Archive for the ‘General Stuff’ Category

The conversation has arose many times in Romanceland about how social media is blurring the lines between authors, reviewers, and readers. A lot of valid points have been raised. Can a review be honest if you are friends with the author? And what is considered a friend? Is it exchanging friendly tweets with the author? Where is the line? It’s a messy subject and I hope this post can clarify where Mad and I stand and give others a chance to weigh in on it. Because maybe we are wrong. It’s been known to happen.

Between the two of us, we have blurred the lines until they are tiny. We are both beta readers, moderators for author yahoo groups, and have friends who make their livings by writing books. Mad is also the assistant of many authors. Then we have this blog where we post about hundreds of books every year. Blurred lines? Without a doubt. It’s a balancing act to stay honest about our love of a book and maintaining the trust the blog visitors have given us.

For example, I stumbled across the Southern Arcana books by Moira Rogers through twitter. I loved the first book and reviewed it. I exchanged tweets with the authors on twitter, more books came out, I did more reviews. Then I was asked to beta read a couple of their books and the reviews stopped. Shortly after, Mad became their assistant. Moira Rogers is still welcome to guest blog at Novel Thoughts (all authors are welcome for promo posts) but we both feel it would be a conflict of interest for us to review those books. That’s where our line is. I have given my opinion about the book prior to publication and Mad is being paid to promote them. There is no way for either of us to be unbiased.

I’ve seen reviews by beta readers/assistants to a specific author and I don’t trust that review. I’ve also seen the “I’m a reader first!” argument and it just doesn’t fly for me. It may not be fair but I’m skeptical when I see that.

Then there is the line between friends and friendly. For me, a friend is someone who I talk with outside of social media. We talk about everything. They know personal things about me that won’t be put out for all the internet to see and I know the same about them. When it comes to an author friend, I won’t review their books. Period. If I loved it, will readers really believe me? And if I hated it, I’m not going to write a review that could potentially cost my friend one single sale. I love my friends and want them to succeed in the career they love. It’s a lose/lose situation and one I don’t feel is ethical. Is that fair of me, as a blogger and reviewer, to not tell others about a book I disliked? To me it is, but others may feel differently.

Now we are at friendly and this is where is gets messy for everyone. I’m “friendly” with a ton of authors. I follow them on twitter, maybe they follow me, I ask questions about their books, they laugh at me when I accidentally kidnap a strange cat thinking it’s mine, just random stuff. I’ve written both positive and negative reviews of those authors’ books. Earlier this year, I was reading a truly horrible book and tweeting about it. Misery loves company and I was miserable. Shannon Stacey offered me an ARC of her upcoming book if I would just stop my current read. She sent it to me with no requirements. She wasn’t looking for a beta read or review. She sent it to me because she’s nice (and possibly because she never wanted to see another tweet about a heroine with flatulence.) I read it, I loved it and wanted to tell everyone about it. When it was close to release day, I posted my review. I didn’t feel conflicted about posting that review at all.

That’s not the only time Mad or I have gotten a book just because. And usually, we’ll post reviews for those books. But what happens if someone sends either of us a book just because and we don’t like it? It hasn’t happened yet but what if I get the book I hate? Not just “certain elements didn’t work for me” but that rare book that sends me into a rage? Will I post a negative, snark filled review about a book that was sent to me by someone who was just being nice? I’m leaning towards no. And does that make it unfair for to give the honest good reviews?


We haven’t touched on authors also reviewing. Are they believable? Is it right? Do authors’ opinions hold more sway than average readers? Once upon a time, that answer was yes for me. If an author I enjoyed recommended a book, I was all over it. With experience came wisdom and I’ve learned to pay attention to what other books that author likes. Just because I like what she writes doesn’t mean I like what she reads. But newer readers may not have that experience to fall back on. So is it ethical for an author to review? My opinion is I don’t care one way or the other but I’m curious about others’ thoughts.

So what about you? Where are your lines as a reader, reviewer, or author? Do you automatically dismiss a review if you’ve watched the reviewer chat with the author online? Would you feel betrayed if you bought a book based on a review and later found out the reviewer had a business relationship with the author? Or is it really buyer beware?

And more importantly to us personally, is it possible to wear the hats of beta reader, author assistant, friend, blogger, and still keep the reviewer’s hat?

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Last week on twitter, I saw a conversation between some bloggers on what to do with used ARCs. They can’t be sold. Some libraries won’t take them.  I’m in the same boat. I have a stack of ARCs that I’ve reviewed and now they are just taking up space. So what do we do with them?


