I confess that I’m a devoted follower of the ISWG (aka the Insecure Writers Group), a community of writers whose purpose is “to share and encourage” each other. It’s a place where “writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!” If you haven’t discovered #ISWG, click the link above and check us out!
The first Wednesday of every month is #ISWG Day. Members post a response to a pre-determined question, reaching out to readers and fellow group members, sharing their thoughts, support, encouragement, doubts, and fears about a writing-related topic. This month’s question is,
What are your pet peeves while reading/writing/editing?
Be sure to visit their blogs and see what they have to say!
And, after I’ve shared a few of my personal pet peeves, feel free to comment with your own, as a reader, writer, or both.
Pet Peeves While Reading…
I know I’m not alone in this one, but being interrupted while I’m reading is the worst. Sometimes I resort to putting my noise-cancelling headphones on, if for no other reason than to broadcast that I’m not available for conversation. Or texts, phone calls, cooking meals, or basically anything other than running from a fire. I will signal my willingness to be interrupted by closing my book. Until I do that, approach at your own risk.
Pet Peeves About Writing
Again, interruption is the worst, and in our house, with an extrovert husband, a greyhound, and two neurotic lap cats, it’s nearly impossible to avoid. I unplug the landline, turn off notifications, activate my Freedom App, and even post a sign outside the door, but some days I’m lucky to get a paragraph done without interruption. I’ve found that I write best on a long airline flight, because, again, noise-cancelling headphones, and a look that says, “back away slowly. There’s nothing to see here.”
I have one other writing peeve, and this one concerns being a writer. Simply put, I’ve found that many folks just don’t think writing is a serious job that requires work and time. Lots of work, lots of time, all the time. When someone asks what I do for a living, and I say, “I’m a writer,” I can feel the blank stare before I see it. And those who show enough interest to ask what I’m writing seem to have no idea what to say when I tell them it’s a contemporary romance. Even when talking about writing with other authors–presumably those who don’t write or read romance–I’m usually on the receiving end of a sigh, followed by an awkward pause. And then there’s the inevitable, immediate assumption that I write smut, which I don’t . . . but if I did — and I might someday — deserve the same respect that every other writer does. Whether it’s Hemingway-level prose, a travel blog, a children’s book, poetry, or Writing for Dummies, it’s hard work. Even more, to serious writers, it’s an investment of the mind, heart, and soul.
**steps off soap box**
And Finally…Pet Peeves About Editing
1) Editing Causes Wrinkles
2) Editing inevitably includes an extended period of time during which my insecurity comes out to play. But I’m not alone in that, either …
Having said all this, the truth is I live for the experience of reading and writing. (Editing my own work, not so much, so I work with an amazing editor who “gets me.”) But, despite the drawbacks, the awkward moments, and the crippling self-doubt, when my debut novel is finally published, it will be totally worth it.
If you’re so inclined, you can read the first few, unedited chapters of my work-in-progress,Where Angels Sleep, on Wattpad and Goodreads.
☆¸.•*¨*★ Leeds UK Author Signing Event 2016 ☆¸.•*¨*★
TICKETS For the #LeedsAuthorEvent2016 are out now. 60 amazing authors in one venue and a Masquerade ball in the evening… You dont want to miss this event!
Saturday 5th March 2016 10am – 5 pm Masquerade ball 7pm At the Leeds Marriott Hotel UK
So excited to share with you the Authors attending the Signing in March 2016
AJ Walters Alexandra North Amelia J Hunter Andie M Long
Anna-Marie Athanasiou Apryl Baker Ava Manello Beth Ashworth Brooke Harris C.J. Fallowfield Cameron Lincoln Carrie Elks Carys Jones Charming Man E.J. Shortall Francesca Marlow G.G. Carver Georgina Hannan Glenda Horsfall Grace Harper J.D. Chase J.L. McCoy Jenny Siegel K L Shandwick Katie Salidas KelseyBurns Kitty French Krissy V L A Cotton L. Chapman Laura Barnard Laura Morgan Lavinia Urban Lisa Fulham Lisa Helen Gray Lisa J Hobman Lisa S Robinson Mary E. Palmerin Melody Winter Muriel Garcia Natasha Preston Neil Winnington Nicola Hudson Paula Radell Rebecca Sherwin S. J. Molloy S. J. Warner Samantha Fontien Samantha Towle Sarah Elizabeth Sarah Michelle Lynch Scarlett Flame Shani Struthers Sibylla Matilde Susan Elle T.A. McKay Tracie Podger Victoria L. James Zara Cox More to be added!! ……..
