Though I’ve mentioned this before, I thought you might have missed it. I’m on TikTok too. Not that I do a whole lot there. Like most writers, I prefer to spend my time writing.
Here’s a recent video I did for that media.
Hey, where do you go for your market info? I used to read RT Book Reviews. (I always wondered why she didn’t put the magazine/website up for sale.) Of course, I check Romance Writers of America’s website, magazine, and notices, but I like more than one source. The blogs I have checked out in the past have gone or they do only reviews. But here are a few I check out on occasion.
The above has podcasts that are interesting.
The above owner used to talk about the industry more, but since the Ellora’s Cave incident, I think she backed off. Sadly. But I understand.
Stephie had a great chart about contests (due dates, etc.) but has stopped doing that and has a link to another site that keeps up with it. Yet, her resource page is pretty good. Not sure how current.
Above is only reviews and interviews, but I like it. Heck, they interviewed me a couple times for Loveswept.
This one that follows I just found today. Just old stuff (1-2 years ago) but weeding through it some good info will pop up. I guess that is true to all of the links I’ve mentioned in this post.
Here’s another place to check out. They mix in articles about various writing tropes with the reviews.
What about you? Where do you find your info?
Just like most people during the last year, I found myself with a little extra time. So I decided to work on my ancestry. My sister worked on it years ago which helped get me started.
I’ve learned so much about my family. I will say it’s important to know general local and world history and pay attention to dates if you do this. It will make it easier. All of the info I came across was so fascinating. It’s like my family has reintroduced themselves to me.
My goodness, I have generations galore that grew up and were buried in Cullman (half of Cullman City Cemetery is filled with my relatives/ancestors) and Walker counties. Sure, back in the 1700-1600s and beyond, they lived in Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, England, and Wales. There’s over 1,000 people in my tree. But I remember hearing stories about many of them (those from the last 100 years) when I was growing up, but the research has taught me so much.
Like that my paternal grandfather had joined the Alabama Army National Guard at 16 years old and was sent to Arizona to protect the border. This is during the time (1916) Germany was pushing Mexico to invade the U.S. and Pancho Villa was attacking U.S. cities. Be sure to look this stuff up. That’s a rough explanation of why my grandfather was there. The picture above of him (he looks so freaking young) with his first wife is on their wedding day. He was about to be 19 and she had just turned 18. Not my grandmother. Sadly, the pretty lady passed away at 23 from a sickness. She did leave behind two beautiful daughters. My aunts. By the way, I never thought of them not being fully mine.
Anyway, the crazy thing is, I could throw a rock and hit land where one relative or another owned or rented it at one time or another.
Side note: In 2019, my husband and I moved to be nearer to family. We had lived northeast of Birmingham for most of our lives. So when we moved to the northwest side of the city, you wouldn’t think that would be much of a difference. But there is. City vs country life.
Overall, there is so much to be proud of in my family though I will say some of them have the worst luck. One thing for sure, I wish I had asked my grandparents more questions.
All is good. I’m home now.
When I first started writing, critique partners and contest judges would often have a problem with my heroines. When I sold my first book, my editor said I needed to make my heroine likable.
Geez. She’s a cold-blooded assassin (Circle of Desire) and I understood why she was that way. Why couldn’t she?
I had explained piece by piece throughout the book how she was a dumpster baby, grew up in an orphanage and foster care. Then she was molested and became a runaway, walked the streets for a small time pimp, and then trained by a psycho to be an assassin. Why couldn’t the readers feel sympathy for her?
Well, if more than one person tells you that they do not like a character, you have to listen. And a big clue is the two words I used above. I understood.
So that means, I didn’t help the reader recognize where she was coming from when she did or said bad things. You can’t guarantee that the reader will read the whole book to grasp all of the fine details that made the heroine become that person. You have to give the reader a reason for her behavior. Of course, I do get aggravated with a reviewer when they say “I skipped through the book.” If she/he had read every word, they would have understood the heroine’s thought process. But it is the author’s responsibility to make it clear in the beginning that the main character(s) is someone you want in your life or sympathetic to their faults.
