Reviews and such

I’ll preface this entire post with the fact that NONE of what I will be discussing in ANY way pertains to ME or MY writing or reviews done of my writing. It wouldn’t be possible at any rate, because while it may seem odd or unbelievable, I don’t read reviews of my books, good or bad. I don’t have a Google alert because I’ve always (and always will) said an author doesn’t NEED to know every single thing said about them on the web. You KNOWING what is said or inferred or whatever doesn’t change that it was SAID. So why give others the power to hurt you, make you feel bad or pick your poison (or emotion)

But I’m digressing *g* (nothing new about THAT)

But since I did bring it up, I’ll at least explain WHY I don’t read reviews of my own books. I firmly believe, and many would disagree, but others WOULD agree, that reviews are NOT for authors. Say it with me. Reviews are for READERS. Reviewers owe authors nothing. They’re shelling out their hard earned money for a book so regardless of whether they like it or not, they’ve earned the right to say or not say whatever they want about a book.

Which is why I hold firm in my position that reviews aren’t for authors. It isn’t a reviewers job to make an author feel validated or make them feel all warm and glowy over their books.

So you might ask yourself why I don’t read POSITIVE reviews. Well for one, how would I KNOW if a review was positive unless I was LOOKING for them or actively searching them out? Secondly, positive, glowing reviews can be as distracting as negative ones. Don’t scratch your head. Think about it for a minute. You get a review saying you are the best writer EVAH and you get all excited and then you drop everything and tell your friend, or tweet or retweet it then you post it on Facebook and then you bask and glow a little more and before it’s over with, several hours have gone by. Hours that you SHOULD have been writing the NEXT book ;) But hey, that’s just MY personal philosophy.What, in my opinion, the role reviews play such a huge part of is helping OTHER readers decide if they think they’d like or want to buy the book BASED on the opinions of others.

Reviews are tools. Nothing more. Nothing less. Well, I suppose I should amend that to say that reviews are also a way a reader is able to express their opinions of a book they spent hours or days reading. It’s a way for them to share with OTHER readers their thoughts and open dialogue to either agree or disagree.

It’s why I hate to see an author intrude in a reader conversation online, or pop into the comments, even if it’s to simply THANK a reviewer or commenter. No, I’m not being rude, nor do I want to appear ungrateful. But the presence of an author, again in my opinion, squelches conversation.

Even though everyone knows the internet and all it’s nooks and crannies aren’t private and that there is a likely chance the author COULD be “listening in” it still isn’t the same as when it’s a known FACT the author is there reading, responding. So the result is that readers then feel hesitant to express their honest, unvarnished opinion. (Not all do, but some, yes, they do absolutely)

What they might say if they didn’t KNOW the author was “there” could very well be different then if the perception was that the author wasn’t “around.”

It probably sounds silly but the thing is I’ve witnessed it far too many times for me to discount my opinion on this. I’ve read reviews (yes I DO read reviews, just not my OWN, but I’ll get to that in a minute) where a healthy, vigorous conversation is being held and then? The author pops in whether it’s to say thank you, be polite or the complete opposite and forget their crazy pills that day and go batshit crazy and then? Silence. Maybe one or two comments but for the most part, the conversation shuts down.

So with all that out of the way, I’ll finally get to the reason why I even began this particular discussion (aren’t you relieved?)

Over the years I’ve heard many (too many to count) authors say they’d rather get a 1 star review than a 3 star. That they either wanted a 5 or a 1 but nothing in between because in their mind a 3 meant “meh” that the reader wasn’t passionate about the book in a positive OR a negative way and that the general consensus among the authors I’ve conversed with over the years is that even if the reader HATED the book at least the author elicited a reaction, any reaction, instead of a *yawn* and a 3 star “meh” rating.

I think in the very (very) early stages of my career when I was still in that stage where I thought I knew a hell of a lot more than I did in actuality I probably agreed with this sentiment. More likely I’d just heard it often enough that I just sort of adopted it as truth.