Calling all passionate book reviewers! As a passionate reader and reviewer, I’m pleased to take part in the Grand Opening of Reading Alley, where authors and reviewers connect.
Reading Alley is officially launching and we are marking it in a big way with our Grand Opening event! Take part in a variety of site activities, such as our weekly contests, review challenge and referral program. The more active you are, the higher your chances of winning in our Grand Draw. Lots of irresistible prizes, including an Amazon Kindle and gift certificates, are up for grabs.
Reading Alley is a site that caters to passionate book reviewers. Book reviewers get the chance to read the latest books in the market for FREE. In exchange, the only requirement is for them to submit their honest, unbiased review afterwards.
We feature a variety of books from different genres such as Romance, Mystery and Thriller, Erotica, LGBTQ, New Adult, Science Fiction and Fantasy, Young Adult, and more. These books are from both known and up-and-coming authors. Examples of books currently up for review at the site are:
Authors are welcome to set up their books for review at a reasonable price. By joining Reading Alley, authors gain instant access to this community of reviewers who can share their thoughts and recommendations, leading to greater awareness and exposure of their books.
One blogger’s opinion on the ups and downs of social networking, Part 1
I’ve been intrigued by – and passionate about – the cultural impact of social media for nearly two years now, since I was stuck at home recovering from major surgery, feeling isolated and bored. I ‘caught the social media bug’ the day I discovered that many of the authors I love – those whom I thought I had no hope of meeting in person – have a well-established social presence on Twitter and Facebook. Most are very open, approachable, polite, and some of them regularly engage with current and future readers, sharing news, asking questions, and exchanging ideas. All are using social media as a platform to inform, to introduce themselves to current and future readers, and to interactively connect with their audience. This is what makes social media such a powerful tool for spreading the word – and a dose of good will – about you as a “brand,” whatever your profession may be.
I also discovered the personal side – and the power – of social networking. I found people from across the country and all over the globe who connected with me, becoming new friends literally overnight. Brought together by common interests, kept together by the power of a personal connection – going on to share each other’s joys, triumphs, losses and life lessons – these friendships are vastly different than those we experience in real life, but are still amazingly powerful and deeply meaningful. Some are now over – sadly living in the “lessons learned” file – while others are as close, nurturing and loyal as family. I’m grateful for all of them.
In a matter of weeks I went from a woman alone in her home surrounded by books to a welcome member of a community of like-minded, passionate people (in my case, other readers, writers and would-be writers) with whom I could connect, share my thoughts, discover new ideas, develop new skills, consider other viewpoints, have a good laugh, post crazy photos, share favorite music, and talk about wonderful books (and book boyfriends) 24/7/365. Despite some harsh and painful experiences, and in spite of some epic fumbles of my own, it’s truly opened the world to me. I no longer merely live in a rural valley off Hwy 101 in Northern California, I am fully engaged in a global community that keeps me informed, entertained and engaged, bringing spice to my life and meaning to my relationships.
But (you were expecting a ‘but’ weren’t you?), looking back, this was what I believed then…
…and this is what I know now.
Wherever human beings gather, physically or virtually, they make a conscious choice to bring their best – or their very worst – behavior. Their biases, assumptions and judgments, once displayed only in the presence of friends, family, schoolmates or co-workers, are now unleashed on the rest of us, very publicly and mostoften anonymously, with a healthy dose of self-righteous impunity.
Bullying on social media is not only common, it’s rampant. People hurt one another, regularly and intentionally, preying on each other’s vulnerabilities, insecurities, and personal demons. Whether driven by a need for attention, recognition or control, their tactics are shocking, reminiscent of the kind of emotional terrorism that harkens back to middle school, with the same devastating results.
