Random thoughts on our impending doom and everyday life, courtesy of a Romance Writer who occasionally feels the need to talk like a Sailor.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Talking about writers reviewing + a wee small rant.

Today, I'm talking about writers reviewing. A touchy subject given the sock puppet carry on of last year. Like it or not, that brouhaha has affected how writers reviewing books, especially in their own genre, are perceived. Though writers reviewing books has always held a certain curiosity, right?

Discrete plug: My rockstar book hits the digital shelves 1st July 2013.
Types of reviews you might see:
OMG I love this book. I want to have this book's baby. This book is *almost* better than a hot tattooed rockstar.


I lit this dead tree book on fire and it shall warm me and mine for many months to come because it was that damn long and boring.

Say you know I'm a writer and you read my review. Do you trust me? Or do you call my objectivity into question? Do I know the author or is there a chance I'll meet them sometime in future? Do I see this book as competition trying to lure my lovely fans away from me? Or perhaps I harbour a secret grudge against this person due to an incident at the last romance writers conference that exists solely in my head but shall soon spill out across the internet in a bloody wash of horror? Mwhahaha 

Paranoid, I know, but you get my point. Writers reviewing is a complicated tentacle ridden problem. Do we need to chose sides to this degree once we're published? We all know how important reviews are and how tough this industry can be. We all want to help our friends and share our love of books and reading. Maybe a fair chunk of the problem is moot given Amazon is slowly taking down any reviews done by authors.

Now for a slight change of topic. Let's say I didn't take to a book and declare as much on Goodreads or Amazon. Maybe I just diss it a bit on Twitter or something. I'm entitled to my opinion, sure. But writers, stop and think...

If the romance writing community isn't a wonderful, supportive place where we all at least try to get along, why the fuck not? 

No one knows better than a writer that a book is someone's baby. Writers have to grow skin and scales similar to that of a komodo dragon to stand up to all that is slung their way. That’s part of the job. But do other writers really need to join in? Doesn’t such behaviour suck the soul out of our world just a little? If the book lacked a certain something, there are plenty of actual reader reviewers out there to say as much and, we all know, they will. You, however, are first and foremost a writer. Is it really professional to bag someone elses work publically?

To sum up, for me reviewing no longer feels right. Not even just reviewing the books I loved and shutting up about the ones that left me cold and/or embittered. I'm going to promo the writers and books that I love here on my blog instead. Now, as always, this is only my opinion. Nothing more, nothing less. I have friends who are writers that review. Some of those friends have reviewed my books and I'm extremely thankful for their time and affection for my work. Peer love is a beautiful thing and it means a huge amount. Though if they said something bad about it grrrr. I'm definitely not buying them a beer next time I see them. I also have friends who choose not to review. Each to their own. Everyone needs to find their own happy. But if you're out there, talking down another writer or their books, please think about shutting the fuck up. The world seems to be full of negative shit these days. Please consider not adding to it.

Your complimentary porny ladybird chaser.

P.S. Re the negativity rant: No, this isn't about anything anyone said about me. My delicate little artistic feelings haven't been hurt. But if you'd like to send me flowers, chocolates and/or Richard Armitage, I'm cool with that. Thanks.

Monday, 25 February 2013

A look at 'A Basic Renovation' by Sandra Antonelli

Today, I'd like to introduce you to a groover named Sandra Antonelli. Amongst other stuff that shes does with her life, Sandra is a dynamite with a pun or a LOL pic. I admire this greatly.  Oh, and she also writes romance. And studies romance as a genre. Yes, you read me right. Sandra studies romance. How cool is that? But I'll let her explain...


In a fair and just world we would all own a copy of these boots. Fact.
Of all the questions I’ve had about my debut novel the one asked the most often blows my mind. Please allow me to clear this up right now. While I am the proud owner of a pair of red cowboy boots, and red boots feature in A Basic Renovation, that is not me on the cover. But thank you for thinking that it was. I’m flattered you believed I’m a good looking blonde with awesome arms. Escape Publishing did a spectacular job with the cover. Hell, they did a spectacular job with everything, and that includes dealing with all of my newbie-to-publishing foibles.

I wrote A Basic Renovation for my Masters degree. I was looking for a particular sort of romance novel, one where the hero and heroine were both over forty. I’d find one every now and again, but the pickins’ were slim. During the course of my MA, my cohort was fortunate to have a masterclass taught by Jenny Crusie, and we read her essays as well. She said, “Write the novel you want to read.” I realized that’s what I’d been doing.

A Basic Renovation has, as the very darling Kate Cuthbert at Escape Publishing put it, a damaged woman, a damaged man, a damaged grandfather and a damaged house. I’ve been told it’s funny. I’ve been told the grandfather, who’s 92 and falling in love all over again, steals the show. I’ve been told there’s too much cussing. I’ve been told the heroine excels at giving the finger. So what is A Basic Renovation all about? Well, Kids, it’s a romance where two people who hate each other fall for each other in an atomic mushroom cloud sort of way.

