Tag Archive | book reviews

The Amazing Power of Readers- A Peek Behind The Curtain



As a reader, why should you care what goes on behind the scenes in book publishing? As long as you can find affordable books to suit your interest, things like book piracy, book stuffing and fake reviews won’t affect you. Right?


It may not affect you personally, but those factors, and much more, have already had an effect on authors, especially indie authors.

Scandals Galore

2018 has been a year of upheaval for the publishing industry, and the romance genre in particular. Authors and others related to the industry have been deeply concerned about several issues and forces that, if not resolved, may mean many authors will simply quit writing, rather than continue the often uphill battle that is book publishing.

If unfair practices and scammers overrun the marketplace, it will become much more difficult for readers to find the books they want to read. If authors quit writing simply because they can no longer afford to fight the tide of scammers, pirates, and automated, indiscriminate policing from retailers, there will be less books for you to choose from.

Want to find out more about what Indie Authors face today? Click here

Why Now?

Not caring about any of this is a valid viewpoint. Authors do not expect readers to know how much work it takes to bring a book to market and keep it there. But in my experience, and from what I have been hearing on social media and on blogs, a majority of readers do care what happens to their favorite authors, and by extension, authors in general. Many, up until recently, have been unaware of some of the challenges authors have been facing. But the frustration over what appears to be ongoing unfair practices has caused things to come to a boiling point, and the voices of dissension have been getting louder.

Readers really should care, because what has been happening has already begun to affect their choices.

This blog post by Author Jami Gold spells out clearly a few of the issues, including Trademarking common words and book stuffing on Kindle Unlimited.

You Are Powerful

There are several other issues authors face daily which can have a severe impact on getting their books to market so you may read them. If even a few readers take the time to find out what is happening and learn how to (properly and respectfully) report the unfair practices that make their reading experience less than desirable, we may see positive change. We are a consumer-based society, and consumer habits and preferences are very powerful.

You deserve to read only the best quality of your chosen reading material. Most authors want to provide this for you. Those who are in it only for the money will always find ways around the system, or to fool unsuspecting consumers, and quite often they trade quality for quick, easy money.

On the other hand, ethical authors agonize probably way more than is even necessary to bring you a quality product, and that requires much time, effort and expense. Several authors I know are already pulling their titles from Kindle Unlimited. It comes down to a business decision, and many cannot afford to continually fight.

Transparency and Gratitude

The purpose of this post is simply to let readers know they have a stake in what happens in this industry. In the days of traditional-only publishing, readers were far removed from the behind the scenes machinations of book publishing. Most didn’t have regular contact with their favorite authors. But it’s a different world now, and you can help. The curtain is wide open, as it should be. Talk to others, both readers and authors. Research the hashtags #Cockygate and #Bookstuffing. Support ethical Indie Authors who play by the rules and want to bring you the best stories possible. We do this writing gig for many reasons, but the main reason is you—the reader.

And for that, we thank you.




My First Author Interview- I’ve Arrived!


I know everyone says you are a “real writer” once you start writing. Being published, winning an award, accumulating reviews, or hitting a special list are all wonderful, but if you haven’t achieved any of those, it does not mean you aren’t a writer.

Still, it was a special, exciting feeling last week to finally be published, and have my book, Unexplained, available for sale (on Amazon now, other retailers to come soon). And today, my first interview as a published author went live, so yes, I feel like I’ve finally made it!

The Interview

Author/Professor/Blogger Julie Tetel Anderson contacted me a few weeks ago, and I was thrilled to be interviewed on her blog.  If you haven’t checked out her website, you should. In addition to interviewing up and coming romance authors, she also explores a variety of subjects on her blog.  Romance, travel, and languages are her passions. She’s written several romance novels and also some non-fiction, and her articles have been featured by such publications as the Chicago Sun-Times and the Huffington Post.

I found her questions thoughtfully posed and professional. Here’s the link to the interview:



The Appreciation

I’d like to thank Julie for interviewing me, the timing was a great kick-off to my release schedule for the Higher Elevation Series.  I’d also like to thank all the bloggers, authors and readers who shared posts about my debut, Unexplained.  And a huge thanks to those who took the time to leave a review─I so appreciate it!