I have come to believe that not unlike families, schools and workplaces, there are those who engage in social media to indulge a darker passion: cultivating drama, paranoia, and ill-will, pitting one “clique” against another, ‘taking people down’ whom they perceive to be a threat, and worse. Colleagues have received death threats for expressing a opinion –albeit not in the most constructive way, but certainly not one that should provoke such viral hatred. Campaigns have been launched to destroy reputations, plant false and demeaning book reviews, and worse. In only two years I’ve witnessed that – and more – among people who claim to be professionals in the literary community.
Unlike what you might say in the heat of an argument – the words that fly out of your mouth before your brain can engage – typing a post, creating a tweet, sending a message, or writing a blog article takes at least some deliberation, and is immediately followed by another choice: a willful decision to click (or not to click) the “post” button and publish your words. There is plenty of time for a filter to kick in – a sense of reason, an opportunity for cooler heads to prevail, a sense of common courtesy to emerge. Or time to step back, take a deep breath and choose the high road – ignore, unfollow, block, reach out and try find common ground – or respectfully agree to disagree. Unfortunately, all too often it doesn’t.
This week, the “front-page news” on Facebook and other platforms is the “Blogger Blackout of 2014.” The blackout is intended as a show of solidarity by a group of book bloggers who took offense to an article published in The Guardian by an author who became obsessed with tracking down the source of a bad review. The source was a blogger, and the saga that follows reads like a crazy crime novel. Is it true? I have no idea. Is the blogger’s version true? There is no way to be certain. Was the review objectively honest, or abusive? I haven’t read it – only the author’s description of it. But it certainly created a firestorm (for lack of another socially-acceptable word). The incident itself happened long ago, and in any other time might be all but forgotten, displaced by real news about real tragedies and issues of much greater substance. But it has been brought back to life through the lightening-fast network of social media, leading to a virtual stand-off between two groups that need each other – all over an isolated, extraordinarily unusual dispute between ONE author and ONE blogger. Now, some bloggers are refusing – either for a specific period of time, or forever – to review for any author, using that article as a platform to justify their decision. Likewise, some authors have decided they will no longer engage with any blogger who joins the blackout. Emotions are running amuck…and so is the damage.
What’s my point in bringing all of this to light today? It’s simple. This isn’t professional behavior – it’s playground behavior. And social media isn’t a playground – it’s a powerful, universal platform where your words and deeds live forever, defining you and what you stand for. It’s your reputation, your brand, your character, your integrity that’s on public display, 24/7/365. Whether an author or a blogger, if you espouse yourself to be a professional, act like one. Take the gloves off, move your disputes off-line, and hash them out like the adults you claim to be, not the bullies you appear to be. And, please – leave the rest of us out of your drama.
Each one of us has an inherent right and the freedom to do what we feel we must to express our view on an issue or respond to a professional or personal affront. But to penalize all authors for the actions of one, to drive a wedge between authors and bloggers — who are by nature interdependent — is knee-jerk at best, and cyber-bullying at worst. In any event, it’s unprofessional, and I cannot support it. There is too much to lose. And as for the rest of this playground behavior — back-biting, demeaning, demoralizing, bullying, conspiring and competing — nobody wins in that kind of game.
It’s time to change the rules.
In my next post…new rules.
Note: The referenced article can be viewed here ~ please read responsibly and remember that I am the messenger ~ I choose not to engage in this debate, but will reply to all comments from my own – hopefully objective and professional – perspective.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not an expert in the art of writing a mind-blowing book review. However, after writing quite a few and reading literally thousands more, I’ve come to the conclusion that in an age when virtually anyone who reads a book can voice their opinion – good, bad or just plain ugly – in a matter of minutes with a minimum of 20 words, some “guiding principles” are in order.
Writing reviews is a serious business. It’s not rocket science by any means, but words have power, and as Volaire so aptly said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” I’ve observed first-hand that reviews can make or break an author, professionally and personally; they can inspire them to continue to grow and hone their craft, or discourage them from pursuing it at all. At a time when anyone with a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone can post anything anonymously and with impunity, the abuse of that power, coupled with a blatant disregard for the personal responsibility inherent in the reviewer’s role, has changed the review environment – for better or for worse.
The “better” is that more readers can quickly and easily share their thoughts with a world-wide audience, providing authors with broad exposure, absolutely free. Readers engage and form communities of like-minded individuals who recommend books and authors to one another, “bond” over a storyline, a character, or an author; and spread the joy of reading – keeping the literary arts alive.
