Free on Kindle Unlimited… Wide Awake Asleep If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up where you least expect Village girl Julie Compton couldn’t wait to leave Potterspury, her mum, boyfriend and best friend when they turned against … Continue reading
Coming soon… Village girl Julie Compton couldn’t wait to leave Potterspury, neither could she wait to turn her back on her mum, boyfriend and best friend when they cruelly conspired against her and turned her cossetted life upside down and inside … Continue reading
‘I’m not angry, moody or resentful. I just don’t like people.’ – Valerie Anthrope. ‘Oh no, I’ve Fallen in Love! comes a warm, tear-jerking story of strong women, bad-turned-good men and the power of friendship. Valerie’s life has been one of … Continue reading
A Proper Charlie is a contemporary romance and sums up what the genre is all about: fun, ‘finding yourself’ and relationships. Charlie Wallis is a ditzy redhead but her heart is in the right place. Without a family, she was … Continue reading
I always thought the answer was gratuitous sex scenes amongst shallow characters, but others have told me it’s an insignificant plot. I Googled the answer and (palpitations!) it brought up chick lit. Chick lit! Surely not the light-hearted books I … Continue reading
publishing industry over a decade ago as a developmental editor, but long
before that I was an avid reader, and now I’m also an author. I’ve watched the
evolution of romance from three different perspectives. Yes, thirty years ago I
was one of those teens who snuck into her mother’s Harlequin stash. Even back
then I wondered why she hid them. Yes, they contained sex, but the sex was
between two loving adults and understated.
romance isn’t as “traditional” as it used to be. Instead of our heroines being
virgins, they moved to being “virginal”, to enjoying sex and not being ashamed
of it. Now don’t get me wrong, our heroines still have an innocent quality and
aren’t sleeping around, but yet, our heroines have gone through a sexual
revolution of sorts. I must say that I love the range of sexuality in romances.
Now you can read anything from sweet romance (no sex shown) to erotic and still
get your happily ever after. Nothing shocking there. The shocking part comes a
bit later. I figured I’d do the easy stuff first.
many romance heroines “needed” men. Their lives revolved around finding Mr. Right
and being taken care of. They “needed”
the hero to come in and save the day. Today’s heroines have more options. The
hero doesn’t complete her, but instead compliments her. He’s her Yin to her
Yang. Another change I’ve seen seeping into books is the “beautiful” heroine.
We now have plus sized heroines, and heroines with disabilities! All beautiful,
but not in the customary sense, it’s brilliant! Granted, it’s difficult to find these books on
the traditional publishing side, and I believe self-publishing will push
traditional publishers to expand the accepted body types and abilities of our
are a little harder for him. Now he must deal with these strong willed women
who don’t need him. The women are with him because they want to be, not because
they “need” him, so I think he knows he has it better now than before. He can’t
be cruel like before, he can’t be too domineering or make decisions without
discussing it with his heroine. He can cry though; show his softer side and STILL
be an alpha man. He’s not as much as changed alongside our heroine, but evolved.
plots. I must admit that I’m shocked at how much plot lines have not changed over the thirty years that
I’ve been reading romance—at least not as much on the traditional publishing
side of things. I’m still a sucker for secret babies, secret crushes on
friends/enemies that blossom and the secret identity (ie: DEA agent under
cover) romances, but I would like to see more plot lines where the hero and/or
heroine have “flaws” that are considered unforgiveable. For example, how about
a heroine who used to be a hooker? Believe it or not, it’s been done. Anyone
remember Lori Foster’s title When Bruce
Met Cyn? Great book! Every so often, traditional publishers allow certain
authors to break the “rules” of what is an “unforgivable flaw.” It’s
difficult to find these titles by traditional publishers, and I think this is
another area where self-publishing will push the industry to be more acceptable
of the “unacceptable”.
evolution of romance have to do with me? Twenty years ago, I had a concept for
a romance where my heroine was a thief. YIKES! Oh yeah, needless to say, she
didn’t fit the mold for “romance heroine” by traditional standards. I’m flawed
and like to read about heroines that are closer to me than fantasy. But romance
is fantasy, isn’t it? It’s about the
dream of a guy getting a dream of a girl, so how about the dream of a guy wanting someone like me? Someone not so
perfect? Someone with real flaws. Yeah, that’s more my cup of tea. So I did it.
