Tuesday, February 21, 2006

On Hating Friends' Books

A recent post on The Master's Artist last week got me thinking. Dee Stewart talked about a few different angles on review writing. One issue involves charging authors/publishers for a review. As a reviewer who's received only a book, advance reader copy, or a galley for most of my reviews, the thought of pay sounds wonderful. But how can you give an honest review of a poorly-written book if you're being paid by the author? The answer is, aside from a rare author who wouldn't mind, you can't. Essentially you're writing an ad for the book. If you had the option of refusing books you couldn't recommend, I wouldn't have a problem with this. It ties into the whole marketing vs. publicity debate. Since, according to a publicist, with marketing authors/publishers have to pay for placement, and with publicity they don't, you simply move from publicity to marketing.

The other issue involved reviewing friends' books. As a writer, especially in the smaller arena of the CBA, you're likely to meet the authors you review, whether it be through email, online forums, or a writer's conference. If I get a book published, I will belong to the ranks of CBA novelists whose books I praise or bash. If I hate a book and my review reflects it - what if that's the author who could have recommended me to her agent? Or what if an editor who also hates the book reads my review - will he remember my name for the future?

Getting even more personal - what about the authors I know now? I've reviewed books by Brenda Coulter, Chris Well, Deeanne Gist. Fortunately, I've loved them. But I also have T. L. Hines' debut novel Waking Lazarus sitting unread beside me. I've heard lots of good things about it. I've read the first chapter online. I've participated in his unorthodox marketing campaign. His publicist asked my editor to put it at the top of her Bethany House review stack.

What if I hate the book? Not just dislike certain aspects, where I can conch disapproving statements in praise for what the author did right, but outright throw-across-the-room never-read-that-author-again hate it? What do I do?

I know reviewing is subjective. Even the current discussion on The Writers View points to this - what some view as lousy, others love. People at Bethany House, a publisher I respect (despite their patronage of Gilbert Morris) loved Waking Lazarus enough to invest thousands of dollars into it. I'll probably enjoy the novel. I may even love it enough to stick it on my "favorites" shelf, along with titles like Forgiving Solomon Long and A Bride Most Begrudging (A Family Forever would be there too, Brenda, but now my mom's reading it). But if I hate it?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Winner Number Two

Our second winner is Lorrie Orr! Look to the right for a link to her website. Congratulations, Lorrie!

Coming up in April we have a contest featuring bestselling author Robin Lee Hatcher. Check back later for more details, including which books (yes, that's plural!) she's giving away as prizes. In the meantime, visit her blog, Write Thinking.

I'm still looking for more authors wanting Christian Novels to feature them and their novels in a Winning Sites contest. If you're interested, email me for more details.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Joy . . . and Sorrow

My inbox yielded two important emails this late afternoon and evening.

First, I was offered a paid review columnist position at a new magazine, Keepin' On. Something regular, something paid - this sounds wonderful. They want the first column as soon as I can write it.

As I was replying to this exciting offer, another email arrived. One that I thought I'd have to wait months for. One that I'd spent months, even years, preparing for. One that will definitely damper future months.

Heartsong Presents rejected Evergreen Secrets. I hadn't even posted the good news that I'd finally submitted it on here. They even spelled the name of the book wrong on the mostly form email, leaving off the "n" in Evergreen. I was rejected by someone who can't even spell.

Not sure what my next step is.

Happy Valentine's Day, huh?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Marcia Laycock - A Winning Sites Contest

Time for contest number 2 - this time featuring author Marcia Lee Laycock and her newest book, Focused Reflections. The prize is an autographed copy of Marcia's book and a CD recording, plus having a link to a website of your choice listed under "Winning Sites" on this blog.

Onto a few necessary rules. The prize package will be mailed to a US or Canadian address. If you live outside those countries and still want to participate, you need to be willing to send Marcia the extra postage cost via PayPal if you win. Simple as that.

Since I'm going to need your mailing address if you win, your post should include your full name and email address so I can contact you. I'll be adding the email addresses to a list so I can let you know of future contests and important news - like when I get one of my books published. If you'd rather not be a part of the list, put "Don't add me to the list" in your comment.

And now, the contest.

1. What two scripture references are featured on the cover of Focused Reflections?
2. What is the title of Marcia's first book?
3. What do you think is being used as a mirror on the cover of Focused Reflections?
4. How many pages does Focused Reflections have?
5. In what province does Marcia live?
6. What are the titles of Marcia's two blogs?
7. Where did Marcia serve as a missionary?

Some links to help you out: Focused Reflections, blog post, review, blog.

Remember to include your name and email along with your answers in your comment. I'll contact you to get your address and website if you win. This contest will close at 5PM EST on February 16th, 2006. One winner will be randomly selected from all correct comments. Have fun!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

And the First Winner Is . . .

Sandra James! Congratulations, Sandra! Look to the right for a link to her blog. Thanks also to Heidi Palmer and Normandie Fischer for participating!

Next up we have a contest featuring Marcia Laycock and her newest book, Focused Reflections. To make it a little easier on you guys, all answers to this contest's questions can be found online! You're still going to have to hunt a bit for them, but I'll provide links to point you in the right direction.

And best of all, Marcia is offering a prize of an autographed copy of Focused Reflections and a bonus CD recording for the winner! Check back in tomorrow for the contest!

Authors, contact me at theloneislands@yahoo.com if you're interested in being a part of a future Winning Sites contest.

Friday, February 03, 2006


In this sassy read by Marilynn Griffith, Raya Joseph is a New York fashion designer with an attitude. Though her past has hurt and recent events have winded her, thanks to her ever-faithful Gram and Jesus she isn't broken. Then she meets an attractive stranger on the train, and later runs into him with the woman who stole her fiance. Megan wants her to design a million-dollar wedding dress. Flex wants her company to design uniforms for an underprivileged boys' basketball team. And suddenly Raya's treading water fast than she can swim.

Pink doesn't shy away from any issues - divorce, infidelity, AIDS - and shows how what their presence can do even in Christian's lives. A keenly humorous tale with plenty of drama, this book will have romance readers begging for more of Griffith's signature style.