So what’s the downside, in my opinion? It’s that the once-honorable and highly respected craft of literary criticism has been demeaned by “professional haters” who seem to derive a perverse sense of joy in writing bitter, angry, destructive reviews with spiteful words and very little substance. It seems that the “freedom of speech” provision on most public review sites has created an environment in which cruel, destructive and even abusive language is accepted – sometimes even celebrated – in the name of posting “an honest review.” In my opinion, if reviewers were required to use their actual name when they post – to own the power of their words – we might see fewer reviews, but the ones that we see would be more meaningful, more constructive, and of overall higher quality.
I’ve said all that to say this…
Everyone has an opinion on the topic of book reviews ~ the ‘how’ and the ‘why’. The purpose of this article is first to share my own reviewing philosophy, process and principles with those who read and follow my blog (as well as the authors whose books I’m honored to read and review); second, to encourage readers to take the time to write and share their own reviews, especially when a book “resonates” with them, when they want to encourage other readers to experience it for themselves, or to thank an author for sharing their story with the world. Every review doesn’t have to be – and shouldn’t be – unicorns and rainbows, but at a minimum it should be thoughtful, respectful and sincere, remembering that it’s thebook, not the author, that is the focus of the review.
Principle #1: Every reader has a lens.
Just as we view the world filtered through our own life experience, shaped by our personal preferences, attitudes, and beliefs, we read through our own private lens. For that reason, the same book, read at the same time by twenty different readers, will evoke a wide variety of reactions and result in a variety of opinions – making the reading experience an intensely personal one. A book that does nothing for me might mean everything to someone else. That is the true beauty and power of the story, be it fiction or non-fiction.
To me, the reviewer’s most important task is to to help readers get a clear idea of what the story is about and why it might appeal to them. Recognizing that each reader will approach the story with a different perspective, it is important for the reviewer to state, as simply as possible (without spoilers!):
A short, basic overview of the story and its characters;
The theme or the message of the book, as they understand it to be; and
What the reviewer found that makes that story unique – to answer one big question: “What makes this book stand out from others in its genre; why should readers care about the book enough to read it?”
Principle #2 ~ Select your books carefully, and Principle #3 ~
I screen – as carefully as possible – the books I choose to read for review. Because I’m familiar with my own “lens,” I choose books in genres I love the most; I look at the synopsis, even check out the cover to see if it “pulls me in,” and decide to read it with a “reviewer’s eye.” If I made a bad choice – if I can’t finish the book, or find something good to say about it – I simply won’t review it. I hate the thought of discouraging someone from reading a book they might love just because it didn’t appeal to me.
I also hate the thought of discouraging an author whose book I didn’t love, simply because I didn’t experience it as they intended. Authors put their heart and soul into their work, spending weeks, months – or sometimes years – researching, writing, editing and re-imagining to make their story the best it can possibly be. They seek opinions from experts, beta-readers, friends and family – for the sole purpose of giving readers an experience they will remember. Then they take the risk of publishing it, of exposing their thoughts, feelings and writing skills to the world, and await readers’ reactions. Some authors may never read reviews…but most read them faithfully. A word of advice? If you haven’t written and published a book of your own, be deliberately thoughtful and sincere in judging it. Hard-working authors deserve nothing less.
Early on, I made the choice to look for the good in every book, and I have rarely – very rarely – been disappointed.
Principle # 4 ~ Be honest and be helpfulwhile also being respectful and kind. (Please avoid the following bad examples. As tempting as it may be to be cheeky in a review – don’t.)
A now a word to those who read book reviews…
There are all kinds of arguments about the purpose of book reviews, specifically “who” the review is for ~ readers or authors. My answer is “both,” because in my opinion a well-written review serves both parties. Readers can make informed decisions to buy and read new books they may want to check out, or to discover books by authors they may not have read before, based on the content and quality of one review. Authors benefit from constructive, helpful feedback that is respectfully and factually presented; they are inspired by praise from fans who share their excitement about the story; they learn what their readers think – then apply it, as they see fit, in future books.
