Book Reviews: The Good and Bad Apples

by
April L. Blanding
AKA Vogue!

VBT

So, you’ve finally finished your manuscript (congrats!), have decided on a publisher or have chosen to self-publish and are looking for your first shot at marketing your product. Aside from social media, which is the quickest outlet to reach an audience, you learn that the next most common marketing tip out there is to send your book to reviewers.

Yes, this means that you will be providing a free retail copy of your book, gifting an ebook or even sending a PDF file to book lovers across America and beyond. Then, you start, “the wait.” The wait is the waiting period from when the book reviewer gets your book, reads it and then finally posts their review. This process can take months, but there is no greater feeling then when you see a four star or five star review on your newly published novel. Even, a three star review, if written professionally with constructive criticism can become one of your favorite book reviews.

Nevertheless, there are always bad apples with good apples. These are the book reviews that you did not solicit; the ones that are written unprofessionally, with rude and uncouth remarks that make you question the sanity of these individuals. You know these reviews, you’ve read these reviews and perhaps, you may have even written one. Maybe, these reviews were not left on your book, but you have seen them.

These reviews feature comments such as, “I’m seriously getting fed up with these authors,” “I’m a big fan, I can’t believe you wrote this bad book,” “Don’t waste your money on this book, wait until it’s in the library,” or even, “If I could throw this book out of the window and run over it 5 million times then I would.”

The worst book review that I have come across is not even a legitimate book review. An Amazon user gave a book a 1-star review simply because the book was only available on Kindle. This review prompted me to take a look at Amazon’s guidelines for Customer Reviews. Reviews as such should not be featured on any author’s product.

However, when you are the author, how do you deal with these reviews? Quite naturally, we may want to contact the person and give them a piece of our mind. Still, our feelings have been hurt and our brand has been slightly tarnished. Personally, I believe that the best way to overcome the burn is to vent, get it out of your system and move on. Sometimes, we give so much attention to the negative that we lose sight of the positive. Remember this, every wound heals over time.

Nevertheless, what I would like for readers who leave the “bad apples” to understand is this: The author (s) who wrote the book you are reading is human. We are not invincible and we are not superhuman. Just like you, we laugh, we cry, we get mad, we get nervous, we make mistakes, we learn from our errors and in a nutshell- we have feelings. Take a second and think about what you are posting before you hit submit. This does not mean that you can’t voice your opinion, but there is a line between constructive criticism and being cruel.

For all of you authors out there, keep your head up, keep writing and keep working towards your goal. No one can stop, but you!

The Ace of
Diamonds
by Vogue

Since his release from prison, Brookstone’s most notorious drug lord, Jay Santiago, has been hard at work rebuilding his life and empire. With two businesses under his belt and one in the making, Jay is readily known as one of New York’s elite men. 
  

While the root of his financial status lies in the newly rebuilt Santiago cartel, Jay is determined to expand his wealth. After reconnecting with an old comrade, he believes that he has found the one thing that could increase his fortune and allow him to leave behind the dangers of his criminal enterprise for good. 

However, as Jay’s new business venture begins to come to fruition, he quickly learns that the one material object that he loves the most could lead to his biggest downfall yet.

Put your name in the rafflecopter below for your chance to win autographed copy of Diamonds are Forever. Open to US/Canada only. E-copy for International.

Author April L. Blanding/ Vogue
Vogue is the author of Diamonds in the Rough and Diamonds Are Forever. A native of Greenville, South Carolina, she is a graduate of Winthrop University, possessing a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and is a proud member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. Vogue currently resides in Rock Hill, South Carolina. 
Excerpts from The Ace of Diamonds
Carmen stared out the window as Kane’s Jeep backed
out of the driveway. She wanted to  call him to come back, but she knew
that he wouldn’t. While they had cleared the air on one issue, another one had
surfaced. This one, though, she couldn’t fix. She was nine months pregnant and
Nyla was coming regardless of how Kane felt. He might not have liked the idea,
but he knew when they renewed their vows that she was pregnant. He seemed okay
with it then, but obviously the whole thing was an act.
When his car disappeared out of the gates, Carmen
began to think that her marriage wasn’t going to survive. If Kane was running
out now then she knew it would be worse when Nyla came. Jay would be around
more than ever and she would be forced to communicate with him. There might
even be times when he had to come to the house. The distance between her and
Kane would only grow.
Carmen pulled the curtains closed as she made her
way back to the bed. She sat down, and tried to fight back her tears. She and
Kane had been fine until Jay’s lawsuit, which sent them spiraling back into a
place that neither one of them wanted to be. Carmen wanted to come up with an
answer to fix everything, but she couldn’t. Softly crying, she did the only
thing she knew how; she prayed to God for guidance and strength. She told
herself that this would be the last time she would allow Kane to leave. After
tonight, she would put her foot down. If she wanted to 
save her marriage, she had to act like it, now or
never.   

