Saturday, 30 January 2010

The Good & The Bad: Reviews!

Two nights ago, I found a new review for my newest book. I opened the link and sat and stared at it. Did I want to read it? *deep breath* This is someone I know, an author who tends to be as critical with reviews as I am. Yes, I have it coming to hear the ugly truth about my work along with whatever praise I can hope for, since I do share my honest opinions when giving reviews. I’m nice about it. I don’t want to deter a writer from writing (although my feeling is that if a writer CAN be deterred due to a bad review or two or three, maybe that’s just as well).

This book is my fourth. As long as I make some of my books, it’s the equivalent of about 8 or 9 romance-length books. It’s also the deepest and most powerful story I’ve written. I expect to hear about that, about issues I’ve raised some readers may not appreciate. That said, I also think I’ve learned a heck of a lot over the thirteen plus years I’ve been novelling (I do realize that’s not a word, yes, but I’m a writer and it’s artistic license). And I hope with each book that growth will show.

I cheated. My son read the review for me while I clenched my eyes and held my breath (exaggeration – writer’s license).

When it came to this part, I unclenched and grabbed a huge breath of relief:

“This book shows how much LK has grown into her craft. Her characters, especially Ryan and the girl, Kaitlyn, are as I expect from LK; deep, believable and ones the reader can both root for or want to slap upside the head at times. As far as the writing itself, it’s concise and flows extremely well. One of her best efforts yet. I read it in less than a week, sacrificing many hours of sleep to finish it.”
A.L. Marquardt, author of “A Reason To Hope”

*whew* (Yes, there is a character you’re supposed to want to slap upside the head at times!)

I’ve been fortunate with my reviews and have received some incredible words. Here are a mix of some of the highlights from all four books:

"Really classic, soul-moving stuff. It is unforgettable... The romance was described exquisitely -- gorgeous, living-eternally writing! have created a masterpiece ... I absolutely could not put it down."
Marilyn Savage Gray, author of
"The Real Shakespeare"

“In the style of most great storytellers, Ms. Hunsaker has created a cast of characters that captivated me, had me on the edge of my seat, not even wanting to close my eyes at 4am. Though I am known for not wanting to stop reading in the middle of the story, I can scarcely recall a time that I have become so engrossed in the lives of the characters so totally. I very much look forward to reading the next three stories.”
Dee of dee and Dee Dish … About Books

“Very raw. Very intriguing. When I settled down to continue reading, I finished OFF THE MOON in one sitting. At the kitchen table. On a laptop. With my arse going to sleep on a hard wooden chair.  Yes, the story is THAT compelling.”

Lainey Bancroft author of The Trouble with Tessa

"I just finished reading your book. I'm kind of overwhelmed. As someone who has written lyrics and short stories for years, I'm amazed that such a complex person and story can be created, and told in such beautiful, thoughtful detail. I feel like I know her now, like I've been inside her thoughts and her life."
Lynda, a reader via email

Of course, with the good comes the bad and I’ve also heard such comments as “slow pacing” & “melancholy style” & “LONG” & “do I HAVE to suffer through reading this”! Seriously, although it wasn’t an actual review. At this point, I’m glad to say it makes me laugh to remember that comment. An author has to keep her feet in the dirt while her head is in the imaginative clouds, after all.

All readers have different interests and wants from their fiction. All authors will hear about it from readers who don’t quite care for some aspect of their work. It’s part of the job. Reviews are like taxes: a cost of writing, and a necessary thing that can sometimes be joyous and sometimes feel evil.

At the end of the day, if you hang on to words like these:


“LK, it was a pleasure to read FINISHING TOUCHES. You took a very difficult and poignant subject and gave it real soul and heart, without ever being sentimental. Jenna is very much a real person whom I could follow with profound interest.”
Lindsay Townsend, via email

“It's quite something... Very intense, very visceral, very emotional, very intelligent, ultra romantic, and Loraine's  attention to the slightest detail, particularly in her protagonist's thought patterns…, is outstanding. I'm impressed.” [about Off The Moon]
Francesca Prescott, via email list

and then remember the dirt on your feet, you should have plenty of room to grow while rooted. So, a huge thank you to reviewers and readers who take the time to let us know both what you like and what you don’t.

