Sunday, September 23, 2012

Why do the review?

All right, straight up front I’m warning you that I’m about to have a quick bitchfest here. I know I’ve talked about reviews, and now we’re going to take another foray into the murky waters of reviews. (See, this is why you were warned!)

I’ve noticed a trend recently that makes me wonder many things, mostly it makes me wonder if people have forgotten how to really read? I realize we’re all pressed for time, but if you want to read a book and then offer thoughts on it, wouldn’t it be prudent, and a little more fair to the author, if you actually took the time to do it with honest thought? What brought this on, you wonder? Well, I’ve published two short stories with Ellora’s Cave, and I was sent a couple of recent reviews that made me wonder about this very issue!

So, you buy a book that’s classified a “Quickie” by the publisher. For those of you who miss the obvious connotation to the imprint name, this means you’re purchasing a short story between 7500 and 15,000 words. So, up front you know you’re getting a short, sexy, intense story–a Quickie! So, realistically, why would the bulk of your review complaint be that the story was not long enough? That you wanted more is very flattering to the author’s skill to tell the story, but is it fair to actually denote your review “stars/points” because of the story’s length? Think about that before you exercise your right to influence other people with your statements and thoughts. How fair are you being? You knew going in the story was short, didn’t you?

Then there’s the other “complaint” I’ve seen about my first book–it’s written in first person and I hate first person. Again, you (the reader) knew that going in, the excerpt on the websites illustrate the first person narrative. So, if you don’t like that voice, why did you buy the book and decide to use your dislike of a style to diminish the author’s work? See, for me, as an author, none of this matters much–I’m going to keep writing and you’re going to keep reading and reviewing, maybe not my books, but other people’s. Let’s just say this–try to be more fair in your observations in future, for other readers and for the authors you support. Not everyone writes a “winner” every time out, but most of us work hard at what we do. All we ask is that you give us a fair chance to entertain you.

I’ve already bitched about the way Amazon allows reviews, but a final note to that. Making snide comments on the other reviews, or hitting one star so you can drop the five star rating on a book is showing what an ass YOU are, not how bad the author is, so think about what you’re doing there, too. At the end of the day, people are never going to wholly agree about any artistic endeavour, so why not use some balanced judgement and diplomacy when you’re going to write a review. Rants might entertain your friends, but as a general rule, they do nothing but alienate serious readers.

Happy reading….

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Amazon Reviews

Earlier today I was researching titles for a craft list I’m putting together for writers looking to improve their skills. I decided to send a recommendation to a friend while I was on the Amazon site, and popped over to the Kindle store to send her links to the set of books. While there, I thought I’d have a look at some of the reviews of the two titles, and quite frankly, that’s why I’m writing this blog. What I saw in terms of ignorance and just plain nastiness was really sickening.

Every author gets bad reviews, I often pay little to no attention to them anymore because like all art and interpretation, it’s as varied as the individuals who comment or snark. What I see on Amazon much of the time is a disturbing form of bullying in some ways–readers who run and grab books when publishers offer them for free, then they proceed to trash the author and the book they’ve been given purely as a promotional gift. I’m not an advocate of silencing all negative reviews, but honestly people, if your purpose is to simply exercise your “power” to say shit about the work and try to discourage others, get over yourself–and try remember what your mother should have taught you about not saying anything at all if you can’t say something nice or positive. I actually saw a review on one of my books that said the five star reviews must have been written by friends of the author…and honestly, they weren’t! That kind of bitchiness is just part of what’s wrong with allowing any and all to “review” books on a site like Amazon.

What pissed me off today had nothing to do with my books, but with two titles that are quite frankly among the most lyrical and beautifully written books I’ve encountered in many years: Gabriel’s Inferno and Gabriel’s Rapture, by Sylvain Reynard. I was looking at the “one-star” reviews–and we’ll use the term review very loosely in this instance, since the truth is they were nothing more than bitchy snarks for people complaining mostly about the fact that the books didn’t have sex or BDSM. Several people were whinging on about how the books weren’t like Fifty Shades, even. What a joke! Yeah, they weren’t badly written, plagiarized crap that was barely researched and insulting to thinking women everywhere. These books are about a love story, told with subtle skill and lyrical language. They are intelligent, thoughtful stories of a passionate, dangerous love affair.

Before anyone has a coronary over my statement about Fifty Shades, bear in mine, I have read the books, and reviewed them with fairness, not bitchy snarks–and I’ve discussed them in psychological terms, as well as literary terms. One of the biggest failings of the novels is the careless manner in which they address dangerous behaviours and the negative messages they send to women everywhere.

