Monday, August 11, 2014

Read 'n Review

The ups and downs of book reviews

 

            "I loved your book. When is your next one coming out? I can't wait to read it." Comments like these certainly help to keep me writing when I am struggling with a story or finding excuses to stay away from the keyboard.

            Authors love to hear readers' positive comments but the less positive one can be equally helpful to a writer’s career.  For example:

 

           "I loved the heroine but the hero wasn't very likeable." Or,

           "I gave it 3 ½ stars because it took me awhile to get into the story. I like a little more action from the beginning."

 

Note I said less positive not negative. Another way of saying it is, constructive criticism. I'm not talking about reviews that include spoilers or destructive overtones.  No one appreciates sour grapes. 

            Positive reviews offer feel good moments; less positive ones can help authors improve their craft.  Sour grape reviews are like the sting of a venomous spider.  They spread poison right into the veins of our self esteem. Authors and readers need to consider the source and delete negative ones from their minds and their computers.  Authors take a long, tedious, and often maddening journey to write, edit, and complete a manuscript.  We readers may not like every book  but I would hope that we appreciate the author’s efforts and find some merit in his or her achievement.  If it’s a published book, someone felt its content needed to reach the public.

 

Why not write a review?

          

            Unfortunately, when I ask readers who have enjoyed one of my books if they would write a review on the purchase site, too often I hear:

           "I'm not good at writing reviews."

           "I meant to do that but I've been so busy."

           "I read too many books. It takes too much time."

I’m speaking of the average reader, not professional reviewers. I ask occasionally because I’m still building my career as so many new authors are doing and reviews add momentum, encouragement, and increase sales.

           

A confession

 

          I don't write reviews for every book I read. If I know that the author has a large following and sells hundreds, if not thousands of books, I question whether my comments will make a difference. Perhaps, that's not the best the way to think. On the other hand, if I read a book by an author who I know is newly published and building a readership, I do my best to find the time to comment.  Amazon helps by sending out emails asking for opinions after a purchase. I try to follow up on those requests.  Other sites such as Goodreads and All Romance Books encourage readers to write reviews.

 

Avoid letting one review sway you from a purchase.

           

         I often go on Amazon and read reviews for a product I want to buy. I never read just one. I read many reviews to gain a broader perspective. I am not turned off by less positive ones unless the same issues are presented in a few customer comments. We all have different tastes and expectations and not everyone appreciates the same qualities in a product.

 

Writing a review takes little time out of your day.

 

         Reviews do not have to be polished or lengthy. They just need to be thoughtful and fair. As a teacher who has often had my students do peer editing, I encourage them to say something positive before giving constructive criticism. Reader reviews can be just a sentence or two.

          "I couldn't put this book down. It gave me hours of pleasure."

          "Great book. Loved the suspense and despised the villain. I want to read more from this author."

          "The plot was intriguing and kept me reading but I prefer less description and more action."

 

Consider the influence and power of a simple review.

 

           A thoughtful review is a blessing to an author and compelling to a reader. Authors make a small amount on each book they sell. Often only pennies. They spend hours upon hours writing, editing, and struggling with plot and characters to create tension and cohesiveness. When a manuscript is complete, more hours are spent finding a publisher or going through the grueling steps of self publishing. When a book is finally on the market, it's the author's baby going out into the world and they wait anxiously for those first reviews.

          I urge all readers to take the time to write thoughtful reviews. Your opinions are valuable. Let the author and other readers know if you enjoyed a book and why. If you find a book lacking, voice you opinions in a constructive way. Good reviews not only help authors sell books but constructive criticism helps us improve our craft and meet the expectations of our readers. We write because it's in our hearts to tell a story. Knowing that readers find pleasure in our work or think enough about it to point out a weakness is a gift to us.

          Please take a few minutes and write a sentence, two, or three when you finish a book. If you love it, try another from the same author. If you just liked it, read reviews for the same author’s other books. Another by the same writer might be more captivating.  Regardless, keep reading and write those reviews!

 

Blessing, Elaine

 

ps. Speaking of reviews, what a pleasure it was this week to receive a review from a well known review site, Jeep Diva. It was extra special since it was on my very first published novel, Regal Reward that came out in 2007. The first is always closest to a writer's heart.