With encouragement from my editor, I went into the first chapter and added a sentence. That helped. See, it doesn’t take an info dump to get a point across. If you’re wondering, I showed in the narrative that her hands shook. Showing she was human.
I believe women often have a problem writing women because we think our readers (majority women) know the motivations behind the female lead’s actions. But that’s not true. Not every woman feels the same way about a situation. So we have to explain or show her rationale.
Funny how I forgot that lesson from my debut book when I wrote my first Brother of Mayhem book, Hidden Heat. Several reviewers felt that Cassidy was being immature by the fits she dealt the MC. She’s a strong heroine who knew if she didn’t stand her ground the club would run all of over her. I obviously didn’t make that clear enough in the beginning. But thankfully some reviewers/readers understood. Here’s one review that proved it. Debbie’s Reviews in Goodreads.
This means we (authors) have to stay on our toes and give our readers the information needed, within reason and in the most entertaining way. And readers need to give strong (or weak) heroines the benefit of doubt. If you want to skip pages, just don’t read the book.
Yesterday, I was discussing with another author the differences between a mystery, a suspense, and a thriller. I need to mention that this debate is not new to anyone and has been going on for years and years. Everyone has an opinion about it. I believe it all depends on what you read or write or both.
Now you don’t have to take my word on this. Here are other perspectives I found on the internet. I figured I would get you in the mood by seeing others before you see mine.
See what I mean? Lots of viewpoints and really no one is wrong. Like I said, it depends on where you sit on the fence. Right? Ha!
Moving on, here’s my fence…uh…opinion.
First, I want to mention all thrillers have suspense and many have a mystery entwined with the plot, but thrillers have one thing in common. The inciting event leads to a greater, dangerous event. Thrillers are normally involved with killing a lot of people or/and destroying a lot of property. Such as the Die Hard franchise. So if it starts out with one person dead and then gradually more are dead until the whole city or world is in danger, that’s a thriller.
While writing this post, I searched for “thriller movies” and none were the type I think of as the typical thriller. It appears the internet and media often referred to movies I look at as thrillers to be action movies. They are both.
People include a serial killer or serial killer-like character in a movie as thrillers. It can reveal the killer or not to the reader. The same for the hero in the story. He or she could know (or not) who is bringing up the body count. But you have to realize, this is a hybrid. A thriller with suspense. Of course, suspense is included along with mystery. Think of any movie where individuals are dying left and right, and you don’t know when the next murder will happen. I think of the movie Seven for this one. They discover who the killer is mid-way through the seven deaths, but can they stop him in time?
From a personal debate of mine, I’ve had people call my first book, Circle of Desire, a thriller. I’ve always disagreed. I do like action/adventure mixed in with my romantic suspense. So it’s like a Nikita or James Bond story. In Circle of Desire, the bad guy is trying to get rid of his competition and using a female assassin to do it. She’s captured in the first chapter by the other organization and does not kill another person until later the book. He’s not about to kill everyone in the world either. So no. Not a thriller. Romantic suspense, yes.
Here’s the blurb to Circle of Desire.
As the top assassin at The Circle, a shadowy group of mercenaries, Olivia St. Vincent can hunt down anyone. She’s been trained since she was a teenager to kill without feeling, to interact with men without love. But when she’s kidnapped by the enigmatic leader of a rival organization, she learns she’s been lied to for years. She never worked for the good guys.
Collin Ryker believes the sultry woman he’s abducted knows more than she’s telling about The Circle and its plans for complete domination. Over time, as they work together, Olivia’s tenacity and vulnerability captivate him. But if he isn’t careful, Collin will fall into the biggest trap of all: caring for a woman who can betray him to his greatest enemy.
This one is simple and most agree on the definition. Usually, there is one person—though others might help– investigate a murder or locate a missing valuable. I always think of stories about Sherlock Holmes or those written by Agatha Christie
—Murder on the Orient Express, anyone? —when someone talks of mysteries. But keep in mind National Treasure is a perfect example of a mystery involving an object. I do enjoy them all.