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LK Hunsaker
~ Literary Romance with an Artsy Twist ~


Lindsay Townsend said...

You've got some superb reviews and comments here, LK! How wonderful, too, to have the knowledge that readers are so supportive.

Reading is a very personal act, much as writing, and so I guess not every reader can adore all work, but I know from the odd 'down' comments I've seen about my stuff that it hurts.

But then the positive is so lovely!

Congratulations again on your reviews.

LK Hunsaker said...

Hi Lindsay, yes, it does, but then pain can lead to growth and balance is good. :-)

Thank you! And thanks for all the kind words you've shared about my books.

Maggie Toussaint said...

Those are excellent reviews, Loraine. They should help bolster you up when you hit a rough patch on your work in progress. (I do that sometimes - go back and read my good press)

Celia Yeary said...

LORAINE--it's scary, isn't it? I always wait for someone to rip up one of my books. so far, I received one bad review and some amateur reviewer on Amazon who reviews lots of books said about "All My Hopes and Dreams"--"don't bother." Crushed me. Fortunatley I received good ones on there, too, which counter-acted that one.My goal is to earn five somethings--so far, most have been fours--a couple five, though!! Thanks for your honesty-Celia

LK Hunsaker said...

Maggie, I do that, too - go back and read the good comments when I'm thinking my stuff is garbage. ;-) We all have those days.

Celia, the don't bother remark would sting. But I'm glad I "bothered" with Hopes. And your new one looks great!

Jan Bowles said...


Thank you for sharing your reviews. They were all wonderful and well-deserved.

If people can believe in your characters then you can do no more.


Savanna Kougar said...

"An author has to keep her feet in the dirt while her head is in the imaginative clouds, after all."

LK, so true. Great reviews. Congrats to you!

I've gotten a few top reviews and a few down and dirty/unfair ones ~ example, one reviewer didn't like the cover, so the books was automatically bad.
Though, mostly, my books are ignored by reviewers.
Personally, I don't care if a reviewer doesn't like the book. That's her/his right. And they have a right to express why.
However, I do object to cruelty ~ for example, "I wouldn't recommend it to my girlfriends" ~ well, number one, who the hell cares if you do or don't? And why would I want to you to recommend it? If you're that brain-numb, your friends are likely to be also.
Such extreme self-centered-ness seems contraindicated in being a reviewer, imo.

LK Hunsaker said...

Jan, thank you. Yes, that is always what I care about the most: what they think of my characters.

Savanna, I don't understand the need to be so snippy in a review. I think some don't realize the difference between honest and thoughtful and just plain snippy. If I can't make a review mostly positive, I don't review it. Simple.

liana laverentz said...

Hear! Hear! Thanks to readers everywhere. The praise is wonderful, and we appreciate it greatly, especially on those days when the writing isn't working, but the less than stellar reviews show us where we can improve, so are not to be dismissed, even if we'd rather not remember them :)

Congrats on so many nice reviews, LK!

Keena Kincaid said...

These are great reviews, LK. No need to hold your breath in a panic.

I love reviews, even the less-than-stellar ones because it tells me something about how my work is being perceived by readers. I know that it's all subjective, but it helps to know what works and doesn't work for others.

LK Hunsaker said...

Hi Liana and Keena!

Yes, that knowledge from others is priceless. It's like editing your own work: you know what you mean to say and see it that way instead of the way others see it. I'm not sure I'll ever stop holding my breath at the start of a review, though. :-)

Margaret Tanner said...

You certainly have some wonderful reviews. If you are anything like me you treasure them like a miser does his gold coins.



LK Hunsaker said...

Ah, I'm an oddball, Margaret - I treasure them more than my gold coins. ;-)

Thanks for stopping in!

Jen said...

Great reviews! I just happened to drop by your blog and I am glad I did!!!

Fantastic! Can't wait for more!

LK Hunsaker said...

Hi Jen, glad you stopped in! Nice to meet you. :-)

Danielle Thorne said...

Great feedback and reviews. Thanks for sharing! You have a good attitude re: reviews we can all learn from. Especially...letting someone else read them first!

Linda Banche said...

Great reviews. Need I say that you deserve them? Congratulations.