articles · Romance · Writing

Trashy Books, Enjoyable Reads

Hi guys! I hope everyone’s summer is going well, and that you’re perhaps lounging by the beach, or somewhere equally appealing, with a good book in hand enjoying an escape into another world. I also hope whatever book you’re reading isn’t trashy because, well, no one wants a trashy book. It could ruin the reading process and break glass when you throw that eyesore of a story out the window.

And nobody wants to fix a broken window, am I right? I mean a trashy book just isn’t worth it.

Still, as I wrote those last few sentences, I wonder just what, precisely, people thought of when I said “trashy”. I mean, what’s the basic definition of trashy anyway? Let me see … ah! Here it is!

trash·y
ˈtraSHē/
adjective

(especially of items of popular culture) of poor quality.
“trashy novels and formulaic movies”

I find it humorous that google’s definition gives an example of “trashy novels” here. Still, this definition of the word trashy is basic, and doesn’t fully answer the question of what people may have thought when I mentioned the word. I mean, we can define a word all we want, but that definition will take on a new perspective when personal opinions get involved.

For example, my idea of a trashy novel is one that just doesn’t quite satisfy. Perhaps it’s not well written, the characterizations are badly managed, the plot is full of holes big enough to encompass the state of Alaska, and/or the plot devices are contrived and nonsensical. These things, to me, make a story of poor quality as the definition noted above implies. You just don’t read these stories without complaining over every little aspect and perhaps wondering what the author was thinking when writing it.

But that’s my idea of a trashy book. This perspective may also be shared with several other people, however, 7 times out of 10, someone seeing the word trashy in relation to literature will automatically think of one genre before any other; Romance.

Despite being a billion-dollar-industry, the word “trashy” has been used in relation to stories written for this genre since, well, long before I was born. Even one of the biggest community websites for romance novels has the word Trashy in its name (Smart Bitches, Trashy Books). This isn’t meant as a disparagement by the chicks who run the website, but as stated, romance novels have been called trashy all across the board so often that us fans have come to employ it in our own vernacular as a playful way of suggesting sure, we’re all reading trash, and we enjoy it!

Still and yet, there are plenty of instances where this is meant as a disparagement, particularly when it comes from people who’ve never read a romance, or only read one romance and think every story is just like it. Even some romance readers call their books of choice trash because they’re ashamed and consider reading romance as being a guilty pleasure.

Recently, I saw a post on tumblr where someone was trying to articulate a request for book recommendations, and initially, they couldn’t quite bring themselves to admit that romance novels were their focus of interest. They started out by saying they’d been reading a lot of “easy thinking stories” lately, then finally admitted what they wanted by stating “trashy romance novels”.

I won’t lie, I legitimately felt sorry for this person as this is a very obvious case of internalized misogyny. This is a reader who’s found enjoyment in the romance genre, but has heard so often that romances are just dumb and trashy that they don’t feel as if they’re allowed to enjoy it without receiving a negative backlash. So they’re ashamed and can’t bring themselves to ask for more without bashing it in order to alleviate that shame and make it seem as if “I’m on board with the haters, I just enjoy a little “light reading that doesn’t break my brain” once in a while.”

Before I dig any deeper into this, allow me to state something up front; there are trashy romance novels out there, just as there are trashy sci-fi stories, and trashy mysteries. Trashy dramas, trashy horrors, trashy thrillers. There’s trash in every genre because not every book is a shining example of a good story for that genre. World building is unbelievable, mysteries are transparent, character responses are overly dramatic, and the thrills are cheap.

But if you’re a fan of the genre, you don’t throw the entire thing out because you read one bad book. Yet somehow, this happens with the romance genre frequently.

Bad romance stories are just like any other bad story; poor world building, weak plot devices, unrealistic characters, etc., and even fans of the genre will find a book they hate and call it trash. I’m no exception to this rule, and hell, I find some books I adore and some I hate within the same series. Here’s the best example I can think of on short notice; One of the most entertaining books I’ve read in recent times is Shadow’s Claim by Kresley Cole (the IAD Series). However, and on the flip side, one of the biggest disappointments I’ve read in recent times is Lothaire by Kresley Cole from the same series. Would I call that book trash? By some standards, I have to say yes, I really would.

