PHOTOS BY ROXANNE RIX.
My books available at
WHAT I READ THIS WEEK: Nightingale by David Farland.
This also applies to good reviews, great reviews and mediocre reviews.
1. DON’T READ ANY OF YOUR REVIEWS.
I know. This sounds counterproductive, but it’s the number two piece of advice I’ve seen from successful writers (right behind turn off the internet and just write).
Most bad reviews aren’t worth reading. They’re not specific enough about what the reader hated. Telling the writer her novel is boring, is full of bad language, is nothing but smut, has one-dimensional characters, etc, is too broad. And it may be a one hundred percent accurate assessment from that reader, but it’s also just as likely they wouldn’t have liked your novel no matter which of those defects you addressed because it’s the wrong book for them.
On the other hand, maybe they’re right and its a lousy book. You don’t know how to write. In that case, practice makes perfect. You don’t want to let a one-star review derail you, so don’t read them.
And then from the opposite side of the scale, good reviews and great reviews are usually just ego fluff. You know you’re not as good as what they say. Personally I wish Amazon would re-do its rating system. Not very much really deserves that 5-star rating. But the 3-star rating (where almost everything except absolute crap truthfully belongs) tells everyone that the book is just okay. I’m agitating for a bad, good, better, and best rating system.
2. READ YOUR REVIEWS AND LEARN FROM THEM.
If you follow this path you’re going to get your ego inflated and feel on the top of the world with the good reviews. And then you’re going to feel like dog poop and want to lash out at everyone when you get one of those I hated it rankings. The roller coaster of good reviews vs bad reviews can be harmful to your work, as well as harmful to your self-esteem.
However, if you can teach yourself to pick out the constructive information in the reviews you can try to learn from them.
Say that some reviewer tells you your characters lack depth. So, take a writing course on depth. Does everyone call your book a fast-paced read, but you meant it to be a slow and comfortable cozy. Drop out for a bit and practice pacing. Reviewers announce they couldn’t finish the book. If they say why and where they stopped, take a look at that section. Did you do something different here. But if what they’ve said is too many typos, doesn’t know how to write, horrible grammar...well, maybe so and maybe not. Some people write with fragments these days. Some people never use whom.
(Except for the typo part. Go back in and fix that ASAP).
3. ENGAGE YOUR REVIEWERS.
I’ve read lots and lots of advice against ever engaging with the reviewers and I have to say I agree. No matter how much I want to say thanks to the reviewers who liked my books, no matter how I might want to say sorry to the reviewers who hated my books, I do neither. I think it’s very important that reviewers be left alone to write what they want.
But, there are some authors who do engage. If you decide to take that path, be sure you’ve read and understood the review etiquette that Amazon enforces. Then keep it to a simple thank you note. Address the bad reviews the same way with a thank you for your input and a sorry. And be prepared for some back and forth comments.
Right now I’m squarely in the learn from your reviews camp, hoping to move into the never read your reviews contingent one day.
And obviously there are more than three ways to deal with bad reviews. I can think of several that start with printing down the copy and finding where you kept the matches. Might be cathartic.
But here’s a less violent way to get in a better frame of mind after a one-star I hate your book and the horse you rode in on review.
Go to any author listing you admire and pick out your absolute favorite of his/her books. Find the one-star reviews he/she got. Read them. Gasp in horror. You loved that book! How could someone hate the same book you loved so much? Makes your own bad reviews look tepid in hindsight, doesn’t it.
You can see my bad reviews at http://amazon.com/author/gretchenrix
PHOTOS BY ROXANNE RIX
Lockhart, Texas is the BBQ capital of Texas. It’s where I live right now. And it’s the setting for my first mystery novel TALKING TO THE DEAD GUYS.
Which I am re-reading.
Why read your own book in the first place? I’m going to pretend you didn’t ask that question.
Okay, then. Why are you re-reading your own book? I have the rough draft of the sequel TEA WITH A DEAD GAL ready for revisions. I need to re-familiarize myself with details of the setting, character quirks, tone of novel, lots of things. It’s been two years. We don’t want to have Flannery acting like Olive or anything like that, do we?
Sounds like you were too lazy to create a Bible of your story. That’s not a question, but I’ll address it anyhow. It’s more fun re-reading than looking at a spreadsheet.
I still think it reeks of laziness, but whatever. How are you enjoying TALKING TO THE DEAD GUYS, then? I’m only a third of the way through it. So far, so good.
Sounds like that joke from The Magnificent Seven. And you just used the phrase “sounds like” twice within about two inches of space.
