The Illusive Review

Once again I’m ranting my frustrations out to the world. The forever thorn in my flesh – my illusive book reviews!

This would not be such a concern except for the fact that I would really love to hear how readers are reacting to my work. It isn’t that I expect every person to love every book I’ve ever written and to deluge me with five star reviews.

Okay, well, maybe I wouldn’t mind being deluged with that but it doesn’t seem to be realistic, does it? Even John Grisham gets some nasty ones. Rogue Lawyer: A Novel Paperback 4.0 out of 5 stars. If you’re talking over 9,000 reviews, it means there are over 2,000 negatives ones.

Now here’s my take on it – if Mr. Grisham can handle over 2000 negative reviews and keep on pumping out amazing novels, I can handle a few negative ones too. The ratio is probably about the same.

Do you think John spends his evenings reading over all his reviews and moaning about all the ones that say they wasted two days reading his book and wished they would have spent the time more productively? I doubt that very much. I would wager a guess that he doesn’t even look at the great reviews. He probably goes right on with his next work, never looking back.

So why does it bring such anxiety to the average little author like me? It’s because we still need to be reassured that what we’re doing isn’t a complete waste of time and that somewhere hidden deep within us is that great novel just waiting to come out. Perhaps Mr. Grisham feels the same way. How do we know? He might feel that his best is still to come. Although I’m sure that his bank account lessens the worry.

Obviously, if a book is not selling, there will be no reviews. However, what if the book is selling? What holds readers back from writing a review?

A personal question: Do YOU write a review for every book you read? Honestly, do you? I have to say that I don’t. Why? Sometimes it’s just a matter of time. I plan on writing one but somehow before I know it, I’m on to my next book and I lose my focus. When I read, I read for the moment. Ask me a week later what I read and I have no idea. I do remember if I liked the book or if I didn’t but don’t ask me about the characters or the plot – my mind is already on the next book. That, of course, is no excuse for not writing a review. It only takes a few minutes to go online and write a few words.

I also believe that many readers feel they have to be a writer to write a review. No one is asking for that. All I need is a ‘Loved the book.’ Along with five stars, of course! No, just kidding – I’m quite happy with four.

So now, as a reader, you understand how desperate and lacking in confidence we writers really are. As we always say, If you loved our story, tell your friends and write a review; if you hated it, tell your enemies. 

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Where I’m at…

After being in Texas for a while, you begin to pick up some of the jargon. Obviously, I find myself saying ‘y’all’ instead of ‘all of you,’ as if three words were too difficult to say. And instead of saying, ‘where are you?’ for some reason, ‘Where’re you at?’ pops out of my mouth. I do realize that after returning to Canada, I have to let go of my Texas talk. Not that anyone would say anything; folks are much too polite but they might secretly roll their eyes. Canadians are proud of their British roots, which means finishing each word properly and not leaving anything off – like the ‘g’ in words that end with ‘ing.’ It also means speaking slowly and pronouncing each syllable. To Texans, this is a foreign language.

However, I digress. I really do want to tell you where I’m at.

Where I’m at with my writing, that is.

A couple of months ago, I was not pleased with how my writing was going. Basically,  that is because it was going nowhere. It wasn’t that I wanted or had the desire to become a well known author or even make tons of money. I wanted to enjoy what I was doing but I was not. That’s where I was at then.

I decided to change my whole outlook about writing. Writing should be fun. I did not want it to be stressful in any way. When I’m not writing, there is something missing in my life. It’s good for my brain. It forces me to widen my vocabulary. In other words, it’s healthy. Especially as we age.

I was never satisfied with two of my books and I always thought that if someone read one of those books first, they would never want to read another. It feels terrible not liking your own books. However, they were there for anyone to buy. Overnight, I made the decision to republish all my books. It was as if a weight lifted off my shoulders. When you decide to do this without any premeditation, it is like plunging into a pool of cold water!

While family members worked on covers, I edited one book at a time. After publishing my books the first time, I never picked one up to read. I was too afraid they might be as bad as some reviewers wrote. Well, guess what? I read, I edited, I did some rewriting, and in the end, I thoroughly enjoyed every book! Creating covers was a bit of a challenge but I have a very talented daughter, and together with her dad’s finishing touches, I was very pleased with the end result. They were ‘me.’

I now have all my books on Kindle for 99 cents and they will stay that price. These I write for friends and family and for anyone else who would enjoy reading them. Every few weeks, I will pick one book and do a free promotion. I feel happy doing this.

And, that is where I’m at.

And the Winner of the Frugal Husband Contest is….

A few years ago some of the women in our families, my relatives and Larry’s, had an informal contest to see whose husband had gone to the greatest lengths to save money. Anyone who heard about the contest, could submit an entry.

In the early days I had no doubt that my own husband would win by a mile. My only difficulty would be deciding which illustration to submit. Would I go with the time, on our drive to Atlanta, I went inside Cracker Barrel to pick up my order and came out to find him sitting on one of their rocking chairs eating his lunch from home? Or maybe all the times we’ve driven twenty or thirty miles out of the way to avoid paying a toll?

He and my brother-in-law, S., have fanny packs held together by about a hundred staples. My sister had already submitted that as an entry, so I couldn’t use it. If she had submitted to the group, the thirty rolls of film he wouldn’t have developed, then I could have. (Glad to say technology has taken care of that dilemma, S.)

In the end I went with my Tupperware container of batteries. The supply never seemed to go down, but there were fewer and fewer in the packaging they came in. Hmmm. I discovered that when my husband replaced batteries, on the off chance that one or two were still good, he was putting all the old batteries back in the bowl. This came to a head when I was putting batteries in a grandkid’s toy at Christmas. When I got to about the fourth battery, finding each dead as a door nail, his mom said, “You know, Lane, if you keep those in the refrigerator they’ll last longer.” I knew why they were dead! If it hadn’t been for my reputation as Ms. Christmas, I would have gone through the roof!

Still, I didn’t win! No, the invisible trophy – so far – is held by a man I’ve never met. I thought some of his money-saving antics were sweet. His wife is in outside sales. To keep her from going buying cold drinks while she’s out, he filled an ice chest with freezer packs and a bottles of soft drinks. Adorable, right? Then he went too far. One day they were having words. She called him cheap and started crying. HE REACHED INTO A TRASH CAN AND GOT OUT A USED TISSUE AND HANDED IT TO HER!

Ladies and gentlemen, I push myself away from the table. He had won!! There was no way I could top that. Maybe you can. Post any example you have below. Good luck!

Best,

Lane

Lane photo   DomesticAffairs_Audio

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