SOLACE & GRIEF

BY FOX MEADOWS
blurb of Solace and Grief

Solace Morgan was born a vampire. Raised in foster care, she has always tried to keep her abilities secret, until an eerie encounter with a faceless man prompts her to run away. Finding others with similar gifts, Solace soon becomes caught up in a strange, more vibrant world than she ever knew existed. But when the mysterious Professor Lukin takes an interest in her friends, Solace is forced to start asking questions of her own. What happened to her parents? Who is Sharpsoft? And since when has there been a medieval dungeon under Hyde Park?

What is Solace and Grief all about? Can you tell us a little more about its genre?
Solace and Grief is the first book of Rare, a YA urban fantasy trilogy. The main character, Solace Morgan, is a seventeen-year-old girl raised in foster care; she’s also a vampire, something she’s so far managed to keep secret. When an eerie encounter with a faceless man prompts her to run away, Solace finds herself living with a new group of friends, all of whom are something slightly more than human. But her new life has its own dangers, too – and some of them have to do with Solace’s parents.

What gave you the incentive to write this book?
I grew up reading epic fantasy, and so didn’t really discover urban fantasy until university. The idea for Solace’s story came when I was working as a legal secretary. I’d been watching a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and thought it would be interesting to try and create my own vampire mythology: one where being a vampire wasn’t enough to make you evil, but where serious villainy could still occur as a result of being a vampire. In Solace’s world, what makes vampires mad and bad is human blood, which is powerfully addictive. Drink it for too long, and not only does it become steadily impossible to feed on anything else, but you start to go crazy, too.

Can you sum the book up in one sentence?
Vampires, shenanigans and sarcasm in an alternate Sydney filled with magic doors, mind-altering nepenthe, secrecy and danger.

What makes this difference from other Vampire stories?
Here are the two most obvious points: it’s not a romance, and it’s not set at school. Also, there’s more magic in the mix than just vampires.

Have your characters or writing been inspired by friends/ family or by real-life experiences?

Some characters do remind me of various friends, but that wasn’t a deliberate decision – often, I’ve only noticed afterwards. The one exception is a feline character who is directly based on one of my cats. I didn’t plan for her to be part of the story, but when I was stuck, she just strolled into the scene and refused to leave – much after the fashion of her real-life counterpart!
What is your favourite scene in your book? Can we have a snippet?
I won’t quote verbatim, because the dialogue would be spoilery, but there’s a scene on top of the Sydney Opera House of which I’m rather fond; and I do enjoy dream sequences.
Do you have an agent, or have you gone alone?
I don’t have an agent, though that was less a deliberate decision on my part than a consequence of how things worked out. At the time I submitted Solace and Grief to Ford Street, I was also looking up agencies, too – it just happened that I ended up with a publisher first.
Tell us a little about your publisher, Ford Street. How did you find them? How helpful have they been?
I found Ford Street online, and recognised the name of the founder, Paul Collins, as the editor of one of my favourite fantasy anthologies as a teenager. They’ve been tremendously helpful in terms of providing promotional opportunities, and because they publish only children’s and young adult novels, there’s a real sense of care for and awareness of the intended market.