Oops! So, when will we see TEA WITH A DEAD GAL (and who comes up with these titles, anyhow?) By the end of November. And you’ll also see THE SAFARI BRIDE, and there’s even the possibility you’ll see BABY SINGS THE BOOS. It’s usually me who comes up with the titles, but sometimes my sister Roxanne contributes. She came up with BABY SINGS THE BOOS.
Don’t you think writing so many books in one year impacts your writing quality? No, I don’t.
How do you feel about reviews, then? Reviews help sell books, so I like reviews. As a reader myself I try to review the books I enjoyed. Unless they already have a gazillion reviews. Those guys don’t need my help.
What was the best and most memorable review you’ve done. Way, way back in my youth I got to sit in on an interview and then review Tom Tryon’s book Crowned Heads. That was probably the best review I ever wrote. (He was pretty damned good-looking, too).
Okay. What do you think… Enough for now. Catch you up next time.
WHAT I READ THIS WEEK: Hard Landing by Lynne Heitman.
My sweet romance, romantic comedy, Texas-centric take on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale THE COWBOY’S BABY is FREE FREE FREE FREE.
Get it here if you have a Kindle or Kindle app http://amzn.com/B003UYUVZC.
Get it here if you work through Smashwords http://smashwords.com/books/view/79235.
THE COWBOY’S BABY GOES TO HEAVEN is the sequel to THE COWBOY’S BABY. There’s another book planned, plus late 2014 Baby and the gang will be featured with Boo Radley and the gang from TALKING TO THE DEAD GUYS in an original never-before-published short story collection called BABY SINGS THE BOOS. Look for it near Christmas.
You can find my other work at http://amazon.com/author/gretchenrix
WHAT I READ THIS WEEK: Seven of Spectres by Jim Moon.
I learned a lot more than 3 things at the RWA Nationals in San Antonio last week. I’m going to start by utilizing what they told me in the Blog Bites session with speaker Lisa Wells, which is to use numbers in the title (See that 3 up there?) and to keep it short.
1. I learned I could walk from the Marriott Rivercenter all the way through the Rivercenter shopping mall and out to the historic Menger Hotel and the fabulous Kings X toy soldier store and not get lost easier than I could remember from session to session where the bathrooms in the hotel were located. (Kudoes to the hotel, though, for turning all the bathrooms on the 3rd floor into women’s bathrooms for our primarily female crowd).
2. I had trouble finding the elevators from hour to hour, too. They didn’t just get up and move on me, but I felt like they had. Luckily RWA had decorated all the elevator doors with book cover posters so they didn’t look like elevator shafts. All I had to do was look for those posters.
3. Romance Writers of America are an extremely friendly and helpful bunch. Even members of my own chapter who probably didn’t remember me were smart enough to read my name tag and give me a hug. That’s Texas for you.
4. You can get stung by a bee or wasp while waiting outside the Alamo on a Sunday morning even if you’re not standing under a tree. The itching has finally stopped. Only took 5 days. (See, I’ve used some more numbers).
Photos by Roxanne Rix.
You can find my books at
Romance Writers of America made history Saturday night when for the first time they awarded one of their top literary prizes to a self-published novel.
I clapped extra hard out there in the audience when they announced OFF THE EDGE by Carolyn Crane the Rita winner in the romantic suspense category. And so did everybody else, though it may have been that they knew of the author and had read the book more than its self-published status that got them excited.
Thank you, RWA. And thank you Rita judges. Again Romance Writers of America is the leading writing organization in embracing the twenty-first century and the changes the internet has brought to us.
I don’t fool myself that I’ll ever win a Rita. I doubt I’ll ever get a Newbery, or a Hugo, or a Nebula, or an Edgar. And I gave up on the Pulitzer a long time ago. Sometimes I dream about the Nobel Prize, but that’s usually after a pepperoni pizza dinner and doesn’t count.
For the rest of you self-published romance writers of merit, the opportunity awaits. Be sure to enter the contest if you think your book is good enough and you qualify. I’d like to see another of us win next year, too.
WHAT I READ THIS WEEK: Miles to Little Ridge by Heath Lowrance.
My non-prizewinning books can be found at
Photos by Roxanne Rix
Sometimes I write book reviews here.
THE LAST TOWN by Blake Crouch. Book three in the Wayward Pines series.
Brutal. Riveting. Fast. Damned fast. I almost read it in a day.
The Last Town. And there’s a reason it’s called The Last Town. You figure it out.
Series started out like an old Twilight Zone episode. Then came the M. Night Shyamalan twist. The patented Blake Crouch ninety-degree turn. Remember the best of The Outer Limits? Remember Mr Shyamalan’s movies? Now you’re in The Outer Limits territory.