But that book didn’t make me throw out the series, nor does a bad romance story make me throw out the entire genre and refuse to come back. After all, even a bad romance can serve a purpose in showing a reader what they don’t like, what doesn’t work for them, and help them to evolve their tastes so they know more precisely what it is they’re looking for.

So why is romance so consistently bashed with the trash stick? Well, the biggest reason is, in all honesty, misogyny–and before you throw your hands up and exclaim I knew it!, give me a chance to explain because I have two different points to make here, and one of them may not be what you’re expecting.

So first, let’s look at the way any and all things created by women for women get treated. These things are typically thought of as girly, and what do people usually associate with the word girly? Weakness, ineptitude, immaturity, frivolity, and even vapidness. So naturally, a genre that’s predominantly written by women for women must be filled with books that encompass these same qualities, right? They’re all shallow reads with no greater thought required than “character A hooks up with character B and that’s the story.”

Still and yet, you’ll hear women (as mentioned above) calling romance trashy, and while this can be attributed to internalized misogyny, that’s not always the case when you have books in every genre that are, in fact, trashy–which leads me to my second point.

These women’s opinions are based on a long standing reputation that wasn’t earned by the idea that romance is girly, but because thirty-forty years ago to be precise, quite a few romance novels employed a number of misogynistic plot devices to deliver a story, and they’ve given several women a damned good reason to hate romance.

For example, many heroines were never given a choice over whether or not they had sex with the hero. The reason is that female sexuality is apparently one of the greatest taboos the world has ever seen. A woman isn’t supposed to like, want, or enjoy sex, and if she does, she’s a slut/whore/harlot/tramp/slattern/etc., and women during that time period had been raised to believe such things about their own human needs and desires.

So it was harder for them to identify with female characters who had no shame over their sexuality, and readers could more readily accept a heroine who’s never given the chance to show their desire for sex by eliminating the possibility of giving consent altogether.

In turn, many people call romance trash because they think this is the continued standard of current novels on the market. So though (thankfully) this is much less commonly seen today, not everyone realizes just how much the romance genre has evolved since then. I mean look at women’s lib; the idea that women should be treated as equals was just the first step taken in feminism. But women weren’t elevated to a man’s status over night, and we’re still struggling for human rights in several regards. So the next step was learning how this is achieved, and the history of treatment female characters receive in romance novels is proof of the progress being made.

Decades ago, heroines weren’t given much choice, and today, you’ll find fifty books in a single search featuring heroines who’ll readily jump in the sack with no apologies because she’s not afraid to take what she wants. Or, on the reverse, you’ll find her refusing to have sex, saying no and actually being respected for her decision.

So yes, this “trashy” business is really just a lingering reputation that we’re all trying to get past. Some readers have, others just believe the caliber of romance is continuing on along the same lines. But unless what you want to read is a bad romance novel, I’d suggest not asking for trashy romance in your rec requests, and instead, just asking for good books that might tickle your fancy. :)

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Strange Brew Video Review by Fangirl Musings





Now, if you’ll pardon me a moment …

Okay! Let me start off by giving a massive thanks to Fangirl Musings (you can subscribe to her youtube channel here) for her many kind words and making my head explode! I certainly wasn’t expecting this when she said she’d purchased Strange Brew a few months ago, but I’m definitely glad she enjoyed it enough to feel it warranted one of her spiffy, awesomesauce video reviews! (No, really, you guys have no idea how hard my mind was blown by this!).

I also wanted to take the time to comment on something she suggests because it almost feels as if she was reading my friggin’ mind! Glowing praise aside, she mentions in her critique that the romance between Troy and Aislinn didn’t actually seem entirely well developed and suggests it may be due to the 5 day time jump after their first meet up. I found this extremely intriguing because! During the process of writing Strange Brew, I’d contemplated that time jump more than once. I recall thinking specifically, “Okay, you’re kind of glossing over the period in which this couple sings, “Getting to know you, getting to know all about you. Getting to like you, getting to hope you like me!”