But now? And again, remember, I’ve said that in my opinion, reviews are for READERS, so I’m going to address this from that perspective.

Now, I think 3 star reviews are by far and large the most HELPFUL reviews in aiding readers in their decision over whether to buy a book or not. Why?

Because a LOT of 5 star reviews are not a lot more than “OMG I loved it!!!” and maybe one or two lines that really give no insight into the STORY but just express their adoration. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m not criticizing ANYONE here.

At the other end of the spectrum, the majority of the one star reviews I see are the same as the 5 star reviews except with the reverse sentiment.

I should probably take a moment to explain why I don’t read reviews of MY books but I’ll absolutely read them for books I’m buying.

Because I’m seeking information, clues, triggers and ESPECIALLY spoilers and I find that 1 and 5 star reviews don’t give me what I want and need to make that decision for me.

A reader who gives a book a 3 star review is, again, in my opinion (wow I’m saying that a lot aren’t I?) I just don’t want to give anyone the impression that what I’m saying is FACT and that I’m all arrogant and know it all. These are simply MY observations over the years.

Now, back to that reader who gives three star reviews. I find those 3 star reviews are usually a LOT longer than 1s or 5s. And they explain what worked for them AND what didn’t work for them. They give the positives AND the negatives and they inject more thoughtfulness into explaining or at least it seems that way to me.

Believe me, I get WHY reviewers dish out 1 star and 5 star reviews. Because sometimes you just can’t SUMMON anything more than “OMG I LOVE LOVE LOVED THIS” or “This is the worst piece of shit I’ve read in my life!” Because I’ve read those types of books where it overwhelmed me to fully outline how much I LOVED a book or how much I HATED a book.

But what I AM saying is that I don’t subscribe to the idea that a 3 star review is “meh” and that I find in my experience that one 3 star review will more often convince me to buy a book than a HUNDRED 5 star reviews. Especially if the review contains spoilers *g* I do love spoilers!

So that’s my rambling thoughts on reviews or at least the “dreaded” 3 star review :)

Theirs to Keep early giveaway!

I promised you guys I’d give away EARLY print copies of THEIRS TO KEEP and well the only way I’ll be able to fulfill that promise is if I have a QUICK contest and only leave entries open for ONE day so that winners have time to send me their info BEFORE I leave town on Thursday for a conference in Seattle.

So here’s the fine print. You have until tomorrow, Tuesday, October 15th at NOON to enter. At that time I’ll draw winners and you will then have ONLY until NOON on Wednesday, October 16th to claim your book so they can be mailed out Wednesday afternoon!

Otherwise they simply won’t get to you on time.

For those of you attending the signing this Saturday in Bellevue, WA at the Westin Bellevue, I’ll have early print copies of Theirs to Keep at the signing!

Good luck! Just post a comment to enter. Say whatever’s on your mind :)

xoxo

Maya

EDITED TO ADD: I forgot to tell you HOW MANY copies were up for grabs :) I have 10 copies I’ll be giving away, so I’ll be drawing 10 winners tomorrow at noon xoxo

Huge giveaway!

As I promised on Facebook, I’m going to give away MANY copies of For Her Pleasure. The giveaway will be for the ORIGINAL trade paperback with the original cover that was published in 2007. My publisher is reissuing the book in mass market and they updated the covers for both the trade and mass market edition. So they sent me several cases from the warehouse of the old version and in turn I’m going to sign those copies and give them away here on the blog :)

Sound good?

I’ll be out of town for Labor Day Weekend so I’ll leave the contest open until TUESDAY, September 3. That will give everyone the opportunity to enter. Entering is easy peasy! Just drop me a comment and tell me you want a copy. If you’ve never read some of my older works, here’s your opportunity to read my very first book that Berkley published of mine. If you’ve read it but want an autographed copy, feel free to enter as well!

Please note: Due to the volume of books I’ll be giving away and the time and effort it will take to mail all the individual books, I won’t be personalizing the copies. I’ll just be autographing each of them.