Readers, judge reviewers carefully. Are they unbiased and objective? Are they honest and well-supported? Are they reviewing the book, not the author? Are they reasonably literate and articulate? If they didn’t like the book, is it because the book itself had flaws in its structure, flow, or style? Or is it because the reviewer didn’t like the direction the author chose to take the story; or a character in it? (Remember, it’s the author’s story to tell – if the reviewer would have preferred a different storyline, or hated a particular character, it doesn’t mean the book was bad…it just wasn’t what the reviewer expected. That’s not a reflection on the author – it’s a reflection on the reviewer.)
Finally…Are you ready to write your first review?
If you’ve never written a review before, and feel intimidated by the prospect, don’t let it keep youfrom sharing your reading experience with others. I feared putting my words in print, opening myself to ridicule for my opinion or my writing style. I didn’t know what to say or how to say it. A dear friend encouraged me to put those fears aside – to start somewhere, anywhere – and as a result I found not only a new outlet for writing, but a new purpose in life: to share my love of reading, and my respect for authors, with anyone who is willing to take the time to read my reviews. I love it when I see that my words make a difference, either to help a reader make a purchase decision, encourage an author to keep writing, or simply to promote the act of reading for the pure joy it can bring.
As you get started, here are a few simple tips for that first review:
Summarize. Don’t tell the story. Describe it clearly enough for readers to get a feel for the book without ruining it for them.
Support your opinion with examples from the book.
Write conversationally. Share your opinion as if speaking to a friend.
Keep it short. A good rule of thumb? Your review should be shorter than the book!
T-H-I-N-K. Is your review Truthful, Helpful, Inspiring … and are your words Necessary and Kind? If not, THINK again.
I hope this post prompts you to think about the review process and look at it from a different perspective. If I’ve articulated my philosophy, principles and process well, you as authors and readers will have insight into why I choose to be a reviewer, and why my reviews read as they do. I recognize that this is simply one opinion among many, and respect disagreement – that’s what opinion pieces are for. And, since this is my blog – today you get my unfiltered opinion!
I also hope I’ve persuaded a few experienced reviewers – or inspired some new reviewers – to think carefully about the responsibility and rewards of writing book reviews; to shape their own philosophy and guiding principles before putting fingers to keyboard; and to approach the task with sincerity and integrity. If I’ve accomplished that, my work here is done!
As this week’s interview with Jake “comes to an end” (pun definitely intended), a quick re-run of some highlights before the final questions:
You are quite the prolific story-teller. Where do you find inspiration for your work?
Inspiration comes from everywhere if you have a wicked mind and a bit of imagination. I’ve suffered not from writer’s block, but rather from an excess of ideas and not enough time to put them all into words. I’m fascinated by situations which embody some kind of moral or ethical conflict, so the tension between religion and sex which I experienced growing up is great material. Likewise work-places where everyone is supposed to be a professional and not get sidetracked by flirtation and attraction are wonderful settings. Or weddings – so solemn and pure, but meanwhile the best man is trying to seduce and debauch one of the bridesmaids. I love that. I’m also very visual –I’m a guy after all – and read stories into erotic images. I love how a sexy jpeg or gif can suggest an entire narrative.
Let’s cut to the chase for a moment…are any of your writings autobiographical – that is, based on “personal experience”? A poll of fans has demonstrated this to be THE most popular question for this interview!
There’s a big yes and a qualifying no here. Yes, moments from my own naughty experience are scattered throughout my stories liberally; I’ll leave the blog readers to wonder which moments. I’ve fully enjoyed every brand of erotic experience described – tender, rough, playful and kinky – and intend to do so again, as often as possible. *interviewer is staring off into space, trying not to smile*
No, I never lift experience wholesale from my life; this is fiction and I’m a storyteller. So while I may have had a girl in a plush hotel suite (okay, I did), it wasn’t necessarily on the day she’d married someone else.
What else would you want current & potential readers to know about you, as a person and as an author?
As a person – I’m wicked but not mean-spirited, sexual but not sexist, irreligious but not unspiritual… I love life, love, lust, experience, exercise, reading, art, tv, literature and fucking. *interviewer spits out coffee* As an author – sex and sexuality are my themes for the foreseeable future and I’m sure will always play a part. I aim to write believable characters in tangled situations, in a variety of erotic sub-genres *interviewer does her famous happy-dance*. My hope is to create intelligent work which is uncompromising in its hard-edged sexiness; when you finish one of my stories, you should be breathless, speechless and satisfied. That’s my aim, nothing less. *interviewer nods in agreement*
And, finally — what’s next, Jake? Any other books in the queue?