I’d agonized over this and tried to think of any way I might be able to add some story there that would flesh things out a little more thoroughly without bogging the rest of the book down. That time period is described as Troy and Aislinn bickering a lot because, well, he won’t leave her alone! Werewolf wants his woman and doesn’t understand what she’s going through at that point! In any case, the word count for all of my books is 100k words (typically industry standard) and as I proceeded to write the rest of the book, I reached this word limit, and also couldn’t think of much to add that wouldn’t bog the story flow down anyway. (Whenever writer’s say the story has a life of its own and takes them wherever it goes, they’re not just whistling dixie!).

So ultimately, it stayed the way it is now (though I did find amusement in the fact that Troy decided it would take two-three days tops to convince Aislinn, and then it’s like a week later). Anyway, I wanted to mention this because it’s just really weird that I had that insight and then she mentioned it in this video! GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE! <3

In any case, I'm so, so glad the book was enjoyable overall! If for no other reason, you guys should watch this because it's LOLtastic! But if you're into romance, I'd suggest subscribing to her channel because she reviews a LOT of romances that you might wanna read!

And, if this video interests you in Strange Brew, click here for more information!

Cheers! :D

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Fated Fortunes · Romance · The Crucible · Writing

Fated Fortunes – 5 Star Review

I loved everything about this book. I started reading it last night and didn’t want to put it down to sleep. Then when I started to near the last pages, I found myself trying to prolong it because I didn’t want the story to end. While I love my Isaac and he’s still my most beloved character of this series, I think the storyline in this book might be my favorite.
Dawn, Up’Til Dawn Book Blog ★★★★★ 5/5

Thank you so much for this review, Dawn! (The full review can be read on her blog!) I’m so glad to hear Fated Fortunes has turned out to be enjoyable! Somehow, this got me thinking about a particular file was going to try including in the final ebook, but didn’t get a chance to due to technical jargon I’m sure you’re all better off not hearing. But I decided to share the file here, which is a map of the areas in Ithelyon this book visits. I hope you guys enjoy! :D

Have a great holiday weekend, guys, and happy reading! :D

hm_po
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Blue Moon · Fallen Hearts · Fated Fortunes · Hunter's Moon · Light of Dawn · Romance · Strange Brew · The Crucible · The Final Calling · Writing

Ask Your Favorite Character!

askacharacter

Heeeeeeeeeeey guys! Got something fun here for everyone! You see, I’d been kicking around the idea of doing some character interviews, but I’d never managed to get around to it for two reasons, though one of them is a little bigger than the other–I had no idea what kinds of questions they needed to be asked. Combine that with a lack of time, and whoa … it wasn’t coming along easily.

That’s when I had the thought; why not let readers ask them questions? So that’s precisely what I’m going to do! :)

Would you like to ask Cade why he keeps a beard? Or maybe ask Isaac for dating advice? All characters are available for questioning, so don’t hold back!

Now, with that said, there are just a few caveats!;

1. This is (obviously) for entertainment purposes only!
2. I reserve the right to ignore any question(s) I feel are unacceptable, or may provide “spoilery” information.
3. Feel free to ask as many questions as you’d like! However, they may not all be answered at once. Depending upon the volume of questions asked, I may have to split them up into sessions!
4. When asking your question,
PLEASE SPECIFY which character is being asked!
5. Have fun! :D

If having a little fun isn’t incentive enough, then I should also add this; I’ll be keeping an eye out for my favorite questions, and offering a free book of choice to the questionnaires via coupon code on Smashwords!

So send those questions in by commenting on this post, or, if you don’t have an account, fill out the form below!

Thanks guys! I hope you have fun! :D

fatedfortunes_comingsoon

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The Crucible Series Book 7: Fated Fortunes Cover Reveal & Synopsis

huntersmoon

The Crucible Paranormal Romance Series Book Seven: Fated Fortunes

Dalris Dra’Kai has served as the Terran head of his Draconian House for many long years, assigning jobs, collecting payments, and conducting family affairs. It’s a responsibility he takes seriously, though lately he’s longed for something more fulfilling than organizing business matters—and a good start would be finding his eternal mate.

But eight lonely centuries hasn’t offered much hope, and it isn’t until an unexpected encounter with a mysterious figure from his recent past that Dalris learns his mate isn’t what she seems. Furthermore? She’s on a treasure hunt of her own, but the prize she seeks isn’t riches or esteem … .

