Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Quest for a Good Review

Back in the old days, newspapers and magazines were the only place to read reviews about books. Publishers would send their upcoming releases to these publications and their paid reviewers would critique them.

These days, very few papers around the country even print book reviews. And why should they? Plenty of people are willing to write reviews for free: on blogs, on Goodreads, B& and Amazon.

But how many of those reviews are actually "free?"

Everybody knows that friends of the author are going to write some of the reviews. But some authors, even big name, best selling authors, are finding elaborate ways to get good reviews for their books. For example:

  • For every 25 reviews posted to Amazon or B&N, J. Thomas Shaw, author of The Rx Factor, will give away a $25 gift card to the "person judged to have written the best review."
  • Then there are websites like Readers Favorite that provide reviews and awards for authors. You too can "Become an Award Winning Author."

I get that people want, okay, need, good reviews of their books. But it makes me highly suspect of any positive review. At least in a newspaper, you know that the writer was paid to give their opinion. These other tactics feel like scams because as a reader, you don't know up front which reviews are honest. Unless they only have one or two stars. I'm pretty sure no one pays for those.

What do you think? Does it make sense to run contests to bump up your positive reviews?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Father's Day with the Petersens

It started with an innocent request.

The kids weren't ready. And come to think of it, they didn't smell quite as nicely as they should. "Take a shower while your father and I run an errand. When we get back, we'll all go out to lunch." Sounds reasonable, right?

Except that my phone wasn't on. And really, any time I'm away from the kids my phone should be on, shouldn't it. Because you never know what can happen...

My husband's phone rings, maybe fifteen minutes later. Since he was driving he didn't pick it up to answer. I glanced down and saw that a friend who lives down the street was calling. "I'll be you secretary," I said, answering the phone. "Hey, Mike! What's up?"

He hesitates, but I figure he's just surprised to hear my voice instead of Craig's.

"I don't want you to worry, but I have both your kids."

Any sentence that starts off I don't want you to worry, is usually good cause to worry.

"Why do you have the kids?"

"Well, there was a little accident while you were gone. We're on our way to Urgent Care."

My heart literally stops. We'd only been gone fifteen minutes! How much could have happened in fifteen minutes? And why didn't anyone call me?

I pull out my phone. Four missed calls from home and one from Mike. I slide the switch to turn the ringer back on, cursing myself for ever having turned it off.

On the left is an image of how we were supposed to spend the day. On the right is an image of my son's foot. The one that now has six stitches in it.

Apparently, after he slid the shower door open, the glass shattered and one chunk lodged itself in the top of his foot. My daughter went running into his room when she heard the crash, saw the mess, and immediately started trying to call me. When she couldn't get a hold of me, she called Mike. Thank goodness he was home and answering HIS phone. And thank goodness my nine-year-old daughter had the presence of mind to turn to him when she couldn't reach me. (Yes, I'm still beating myself up over the request AND the fact that my phone was off. And yes, we need to get Daddy's new phone number programmed into the home phones!)

One of the drawbacks to living in a small town: our Urgent Care was closed. Because emergencies don't happen on weekends, y' know? After going back home, flushing the wound out and putting on a fresh bandage, I took my son to another Urgent Care, thirty minutes up the road. My husband stayed home to clean up the glass and blood in the bathroom and on the carpet. Exactly how he planned to spend his Father's Day. *sigh*

But don't worry. I'm already finding a way to incorporate this into a story. Because that's what writer's do, don't we? Here's hoping your weekend wasn't anywhere near as eventful as ours!
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