My husband works for the Department of Corrections and after talking with him, I found out that all reading material in the prison where he works is donated. And donations are few and needed.


That’s where I will be sending all my used ARCs. The inmates don’t care about shiny covers or if it has a few errors. They just want a good story to keep their minds occupied.  If you would like to donate to them as well, email me at lillie80 @ gmail dot com. The ARCs will be going to a women’s prison and all genres are welcome.

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Author in Need —

I got this from another author and had to share.

Tina Gerow/Cassie Ryan has been taken suddenly and seriously
ill. She has an affliction called Arteriovenous malformation or AVM in her brain which has led to multiple surgeries and an extended stay in ICU. No
family is ever prepared for such a thing and Tina’s is no exception. In
times like this, every dollar helps and her friends in the writing community
are banding together to ask you to open your hearts (and wallets) to help
get Tina’s family through this.

Tina is well known to readers and authors across the country who have
embraced her books, most recently, (writing as Cassie Ryan) Seducing the
(Berkley/October 2010) and coming in April 2011, The Demon and the Succubus.

Please send your prayers, positive energy and love out into the universe
with Tina’s name on it. Cards can be mailed to: Tina Gerow, c/o SBP PO BOX
42255, Phoenix, AZ 85080.

Any donations you would like to make to Tina Gerow/Cassie Ryan to help with
the burden of mounting medical bills, can be given by visiting:
https://sites.google.com/site/tinagerowandfamily or by sending a check to
Tina Gerow, c/o SBP PO BOX 42255, Phoenix, AZ 85080.

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Got the following from RWA’s website. As often as I’m in the bookstores, locally, and in Raleigh, I keep telling myself I’m helping the economy with my book-shopping. To me, there is nothing better than being in the bookstore, browsing for books. What about you? 😉

Shop Bookstores This Season!

During the excitement of the holiday season, bookstores offer shoppers the perfect opportunity to select some remarkably personal gifts for friends and family. A mother can buy her daughter her first young adult romance novel. A grandmother can seek out a baby book for her grandchild. A man can find the hottest new historical romance for his love. The possibilities are limitless.

RWA wants to encourage you to support the bookstores in your community. And more than that, we want you to spread the word and make this a season of joy for our bookstores, too.

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All you have to do is watch the video below. Every time you watch the full video, UnitedHealthcare will donate 10 cents to breast cancer research. Just watch it. That’s all you have to do. Also, if you have an account at YouTube, just put it in your quene and let it repeat. Easy peasy. 🙂

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Got my December RT in the mail yesterday and in it was a Reader Survey to fill out. It’s also online for those who want to share their reading habits and opinion with RT.

For Subscribers, the link to the survey is here.

For Non-Subscribers, the link to the survey is here.

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I usually try to stay out of the drama in Romanceland but a new trend seems to have developed lately that really disturbs me. Reviewers have a responsibility that a few have decided to shrink.

I don’t ask for much when reading a review. I just want honesty. Loved the book? Tell me why. You thought it was the biggest waste of paper ever? Again, I just want to know why.  I will admit, I get really confused by reviewers that read a book in a genre they hate, then trash it on blogs but that is a post for another day.

Today is about the “p” word. Plagiarism.  That is a very serious accusation yet I’m seeing it thrown about more frequently on review blogs, Amazon, and Goodreads. So far this week, I have seen this happen twice. I have something to say to those reviewers. If you are going to throw that out there, you damn well better back it up with examples of said plagiarism. If someone is reading your reviews, then you have a responsibility to that reader to give them FACTS. If you use that word, I want to see exactly what was copied word for word.

When you are reading books from the same genre, there are bound to be similarities. There is no way around that. Feel free to point those similarities out in your review but be very careful about the words you use. Once you hit that publish button, those words are out there and they will be read. And once that happens, if you don’t have facts to back up your accusations, then any trust in you as a reviewer is gone. At the very least, you are going to look like a fool and anger many readers and authors.

All I’m saying here is be responsible. Know the meaning of the words you use and know the consequences. And if you are posting reviews like this just to get traffic to your site, get that traffic with your own hard work. Don’t do it by spreading lies about the authors that have busted their asses to bring us countless hours of enjoyment.

*stepping off soapbox*

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PC Issues —

So sorry for the delay in announcing winners from last week’s posts. Have been dealing with PC issues since Saturday and although I’m back up and running today, I’ve just discovered the HD is still giving me error messages. Trying to get those fixed so I can get back without losing any more files. 😦

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Summertime Fun!