Also, my contests, when possible, are ALWAYS open to international entrants, so no worries there! I’m quite used to shipping internationally :)

I’ll try to draw winners by Wednesday Sept 4th and here’s the important thing. You MUST check back to see if you won on Sept 4th. I can’t chase every one down to make sure they claim their prize. Winners will be instructed to email me with their mailing address and I’ll give everyone a few days to do so, but after that I’m afraid the book will be awarded to someone else.

With that said, let the contest begin! I don’t know the exact number as I haven’t counted all the copies yet, however, I do know I have over 100 copies to give away. I’ll worry about counting when it’s time to know how many winners to draw lol

Enter away and good luck!

xoxo

Maya

RWA Literacy signing

So it’s that time of year again when I post my gentle reminder about the RWA Literacy signing where I encourage readers (and other authors!) to make a point to go by the tables of authors who may not have long lines. Maybe this is their very first signing. Maybe it’s their debut book. Maybe it’s their tenth and they’re still just as nervous as that very first time they had a book out.

Whatever the case may be, you have the power to make the event that much brighter by simply picking out a few authors you may not know and make it a point to swing by. Even if you don’t buy their book, take a bookmark. Ask them about their book. Or just say hi.

Trust me when I say, that the author will remember you for that kindness and the fact that you went the extra mile to make the signing a little more special for them. And hey, you just might end up finding an awesome new author to read!

This year I’m sending my Girlie around to a few author’s tables for me since I’ll be signing, so if you see a gorgeous 12 year old sweetheart with as shy smile and big, beautiful brown eyes, that’s my baby :)

When readers’ and authors’ viewpoints don’t reconcile

I always read with interest, usually when a book in a really super popular series releases, the varying viewpoints of readers and then how the author interpreted certain characters, their pathways etc. It’s no denying that readers become invested in their favorite series or their favorite characters. They root for them along the way. They wait anxiously for character B and C to get their own stories. I see this a lot with hugely popular series like J.R. Ward’s just to name one that comes to mind!

But what happens when the reader’s expectation doesn’t reconcile with the author’s vision/interpretation of character B and C? As a reader do you shrug it off and say okay well these are the author’s characters, he/she knows them better and chalk it up to minor disappointment? Or do you become angrier because as a reader you’ve invested countless hours, you KNOW these characters and what you got wasn’t what you expected?

And who’s right?

I’ve long sided with the author (because hello, I am an author haha) BUT I am a huge reader and I’ve BEEN disappointed when a long awaited character gets a story and it’s not what *I* envisioned. I grumble. I sulk. But at the end of the day, that character is the author’s creation and their worldview and my worldview are going to be vastly different.

Does it mean I break up with the author and swear “never again?”

Usually not. Unless said author breaks my cardinal rules lololol. There are a few things that if an author does, I break up with them forever and ever amen. Killing a major character off will do that. Dissolving a happily ever after that occurred previously in the series. I mean NOOOOO I do not want to read a SECOND book with the hero or heroine from a previous story where I was already invested in the FIRST HEA only to have to reconcile in my head that it didn’t work out and now I’m expected to root for this other person? Is it realistic? Well of course, but realism is NOT why I read fiction. I read because I want to be in my happy place where everything is perfect and everyone stays together and lives happily ever after.

So what say you when an author doesn’t go the way YOU want him/her to go with a story or a set of characters? Is it off with his/her head? Or do you chalk it up to differing visions and move on?

Winners!!

Okay sorry for the late post. I totally thought today was SATURDAY. More proof that I am way too sleep deprived and should probably go to bed for a few days ;)

Anyhoo, without further ado, here are the winners of the Darkest Hour giveaway!