I wrote it. And I refuse to wait for traditional publishing to catch up to me.
willing to do for the well-being of your family? Would you lie, cheat, steal,
murder? Did you have the gut reaction of saying no, no, no, no to all four? Are
there circumstances you can imagine where you’d step onto that slippery slope?
told that because of Deatri’s dyslexia, she’d probably never learn how to read. In 1999, Deatri was a technical writer at a
telecommunications company with dreams of joining the publishing world as a developmental
editor and author. She became an editor
at Third World Press, Inc. Though Deatri believes in Third World Press’ mission, fiction is her true love, so in 2004 she began focusing her on her editing
she wasn’t supposed to learn how to read. February 2006, the second half of
Deatri’s dream came true with the release of her début novel, Caught Up. In 2008, Deatri won the
coveted Emma Award for Best Steamy Romance of the year with her title Whisper Something Sweet. Currently, she
is reading, editing, conducting writing workshops, and writing her next novels.
When Louise emailed me the topic of discussion for this blog as “sock puppets” I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about!
Did she mean the puppets that my kindergarten teacher used to make out of her husband’s old worn-out tube socks to help her tell the class a nap-time story? I was most fond of Shari Lewis’ little sock, Lamb Chop—she was an adorable sock puppet—her little curly ears and long lashes and cutesy little lamb voice. Hmmm…somehow I was having a difficult time believing that the sock puppets from my childhood were what Ms. Wise was referring to…and with a little digging, a little Googling, I soon discovered that I was right. Nope, Louise was not interested in a blog about Lamb Chop—maybe some other time.
|Please note: This lamb is a stand-in.
The original Lamb Chop isn’t available for promo shots.
Yes, I understand that it is rather unethical and even dishonest, but really who are they hurting? Are they really boosting their sales with such trickery? Are the readers who take-out the time to read reviews fooled so easily? I think not.
As a matter of fact I’ve read comments in the forums from readers who claim that they are actually turned-off by authors whose book have nothing but five/four star ratings, accompanied by countless rave reviews. In fact those readers find these books…suspicious. Many even claim to “steer clear” of such authors/books.
These authors are actually hurting themselves, or not. Consider this: Are they taking down authors who are earning honest-to-goodness five stars and positive reviews? It’s looking that way.
Sad…don’t you think? C’mon, how many writers out there sit down at their computer and announce: I’m going to take months and months (possibly years) to write a novel that will earn me two star ratings, and poor reviews. Nonsense! We are pouring our heart and souls into our stories striving for those five stars and glorious reviews only to be looked at with arched brows of suspicion, as the question tumbles from the potential reader’s lips…is this author a sock puppet? Yikes!
Case-in-point: I was out to lunch last fall with a dear friend. As we sat in a quaint restaurant, we were discussing the latest books that we had been reading. My friend said that she had purchased a book from Amazon off a very bad group of reviews. She went on to say that the reviews were brutal to the point of claiming that the author should never attempt to write anything ever again. Wow! That’s just plain vicious! My eyes popped, and I asked my friend what she thought of said book. She loved it. She thought the writer was delightful and the story was most engaging. She couldn’t understand why the reviewers would write such awful things about the book or the author. I immediately encouraged my friend to write a positive review, and she assured me that she would.
At the time I was flabbergasted by the situation, but I had no idea that the sock puppets were out there, nor how serious the situation actually is. Many authors are targeted for such abuse—who knows why. My understanding (from the forums) is that Amazon is not very compliant to the removal of derogatory reviews, so if you fall victim to a stinky sock puppet’s remarks—you’re stuck with it, and you must hope that the readers, like my friend, will be forgiving and purchase your work to judge it for themselves. However, I did read that Goodreads does take this problem seriously and is trying to find ways to eliminate these pitiful puppets—both types.
I’m afraid that I am ruined for life. I will never look at a sock puppet in quite the same light—sorry Lamb Chop. The next time one of the kids yells from their bedroom “Hey I’m missing one of my socks from the wash!” The hair on the nape of my neck will stand on end, my spine will stiffen, and I will pray to the review Gods that I have not just unleashed a dirty little puppet into the world.
This brings me to my questions: How much leverage do you give reviews? Do you require good reviews and high star ratings to consider a book? Could you identify a sock puppet whether it is an obnoxious author looking for praise, or a dirty little snipe trying to undermine an author’s career?
Author of The Unbridled Series
But what’s worse is her mischievous Thoroughbreds ability to mimic their owner’s habit of screwing things up. It’s enough to send a normally calm and collected Mike West to the very edge.