Jada Tavar has dedicated her life to finishing her grandfather’s work, and the elven antiquarian wasn’t searching for just any mundane treasure. Instead, he sought the true fate of the lost House of Rinora, a dangerous quest that inevitably cost his life. So the last thing Jada needs is a centuries-old draconian recognizing her as his mate, specifically when elves are forbidden from mating with their kind.

But Dalris is seductively persistent, and she finds the draconian more than just a little intriguing. His wicked promises and passionate kisses are impossible to ignore, and the closer they get, the more Jada wants him in her life. Yet the conclusion of her quest may reveal a truth that would condemn their fated connection for all time.

Estimated Release: Spring 2017

huntersmoonpromo

I think it was painfully obvious from my teaser on this book that we were returning to the world of draconians and House Dra’Kai. So here’s the official confirmation; we’re returning to the world of draconians and House Dra’Kai! Hooray!–particularly if you were a fan of Light of Dawn/Ulric and Charlotte.

Now, the eldest brother is getting his story, and I’m personally excited to finally introduce the elves of my series here with Jada Tavar.

I also wanted to mention this while I’m giving away tiny hints and tidbits on what’s to come; I’ve been told that one of the good things about my books is how subtle the world building is. Readers don’t have to break their brains to understand what’s going on. I also want to make certain each of my books are written as stand alones so you can pretty much break into the series with whichever book you chose, and not have to worry about either spoilers for other books, or just trying to keep up with what’s going on because you haven’t read the story “up to now”.

Fated Fortunes is definitely a stand alone as well, however, this book is really going to plunge into things with lore, myths, and some history, at least as far as the world of Ithelyon is concerned. In fact, I made a post on my facebook page a few months ago saying I’d realized I was probably going to have to include a world map of Ithelyon with this story, but whether or not I can/will, I will definitely be posting up a map on my website with a list of the places visited in this book, because we go to quite a few.

I wanted to mention this just because I feel like my series is at a point where things are starting to get much larger than the seeds planted in Blue Moon. I’ve always wanted a series with stories that are vastly different, that way, if one book isn’t satisfying, the reader might find another that’s more up their alley. The Final Calling, for example, was quite an adventure, while Hunter’s Moon took us back to a small, southern town. Fated Fortunes, on the other hand, is going to involve some traveling, and I’m extremely eager to see where it will all go! :)

I’m aiming for a May release with this one, but time will tell whether or not I can get it out any sooner than that. So in the meantime, thanks so much everyone for your continued support! It means the world!

Cheers! :D

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Blue Moon · Fallen Hearts · Hunter's Moon · Light of Dawn · Romance · Strange Brew · The Crucible · The Final Calling · Writing

The Story So Far …

So, I’ve gotten some questions from a few readers recently that basically involve “how do you story?”, which I think was meant to be a compliment. My series now spans 6 books, and there are a lot of intricacies and plot threads branching out across them, some of which have caused readers to glare at me unforgivingly (i.e. “How could you do that to Edith you monster!?”) while others have yet to be explained. So I thought I’d make a few comments over these aspects of my books to answer the question, and deliver the answer in the for of thoughts from yours truly! :)

After all, what better way to glean insight, or drive readers even more crazy, than by posting my own personal (and sometimes silly) notes on each of my books? So, let’s get started!

bluemoon_med Blue Moon

   “What else is out there besides Werewolves? You mentioned pointed ears and stuff.”
   “We’re not Werewolves, Ashley. They’re different. But there’s a lot, maybe even everything you’ve ever heard of in a fairy tale and then some. Elves, fae, ghosts, vampires, demons,” [Cade] shrugged. “The list goes on a good ways.”
   Ashley took a deep breath, realizing that the pack hunting her wasn’t the only thing out there that could’ve killed her. It made her regret leaving home, and wish she could just have the job she’d taken in Atlanta and remain oblivious …

Author’s Thoughts:
• This story is largely an introduction into the series that might’ve taken me several years to complete.
• A poodle, Martin? Really?
• Leave it to Isaac to bring up lube and foreplay in the middle of a fight.
• What’s with that weird middle name there, Ulric? Note to self; explain in future book.
• Kind of sad I never got around to doing that prequel novella for Nicole and Mike!
Operation: Mixed Breed has probably been used by Hunter’s Moon at some point since this story.