Thanks also to Funky Book Designs for my awesome cover; and to Enticing Journeys Book Promotions for the cover reveal and release day blitz.

The Future

I was thrilled to see the reviews have been positive. Unexplained (Higher Elevation Series Book One) is a special story. I’ll be sharing some behind the scenes tidbits of how this story evolved in my upcoming newsletters so if you’d like to sign up, see my website here.

My release schedule continues with the cover reveal for Untouched, Book Two of the Higher Elevation Series on November 14th, 2016.  It will be up for pre-order soon, with a release date of November 22.  Book Three, Undeniable, is scheduled to release January 3rd, 2017, so stay tuned for updates on that one.

So if you haven’t achieved some of your writing career goals yet, keep trying!  If I can do it, so can you.

The Ideal Lover- The Romance Novel Hero

He's my Hero.....

He’s my Hero…..

What’s so great about Romance Novel Heroes?

Besides being gorgeous to look at, I mean.  Although they are usually portrayed as superior physical specimens, they are also flawed in some way- they have some score to settle or some major emotional scars to overcome.  A typical Romance Hero spends the first part of any good romance novel pissing off the Heroine, and more often than not, seducing her against her better judgment.  Why are today’s women, who have more freedom and independence than previous generations, still so fascinated with the “Alpha Male” hero stereotype?

There is something very primal about the male taking charge, taking care of a woman.  Whether he is a billionaire with control issues, or a seventeenth-century scot, or an ageless vampire, a common thread emerges- he “rescues” the heroine.  The threat may be soldiers, supernatural foes, or he may even be saving her from herself.  But the hero brings something to the story that is way more satisfying than the heroine doing all these things on her own.

Women in real life do amazing things all the time, with or without men in their lives. Novel Heroines are written all the time that kick butt, take no prisoners and save the day.  Some of those are excellent stories, with interesting, vivid characters.  But some people are drawn to the Romance, Erotic Romance, and the countless other sub-genres of Romance because they prefer particular elements in their stories, such as the “Happily Ever After”.  The relationship between the two main characters in these genres is forefront, and they must end up together once the story arc is complete.

Sure, it’s a formula, but there is a reason for it- fulfillment.  Just as you would expect the mystery to be solved by the end of a novel in the Mystery genre, Romance readers expect the two main characters to be committed to their relationship at the end of the story.

Nowadays, there are more sub-genres of Romance than ever before.  There are BDSM, Gay and Lesbian romances, Paranormal Romances, and countless other variations.  But in this post I am focusing on the more common male-female relationship, as that is the one that has been the focus of most of the books I have read.

I believe the “take-charge Alpha Male” (albeit in countless variations) is so popular because he is the ideal.  The heroine does not have to remind him about his Mother’s birthday, help him find his socks, or endure the clip-ping of his monthly toe-nail cutting.  He is not subject to mundane reality, and his focus for most of the book is on the Heroine.

With our Romance heroes, we can live out our fantasies.  He is an eleven on a scale of one to ten in the bedroom, and he always looks sexy.  Even though he has flaws, we know they can be fixed, and usually are by the end of the book.

And this is all ok.  We need this outlet, to know that men can have all these awesome qualities, so when we see flashes of them in our boyfriends and husbands, we can smile that special smile, saved for our own real-life Hero.

And it makes it easier to understand that in men’s fantasies, there is an ideal woman.  We may not agree with or particularly enjoy what they fantasize about, but when your man gives you that special smile, you may have just done something to remind him that you are the ideal woman, the Ultimate Heroine, in his eyes.

Do you like the way Heroes are portrayed in Romance Novels?  What would you like to see done differently in regard to Heroes?

The Future of Romance Novel Cover Art- Are Hot Abs the New Bodice Rippers?