Jenn C. comment #36
Amanda, comment #113
Kimberly Flood, comment #59
TanishaS. comment #9
Jeana, comment #70
Heather Witzman, comment # 86
Daylea Hanzel, comment #22
Melanie, comment #110
Margaret Ethridge, comment #85
Mary, commment #94

AND the two winners of an ARC of Whispers in the Dark are:

Mary, comment #330
Diana, comment #284

Congrats to everyone! Now I need y’all to email me your mailing addresses so I can send out the books early this week! You can send to maya@mayabanks.com

A crazy writer’s process

I get asked a lot about my “process” and I always kind of laugh and say I’d like to know what it is too! Or at least I’d like to HAVE a process. Because a process hints at some sort of organizational skills at least. Right?

But I was thinking earlier about how anal I actually am about the way I write my books. So I thought I’d give you guys a laugh and to answer all the people who ask about my PROCESS.

The only actual writing process I have is HOW I write and format my manuscripts. In no other aspect of my work am I remotely organized and yet my chapters and stuff have to be written a certain way or the world ends. Weird huh?

Here’s how it goes.

I write each chapter as an individual word file. But before that, I create a folder. Under a folder called Books. Original huh? So I have Books on my hard drive. When you click on books, you get folders and folders of stuff that says “KGI” or “Scottish Historicals” or “Berkley HEAT” Very specific, no? LOL. So then when you click on say the KGI folder, then you get the individual BOOKS so yeah yet another set of folders. Are you getting the idea I love folders?

So then I’ll have folders for The Darkest Hour. No Place to Run. Hidden Away. Whispers in the Dark. Echoes at Dawn. (And other assorted folders that have character names that I won’t mention because it would spoil some of the pairings haha)

Anyway, under each book folder, I have individual chapter files from 1 to however many there are in that book. And that’s the way I write them. I create a new file each time I start a new chapter and I save them as “Chapter 1″ and “Chapter 2″ and so on.

BUT and you knew I’d have to further complicate this, right?

So once I get like two chapters of a book written, I then create what I call a “Working Full” file. And this is where I reward myself every time I finish a chapter by copying and pasting it into the “Working Full” file because then I get to see the word count and page count go up each time I insert a new chapters. I like seeing those numbers go up lol.

When I get to the end of a book, you’d THINK I’d just edit the Working Full, right?

Nope. That working full is purely a reward system for me. I then go back and open each individual file starting with chapter one and I edit and when I am perfectly happy with the way that chapter reads, I then create a brand new file and this is the one that I actually name whatever the book title is. So right now I have “Echoes at Dawn” and when I finish editing chapter one, it gets pasted into that main document called Echoes at Dawn. And then I move on to chapter 2 file and I do the same.

Once I’ve compiled all of the individual chapter files into the main document with the book title as the file name, THEN I am ready to send that bad boy in to my editor. *g*

Now aren’t you sorry you ever asked about my process??

How time flies

Excuse me while I reflect a little on the past few years and damn how fast they go by! I’ve often said that March is my month. I don’t know, it’s just that good things seem to happen in that month!

in March 2008, I made my first sale to Harlequin and I also sold the first three books in my KGI series, effectively pushing my career in a new, exciting direction.

In March 2009 I took a huge leap and fulfilled a dream of mine by selling a Scottish historical trilogy. Now a lot of people were surprised. Some even questioned whether I’d be able to pull off something that wasn’t erotic (The same was said about the KGI series too lol and well the Desires and pretty much everything I’ve written since publishing erotic romance) But the simple truth, as I’ve said it many times, is that erotic romance was the deviation for me. I started my writing aspirations with historical romance and always hoped/planned to write historicals and contemporary action adventure stuff just like KGI woot!

But you know, selling something in March 2009 and then setting deadlines and such to publish them 2 and a half YEARS later? That may as well be a lifetime. That’s two and a half years to stress and worry endlessly over whether I can pull off a kickass historical. Whether I’ll be able to switch from contemporary romance to the magical historical story I have dancing around in my head. Thinking it and envisioning it is a far cry from actually putting it on the page and pulling off the execution. That’s two and a half years to agonize over whether I’ll be a complete and utter failure.

