and high tension.  Here's an example from Gone:

     6:29 p.m
     From Carrie.  Five of them.
     And they're bad.
     Janie listens, incredulous.  Listens again, stunned.

Things that rocked:
  • The story jumped into the action, there wasn't a lot of catching the reader up from the previous book.
  • The relationship between Janie and Cabel is both mature yet believable for two teens who have lived tough lives.
  • The drama is gut-wrenching, heavy stuff - no lighthearted conflict here (not that I mind that, but it's a nice change from a lot of YA.)
  • This is a paranormal, but doesn't feel that way.  You almost start to view Janie's dream catcher abilities as if she has a disease.
  • Love Cabel - He's not perfect, he's not described as this gorgeous guy, he's a normal guy who treats Janie with respect, understanding, and patience.  I think he presents a good model for teen girls - look for a guy who treats you with that kind of care and concern.
  • The characters are realistic.  They curse (although not gratuitously) and there is sex (but it is the "fade to black" kind and it is not portrayed as this big, all-encompassing part of their relationship.)  I think both of those decisions fit for two older teens who have grown up basically on their own their whole lives.
  • I felt satisfied with an ending that wasn't all sunshine and rainbows, which is hard to do.  I'm a HEA girl, but Lisa McMann wrote the ending that was needed for this book - bittersweet.
    Favorite Quotes:

         In the cool dark basement, she whispers, "It's not Ralph, is it?"

         Cabel's quiet for a moment, as if he's thinking.  "You mean like Forever Ralph?  Uh, no."

         "You've read Forever?" Janie is incredulous.
         "There wasn't much to choose from on the hospital library cart, and Deenie was always checked out," Cabel says sarcastically.

    Obviously, I'm a fan.  If you haven't read these, pick up the series.  You'll fly through them.  They are very different from the other stuff out there.  So go forth and read!

    Have you read these?  What books have you read that broke rules effectively?  

    *Today's Theme Song**
    "Already Gone" - Kelly Clarkson
    (player in sidebar--go ahead, take a listen)