When it comes down to it, rats in the oven trumps Lesley’s desire to never set eyes on another Brennan family member. So Lesley, a pro at property redevelopment, scrambles to Dominic Brennan’s hardware store for supplies. Dominic knows poison — rat and otherwise — and he sees it in Lesley. The woman ruined his brother’s life. Now that she’s back in town, Dominic’s afraid she’ll drag up the past, the secrets, and the pain. They clash immediately, but mix in a teenage boy, a puppy, some white paint, and some loud music, and what starts as cold fury transforms into a nuclear attraction. This basic renovation becomes a major life refurbishment for them both.

I hope you like it as much as my mother did.

You can find out more about Sandra here...

Twitter:  @SandrAntonelli
Get yourself a copy of 'A Basic Renovation' from... Amazon  iTunes or Escape  

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Weekend Writing Warriors... The Colonist's Wife.

Welcome to another Weekend Writing Warriors. I know I kick started you off with my currently in progress Rockstar MS last week, but you don't mind if we story jump for a bit, do you? Today’s eight sentences are from my first ever Ellora’s Cave release, The Colonist’s Wife. A short novel due out the 15th of March, so not long now. I'm starting to get excited about it, hence the story jump. Don't worry, we'll get back to that poor girl lying on the bathroom floor in Vegas, I promise.

The Colonist's Wife takes place in the year 2088 in a mining colony on the moon Esther, circling Jupiter. It’s my witness protection/mail-order bride/erotic romance set in outer space. Hope you like it.

     Wives went last.
     The ship shuddered and groaned again beneath her feet like some big metal beast shaking itself off. Louise stood to the side of the cargo bay doors and let all the important company people disembark first down the gangway. No one even gave her a second look. People strode alongside the small transports that rolled out, raising plumes of gray dust when they hit the surface. The whole thing unfolded with military precision until finally only she remained.
     It was time to meet her husband.
     She could do this.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

When is a writer allowed to respond to a review?

The alien sex bot's skin was cobalt, not azure! OMFG!!!

A. Only when the reviewer gets something factually wrong. So wrong, that it causes your head to explode and your heart to wither inside your chest. Yes, so incredibly horribly wrong is this fact that the very wrongness of it threatens the fabric of the known universe (wherein the very fabric of the known universe = your book).

B. Only when the review takes on the overtones of a petulant toddler throwing a tantrum due to being interrupted midway through their stunning rendition of Honey Boo Boo’s greatest hits.

C. Only when they accidentally mistake your book for something that sucks and therefore obviously need to be corrected. So it would be educational...really. FFS, you’re only trying to help! Sort of.

D. Only when your Mother eventually reads it, figures out the kind of smut you’re writing and outs you to everyone, including your fourth grade English teacher who always knew you’d come to no good. Damn you, Mother!

E. Never. 

Answer: E.

P.S. Though I guess that also depends on what kind of relationship you have with your mother.

Yes, it’s the truth. Or what I perceive to be the truth and since this is my blog, there you have it. If the reviewer is a review site/book blogger you might like to send them a polite note thanking them for taking the time to read and review your work, but that is it. Because they are providing a service and it’s nice that they picked up your book and gave it the time of day in the first place. And because manners. Though if they compared it to a pile of rotting remains, saying nothing is fine too.

A review is someone’s opinion. Nothing more, nothing less. It is not the final word on your literary masterpiece extolling the thrilling adventures of Marvin the Masochist Hedgehog. It is just one person's word. A lot of people might listen to that one person and judge MtMH accordingly, but there is nothing you can do about that. Suck it up. That’s the joy of being a writer (wherein joy = debilitating pain). Once you fling your baby book out into the world, it is out of your hands. Do your blog visits, promo your little heart out, but accept that you cannot control the audience’s reaction. Unless technology has come so far that tiny mind control robots are real; in which case I’d like to order a box, please.

So even when the review takes issue with Marvin's relationship with Bob, and there is NO DAMN BOB IN THE ENTIRE DAMN BOOK, it's best not to comment. It might seem unfair, but that's the way it is. The social norm or expectation that has evolved is that writers shouldn't respond. Because the fact is, sites like Shelfari and Goodreads are not there for authors. They're there for readers. Once you publish, for better or worse, you do now belong to the other camp. Sucky, because you probably started writing due to your overwhelming love of reading. I know.

Had a review that hurt you bad? God gave us vodka to deal with just such situations. Use it wisely. I quite enjoy a few rounds of the shoot-em-up Overkill: House of the Dead when things get me down.Or you could go for a walk. Get out of your dingy little office and away from your computer for a while. Cleanse your aura. Consider not looking at reviews at all. Or at least, not until a friend has cast an eye over it to give due warning.

Anyway, to sum up: you're never going to please everyone. Embrace this fact and hold it dear to your heart. Live by it. There's much that can be learnt from feedback, sure. But don't let it crush you. And most important of all, get busy writing your next book.