And then suddenly two and a half years have passed and I’m now on the eve of publishing the final book in that first historical trilogy. I shake my head because looking back, I’m still not sure how I managed to pull off those stories and get them down exactly as they were in my head. But I’m happy with the result.

I’ve had a lot of firsts in the last year and I have so much to be grateful to my readers for. You guys embraced my KGI series when I was terrified you wouldn’t. And then you embraced my historicals when again, I was terrified you wouldn’t. I wanted so badly to be able to continue my KGI series and to also continue writing fun, romantic, magical Scottish historicals. Thanks to you? I totally get to. I’m even now working on the 5th KGI story and as soon as I finish it, I’ll be starting work on my next Scottish historical series and I’m so giddy excited I can hardly stand it.

So I’ll be celebrating the release of NEVER LOVE A HIGHLANDER but not just as another book release but rather as the culmination of a long held dream of mine. A dream I’ve worked on for nearly ten years now. A dream that my wonderful readers have made possible. Thank you. You guys are the absolute best.

RWA Literacy signing and my annual reminder

Every year I try to mention this just because it’s one of those small issues that’s important to me. Next week, the Romance Writers of America organization will meet in NYC for their annual conference and with it they will host a huge book signing event to promote literacy.

There will be hundreds of authors signing. It’s a huge event. A readers dream!

The first year that I was eligible to sign at the literacy signing I didn’t. Ok, I know, you’re thinking what?? I mean after working so very hard to reach the goal of being a published author, I sat out my first opportunity to sign at such an awesome event? Yeah, I did. I was more interested in wandering around and attending as a READER. I wanted a chance to meet some of MY favorite authors and get them to sign books.

I also made it a goal to go by the tables of newer authors who might not have the lines or the followings of some of the more established authors. And each year I remind others to try and do the same.

So if you’re going to be attending the literacy signing, do me a favor, okay? Pick out at least one new author or an author who doesn’t have a line of people at her table. Go by, talk to her, check out her book or even better yet, buy it and have her sign it.

It’s HARD to sit there swallowed up by so many other authors and feel like no one has come to see you or to get you to sign a book.

A little kindness goes a long way and you have the power to make the signing very special for an author who is new, shy or just plain terrified of the crowds.

I hope to see you there! If I remember right, I’ll have Colters’ Lady and either Hidden Away or Sweet Possession to sign. (I’m so horrible, I don’t remember which one!) So come by and say hi. I’d love to chat with you!

Big, huge thank you to all my readers

Wow, you guys are so amazing! My digital only release of Colters’ Daughter hit the USA Today bestseller list AND it also hit the NYT ebook bestseller list. All because of you and your enthusiasm. You have my heartfelt thanks. I couldn’t do this without your support and it means the world to me.

Hitting the lists with an ebook is more exciting than I can possibly express. I LOVE ebooks. I love epublishing. Epublishing has allowed me the freedom to write stories that might not otherwise be picked up by a more traditional publisher and they’ve been embraced by you the reader and YOU have made the books successes. Not me. I can write to my heart’s content but that doesn’t make them bestsellers. Only readers can do that and I’m so appreciative that you’ve made MY books bestselling titles.

The Colters’ Legacy books have been special from the beginning. Colters’ Woman struck a chord with so many readers and you made it by far my most successful, bestselling title of any books I’ve written. I owe much to the readers who took a chance on me several years ago when this story came out. You bought it, you talked about it. You then bought my subsequent releases and you’ve remained so steadfastly loyal and I simply do not have the words to tell you how much I love each and every one of you.

Epublishing will always hold a special place in my heart no matter where my career takes me and I’ll never forget that in a lot of ways, Colters’ Woman is responsible for much of my success.

Thank you for buying and supporting Colters’ Daughter! I know it’s different from the other two books in the series and I appreciate your willingness to give it a chance anyway.

Because of you an EBOOK landed on those bestseller lists and because of you, a whole lot more digital only authors will climb those lists too.

Much love,

Maya