The dictionary says, “a quality in a work of fiction that arouses excited expectation or uncertainty about what may happen.” That sure sounds like the two above too. Right? If you search for “suspense” movies, thrillers will come up instead. See, even the media is confused. I guess thriller sounds more exciting.
But what makes a book (or movie, etc.) a suspense, is that the killing or/and danger is personal and slower to come about. Maybe someone is shooting at the hero and he does not know who it is. Even the reader may not know. Or someone is planning to kill a person by setting a trap. And the reader may (or not) know about the trap and is waiting for (or surprised by) what happens. To keep it simple, and yes, tooting my own horn, my books are suspense (with the exception of the hockey romance books – they are not).
I found this article on Reedsy that might help. How to Create Suspense?
Like I mentioned, thriller, mystery, and suspense can be mixed together into a book. You’re probably thinking about the book you’ve written and it has all three. How would you market your book? I would suggest looking at your plot. If the dark moment involves something big, like blowing up a building or having a sniper in a tower killing people for several chapters or the whole book, that’s mainly a thriller. If a death happened in the first three chapters or before chapter one started, and no one knows who killed the person, that is more mystery than anything else. Or if you have a killer after the main character and most of the other bodies showing up were from people getting in the way, you have a suspense. The other elements are icing on the cake. You don’t want to confuse your agent or editor. So it’s best to pick only one. That way they will know how best to market your book.
Wow! I love it when I’m writing and something that had been bothering me from nearly chapter one finally solved itself.
Well, okay. You twisted my arm. I’ll tell you a little about it. First, let me say, in book one (Jake) of the Southern Crime Family, the hero’s kink is that he likes to spank the heroine. Totally consensual.
In Ethan’s (book two, unless I change my mind again), I’ve already decided his kink will be that he likes to be tied up during the act. Nice twist, for the women are usually the ones, right?
The heroine is what I refer to as a real woman. She knows what she wants and she’s not shy in going after it. And he’s a real man because he isn’t scared to tell his woman that he has problems that only she can solve with a little discipline. By the way, she has a young daughter. I don’t normally have children in my books, but like I said, she’s a real woman.
Then there is Sen, the middle brother. The one I was having a difficulty in giving him a kink. See, he’s in love with an heroine who is deaf. Most of everything I can think of would appear to be taking advantage of her disability in the hearing world or maybe even cruel.
So here I was writing a scene where she’s angry at an old friend (male) and suddenly she remembers the big crush she had for him long ago. She’s getting turned on as her old friend and her new friend (Sen) argue about her, and she’s literally standing between them. She’s short. They are tall. Hot. Hard. Bam!
Let’s say, she’s going to have a fantasy to come true a few times in the book. Sen loves her enough to share. Well, at first. He is an alpha.
Here are the latest covers for Sen and Ethan books.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about blurbs. You know, the kind on the back of books (or on bookseller sites) and the kind needed for BookBub and ads that don’t want it to be so wordy. It’s important to draw a reader’s attention.
I can’t say I’m great at them, but heck, I see some pretty sad ones. This one I came across in an ad and thought it needed help. I bet the book is awesome, but someone needs to work on the author’s blurbs. Of course, there could be people who would think the same about mine. Anyway, this is my blog and my opinion. HA! You will note I did not leave in character names and I don’t say who the author is. This is not to embarrass the person, just to help other authors who might come across this post.
“When a hit man targets [heroine’s name], gorgeous cop [hero’s name] comes to her defense. But the more time he spends with her, the more irresistible she becomes!”
There were several things I would change and I’m sure more to do with personal preference. What bothered me the most was the word “BUT.” BUT is used to contrast a prior phrase or clause per the dictionary on my computer. What is being contrasted? If the short blurb said, “cop comes to his enemy’s defense” or something like that, I could understand the BUT.
I also want to know why “gorgeous cop?” What does gorgeous have to do with the plot? And really, most of the heroes in romances are gorgeous, even if it just the heroine feeling that way.