You can read it here: http://www.thejeepdiva.com/review-regal-reward-elaine-violette/

 

Excerpt:
I thoroughly enjoyed the characters in this book. From the vile Lord Craymore to delightfully interfering Aunt Cornelia. They were all well developed and added to the joy of this story. The action was nicely paced and exciting. From the kidnapping of Marielle to the exposure of Lord Craymore’s crimes.

I appreciate your comments!

 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Last 3 days of Historical Romance Sale

Regal Reward and A Kiss of Promise. Each $2.48 on Amazon.

If you are a poetry lover you might want to check out A Convenient Pretense:

A Poetess spurns love while writing love poetry in Elaine Violette's Regency Romance ebook-
A Convenient Pretense.
Opening lines:
"Foolish is a maiden who sets her heart a flight
with dreams of wedded bliss that surely lead to strife.
She might best consider a single life… ...
At her husband’s beck and call,
if he is even home at all
She shall rue her chosen plight…
as he saunters off into the night.
A visit to his mistress
And he believes it is his right!
So foolish is the maiden who sets her heart a flight." Read more of her poetry.
Available on Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00B3YV24A


Historical Romances by Elaine Violette on Sale at http://www.amazon.com/Elaine-Violette/e/B008H5NKQQ

Thursday, May 29, 2014

An Author's Black Moment: Plotting the Pounds 

10 days-10 pounds


     We all know that writing is a solitary activity. Authors hide away and pound the keyboard as inspiration flows into written words or we read voraciously for research and pleasure. We must do it. Our heart tells us so. If the desire is there than we were born to write, whether we become published or not. The downside of writing is that the only part of us that gets physical exercise is our fingers. Let's be honest, all you need to do is go to one writer's conference to meet dozens of intelligent, creative writers who are overweight.
     I'm not judging; I'm identifying. I'm one of them. The longer I write, the wider my hips spread. We romantic authors might call them love handles but they do nothing to further our plots. The more I dwelled on my dilemma or I should say the more my clothes shrunk in the closet, I realized it was a problem that wasn't going to go away. This was my Black Moment.  If I didn't plot how to reduce the overflow, I might gain more pounds than fans in my future and have to start wearing the clothes that have too many X's next to the size.
     My goal is to lose 15 pounds, 20 if I can really persevere. Previously in my yo-yo dieting career, I'd set out to suceed and failed over and over and over again. No matter what diet I chose, I'd be lucky to last a few days without giving into a craving.  I'd cry, "No willpower,"  "Failed again," "How can SHE eat that and still be skinny? Not fair!"  "Why did mom feed me sweets to make me feel better?"  "Poor me." Get the picture? Both self pity and self hatred combined have affected my confidence, sociability, energy, and zest for life.

Our Heroines
     Easier to hide behind a keyboard and write about our lovely, slim, curvaceous heroines? Has anyone but Wally Lamb really chosen a fat leading lady? One that attracts our handsome, hard-bodied heroes?  For those who write erotica, can you imagine the bedroom scene as you describe roving hands smoothing over folds of fat? What does this tell us about our own beliefs and what our popular culture expects?
    Well, at my age, I'll never look like my historical romance heroines but I'll be happy if I can pick anything I want out of my closet and it fits. I don't mean new clothes I am forced to buy to cover a multitude of sins, but the ones that are two sizes down and once skimmed my body instead of causing it to choke for oxygen.
    All the reasons above are why I decided to get serious about plotting the pounds instead of the keyboard. I haven't gone near my newest manuscript for a week. Instead, I have read a book, Dr. Hyman's 10 Day Detox Diet.
     Strange how it got into my hands. I was on my way to the Romantic Times Convention in New Orleans. As I waited in the airport for my flight, I browsed the book store. Dr. Hyman's book seemed to be lit up in neon colors. It wasn't, but the words appeared that way to me. It was more than I wanted to pay so, instead, I bought the ebook on my Kindle as I waited for my plane to take off. I was totally absorbed after reading the first two pages. It was a woman's story that I could have written. When he wrote about why we can't control cravings, I was totally sucked in.
     At the convention, who couldn't miss so many authors just like me, weighted down by not only books? And, oh, the wine and chocolate that flowed, never mind Avon's yummy cupcakes. I ate very well but I continued to read the book and came home determined to follow the advice to a "T".