Just an update on me. I’ll be MIA for the next week or so, starting today. My girls and I are going on a road trip! We’re heading to Florida to visit family and while I plan to take my laptop with me, I am not sure that I’ll be able to get online. Last time we went to Mom’s house, the connection was iffy at best so can’t make any promises. Girls are busy making plans for us and as of right now I know there will be a trip to Busch Gardens while we’re down there, a collective birthday party/cook-out with family & friends for all the June & July babies in the family, a trip to Boomers & trips to the malls. (of course!!) 😉

“See” you all when I get back!

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So today I went to my local BAM to see what new goodies they’d have out. I’m such a regular there that I go several times a week. I know their truck makes Tuesday deliveries for new releases but most of the time, new books don’t get put out until Wednesday or Thursday, hence my going several times a week, checking for new releases. Today I went back and checked again for anything new out in the Romance section. Didn’t see anything that caught my eye but I did see this —

If you can’t tell from the picture, this is BAM’s Romance Book Club selections and I don’t know about you but these books pictured above do not scream “I’m the romance book you’ve been looking for, BUY ME, BUY ME, BUY ME!”

I’ve been going to this bookstore since it first opened. Years ago. I have made friends there and I’ve even hosted a Romance Book Club of my own there since August 2008. But, I’ll be honest. Those that take care of that specific section are not romance readers. They don’t get it when I tell them Danielle Steel does not belong in the romance section because how is it a romance book when she keeps killing off main characters? Isn’t the purpose of having a HEA, the happily-ever-after? Not just the HEA for the 300-350 pages of a book and then the last 100  pages or so are filled with death and destruction? They don’t get it. Which I can understand as they’re probably told from HQ where books are supposed to be shelved but if anyone in HQ has read Steele, they’d know those books do not belong in the Romance section. Not only about that but about other things when it comes to their romance section. Like the books seem to never be put in ABC order, books just put anywhere, stuck in any convenient free space and if you don’t know where to look and double-check a second time and double-check a third time, you could walk out of there with nothing because all the other sections are taken care of and kept straight and clean yet the Romance section is like an afterthought and there only because they’re forced to keep it but don’t really have to maintain it because really, who reads that genre, right? It aggravates me to no end. Another thing that bothers me is that the employees are allowed to “check out” books off the shelves and return them when done. Sounds like a library, right? My main issue with this “check out” policy is sometimes the books are returned with so many creases and with spines cracked, that it feels like I’m looking at used book store books and not new books. I have to check the spines and pages before I buy the book just to make sure it really is a “new” book. If I’m going to spend money on new books, then by golly, I want them to be new.

About 18 months or so ago, I filled out an application to work there. I told them that I did and that my main goal was to take over the Romance section and make is as well taken care of as all the other sections in the bookstore. Sadly, I have never heard back from anyone. Every so often, when I’m in there, I’ll ask if they’re hiring and will be told yes but they already hired the max amount they needed. Which is fine. Really, it is. But for the love of God, can they not hire someone who actually reads the genre so that someone can go in and fix the mess they have going on?

It just all makes me wonder, the mechanics of it all. How do they decide on their monthly selections? For a book to qualify for a specific genre, oh, let’s say, the Romance genre, doesn’t it have to be, well, a romance book? The books they have picked, A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick, Eternal on the Water by Joseph Monninger and Peachtree Road by Anne Rivers Siddons do not, to me, fit this genre. Nothing about the blurbs, yes, I did read the back covers, said “I’m a romance book!” Who gets to sit in the office and say “I pick this book to be the monthly read, it looks like a romance so it’s The Chosen One! Print out all the pamphlets you can because this will surely fly off the shelves!”

On that note, an open letter to BAM —

Dear BAM:

Even if you’re not hiring, how about just letting me pick out the monthly romance books for the Book Club because I can guaran-freaking-tee you, that my choices will actually be romance novels and not the drivel you’ve picked out and labeled “romance.”

Should someone that works in BAM actually see this and think it’s a fantastic idea (because I really think it is!); do email me at mad @ romancereaderatheart.com (without the spaces) and let’s see if we can’t actually turn things around and make BAM’s Romance Book Club an actual Romance Book Club.



An avid romance reader

PS. Shame on you, BAM. You advertise your Romance Book Club in stores but don’t have a link to the club at your website, under Book Clubs. That’s just pathetic. You’re just determined to not give the genre a chance, aren’t you? I’m seriously disappointed in you and when I think of all the money I’ve spent at your bookstore, both locally and online, that really pisses me off. I think I just need to find somewhere to take my business because it sure as hell looks like you don’t give a damn about your customers.

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