Light of Dawn

   “I wish you knew more. I just can’t believe there’s this whole supernatural world out there and now I’m finding out I’m possibly a part of it, but can’t ask what that means.”
   “Not possibly,” Ulric corrected. “You are, and it just means you’re unique from other humans.”
   “What’s the good in being unique if it makes you a target?” Charlotte grumbled. “You know, if that’s why vampires are after me, and they’d killed me, I never would’ve even known it … ”

Author’s Thoughts:
• We should all be able to control our own fertility. Just sayin’.
• Isadora needs some lovin’ ASAP.
• Remind me never to shake Chandra’s hand in a deal.
• Ulric’s right. Mages probably do come up with ideas while hitting a pipe.
• When draconians go into Wrath, they get horny. Rimshot.
• Don’t worry, Isaac. You’ll find her soon. But not for another three books and nearly a year’s worth of timeline. *maniacal author laughter*

strangebrew_med Strange Brew

   When [Aislinn] was fifteen, she’d sneaked off to break into the mansion [at Braddock’s Estate] and see if she couldn’t conjure any spirits of past residents to try solving a local mystery about the disappearance of the previous owner, Abraham Braddock. But she didn’t get very far before Helen caught her.
   Her aunt was livid as well, and not because Aislinn had sneaked out late at night to go to a potentially dangerous place. Instead, Helen had argued
You don’t conjure the dead without aid! That’s like giving a cat a bath by yourself. Some spirits are friendly enough to let you, but most are just gonna get pissed and try to hurt you.

Author’s Thoughts:
• I really need to write a story about ghosts sometime. Maybe Annika’s story?
• The method of putting out penis-shaped candles is fucking hilarious.
• I wonder if Heather and Joe would hit it off … hmm … YA Novel?
• Limbo is really weird.
• O’where, o’where has Derick gone, o’where, o’where could he be?
• I wonder what secrets Sylva uncovered while she was floating around in Limbo … ?

fallenhearts_med Fallen Hearts

   ” […] I’m going to advocate your petition to start a new Vampire Order to The Crucible. You’ve both made good points about the way your kind govern themselves here, and I believe your request will be granted, provided you can obtain the proper backing.”
   Hearing this, Maddox let a relieved sigh. “Thank you, Ardilon.”

Author’s Thoughts:
• Mathias got swag.
The Dead God? What’s up with that nickname, Ardilon?
• Kivsey? WTF Y U LEAVE ME!? D:
• Wait … Heliger? What the hell are you doing over there?
• I guess Giroux got ahead of himself heh heh.
• So that’s why Lillian did the ritual there … welp.
• The nut fairy should be a real thing. I don’t know why. It just should.

Featured Image -- 1869 The Final Calling

   ““I do know the answer to another question you’ve asked.”
“What question?”
As if the City of Magic had something to do with his response, Arias looked out at the towering, marble spires raising toward the sky, then focused on her and smiled.
“He has never forgotten you.”
It was a completely simple, yet entirely cryptic response, but Chandra’s gut clenched regardless. Thankfully, centuries of hiding her emotions— or suppressing them with magic— allowed her to mask the reaction and ask indifferently, “He? Who might that be?”
“Perhaps we’ll meet again when you find out … ”

Author’s Thoughts:
• No, seriously, Arias, who the FUCK are you talking about? D:
• Dra’Kai is a boss.
• What is the difference between a fairy and a sprite? =\
• Not sure what’s weirder; Arias’ and Ardilon’s apparent feud, or Arias and Ardilon themselves.
• Rothario has a nose for trouble. Or he used to … :D
• No, seriously, Dra’Kai is a boss.

huntersmoon Hunter’s Moon

   “Ever since high school, it’s just been one bad date after another.”
“Why high school? Have a lot of boyfriends?”
“Nope, just one, Eric Sullivan. He was really nice, a born warlock actually. Caleb used to call him string bean because he was so tall and skinny.”
Sara snickered at the memory, yet her expression turned solemn when she related, “But he moved away, so … ”