Over the holidays, I saw several posts on Facebook and Twitter with links to “Best Romance Novel Covers of 2012”, (such as the one on  RTBookreviews.com) and also a few “Worst Romance Novel Covers” (such as the one on HeroesandHeartbreakers.com).  The articles and various comments were entertaining and informative.  As a writer who hopes to be deciding on cover art for a novel someday, it really got me thinking about the recent trends in cover art and what the future holds for this important aspect of the books we choose to read.

Romance novels are notorious for their cover art, more so than many genres.  Part of this “reputation” came from the proliferation of mass-marketed paperbacks in the 1970’s and early 1980’s that featured a scantily-clad couple on the cover in a frantic  passionate embrace, hair flowing and faces contorted in intense expressions (one commenter on a blog called it their “O-faces”).  It was the first time a male book cover model became ridiculously famous, too- yes, I am talking about the illustrious Fabio.  Thankfully, this was about the time the trend had reached its’ peak.  Historical Romances were enormously popular then, so many covers featured the models in period costume, thus the derisive term “Bodice Rippers” began to be used to describe Romance novels in general, usually by people who did not read them.

It seemed that once the cheesy-couple-in-embrace trend subsided, covers became classier, with more prominent use of borders, lettering, landscapes, etc.  There were still women or men or even couples on some covers, and these became more varied as the Romance genre began to branch into several different subgenres, such as Paranormal, Romantic Suspense, Sweet Romance, Inspirational, and so on.  Cover art began to more closely resemble the stories themselves, with clues or symbolism that depicted the actual story.  This trend has emerged to create the great variety we see today while browsing the bookshelves or online outlets for novels.

The trend of including elements of the story in the cover art has created an expectation among readers.  I polled various friends and fellow writers on this subject, and also researched  blogs and book review websites.  Most readers find it adds to the story when they can look back at the cover and see the “hidden clues” the cover art held to the story.  It’s as if the wrapping on the Birthday Gift held clues to the object inside!  Conversely, it is a great source of irritation when the opposite happens, and the cover art has nothing to do with the story, or the hero has black hair in the story and he’s blond on the cover, for example.  We have come to expect the package to depict the product, and it feels as though the publisher didn’t care about the story and just wanted a flashy cover.  It feels like bait and switch, but by that time we have read the book, so it may be moot.  Or is it?

The most obvious recent trend I have seen while browsing for Romance novels is what I call “The Hot Ab cover.”  Thousands of naked male abs on cover after cover.  No head, sometimes a bit below the belt, but mostly ABS.  Hey, I love looking at a tight six pack!  But there are so many of these now I find myself just breezing past them.  Is anyone else becoming numb to these?  And does it tell us anything about the story, other than, ‘hot guy takes his shirt off’ ?

Another trend has been sparked by the phenomenal success of “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E.L. James.  It pertains more often to Erotic Romance or Erotica, and has been described as ‘minimalist’ or  ‘stealth’ covers.  Whatever you may think of “Fifty Shades of Grey’, that cover was evocative.  Just the silk tie….in grey of course…looks innocent, right?  But so much meaning behind it, that you only fully understood once you read the novel!  (or some Spoiler explained it to you.)  Still, it must have worked well because there are shelves and online sites full of novels with a single flower, a pair of cufflinks, or a belt…hint, hint, get it?  Yes, we do.

The other benefit to these seemingly innocuous covers is you can sit on the subway or a park bench reading, and strangers (or your family) may not realize you are reading a Romance novel or Erotica.   And the use of e-readers certainly allows for privacy, too.  Which brought me to question whether cover art will soon be irrelevant, if everyone migrates to reading on devices instead of paper?

Now cover art has been reduced to the size of a postage stamp, when shopping online.  But many say it is still important, and continues to drive their choices when shopping for books to read.  So how do authors and publishers catch the shopper’s eye, intrigue them with hints about the story, but avoid becoming a clone of all the other covers out there?

It is a challenge to be sure.  Perhaps these trends of men’s Hot Abs and/ or Just a Belt Buckle/Tie/Cufflink will seem as cheesy to us years from now as those book covers of yesteryear.   Will today’s Hot Abs become tomorrow’s Bodice Rippers?

What would you like to see more of on covers?  What do you never want to see again?