And for a really neat trick, M. Night Shyamalan got hold of The Wayward Pines trilogy and it’s now an upcoming TV series starring Matt Dillon.
Books are usually better than their TV shows/films. Read it first. The link is below.
Photo by Roxanne Rix
Find my books at http://amazon.com/author/gretchenrix
WHAT I READ THIS WEEK: The Moon-Spinners by Mary Stewart. The Last Town by Blake Crouch.
Interview with the author of TALKING TO THE DEAD GUYS continued:
WHAT GENRE IS YOUR NEW BOOK? The Safari Bride is a romantic adventure novel. Frankly, I think the movie Romancing The Stone defines it best, though Michael Douglas isn’t in it. I used to really enjoy watching Michael Douglas. Not so much any more. Now it’s Tom Cruise, God help me.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT AGAIN? A safari trip through Western Africa at the end of the 19th century. It’s been making me laugh while I’m writing it, so I assume it’s sort of humorous.
WHEN WILL IT COME OUT? Before the end of the year. Probably in October or November. Maybe earlier if it doesn’t need a lot of editing.
WHAT DOES EDITING ENTAIL? Well, for one thing it entails going back in and changing words like entail to mean or some other easy to understand word. It also means going through all the passive sentences where I use the word “was” and trying to rewrite them. Lots of fun.
I NOTICE YOU’RE REFERENCING YOUR MYSTERY NOVEL IN THE HEADING. WHEN WILL YOU HAVE ANOTHER MYSTERY FOR US? Tea With A Dead Gal is my second project for 2014. If The Safari Bride publishes in October, then you’ll probably see Tea With A Dead Gal in November.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT? It’s another Boo- one-It mystery featuring our real life dog Boo Radley. It takes up the story where Talking To The Dead Guys left off.
WAS TALKING TO THE DEAD GUYS ABOUT A REAL MURDER? HOW ABOUT TEA WITH A DEAD GAL? No and No. I made it all up. And to all the people in Lockhart who think one of my characters is fashioned after a real Lockhart resident, that’s not the case. Only the dog Boo Radley is real. I do, however, try to feature Lockhart’s streets and neighborhoods and businesses and things as accurately as I can. If I captured anyone’s true personality in my book…naah, didn’t happen.
WHERE CAN I BUY ONE OF YOUR BOOKS? God bless you for asking. Any bookstore can order them. If you’re visiting Lockhart for its famous barbecue restaurants, several stores near and around the courthouse square sell my books including Logo’s, The Rocking Horse, Texana Lane, The Lockhart Shoppes on Main, Buffalo Clover, and the Ranch Style Store. In Austin, go to BookPeople. You’ll have lots of fun there. And when all else fails, go to Amazon.com. Here’s the link
Photos by Roxanne Rix
WHAT I READ THIS WEEK: The Walk by Lee Goldberg. Cherry Bomb by J. A. Konrath.
An interview with the author of The Cowboy’s Baby.
And of Arroyo, Talking To The Dead Guys, The Cowboy’s Baby Goes To Heaven, and Twisted Rixter.
QUESTION NO. 1: What’s the difference between an author and a writer? Basically, it’s the word of. Gretchen Lee Rix is the author of The Cowboy’s Baby. Gretchen Lee Rix is a writer. Some writers think the title author is pretentious. Writers who think of themselves as writers just keep on writing. Next question.
QUESTION NO. 2: What are you writing now? Right now, this very moment, I’m writing this blog post, but I know what you mean. I’ve planned three books for 2014. I wrote the first draft of my steamy safari romance novel THE SAFARI BRIDE in January. Now that I’ve finished the first drafts of the other two projects, I’m back revising, editing, and proofreading THE SAFARI BRIDE. Next question.
QUESTION NO. 3: What’s The Safari Bride about? You’ll have to buy it and read it to find out. Next.
QUESTION NO. 4: Why won’t you tell us what The Safari Bride is about? Because it’s not finished, is why. One of the best ways to lose interest in what you’re writing is to start telling everyone what it’s all about. A writer needs to first finish the book without outside intervention. Hint. It’s about a safari trip in Africa that involves steamy sex scenes, That is to say sex scenes as steamy as the author of the clean romance The Cowboy’s Baby can handle. Next question.
QUESTION NO. 5: Who’s your favorite writer? Anthony Price, maybe. Or Dick Francis. Also Stephen King, though there are more than several of his books I don’t like.
WHAT I READ THIS WEEK: Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King. The Green Eyes of Bast by Sax Rohmer.
You can find Gretchen’s books at http://amazon.com/author/gretchenrix