One of the most evil tales I’ve ever written, Little Black Dress, is out this weekend…
Beyond that bastard-you-love-to-hate Gavin McClain will be back soon in both Twenty-One and Extra-Curricular; and my BDSM love-story Daniella Boundwill be ready to buy later this year. Oh, and I’ll be starting work on The Jared Enlightenmentvery soon. Will that do for now?
It’s a great start…
Jake, thank you so much for your time…this has been so much fun, I’m sure Amazon would hide this interview if they could! I hope you’ll come back with updates another time. Please feel free to visit Passionate Reads, and post updates about your books! I’m sure the community of passionate readers would enjoy following your progress, and I’m going to want another interview.
Paula, it’s been a total pleasure. I’ll be staying in touch via Passionate Reads and I’d happy to come back to chat some more. Thank you for your provocative and fun questions.
Next time around, be prepared: I’ll provide the pictures, you provide the paragraphs! *wicked little laugh*
Please follow Jake Malden on Social Media – Wicked Fun, 24/7!
…travelling musician, erotic artist and long-haired love-god, going where the wind blows, leaving chaos in his wake. With rough hands and a smooth tongue, he’ll give you the hottest night of your life. You shouldn’t do it, but you will. That’s the Jared Effect. The Jared Effect is comprised of three connected stories about women’s encounters with roguish travelling musician Jared Morgan. Each is written from the point of view of a different female protagonist and chronicles how her life is revolutionized by meeting him.
Now here’s the thing about Jared…
…he’s not very easy to find…hidden so deeply in the Amazon archives, only the truly dedicated ~ and more than a little bit wicked ~ Jake Malden fans can find him.
And today’s Wicked Wednesday Interview Question is:
So, Jake ~ your recent book, The Jared Effect, must have rattled some cages on Amazon.com…it’s unusual to have a book actually “hidden” from public display! Why do you think you ended up an underground sensation, and is it still hidden in Amazon’s “underground lair”? (If so, please provide the link!)
It’s still in the ‘lair’, so here’s a sneaky link:
I’m not clear on what the issue is – it’s either the fact that Jared has sold more copies and gained more reviews and therefore drawn Amazon’s attention to the raunchy nature of the content, or the cheeky cover (literally cheeky, as you’ll see). I have a suspicion it’s the cover, but I’d much rather believe that the good people at Amazon consider Jared Morgan too much of a sexual force of nature for the reading public, so let’s go with that one. He’s a monster of raunch, people. Follow the link and tangle with him…
A Wicked Teaser…
“Jared…” It had been all she was able to say.
“Tell me you want me to stop.” She had been acutely aware of his arousal and wanted to see whether or not he had to gall to undo the top button of her blouse. “Say it …”
“He leaned into her, drawing the book from her hand and throwing it casually on the counter top. She was so aware of his hard upper body, of the locked-and-loaded contents of his jeans, that her heart tremored. It did not occur to her to move away. “Oh, you wouldn’t be just one more encounter, Sylvia. You’d have pride of place.”
“Lusty does not even begin to describe young Jared. He is every woman’s secret desire. Jake Malden has manifested a truly wonderful leading character in Jared. He is full of rough charm and toe curling attraction. He calls forth every hidden fantasy a woman may have of being taken, pleasured and liberated from her preconceived ideas of who she is. Jared leaves his women satisfied but craving more. The Jared effect is an extremely well written tale, with wonderful detail, a touch of humour and let’s Not forget to mention some torrid sex and to be honest who doesn’t need some of that in their life?”
“… The book starts off hard and fast and it maintains this pace throughout. I couldn’t put it down and I know I will be picking this up again and again…By far the best book I have read this year. Irish Jake, I am hooked!”
“A wicked, wicked read that is sure to please a lot of people 😉 Jake Malden certainly knows how to excite and satisfy with this book. Love the moments where Jared does his civic duty and helps out damsels in distress and gets them to reach their full potential 😉 A great read!”
Additional sneaky buying links…Get it while it’s HOT, HOT, HOT