Preparation
      The next week was spent preparing for the detox. I ordered the supplements from the website. They can be bought at a health food store, but I wasn't going to shop around or procrastinate. They weren't cheap but food isn't cheap, especially all I've eaten to put on this extra flab. While I waited for the package to arrive, I shopped for all the essentials. I checked out all the recipes included in the book, wrote my grocery list, and bought everything I needed: all the various greens, herbs, protein possibilities, nuts, seeds, etc. 
     New things like coconut and almond butters were items I have never used in my life and didn't know if I could stomach them but Dr. Hyman said give me just ten days of your life, and I was determined to do just that. 10 days, 10 pounds, my mantra.
     I bought epson salts, baking soda, and lavender oil as indicated, for suggested nightly baths. I took out my blender to be ready to make the smoothie recipes. I tossed out anything sweet that I might be tempted to eat. I admit that I didn't throw out one dark chocolate candy bar.It's in the fridge but I haven't touched it. After all, dark chocolate is supposed to be good for us.

The Cut Back
     I started a few days before D day to cut back on caffeine, sugar, and anything with white flour, and yes, alcohol. No wine for awhile :(  I went from caffeinated coffee, to half and half, to decaf and then hot water with lemon by the time Day One arrived.  I washed all the greens and prepared whatever I needed the day before, including soaking Chia seeds, sesame seeds, and nuts for my morning smoothie. I never knew Chia seeds existed, but I was determined to follow all directions.

Journaling and More.
     As indicated in the book, I prepared a journal to keep track of everything, including daily weight, body measurements, and responses to morning and evening journal questions given in the book. I set out my supplements and typed out directions so I wouldn't miss a thing, including drinking 8 glasses of water a day, walking briskly for a half hour a day, and trying to get 20 minutes of sunshine a day ( not always easy to do in CT lately). By this time, I'd wished I'd spent the extra dollars and bought the paperback for the recipe section.

Preparation Days
     I found that the pre-preparation determined my success this far. I had invested too much to toss it all aside. Oh, I forgot to mention a couple of other things: He suggests cutting back on screen time during the 10 days. Enough with Candy Crush!  Also, using relaxation breathing for 5 minutes a day, not eating 3 hours before bedtime, and joining the online community to help keep me on track.

Sticking to It
    Two things helped me to gain the initial will power to start this journey (you do need that will power to get started).  First, the disgust at not being able to fit comfortably into my clothes had reached epic proportions and, second, the information gleaned from the book on why we cannot control our cravings. IT IS NOT OUR FAULT! IF YOU ARE LIKE ME AND BLAME YOURSELF...STOP! 
     I learned how our bodies adapt to foods and the importance of blood sugar balance. I'm not going to go into all the scientific stuff.  If you're interested, you'll need to read the book. I'm not advertising for Dr. Hyman. He is good at what he does, but he also wants to make money. As authors, don't we all? I'm just grateful to him for his research and knowledge.

   So Far so Good
     Today  I'm on Day 3. On Day 2, I had a bad headache. Feeling lousy the first two or three days is expected, so I was prepared for some effects of the detoxing. Today, I feel great! I've enjoyed one of the smoothies I've tried but didn't like the second. I love the Creamy Cauliflower soup and a delicious salmon dinner recipe. The book gives these recipes and many more. I found additional ones on the online community board. I knew I wouldn't like everything, but it's just 10 days! 
     I plan to blog every day throughout this journey for my own benefit to keep me on track and, perhaps, to encourage others to try it. As authors, we need to exercise those fingers to accomplish our dreams but for those like me who struggle with weight loss and more wholesome exercise, we need to balance pounding the keyboard with a healthy and sustaining lifestyle. I know that failure is an option, but one I refuse to accept this time around.

Comments?
I'd love to hear about from other author and readers who struggle with weight loss and exercise.

Hugs, Elaine

Monday, May 19, 2014

Alaina, my Leading Lady: Main Character Blog Hop

Today I’d like to thank Anne Stenhouse for tagging me on the Leading Lady Blog Hop that introduces our main characters to readers.  You can read about Anne’s main character, Mariah, on her Novels Now blog at http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/mariah-my-leading-lady-main-character-blog-hop/

                Today, I'd like you to meet Alaina Craymore, my heroine in my newest historical romance release, A Kiss of Promise. The story begins in England and moves to America, a departure from my previous British historicals.