Author’s Thoughts:
• Sara really needs her own story.
• Adriana deserves a carousel, seriously.
• Travis cracks me up.
• Pretty sure Hobbs has a bunny farm at home with baby rabbits everywhere.
• The carnival. The carnival!
• I think Nacho needs a friend. How about a beagle? :D

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Romance · The Crucible · Writing

The Crucible Series Book Seven Teaser

fatedfortunesteaser

Blog Updates · Romance · Strange Brew · The Crucible · Writing

It Seems I Broke KDP

I think I enjoyed writing that title a little too much … ! But before I explain myself and the horrible thing I’ve done, allow me to show something off that will lead up to what I’m talking about!

3dbooks

My first five books are all available in paperback now, and I do have plans to add Hunter’s Moon to the list soon! Yet, with that said, one of my books is currently stuck in a unique situation, and what it’s led up to amuses me. So! Let me explain that “Starting at $13.99” thing …

Amazon’s KDP program recently added the option to put your books out in paperback, and I decided to take advantage of it. My two most recent books, Fallen Hearts and The Final Calling, were easy enough to set up. But my first three books? Those had been on Amazon’s Createspace, meaning the process had change slightly with those titles. How so? Basically, it was a simple matter of getting KDP to pull the book’s information from Createspace, and voila! You’ve got a shiny new paperback on KDP with minimal setup to accomplish.

So, one by one, I pulled the book information from Blue Moon and Light of Dawn, both of them coming through with no problem. Now it was Strange Brew’s turn. I repeated the process, entered the book’s information needed to pull it from createspace, aaaaand …

Somehow, the book’s trim size and color options weren’t accurate, and I couldn’t change them to reflect the options I’d picked on createspace. If you’d like to see what I mean, here’s Strange Brew on Createspace now (opens in a new tab). The Trim Size is 5.5″ x 8.5″ and the Color is Black and White.

KDP was listing a 6×9 in. trim size and black print on cream paper.

There’s a few reasons I didn’t just settle on leaving these options as is. First of all, my other books are all set to the trim and color Createspace shows for Strange Brew linked above, and I want them to be uniform (I could only imagine someone ordering all five books and having them sit on a shelf with Strange Brew being just slightly bigger than the rest, and it drives me crazy, as I’m sure it would several other people).

Secondly, yeah, it drives me crazy! So I emailed technical support about the issue–and might I mention, the first response I got ignored the problem entirely.

I detailed the issue, providing all the information I just gave here, and the first representative came back and said, “Since our system detected that you’ve selected the option “previously published on CreateSpace,” you won’t be able to change the trim size or the Interior & paper type.

Okay, I understand that part, so what do I do to fix the matter? I read on and … “You can either leave the trim size and paper type as is to match the setting which were pulled through from CreateSpace and proceed, or you can submit the book as a new submission by creating a new book file, as this will allow for all options to be editable.

Please note the part in red. This was completely ignoring that the information pulled through was not what Createspace listed, and I was pretty annoyed that the actual problem was being ignored. (Additionally, I tried the second option they listed to create a new book file, but ISBN conflicts didn’t allow that).

So I sent another message, stating that the response I’d received hadn’t addressed the issues, and I detailed the problem once more. Thankfully, the second representative has been much more helpful, responding that she was going to escalate the matter to their technical team to have it fixed.

I received this response last Wednesday (Nov. 30th), and just today, I got another message with an apology stating that the technical team needs more time to solve the issue.

So apparently, I broke KDP! Or Strange Brew did. I’ll just take that as a sign that my story is too hot for any press to handle :D

Anyway, and long story short, all of my paperbacks are currently $13.99, except Strange Brew, which will be $17.00 for just a while longer.

Cheers! :D

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Hunter's Moon · Romance · The Crucible · Writing

Spam Ratings are “Just a Thing”

Hi guys! So, this week I was preparing for the release of my newest book, Hunter’s Moon (which got a fabulous 4 Star rating from Kelly’s Book Blog, thanks so very much Kelly! I’m so glad you liked the story! :) ) when I was hit with something rather unexpected. It wasn’t very pleasant, and some people might call me an inexperienced newb because of my reaction to it, but I wasn’t precisely thrilled.