By the way, when writing a longer blurb, remember to keep to the basics of what will pull in the reader. Telling a lot of backstory or explaining the whole book will not work. Think of what are the hero/heroine’s goal, motivation, and conflict (GMC)? You can use the following to help fill in those points: want, because, but. Here’s an example from Darynda Jones’s First Grave on the Right. The GMC is pointed out in brackets [ ]. Note that she has actually two conflicts [buts].
“Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. [WANT] And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” [BUT] But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e., murder), [BECAUSE] sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. [BUT] Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life…and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.”
She/publisher did pretty good, heh? Short and hits a lot of hot spots for readers. I hope this helps when you plan to write your next blurb.
The other day, one of my writer friends was setting up a press release for our book signing at Barnes and Noble (The Summit) in Birmingham, Alabama on February 8 from 1 to 3 p.m. And she asked a couple questions you might be interested in seeing the answer.
As a local author, what about Birmingham and Alabama inspires you? How do you weave your local experiences into your stories?
A well-known fact of the South, it’s rich with culture and history. The people love to tell about what happened to them and their relatives with rarely any of the good bits left out. My dad and his dad were big talkers and big readers. No surprise that I am too. So when you mix a reader with someone who likes to talk, they often turn out to be a writer. That’s me.
You know what I like about romance books? Of course, the hot sex, but truthfully, the layers my favorite authors weave into their stories. For romances, there should be two main plots in the book.
One, of course is the mystery of romance. You know, the mystery of how they come to understand they should be together (not just because they are compatible in bed, though that is important as it is in relationship) and how they work out their happy ending. A lot of this is internal conflict because love is emotion. Like duh, right?
Second, what is going on in their lives that pull them together? Or make sure they are at the same place at the same time? It can be a missing child, a failing ranch, a killer on the loose, etc. You get the idea. This is the external conflict.
Then you can layer on more. Maybe the two main characters’ families are mortal enemies (Jake: A Southern Crime Family Novel), or hero has a problem with being touched (Full Heat: A Brothers of Mayhem Novel), or heroine reappears after disappearing years before (Circle of Deception: The Circle series). That’s right. The hero and heroine should never be perfect. One can be a little less perfect than the other, but both should have faults. That makes them so much more interesting.
Just be careful with the layers and plots. As an author, it’s important to keep up with
them. The plots need advancement throughout the book, and certainly need to be solved completely by the end. The layers need to show up along the way too. Usually, those faults need to be improved or a promise of improving. Not all of them, but the major ones. At the end of the book, the characters have to be better for knowing each other.
The only exception to solving a plot or improving a fault or more within a book is when it’s part of a series involving one main character. Such as Sylvia Day’s Crossfire series, Darynda Jones’s Charley Davidson series, Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, etc.
Personally, I’ve quit reading series with a same main character. I get bored, and after awhile, the hero/heroine gets on my nerves. Maybe because they do not seem to grow and learn from their mistakes. Don’t get me wrong. The series above and many others are great series (they wouldn’t be NYT best selling books if they weren’t) but it’s just not my thing, my taste.
My series have a couple threads that run through them to connect, but nothing major. That’s why most can be read as standalones. The Southern Crime Family series is currently the only one that will need to be read in order. Only book one (Jake) is out. Book two should be in the summer of 2020. The series is about three brothers and their
journey to find love and the true killer responsible for their father’s death. Each book is about a brother.
Another thing about plots. In my books of 60,000 words or less, I try not to throw in a complicated plot(s). Simple is best. If you didn’t, you would limit the romance in such a small book. And no, geez, that doesn’t mean putting in more sex. Romance is emotion. Getting to know each other’s personality traits, understanding why they do the things they do, often learning to trust each other, they are all part of a romance.
For that matter, I write for entertainment. The only place I teach a person something is through my blog posts here (or the workshops I do on occasion).
I was watching an interview with Mike Fisher, a retired NHL Nashville Predator and hubby of Carrie Underwood. In being teased about NHL roommates on the road, he mentioned they no longer have to share a room (per the CBA).
So many hockey romances I’ve read mention roommates. The junior leagues probably still do and that’s where others picked it up. Thus one of many reasons I read interviews, opinions, etc. about the NHL. I’m striving to make it real. Well, as real as a romance should be. Most readers appear to not want real-real. (e.g., My Brothers of Mayhem books.)
