Reading Deals Book Reviews: An Update

Back in April I wrote about Reading Deals book review program. I’ve now received all 10 of my reviews on Amazon for Goddess so I can give other authors who need more Amazon reviews an honest review of their services. Here’s my take:

  1. The reviews take a long time to come in. I placed my order for 10 reviews on February 16. I received an email today that my 10th review has finally been posted. Six months sounds like a long time and was more than I expected, but in retrospect, I don’t think it was unreasonable. The reviewers aren’t paid (which is a good thing), so their only incentive to finish a review is so they can get another free book.
  2. The reviews varied a great deal in quality. I never expected NY Times quality reviews. A few of mine were thoughtful, others were barely more than a sentence. It would be good if Reading Deals required reviewers to write a minimum number of words.
  3. The reviews were almost all positive. I don’t necessarily see this as a plus for the service. I’d prefer a thoughtful negative review to a slapdash positive one. The people who didn’t like the book were turned off by the adultery theme. But they still admired the writing, which is just fine by me. I knew the book would be controversial.
  4. They keep you apprised of the reviews coming in. Each week I received an automated email telling me how many reviewers had downloaded the book and how many reviews I’d received. I really appreciated this.
  5. The price seems reasonable. I don’t remember what I paid but the current price is $79. The $129 for premium placement might speed up how fast the reviews come in. Frankly, I’ve spent more and got back less advertising Goddess, so I thought it was worth it.

The bottom line is, if you need more reviews for your book, I think Reading Deals is worth it. It’s certainly more ethical than paying for positive reviews, and I think it’s also more honest than getting your friends and family to review your book.

If you’re considering this service and want to do more research, here are links to all my Reading Deal reviews:

Happy writing!


Raising the Stakes in Your Romance Novel

When you’re a screenwriter, “raise the stakes” is a command you hear often. Put your hero in more danger, make failure more cataclysmic, get your audience on the edge of their seats and compel them to stay there.

Raising the stakes can be difficult in a romance novel. After all, what’s the worst that can happen? Girl doesn’t get boy? Most readers and publishers insist on an HEA ending, so that’s probably not going to go over well.

In GoddessI raised the stakes high by making my heroine a married mother of three daughters. She has a lot to lose by getting involved with another man, no matter how incredibly hot he is. Some readers didn’t like the premise, but other reviewers wrote that they couldn’t put the book down. Nobody said high stakes were pretty. They shouldn’t be.

I was thinking about this last weekend after watching the movie Two Days, One Night. It’s a French drama written and directed by the Dardenne brothers. Sandra, the heroine, has the weekend to convince her co-workers to give up their bonus so their company won’t lay her off.

There are some inherent stakes already built into this premise. We learn that Sandra and her husband have escaped public housing thanks to her job. If she gets fired, they’ll have to go back. Still, it’s not like they’ll be out on the street.

But the Dardenne brothers raise the stakes even higher. Sandra has missed a lot of work because she suffers from depression. (That’s the unspoken reason the company wants to get rid of her.) She’s recovering, but still on shaky ground. If she loses her job, it could push her over the edge.

But wait, as the telemarketers say, there’s more. Sandra now has to talk to each of her co-workers and convince them to vote on Monday to give up their bonuses. Some of them say they’re in financial situations as bad as hers. Others just won’t give up their money to help what they consider to be a lazy co-worker.

Obviously, there’s a lot of drama in this simple situation, and yet there’s one more level of stakes built into the story. Sandra has to keep depression and despair at bay while reluctantly talking to sometimes hostile people. She pops Xanax constantly to get through this ordeal. She’s on the verge of losing not just her job, but her husband, her sanity, even her life. Now those are some high stakes!

You can see how, even in premise as simple as the one in Two Days, One Night, or in a romance novel, there are many ways to raise the stakes organically, without resorting to mob hitmen, natural disasters, or terminal illnesses.

It’s something to think about when you’re outlining your next romance novel.

Happy writing!



Infidelity: The Last Taboo

I read a lot of writers’ blogs. They usually talk about books they like, their forthcoming novel, the writing process, and the pajamas and slippers they favor while meeting their daily word count. This is fascinating material for other writers, but having written a novel that centers on sex and infidelity, I thought those subjects would be more interesting to the general public.

Not long ago a friend of mine posted on Facebook that a friend of hers had confessed that she was having an affair. My friend was debating whether she should offer her friend support. The comments came fast and furious. “You should NOT support her. Cheating is just plain wrong.” “Anyone who cheats is selfish.” “If she’s unhappy in her marriage she should just leave.”

You’d think the woman had confessed to killing a man just to watch him die.

“91 percent of Americans consider extramarital infidelity to be morally wrong, a higher percentage than object to human cloning, suicide, and polygamy.”

Why do we have such a visceral reaction to infidelity? Perhaps it’s because most of us know someone whose spouse has cheated on them. The next time you’re at a PTA meeting or Little League game, look at the parents around you. One of them is probably having an affair.

If it could happen to other couples, it could happen to us. We’re afraid.

I knew a couple who are now divorced. He had fallen in love with another woman. They were both members of the same church. He was universally condemned by their fellow parishioners. She was embraced as the victim; he was driven out of the church.

What I knew that the church members didn’t was that while they were married and before the other woman came along, she had taken a vacation on her own because he couldn’t get off work. She was relaxing by the pool when a man struck up a friendly conversation with her. He was handsome, charming, and single. They had a drink together. The next night they had dinner. She invited him back to her room. They had sex. The same thing happened every night for the rest of her stay. She wasn’t interested in a longer-term relationship, even though he was. Their brief encounter was passionate and satisfying. That was enough. She returned to her husband, but she didn’t regret what had happened.

Is infidelity “just plain wrong?” Unlike the majority of Americans, I don’t think the answer is black and white. Consider Lady Chatterley in D. H. Lawrence’s classic novel. Her husband is paralyzed from the waist down because of a war injury–not his fault, but it leaves her sexually unfulfilled. He also neglects her emotionally. Is she wrong to have an affair? Read or reread the novel and decide for yourself.

I welcome your comments.