But Mike’s not the only one having problems with women, his father Eric has bitten off more that he can chew, and he’s about to get spit out by two women: One that he’s in love with, and one that thinks he’s in love with her. Oh yeah, things are hot around Westwood Thoroughbred Farm… and someone’s about to get burned!
During those years Cindy has paid close attention to the characters that hang-out at the back-side of the track. She found the situations and life style intriguing. In 2005 she sat down at her computer and began a journey into writing about this life that few understand.
Cindy has recently retired from making her living as a professional choreographer and owned and operated a dance school since 1985. She studied at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School and with the Pittsburgh Dance Alloy at Carnegie Mellon University to name a few. She has choreographed many musicals and an opera for the Pittsburgh Savoyards.
Cindy’s Unbridled telescripts has received recommends from three film industry readers and has been a semi-finalist in the Scriptapalooza Contest, and finalist in the Extreme Screenwriting Contest, and now will become a book series. The first telescript to become a book is Deadly.Com which is available NOW on Amazon.com and Kindle as well!
|Virtual Book Tour Link|
Apparently I’m further behind in the lingo that I had originally thought, because when someone first mentioned sock puppets to me, I immediately thought about the silly diversion that adults use for kids when nothing else seems to work. I couldn’t have been further off from what the person had meant, so I did a little checking around online for the term (as used in the writing world) and came across these definitions in the online Urban Dictionary:
account made on an internet message board, by a person who already has an
account, for the purpose of posting more-or-less anonymously.
A fake personality, usually a ‘friend’ or ‘sister,’ created by a drama
queen/king for the sake of defending him/herself against others in an online
definitions may lack eloquence, but both are straight to the point. The influx
of books on the market, especially those by self-published authors have made it
difficult for readers to weed out the genuinely good books from the bad.
Readers go online to read reviews in order to help determine if they’d like to
read a book. They’re thrilled to see a book with only five-star ratings and
with a click, they buy it. They wait anxiously as it loads onto their eReader
or arrives in the mail. Two chapters in and they’re wondering if they purchased
the right book. One third of the way through and they’re thinking they wasted
their money. Halfway through they’re angry because they feel deceived . . . and
if they make it further than that, they’re probably going to go online and
write a scathing one-star review telling the world how much they disliked the
book and how they can’t believe they wasted good money and how everyone who
gave it five-stars was lying. Sound familiar?
is a concern which has arisen often lately and from what I’ve observed, it ends
up leading to disgraceful communications between authors and readers. It brings
out the worst in the online community and etiquette is thrown out the window in
order for the respective parties to defend their ratings.
what should be a place for readers to read genuinely honest and fair reviews,
has become a place where deceit makes book-buying a walking-on-eggshells
experience. Readers don’t want to get stuck with a rotten book – so who are
they supposed to trust?
not everyone is a so-called “sock puppet” and honest reviews can be found, but
unfortunately readers may have to dig a little. I have my own little rule of
thumb for reviews. First, I bypass the five star reviews and head straight for
the one-stars and work my way up. Unfortunately this can take a little time and
mine is precious, so I only do this for books that truly interest me. If a book
has only four and five star reviews, I read these carefully to determine if the
reviews are written by legitimate readers (one can often tell my looking at
that reviewers other reviews). Another good rule of thumb – I never purchase a
book where the author has gone online to comment on every mediocre or poor
review they receive.
what do you do when you’ve been duped by
a “sock puppet”? Should you take that as your cue to write one of those
one-star reviews defaming the book in every possible way? I believe there’s a
fair and civilized way to go about it. If a reader is determined to make a
point, why not try first to contact the author directly and mention that you
feel these “sock puppet” reviews have been posted and before you write your own
review revealing it, would the author like the chance to remove those reviews?
is where you should screech to a halt! What if the reviews are genuine? How can
a reader be certain? Ouch – this one is tough. Gut instinct? Super brain
powers? It’s a tough call, but many readers make it every day.
readers, there’s a civilized way to leave a comment, good or bad, and it
doesn’t hurt to be professional online, no matter how personal the comment is.
– This doesn’t mean you should never comment on a review, but other than to say
“Thank You” to a kind blogger who read and posted a genuine review for you,
it’s best to leave the comments to the readers. If you want to review your own
book, let the readers know what you’re doing and identify yourself. It will go
a long way with trust.
Puppets” – You’re out there, but readers are catching on and they’re watching
for you. Your next book could be the one they don’t buy.
It’s not worth it.