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Kenya. She was a member of my writers group, and hopefully will be again when she returns to Alabama. YAY!
She has this wonderful group on Facebook called The KGB: The Ks Grown & Sexy Book Club.
She sent me the following questions to prepare for the interview. There were some great questions. To make sure my mind wouldn’t go blank, I filled them out and even cheated on the video interview by glancing at them. LOL!
So if you want to join her group and check out the video (plus many other authors), here’s the link. The KGB. Lots of fun!
Who are you and what genre to do you write?
Carla Swafford AND I WRITE ACTION/ADVENTURE ROMANTIC SUSPENSE (lots of car chase scenes and running around – think James Bond); and recently I’ve delved into hockey romance! LOVE Hockey! GO PREDATORS! What romance book popped your cherry?
Oh, my, I was young. Around 12. Roberta Gellis, Bond of Blood. Got it because it had a horse and knight on it. I didn’t understand the sex scene until I reread it years later. Still love the story though it has stretches of history information. One thing about older romances, they go into more details than necessary.
What was the last romance book blew your mind?
The most recent one was Kerrigan Byrne’s The Hunter. I actually listened to the book through Audible. It’s a regency but different. The hero was to kill the heroine (that’s not unusual in the type of books I read). Maybe it was the narration mixed with the writing and hero who wasn’t pushy, but a here-I-am, take-me-as-I-am sort. He didn’t try to change for her or be an ass. It struck the right notes for me that I bought it in paperback so I can read it the old fashioned way. Maybe get a better idea of what was about the book that I loved so much it. I rarely buy paperback anymore.
How did you get started writing romance?
Back in the eighties, my favorite authors took their time in writing books (I understand that), so I got tired of waiting and decided I have a good imagination, and instead of waiting for an author to write the book I really want, I would write it myself. Took me a few years, between kids, a full time job, and life, I finished it, but it was horrible and I knew it. I had no idea how to go about improving it. So I wrote another one. The first was a historical romance, and I thought a contemporary would be easier. LOL! It was a romantic suspense. Horrible again. But it didn’t take as long to write. Not long after that I found out about RWA. I joined in 1993.
Which one of your heroes would you risk it all for?
That’s a good question. For I love all of my guys. I guess I’ll have to go with my favorite, Jack, and sadly, his story got cut short. His is in a novella (Circle of Defiance), but he shows up in all of my Circle books. He’s funny, loves his cat, made sure his brother married the woman his brother had loved for so long. He keeps falling in love with women he can’t have, until Katerina (a mob boss’s daughter), and he loves to recite poetry when he’s in a romantic mood. He shaves
his head and has tats and piercings all over his upper torso.
If there was an apocalyptic disaster what is your weapon and what character in any book would you want by your side?
Olivia St. Vincent from my book Circle of Desire. She can kick butt and is a great shot with a sniper rifle.
What was your best fan moment as a fan girl or as an author?
Oh, how to choose. I’ve been fortunate to meet most if not all of my of my favorite authors. I have to say, Anne Stuart. She’s so much fun. One of the writers in my RWA chapter knew her well enough to ask her to be a speaker at one of our luncheons. I was appointed (like I begged to be appointed) as the contact to pick her up at the airport. Anne Stuart was having a problem with a knee, so she had airport assistance in bringing her in a wheelchair to where I was to meet her. There she sat in her wheelchair coming up a gangway and I stood in a crowd of people waiting. I held a sign that said, “Anne Stuart: I’m your number one fan.” She started laughing when I turned it for it read “I don’t own an ax.” (Referring to Stephen King’s Misery.)
Favorite trope to read and favorite trope to write?
Favorite Trope to READ: marriage of convenience (historical Romance or contemporary). Thus why I wrote JAKE: A Southern Crime Family novel.
Favorite Trope to WRITE: I guess most people who read my books can tell, most of my books have something about protecting family, especially younger siblings.
What do you have on deck next?