Before I get started on what it was, however, I’d like to mention one of the universal truths of writing, which is a pretty simple truth; not everyone is going to like your book(s). You can do all of the legwork from creating a perfect cover to editing until your fingers bleed, then hiring professional editors to go through what you’ve already hacked away at until their own fingers fall off. You can give it the most intriguing title in the world, and have a plot that literally shits gold.

But not everyone is going to like it. Period.

So authors have to be prepared to receive negative feedback, and not only learn how to get the most information out of that criticism to improve their work going forward, but also to spot the difference between constructive criticism that’s helpful, and an opinion that’s not going to benefit your work (i.e., flaming and spam). This is a very important factor to keep in mind if you’re planning to publish your work considering one bad review doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world, but several people tuck tail and run if they get even a hint that someone doesn’t like what they’ve written.

This is just the way things are, no one can do anything about it, and you have to learn to take the bad with the good!

I’ve always known this, and believe you me, I’ve received criticism on many occasions. A large amount of that was, in fact, flaming (it’s easy to spot a troll after you’ve dealt with them just once) and I’ve done my best to take the actual criticism to heart and implement the advice into my writing style.

So negative criticism? I think I’m equipped well enough to handle it. No one likes to hear that they didn’t succeed in their endeavors, that a story they’ve spent a large amount of time polishing until they felt it would provide the most enjoyable experience possible actually wasn’t enjoyable at all. But this doesn’t mean you’ve failed. The only way you fail is if you give up and don’t try to learn from the experience.

So, with that said, let me get back on topic of what happened. At this point, you’re probably thinking one of my books got blasted with a horrible review, right? Well, actually, that didn’t happen at all. I didn’t receive any negative commentary, nor did I hear from someone who’d recently read one of my books and wanted to tell me how horrible it was and how I should just quit. So why did I mention how author’s need a thick skin if I didn’t?

To explain that, allow me to tell you a story, and trust me, it’s a good one. Telling stories is just what I do. :P

Yesterday, December 1st, 2016, I was surfing the web and checking my messages. I hopped onto goodreads for a moment to check a friend request and in the process, I noticed that Hunter’s Moon had a single star rating. I stared at the page for a moment, confused. Hunter’s Moon wasn’t set to publish until the next day (December 2nd), so how could it have a rating? I’d sent an ARC of the book to three reviewers, people who have read and reviewed all of my older books, and for a moment, I thought that perhaps they’d already rated the book and I’d disappointed them with my sixth story.

Not so. I checked the page, and didn’t see either of those reviewers names listed, at least, not beyond a notification that they were reading the book. So where had this 1 star rating come from? I was extremely confused, and thought that maybe goodreads had glitched, and perhaps they were updating their website and what I was seeing was just inaccurate.

As it turns out, that wasn’t the case, either. Just an hour or so later, the information popped up. My unpublished book had a 1 star rating from someone I’d never heard of before. I checked their page because I was curious–how could someone read and review my book if it wasn’t published? Well, the answer was pretty obvious; they hadn’t read my book, but decided to give it a one star rating anyway.

But that’s not the only thing; they’d given all of my books a 1 star rating, and had done the same to several other stories. In fact, there were over 13 pages of books they’d bestowed with 1 star. That’s when I realized this was a spam rater who, if my unpublished book was any indication, hadn’t read the stories they were rating, they’d just given them a rating and moved on.

I was extremely unhappy about this for obvious reasons. Why would you rate a story you hadn’t read? Not only is that going to make the overall rating of the book inaccurate, but it’s just unfair. So I sent an email to goodreads regarding the matter, and had a few conversations with people about it, and in the process, I realized something very important.

I’d emailed goodreads for no reason. Spam ratings are apparently “Just a Thing” that happens, and we shouldn’t complain about it.

Or at least, that’s what many people say. Some raters on goodreads just rate books willy nilly, perhaps to get at that top rater’s spot, or even just to show how interested they might be in reading a book from the start. Then again, maybe they’re rating the cover of a book and not the contents. But whatever the reason, this is just something that happens, and like receiving negative criticism, it can’t be helped. Your best bet is to simply let it bounce off that thick skin, and move on. Eventually, other reviews will bury their rating at the back of the pages where no one will see it, and it’s likely that readers won’t pay much attention to it, anyway.

