Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Book Reviews

Let's face it, the vast majority of readers never write book reviews. And the readers who do, are soon overwhelmed with review requests. A book reviewer might get around to reading your book a week from this time next year. Don't believe me. Post on Facebook you are a book reviewer. Within twenty-four hours, you will receive messages from several hundred indie authors requesting your email address so they can send you a copy of their masterpiece.

Books with only a handful of reviews are difficult to sell. Amazon recommends trying to get fifty reviews.  Hoping to sell copies of a book with zero reviews is like fishing without any bait. You might occasionally snag a fish by accident, when you yank on a bare hook, but you'll never be able to feed your family that way.

All writers believe their stories are interesting, or they would not have spent all that time and effort to write it. Since there are over one million books in print and thousands more on the way each day, many readers rely on book reviews to narrow their buying decisions. That means a well written, complimentary, and enticing book review is like adding a layer of gold plating to a chunk of lead, that otherwise would remain unnoticed forever.

In a quest to get that layer of gold plating, in the form of four or five stars, new writers often make the mistake of requesting book reviews from friends, relatives, and neighbors who have never before written a book review. This is like asking someone who has never baited a hook, to clean a fish you caught. But since our neighbor enjoys our casserole dish the third Friday of every month, we assume that neighbor will also devour our novel with a similar zeal.

Here is an example of why asking your neighbor to write a book review is not the same as inviting them over for dinner.

My neighbor's book review:

In exchange for racking my leaves, after I fell off a ladder and broke my leg, my neighbor, Jack LaBloom, asked me to read his book and write a review. First off, I was shocked to learn Jack had written a book. How can a man, who rarely writes a check that won't bounce, possibly write a novel?

Anyway, here is my review of Jack's romantic suspense novel, On The Run Twenty Ways From Sunday.

This story is about a man and a women. The man has a gun and there is a warrant out for his arrest. At this point in the story the reader has no idea if the warrant is for unpaid parking tickets or capital murder. I assumed the worst. Otherwise, I might have quit reading right then and there.

The woman in this story has an old beat-up car and a credit card she stole from her ex-boyfriend. He has a tattoo of a rattlesnake that starts with the tail on one arm, wraps around his back and ends up with the head on the other arm. The rattlers are shown on his left arm and the open mouth of the snake is depicted on his right arm just below the elbow.

The woman is on the run, attempting to get away from snake man. He is big, strong, mean, and jealous, which is why he is trying to find her so he can beat her up for stealing his credit card. That is how he is tracking her. First, she charged a few clothes on the card at a women's petite apparel shop located on the corner of Main and Twenty-eighth street. Then, two days later, she purchased a burger in another state, twelve hundred hundred miles away. No wonder she is petite. Anyway, she appears to be keeping to the back roads, heading west.

Well, as luck would have it, the two main characters meet up at one of those One Stop gasoline station/store, located way off the main highway. A dust cloud forms, when she pulls her car to a stop in front of the gasoline pump. She is there to purchase gasoline. Her plan is to drive all the way to California for a fresh start and  get away from snake man. The other main character, who is a lot better looking than snake man, walks into the store to buy a bag of peanuts. I don't know why he was only buying peanuts. That was not explained in the story. My first thought was why not buy gas while you're at the only gas station around for the next hundred and fifty miles?

The two main characters bump into each other near the checkout counter. She looks at him, and he looks at her. Based on a long descriptive paragraph about facial expressions, they obviously have an instant attraction for each other. Her pleasant looking facial expression does not last long, after he opens his mouth and speaks. 

The man tells her that her car has a flat tire. She gets upset and appears frightened. She assumes her abusive ex-boyfriend has found her car, slashed her tire, and is waiting for her to come outside. Finally, there is some suspense on page six.

False alarm, turns out she just ran over a nail. The short-on-front-teeth old coot who owns the gas station tells the man and woman he had a new roof put on the store last month, and the boneheads, who did the work, left a few roofing nails in the driveway. Due to having a bad back, he has not been able to bend over to pick all of them up. This explanation made sense to me, because I wondered how a nail would suddenly appear out of nowhere and get into her car tire.

The main character gets his hands and face dirty while changing the tire on her car. She is really beginning to like him now. That dirt smudge across his forehead probably did it for her. After placing the flat tire in her trunk, for some reason, his car won't start. That is something else that's not explained in the story. I wanted to know why his car wouldn't start. Made no sense to me that his newer, dent-free, Ford F-150 extended cab truck wouldn't start, and her old beat-up clunker cranked right up. In my opinion, this part of the story is very unrealistic. My Ford truck has never failed to start one time since the day I bought it in 1995.

The first chapter is as far as I've read. It is hard to keep reading after taking pain pills. At this point I'm thinking three stars, but after I wake up and read some more, who knows, it could go either way.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Sunday, April 17, 2016

A Field Guide for Romance Writers or Maybe Not

Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a romance writer? Wonder no more.

Romantic Comedy

Told he has one year to live, Jack Lamont, a thirty-six-year-old bachelor, decides to advertise for the perfect pretend family, a beautiful women with two well behaved teenaged children. Mary, a desperate widow with kids to feed, lost her job and recently evicted from their home, responds to Jack's ad for a pretend family. Not quite meeting the man's criteria, she has to be a bit creative with her reply. Mary is expecting a platonic relationship, in exchange for Jack's cabin and college money for her kids, when he dies. Jack is expecting Mary to only have two kids and to look like the woman in the photo. There's no love at first sight, but reality finally sinks in. Jack and Mary are both running out of time. Jack learns that having a family often requires sacrifices of the highest order? Mary comes to the realization that her kids will lose another dad, even though he was only supposed to be a short-term pretend one.

A Mystery

A violin and three gold coins hold the key to solving a sixty-eight-year-old mystery. For over six decades, people have traveled to a small Southern town in America in hopes of proving the young man found dead in the city park was their long lost relative. Or are they really trying to make a claim on the gold the deceased man supposedly hid before his death? No one has been able to prove a verifiable link to the unidentified body, and the hidden gold has not been found. Now, sixty-eight years after the death, Rebecca, a young woman from England, has come to the town to set the record straight. She has a different story. But can she prove her version of what happened? She needs a little help from the one man in town who is the most skeptical of all, with good reason. A novelette, approximately 10,000 words.

Monday, January 11, 2016

A Western Romance Short Story

Tom Carland, a young man from back east, has a lot to learn about women. Soon after arriving in a small one-street western town, Tom meets Harriet and her three-year-old daughter, Katie. Tom offers to help, but the widow does not want his pity. Even if he is able to convince Harriet his intentions are completely honorable, Dirk Thurman, a local ranch foreman, makes it known he will not tolerate any competition for the widow's attention. Tom may have a lot to learn about the woman and little girl he can’t stop thinking about, but when it comes to displaying courage, in a life and death situation, the easterner shows he is up to the task.