Friday, August 7, 2009

The Good, Bad & The Ugly

I recently read the absolute worst review I have ever received since I became published in 2003. Normally, I can let the fact that ONE person didn't appreciate my efforts roll off my back, but this reviewer made it personal. I read her novella-length review, and wondered why she didn't write her own novel instead of picking mine to pieces. If she read the blurb, she should have known it wasn't her "cup of tea," so why spend the time on something you know you wouldn't enjoy from the get go? She started out her tirade listing all the things my book wasn't...again, evident from the blurb provided her.

Her points were delivered in her first paragraph, but she felt a need to animate her review with *sighs* and cliches...with which she compared my storyline. I believe she said the idea wasn't original. Am I mistaken, or hasn't the saying "history repeats itself" become popular because history does?

And of course, she lamented there was only one chaste kiss in the story. Could it be because Sparta Rose isn't Erotica, rather sweet romance? What a concept.

My biggest mistake, it seems, was not writing the exact western she expected. She didn't want Little House on the Prairie, she wanted a shoot-em-up, painted whores on a piano, more sex, and a Gerald Butler look-alike for the hero. Sorry, but he does nothing for me and I quite liked the hero I created. John Wayne is dead, so get over it, and Clint Eastwood won't ever star as a sexy leading man again. He's approaching 80! If you want Hang 'Em High or Rooster Cogburn, then watch Saturday reruns on the western channel.

Hey, I've been in a reviewers shoes, several times and I appreciate that it's a demanding and thankless job. I also respect the reviewer's write to their opinion, but when you become "snarky," then you've turned the review into a personal attack and put the author on the defensive. I might have let this whole thing go, but when I read her response to my comment on the site, my rage flared again: Although I know my review came off as snarky and cynical that was not my intentions.

If you know your review comes off as snarky and cynical, then what exactly were your intentions? To invite me over for tea and crumpets?

Wikipedia defines SNARKY as follows:

ADJECTIVE - Snide and sarcastic; usually out of irritation.

Sparta Rose was a labor of love for me. Inspired by the Cumberland Mountains where I lived for a time, Sparta, TN is rich with history, and I attempted to capture some of it in my historical offering.

This nameless person claims her review was her attempt at humor, but I suggest she leave that to comedians. There is nothing humorous about book reviewing. Authors take these written words very seriously and the end result can honestly impact someone's future. What I can paraphrase from this nightmare...although she made mention in a negative way, is her comparison of my story with an offering from Laura Ingalls Wilder. Little House on the Prairie has entertained millions for years, so I guess "it ain't all bad."

Life goes on and reviews keep coming. There are those who enjoy my work and will continue to read my books, and like I've reminded my peers before...there isn't an author alive or dead whose work is appreciated by everyone. This summarized assassination just stopped me dead in my tracks and inspired me to put on the boxing gloves...or in this case, my blogging gloves. Thank goodness for non-violent avenues of stress release.

I applaud all the reviewers out there who know the secret of capturing the good, bad and the ugly, but doing it in a way that a person can appreciate and learn from. I'm never above constructive criticism.

Here's an EXCERPT from this horrible, boring, predictable story with flat characters and an overdone plot:


Ellie delighted in the dumbstruck look on his face. She’d matched him shot for shot. Maybe she’d taken a split second longer, but she’d knocked down all her cans. Wasn’t that what counted? What she set out to do?

Ty still hadn’t said a word. He kept staring at the log as if expecting his one remaining can to fall, or for one of hers to jump back up on it. Ellie couldn’t stand the silence, and containing her need to gloat got harder by the moment.

“Well, aren’t you going to say anything?” Her lips curved into a smug smile.

He shrugged. “I’m not sure what to say. It looks as though your practicing has paid off. Good thing we didn’t really wager anything on it.”

She erupted into uncontrollable laughter. It couldn’t be helped. Her glee at proving she could shoot, and at this moment, better than him, was cause for celebration. She covered her mouth to stifle her levity. It seemed overly cruel to rub it in too much.

“And…just what would you have wagered?” Her curiosity piqued.

Without a word, Ty closed the distance between them, gathered her into his arms and covered her mouth with his. Her eyes widened, and a gasp of surprise parted her lips enough for his tongue to dart inside to mingle with her own. Shivers of delight coursed through her body, turning her knees to jelly. Her startled eyes slowly closed and she melted into his embrace.

Just as she started to revel in the moment, he pulled away and held her at arm’s length. “That’s what I would have wagered,” he said matter-of-factly. “Too bad I lost.”

With a grin, he turned and began gathering up the strewn cans and putting them back into his burlap sack.

Ellie stood, frozen to the spot, her fingers tracing her mouth. Her heart raced. She’d dreamed of the moment he’d kiss her, but this was nothing like she had imagined. It happened so quick, over and done, but it was still magnificent. His lips were so soft, yet demanding, his embrace strong, but tender. She took a deep breath.
Ty fished in the grass for the last can, affording Ellie a perfect view of a taut behind, encased in fitting denims. Years of riding had evidently created strong muscular legs, visible even beneath his clothing. She naughtily pondered his naked form and fought the flush she felt creeping up her neck. Her flapping fingers fanned her face while she tried to compose.

With a loud whoosh of air, she chased the unladylike thoughts from her head and the warmness from her cheeks. Her fingertips again outlined the lips that only moments ago had been kissed for the very first time.

“We best saddle up and get home to check on your pa,” Ty announced.
He startled her from her reverie. She dropped her hand and nodded. Although her legs felt leaden, she walked to her horse, untied the mare’s reins and pulled herself astride. Nudging Chessie, Ellie caught up with and rode alongside Ty.


Now to make myself feel better, I'll go read the 5 Heart Review the book earned at The Romance Studio!

3 comments:

Diane said...

Good reply, Ginger!
That review was immature and uncalled for.
I helped critique this novel and it's very sweet and well-written.

Maggie Dove said...

The review was nasty,mean and (sigh) ridiculous. Did she know that she was supposed to be reviewing a sweet romance? I hope that you can shoot her down with the number of sales your wonderful story brings! Best of luck. I enjoyed the excerpt!

Anita Davison said...

I agree, it was crass and unnecessary-as I told her when I commented on her review. I critiqued Sparta Rose too and it was exactly what it purported to be, a sweet, western romance with a satisfying ending.
I wil have to make sure she never reviews anything of mine -she'll annihilate me!

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