Presently writing a second book, Fake Play, in the Atlanta Edge Hockey team’s world. I love it when a heroine goes to Las Vegas to party and turns up married to the hero and doesn’t remember a thing (or close to it) the next morning.
But my latest book for sale is JAKE: A Southern Crime Family novel. It’s that favorite trope of mine. Marriage of convenience.
In your own words tell us about this book?
Jake is the eldest of three sons to the meanest man in Marystown, Alabama. Someone has killed the old man and they have to find the murderer. When he’s shot at during the funeral, he chases down a suspect that turns out to be Angel Tally. Angel is the granddaughter to the patriarch of the Tally family. She proceeds to tell him he has to marry her. He doesn’t believe her. But he can’t help remembering the time in high school when she stole his wallet, and he gave her a spanking. She remembers too, and wants to experience his hand on her ass again. She’s always had a thing for him, but she needs to take care of her teenaged brother. Protect him from the life she lives as a collector for the Tally family and far away from the crazy Whitfields. Jake has a secret to protect and having a wife is not in the cards, especially a dangerous, untrustworthy Tally. Then his father’s will is read. It does appear he and Angel will be marrying. Otherwise, all of his plans to go legit will go to hell with his father.
What prompted this series & these particular characters ?
I had to think about this for a little while. Let’s say when I was growing up, most of the heroes I watched in the movies and TV where anti-heroes. Like Jack Nicholson in Easy Rider, Marlon Brando in The Godfather, and Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry. I think that’s why I read and write guys who are not necessarily nice guys. Though in the end, they are often on their knees begging for forgiveness or promising a good time. Anyway, because I love bad boys (and married to one), I decided to write a book about a family of bad men. I set it in the south because those are the type of guys I know.
What was the challenge in writing these characters?
The challenge is showing they can be assholes without making the readers (and their love interest) hate them. I have to show they are the way they are because of their upbringing. They are trying to improve their life. Especially Jake. We are yet to see what Sen and Ethan think about Jake’s plan for their father’s businesses.
What is your writing process like?
I used to write and write and write and then go back and change and correct and get frustrated all the way through. I would hate the book before I got through. It made me a slow writer. But when I was writing for Random House, they wouldn’t let me just provide a paragraph on what I want to write next (Like HarperCollins Avon had) and go with it. They asked for an outline. OUTLINE?! So I took Blake Snyder’s Save The Cat (for screen writers) book and used his beat sheet to make my outline.
I realized two things. It helped to get my ADD brain to concentrate and make the plot work without having to tweak it over and over again. And helped me to write the story faster. Working full time (and during the summer that is usually around 50 hours a week) and doing all the other things a woman has to do, I can write a 60,000 to 80,000 book in 5 months. That’s doesn’t include editing by the outside editor though. I would like to point out I do not necessarily follow the outline all the way through the book, but if I get stuck, I can look at it and I’m off writing again.
Readers often want to know where do you get your inspiration for your stories?
From reading other romance books, movies, news reports, gossip, magazines, etc. I have a vivid imagination. Usually it’s only a scene or character that strikes my fancy and I decide I have a better idea, or different way to present something or someone. (Christy Reece’s Second Chance with the hero being manipulated by the bad guys through a drug lead to me writing Circle Danger and heroine under the influence of bad guys’ drugs.)
Best thing about writing romance and being an author?
Hearing people say they love my books and want to read more. It’s like hearing people say your child has great manners and was brought up right.
Two things people would be surprised to know about you?
I was RWA’s Pro Mentor of The Year in 2015
I was first author to be pulled from the slush pile when HarperCollin’s started Avon Impulse
Where do you write or favorite place to write?
At my desk at home. Working full time, I often write whenever/wherever I have the time.
Your favorite type of heroine to write; your favorite type of heroine one to read?
I like all types, read or write. She can be a bitch if she has a reason (logically) to be one and finds her softer side and wants to improve at some point in the book. She can be a wimp as longs as she develops a backbone when she never thought she could. In other words, they grow as a person. Just as a perfect heroine (goody-two-shoes and all) must show her flaws along the way to being a real person.
Who is your favorite author right now?
Louise Bay. Love her sexy men. Especially the English ones.