                Alaina’s nature is to be self-sacrificing. She’s had little choice. Her father was a domineering, power-hungry aristocrat who treated his wife and daughter with disregard and abuse.  Her role in the family was that of protector toward her ill mother and later she attempts to protect her brother from a villain who seeks to destroy him unless Alaina bends to his will. Though readers can meet Alaina in my debut novel, Regal Reward, where the Blackstone brothers, York and Martin, are introduced, she is the heroine in the sequel, A Kiss of Promise.  
                At the opening of A Kiss of Promise, a preface acquaints readers with her past. In the present, Alaina is completing her year of mourning after her father’s death. It’s difficult to use the word, mourning. His cruelty left little to mourn but society during this historical time period, expected women to spend a year in seclusion and wear the colors of grief.
                 Alaina has no difficulty staying out of the public eye after the scandal her father created when he falsely accused a fellow aristocrat, Lord Blackstone, of treason.  His crime left Blackstone’s wife and children destitute when Lord Blackstone is imprisoned and his lands and titles given to Alaina’s father.  My regency, Regal Reward, tells of the Blackstone’s son’s struggle to clear their father’s name.
                In A Kiss of Promise, Alaina tries to put the past behind her and prepares to reenter society but her father’s villainy transcends his death.  A former business partner of her father, Phillip Harrington, appears and blackmails her into completing a business deal her father began in America.  She has no recourse but to agree to Harrington’s demands that she masquerade as his fiancĂ©e after he shows her evidence that could destroy her brother.  She has no one to turn to and everything to lose.  
                Alaina is strong, determined, and selfless.  Only Martin Blackstone, the man that she loved and who had left her behind to find adventure, can save her from the ruthless Harrington. Martin’s past has left him with too much baggage to consider a commitment but when he finds out that Alaina is in danger, he’ll move heaven and earth to find her.  Alaina, fear-filled and desperate holds on to her power to determine her future. She’ll chose ruin over pity devoid of true love, even if Martin can save her from the evil Harrington.
 
               A Kiss of Promise and Regal Reward, both Blackstone Brother's stories,  are available at most ebook outlets. Regel Reward is also available in print.
 
A Kiss of Promise Buy Links
Available at Ellora’s Cave
Amazon
All Romance Books
Check out my website for more information on my novels and buy links
 

 
 
 
 
 
               
 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Ebook Available now.
Click here to go to Amazon

The Making of a Novel

Where does an idea for a novel begin?  It might seem strange, but the evolution of an idea can be as much a mystery to the author as to the reader. 
My guess would be that the plot and characters of my debut novel, Regal Reward, most likely came after reading hundreds of historical romances. Mix all the characters and plots together, blend together with personal experiences, values, tastes, heritage, culture, motivations, individual creativity, passion, and most likely some very secret ingredients and a recipe emerges.
As all ingredients are stirred in the mind and on paper, an author tastes and adds new ingredients he or she believes will enhance the flavor.
Sometimes, too much is added of  one ingredient or another,  some need to be enhanced, others mellowed. We can have too much of a good thing, or not enough.
We'll ask other authors, or our editors, to test the recipe and their suggestions can improve the taste and texture. We attend conferences and workshops to learn more about various ingredients, techniques and presentation. As with most recipes, a final product that works has been revised over and over until it's as perfect as we can make it.
Althought the author is the creator and credited with the final offering, gratitude must go to many contributors. For my books, other authors have inspired me, researchers have freely allowed access to their materials, author acquaintances and groups have given freely of advice and encouragement, editors and my publisher have accepted and improved on my manuscripts. And dearest to my heart, my family has been generous, not only with their praise, but also their willingness to understand my devotion to my craft.  My mom, especially, because she always said "I could do anything I put my mind to."
Characters in my newest release, A Kiss of Promise, first appeared in my debut regency, Regal Reward. Their stories needed to continue. Each of my characters express emotions I've experienced either personally or vicariously. New characters evolved. The main ingredients of all my novels--passion, intrigue, secrets, villainy, and romance combined together to create the final manuscript. Research in both historical England and America added the background color.
I hope my readers will agree that it is a delicious, edgy romance that is sweet, sensual, and satisfying.
Read more about my writings on my website: www.elaineviolette.com or like me on Facebook, www.facebook.com.elaineviolette.author
I look forward to hearing  comments on authors' and readers' experiences. It always nice to learn about a new recipe or a new ingredient to enhance plots and characters. Suggestions are always welcomed.
        

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

JOAN REEVES aka SlingWords: Meet Elaine Violette

JOAN REEVES aka SlingWords: Meet Elaine Violette: I'm happy to welcome Elaine Violette to SlingWords this morning. Backstory Elaine's first published works were poetry, book re...