What marketing have you been doing to help sales?
Signings, writing articles, interviews and reviews, and blogging, though I’ve been doing the latter independently for a while now. Having an online presence is really important for any new author, I think – not only because it makes it easier for readers to find out more about your work, but because it’s a great way to get in contact with other writers in your community. Twitter is especially useful.
How long does it take you to write a book?
The first draft of Solace and Grief – which, bear in mind, was about 20,000 words shorter than the finished product – took me three or four months, with another seven or more of editing and revision after that, plus further back-and-forth with Ford Street and my editor. The sequel, The Key to Starveldt, has taken a lot longer, mostly because I went through about four rejected drafts before I finally handed it in; polishing and responding to feedback is still to come. But then, when I was overseas recently and a Lady of Leisure, I managed to write a full draft for an adult fantasy novel in exactly one month, which I’ve been editing in odd moments ever since – so I guess it depends on the story!
How far have you into writing your next novel, The Key to Starveldt? Is it a follow on to Solace and Grief?
The Key to Starveldt is the second volume in the Rare, and a direct follow-on from the events of Solace and Grief. Right now, I’m in the process of editing and updating the manuscript in response to my editor’s comments – the book itself is currently scheduled for release in 2011. The third and final volume of the series, Falling Into Midnight, is planned out, but still being written.
Which comes first for you – characters or plot?
Characters, usually. I’m very much a name nerd, so if I hear a name I like, I start to think about what sort of character it might belong to, who they are and what they do, and – when I have some answers to those questions – what sort of world they inhabit. Then I start to populate and plot the story.
How did you get into writing? Did you always want to become a writer?
I’ve always written, and always wanted to write. I decided when I was twelve or so that my goal in life was to become a published author – I dreamed of other careers at various times, but always in the knowledge that no matter what, writing would still be part of my life.
What mistakes do you see new writers make?
Being a new writer myself, I’m not really in a position to comment on the foibles of others, but something I’ve learned as part of my own initiation into authorness is the importance of relaxing. It’s very easy to live in a state of constant anxiety about your first book – how it’s selling, whether people like it, if you made any mistakes in the plot, if you should’ve written a different story altogether, if you won’t be able to do as well next time – but while those are all important things to think about, it puts too much emphasis on the first book as the only book. I’d be very disappointed if Solace and Grief turned out to be the best thing I ever wrote. I’m new at this. There’s a lot of room left for development, and really, that’s how it should be. So rather than fret about what mistakes I might’ve made and how they might hurt Book One, the best thing to do is breathe deep, take the self-criticism on board and apply it to whatever I’m writing next.
What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Starting a story is easy. Finishing a novel is harder. Pitching a book is like masochism. There is no magical editor-fairy scanning the hard-drives of aspiring writers, looking for stories to take back to their publisher-master. Persevere, and when it gets tough, trust the words, and trust your characters. They’re what matters. But always submit. And keep a sense of humour!

Foz Meadows is a bipedal mammal with delusions of immortality. She likes cheese, geekery, writing, webcomics and general weirdness. Dislikes include Hollywood rom-coms, liquorice and the Republican party. Her blog, Shattersnipe, is updated with occasional regularity. Foz currently lives in Melbourne with not enough books, two insolent cats and her very own philosopher. Surprisingly, this is a good thing.
Foz Meadows debut novel, Solace and Grief, YA urban fantasy was released in March 2010 by a small Australian publisher, Ford Street, and she has recently signed a contract with them for the second book, The Key to Starveldt.

Meet author B. Swangin Webster

Cheryl and Kevin are living the American dream and the only thing missing is the dog. However they are hiding a secret that threatens to destroy all that they have worked hard to obtain.
Kevin holds onto secrets that could ruin his business and credibility in his elite circle of friends.
What will happen when a stranger discovers their secrets and threatens to expose the truth?

Cheryl leaves behind an abusive marriage that nearly cost her everything but in doing so, she steps into the world of the unknown.
A new man in her life love her unconditionally but is hiding a dangerous secret from his past, that could put both of their lives in danger.
Once and For All will be the third book in the series and out this fall.

B.Swangin Webster grew up in the suburbs of Maryland and DC. She now calls Southern Maryland her home. She has five grown children and four adorable grandsons. Her family is her biggest supporter and without them she could not do what she loves to do.
Her motto is: “Passion is something you can not live without.” Something that she holds true for herself, because it is the passion for writing that has pushed her to become the author of three novels within a two-year time span.

Thank you for hosting me on your blog. I have such a tremendous time doing this and hope that I have encouraged people along the way to follow their dreams no matter if their dream is to be a singer, writer, actor/actress or whatever you want to be.
I also have told those reading my blog stops that no matter what age you are, you can still live your dream. My dream was realised just after my 43rd birthday and who would have thought that at the age of 45 I would have three novels in print and in the process of casting for a play. Yes, I am announcing on your blog that Let Me Just Say This is going to become a stage play and I couldnt be more excited about it. I am hoping to have that project started by the beginning of the 2011 year. So my dreams are now “real and in living color”.

So if you thought that you couldn’t dream big and that the dream couldn’t come true. I am living proof. In parting please, please, please do one thing for me:
DREAM BIG AND NEVER LET ANYONE STOP OR DETER YOUR DREAM. DREAMS DO COME TRUE.

B.Swangin Webster grew up in the suburbs of Maryland and DC. She now calls Southern Maryland her home. She has five grown children and four adorable grandsons. Her family is her biggest supporter and without them she could not do what she loves to do.

Her motto is: Passion is something you can not live without. Something that she holds true for herself, because it is the passion for writing that has pushed her to become the author of three novels within a two year time span.

B.Swangin Webster
~Writing Coach
~Author of:
*Let Me Just Say This
*And Again…Let Me Say This

http://bswanginwebster.webs.com/