What’s on your keepers shelf?
Linda Howard, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Lorraine Heath, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jennifer Ashley, Julie Garwood, Lisa Kleypas.
Most recent of course is The Hunter by Kerrigan Byrne,
Who is your all-time favorite book boyfriend?
John Medina. Linda Howard’s book titled ALL THE QUEEN’S MEN. It put a spark in me to write CIRCLE OF DESIRE. Nothing alike except they’re both Romantic Suspense and dangerous men.
What is your all-time favorite book?
I just don’t have it in me to say one. They are usually the books I read more than once. Linda’s book I mentioned before; because it had all the things I like in a romantic suspense: mystery, danger, action, sexy moments, humor, and a good twist.
Then Jennifer Ashley’s The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Autistic hero); Anne Stuart’s Fire and Ice (Asian hero); Megan McKinney’s Lions and Lace (Irish hero); Lorraine Heath’s Lord of Wicked Intentions (Hero has issues about being touched); Candace Camp’s (written as Lisa Gregory) The Rainbow Season (Bad boy married good girl in turn of 20th century). I’m sure there are more I’m forgetting.
Last month, a member of my local chapter of the Romance Writers of America gave a presentation on Reviews. She did a wonderful job. She showed everyone how even best-selling romance authors can have two and one star reviews. That reviewers can even hate our favorite stories. You know, the books you catch yourself re-reading on those rainy, gloomy days in an effort to cheer yourself up.
Of course, being an author, my books are up for review. The funny thing about it, like so many authors out there, I can have mostly 4 and 5 stars, but it’s the 1 and 2 stars that catch my attention. Many authors say when they read the lower stars, they look for common complaints and then try to improve from there.
Personally, I find the common complaints to be the story didn’t go the way the reviewer wanted or the character wasn’t acting like a goody two-shoe. How boring! So I say, they need to write their own books.
I like my characters to have flaws. Not just that they place their elbows on the table as they eat type of flaws. But that they have low self-esteem, or too confident, or see the world as dog-eat-dog type of existence, or they can be a number one asshole/bitch. I like to think I make my characters real. I guess that’s why I hear “gritty” in a few of my books’ reviews. I take that to mean the characters and their actions are close to real life.
Unlike real life, I do make sure the ending is happy or at the least satisfying, especially when it comes to the main two characters. And they change by the end of the book and for the better.And thinking of stars, how often have you seen a reviewer write “I give this book three and half stars,” but show only 3 stars. What? First, don’t say half if the program doesn’t allow half stars (or coffee cups, hearts, or whatever). Three and half should always be rounded up to 4 stars. I had to get that off my chest. It drives me crazy.
Or their review will read, “I loved this book!” And then give 3 stars. What? LOVE is only worth 3? Crazy.
I wish booksellers and review sites would get rid of stars (or whatever they use) and just have reviews. Or maybe booksellers should explain their star (or whatever) system to reviewers. All of it is inconsistent. Once again, I had to get that off my chest. We authors know we cannot make comments on reviews or we’ll be gang-banged by the reviewer community, especially the trolls. So we grin and bear it.
With all of that being said, let me show what they are saying about my latest book, Crossing The Line. My first hockey romance book. And yes, they will only the good comments. Thankfully, the yucky ones are fewer.
Per Marcia, I found the characters interesting, more so as they were developed. The provocative plot written with an appealing voice made this an engaging read.
Per Diane, Carla Swafford did a great job with the plot. It was clever how things played out. The story was thought-provoking and heartfelt. This is the first book that I have read by Carla Swafford. I enjoyed her writing style. I am interested in continuing to follow this series. I recommend this book to people that enjoy sports romances.
Per B., Kitty made my heart break from the first page. She had no self confidence, worth, or esteem. Casey (Roman’s agent) was a total [skeeze] and disgusting looser. Roman had a good heart and he melted mine with his intentions and actions towards Kitty from the first day.
Per lq, Kitty, especially, showed a great deal of personal growth and changes over the course of the novel in [a] way that I found endearing.
You can find the reviews on Goodreads or/and Amazon.