Still, I’m not satisfied. Perhaps I’m just howling at the moon, but I do find this problematic, particularly for authors who aren’t widely known and don’t actually get many ratings from the start. Unless the rules changed when I wasn’t looking, ratings are meant to say, “I’ve read this story and this is how I felt about it,” not “I just saw this story and it looks like something I would like/dislike.” After all, I wouldn’t think it would be difficult to implement a system where a reader can mark a book as “Interested” or “Not Interested” instead of just rating it based on their probability of reading it to begin with.

The biggest reason why this doesn’t settle well with me is that today’s publishing industry demands that, if authors are to be successful, in many cases their strongest tool is to have a reader rate and review their work. Amazon doesn’t promote any story unless its received 50 reviews (yep, 50), but only 10% of readers (if I’m recalling my facts correctly) actually take the time out to leave a comment on a story saying whether or not they liked it. Ratings and reviews are an essential part in helping someone decide if they’d like to read your story, or just ignore it altogether.

So no, I’m not satisfied with saying, “They were just rating it to indicate whether or not they’d be interested in reading it from the start.” But this happens frequently on goodreads, specifically with bestselling authors who have a large audience. When those authors announce a new title, fans will go and spam their new book’s page with ratings indicative of their interest in reading it, and may go back to edit that rating once the story has been released.

Again, it’s “Just a Thing.” Put on your adult pants and move on.

It seems where Amazon is potentially too strict with their review policies (i.e., removing reviews for “knowing the author which makes it biased”), goodreads is much too lenient, meaning neither site is going to give you an accurate idea of a book’s reception in all cases, nor are they going to do anything about their policies. I do believe some policies need to be in place, particularly regarding whether or not you’ve actually read the book you’re rating, but I really can’t see why some things would be left as is when there are some very obvious ways to fix it. Then again, I guess those solutions would cost money they don’t want to spend.

Please feel free to leave a comment! Do you think these review policies are too lenient? Too strict?

Cheers! :D

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Hunter's Moon · Romance · The Crucible · Writing

Hunter’s Moon Now Available!

huntersmoon Hunter’s Moon is now available at the following retailers:

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Read an Excerpt!

Synopsis: Caleb Hodgins is a lupine known to the Arkin City Pack as an easy going wolf with a carefree attitude. But after tragedy strikes because of what he is, he’s left with a painful secret and the weight of grief hanging on his shoulders. Such heartache causes Caleb to swear he’ll never seek companionship with a human woman again, and it’s a plan that works well enough—until Emily Sterling comes to town.

When presented with the opportunity to take a long sought job in Arkin City, Emily quickly accepts, moving halfway across the country to live next door to her childhood friend, Joslyn Santiago-Hodgins. After years of keeping in touch long distance, she finally meets the people in Joslyn’s life, and finds everyone easy to fit in with—that is, everyone except Joslyn’s brother-in-law, Caleb.

Emily has no idea why he’s so put off by her, and his dismissive behaviors become increasingly disappointing as her attraction to him turns into undeniable interest. Yet she also doesn’t realize just how quickly her fun loving attitude and playful wit draws Caleb in, reminding him of his painful secret and his drive to prevent history from repeating itself.

But a case of missing lupines sweeping the southern states may put Emily in danger simply by her unwitting association with the Arkin City Pack, giving Caleb more than one reason to protect her. In the process, the gears of bonding start to turn, and there’s nothing he can do to stop it, forcing him to face his fear of revealing the truth about what he is, and risk losing Emily for good.

I found this story to have a detailed plot with complex characters and some HOT romance.
Kelly, Kelly’s Book Blog ★★★★☆ 4/5


Don’t forget the Hunter’s Moon Release Day Sale is still running through the end of today! (December 2nd) All books in The Crucible Series are .99 cents each!

Learn More About The Crucible Paranormal Romance Series
BooksBook ReviewsThe SeriesAbout the AuthorHunter’s Moon Excerpt

Follow Angela!
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