Sylvain Reynard’s books may not be to everyone’s taste, and that’s true of every novel ever written, but I really DO resent the shit that is written about work by authors who are gifted storytellers. If sex is why you buy a book, don’t pretend to be a literary critic–there are a million books out there that will cater to your needs. Stating you want your money back makes you look like the crass moron you are, and those who follow you and repeat that shit mentality simply prove their ignorance, as well. Be balanced when you write a review, assuming you know how to be, and most of all, if all you have to offer is a negative statement based on your need to exercise your right to be an ass–don’t bother.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hunters' Game - Win a Copy!

There's an interesting story behind the creation of this particular book. A number of years ago I was in Toronto for a convention, and to meet a good friend - one of Canada's best-selling vampire authors, Nancy Baker. A group of us went out club-crawling the night after the con, and we hit a bunch of Goth Clubs. The one described and named in this story was real back then, I don't know if it still exists, but I was challenged by the writers present to turn out a story because I was literally soaking up the atmosphere and all that was going on. I decided to accept the challenge and this is the result. HUNTERS' GAME was out years ago in a much shorter version called "The Hunt" but this new release is sexier, darker, grittier, and a whole lot more decadent than the original - as well as being much longer. I hope you enjoy hunting the night with Clia and Demetri - they're not like any vampire lovers you've ever met before...

New Dawning International Book Fair:
(Vampire, erotic)

In modern Toronto, two vampires stalk the night, their hunting a game that is seductive and deadly. In a darkly compelling Goth Club, they find the prey they seek for their pleasures, and the night runs crimson with blood and unquenchable thirsts....


Mortal heartbeats pulsed in Demetri’s head, an undercurrent to the steady throb of music reverberating through the noisy club. A smile curved his mouth, though none who might have witnessed the expression could ever have understood the source of his macabre humor. Toying with the glass in his hand, his long, tapered fingers stroked the smooth surface, tormenting him with memories of her skin. Clia’s flawless beauty never failed to sharpen his hungers to near pain. His fangs ached, punching through his gums while the remembered taste of her taunted him.

Young people drifted through the room, locked in their own worlds. Youth, wild and insolent, full of deluded certainty that they were immortal and untouchable. They played at death and immortality, but the truth would terrify them. The reality he’d show at least one of them tonight would teach a lesson they’d take to the grave–the price of truth in his world.

He tapped the glass, an unconscious mirror of the pounding music. Cliantha was taking her time joining him, and he wanted her. His muscles tensed, his cock and his fangs ravenous for her, and anger stirred. She was toying with him, and he loved and hated it. He’d lured her from hate to devotion over time. Stavros had chosen a perfect mate in her. Demetri was fascinated by the duality of her nature, sometimes pliant, other times exhibiting a stubborn fury that astonished him. He’d uncovered some of her secrets, but sensed there was much more to know. The only time he could glimpse her mind was when he had her writhing in passion, and from those precious seconds of abandoned lust, he’d pulled hints of betrayal.

A soft, breathless whisper brushed over his senses, and he looked down at the mortal standing next to him. The girl was no more than twenty, and she wore the pale make-up that created a death-masque look that so many of the club’s youth seemed to strive for. Desire sparkled in her hazel eyes. He caught her wrist as she reached out to touch him. Amused with her bold recklessness, he lifted the slender limb he’d captured and stroked the throb of life beneath the translucent surface of her skin. She watched, enraptured, when he bent over her wrist. Her body trembled, and she hissed a gasp of pain and pleasure as his razor-edged fangs pierced her vein and he drank.

Demetri indulged his thirst, but only enough to whet his appetite, not sate it. The girl leaned into him, her eyes dazed. He licked at the wounds on her wrist, and smiled when the soft stroke of his tongue triggered an explosive climax. She twitched violently, her low moan swallowed by his brief kiss.

“Would you like to dance?”

He ignored her question and released her, turned his attention to the dance floor.

“Go!” When she refused to accept the dismissal, he permitted himself the luxury of inciting fear. He turned to look at her again, and his vision altered, grew sharp and gilded by flames. She gasped at the force of his stare. This time, there was no pleasure in her sharp intake of air.

“Fuck you!” She stood her ground for a few heartbeats, hands on her hips.

“Not interested.” He laughed, and his mental slap made her cry out in pain.

Seconds later, he was alone again.

But she was getting closer.

Leave me a comment telling me why you like vampire tales, and on Sunday, I'll grab a random winner and send a copy!