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 :)

A special holiday message for all my readers!

I just want to take a moment before the holidays descend to give you guys some serious love <3 <3 <3 I have company coming in this evening and then again tomorrow and we’ll be traveling for actual Christmas so I won’t be on the internet much until after the New Year.

BUT I wanted to take the time to let you guys know how very much you mean to me. 2012 has been an utterly FANTASTIC year for me and I owe every single part of that to YOU. I don’t say these words lightly. I’m not telling you this and don’t mean it. My career is where it is because of READERS. No other reason.

No matter how good of a book or bad of a book I write. No matter what my agent sells or my publisher buys, at the end of the day without READERS going out and buying those books, loving them, talking them up, recommending them and supporting me so wonderfully as you all have done, without YOU my career wouldn’t be possible.

I say this from the bottom of my heart and I hope you all know that I’m utterly sincere in my appreciation and deep love for you all. You’ve made so much possible for me and I want to continue giving back to you, writing really great stories that I hope you’ll continue to love and support as much as you already have.

It is ALWAYS my goal to give readers the best possible book I can every single time I sit down and write one. I know that sometimes it doesn’t work out the way I intend. It’s not possible to give every single reader a book they will love every single time. That’s a fact of the business. BUT my heart is ALWAYS in TRYING to give readers a book that is the best I can make it every single time no matter what. I hate it when I fail and I feel like I let you guys down and it makes me work even harder on the next book because I don’t EVER set out to intentionally disappoint readers.

2013 is shaping up to be a really fantastic year as well. I have a LOT of books releasing and I’m crossing fingers and toes that you guys love them as much as you’ve loved my books in the past.

We start 2013 off with a bang with Shades of Gray in just under two weeks! Yay!

Then immediately following, in February, the Breathless trilogy kicks off with RUSH. In March, Highlander Most Wanted releases. In April, the second Breathless book, FEVER, releases and then in May if you haven’t read the anthology MEN OUT OF UNIFORM with my novella, SOUL POSSESSION, you’ll be able to get it as a digital stand alone.

In July FORGED IN STEELE will release! And then in August the last Breathless book, BURN will release and in September the next Scottish historical which is tentatively titled HIGHLAND EVER AFTER will be coming your way.

Whew! It’s going to be a busy year! And I have many more plans that I’m working on *evil grin* and I hope to be posting more news about more books after the first of the year. I’m going to try VERY hard to get the Tangled Hearts trilogy launched by next fall so cross your fingers that I’m able to make that happen as well :)

I’m SUPER excited about the release of Shades of Gray. You guys put Echoes at Dawn at #7 on the NYT (my best showing to date) and #16!!! on the USA Today which is also my best showing to date on that list BUT I have absolute confidence that together we can rock it out with Shades of Gray and that we have a chance of doing even better with THIS release :))) <3 <3 <3

And if it happens, I’ll have YOU guys to thank for it because you are absolutely the ones responsible for my success.

I want to wish everyone a very happy and SAFE holiday season. I hope you make wonderful memories this season. I know you guys have given me many, MANY wonderful memories of 2012 and I’m looking forward to a terrific 2013 together with you guys.

Much love always,

xoxo

Maya

ARC winners!

The winners of the Shades of Gray ARCs are as follows!

Collette Caprio comment #44

Jessica Lee comment #182

Carla Lee Deitweller comment #201

Janet K comment #417

Lori Marshall comment #567

Congrats to all the winners! Now I need you to email me at maya@mayabanks.com and provide your mailing address so I can get those ARCs in the mail to you this week.

Shades of Gray ARCs

I have a few ARCs of Shades of Gray to give away. Anyone interested? :)

I’ll run this contest for the rest of the week and draw a winner hopefully around Sundayish. I know next week is Thanksgiving but I hope to get addresses from the winners and get them in the mail right after Thanksgiving so you guys will get them a whole month ahead of the release date!

So if you want to be entered, a few things you need to know. I’ll draw winners as I said Sundayish. Which may mean Monday. But at any rate, you will need to check back to see if you won and you will need to get me your address no later than Friday of next week. ARCs will be mailed out the following Monday. I won’t hunt you down, so if you don’t provide me the mailing info, I’ll award the ARC to someone else.

To enter, just post a comment below and tell me what 2013 books you’re looking forward to ! (Yes I’m compiling a shopping list haha)

Good luck to everyone!

xoxo

Maya

Some author love and other book blather

Some author love for you guys and yeah, I’m going to get a little wordy ;)

I’m often asked for recommendations. A lot of times I’m asked because a reader will have read the Sweet Series (I’m going to use this as an example but it applies to all my books) But we’ll go with the Sweet Series for purposes of this conversation heh.

Anyway, I’ll have a reader who read my Sweet Series and really enjoyed it and then they’ll ask me for who I think they should read next. Or specifically they’ll ask for “similar” books as the Sweet Series (or KGI or my Scottish Historicals) etc.

This is a really HARD question to answer! It’s not that I have ANY shortage of awesome authors to recommend. I mean I can give you that all day long. But it’s tailoring a particular author to a specific genre or theme request that’s hard and there’s a lot of pressure involved because I don’t want to disappoint a reader nor do I want to MISLEAD them by telling them to read author X and then have that reader think that it was NOTHING like the Sweet Series or KGI or whatever.

So what I’ve often done is simply recommend other authors that I personally enjoy and can vouch for (based on my personal likes) that write in the same GENRE and usually that means the broader spectrum. I’ll give a recommendation for other erotic romance authors who may or may not write anything like my Sweet Series. I don’t actually personally know of an author who I’d say wrote something very similar to the Sweet Series because as authors we all put our own spin on things. This is actually a question that is usually better answered by other readers.

When I’m asked about erotic romance authors, the names that always come up for me are Jaci Burton, Lorelei James, Sylvia Day, Vivian Arend, Lauren Dane and I’ve also really enjoyed books by Cherise Sinclair (forgive any mispellings on these names. I’m working off memory because I’m too lazy to actually look them up lol) Lainey Reese (though I’ve only read one of hers. I want to crack a whip to make her write faster!) Cara McKenna (I’ve really enjoyed a lot of her books. They’re edgy and dark and scrumptious)

But there are also a lot of really terrific contemporary authors I enjoy as well like Shannon Stacey, Bella Andre, Maisey Yates, Janet Chapman, Sarah Morgan, Shelly Laurenston (OMG LOVE HER!!!)

And really one of my favorite contemporary romances EVER was Janet Chapman’s The Seduction of His Wife. I never get tired of rereading that book. I love every single word.

And for paranormal, now granted I don’t read a LOT of paranormal. Far less than I do contemporary (but more than I read historical lol) I love Christine Feehan, Larissa Ione and Kresley Cole. Kresley Cole is a relatively new “find” for me. I didn’t come to her IAD series until she was WELL into it but omg I love those books. They are my crack.

My Kindle is FILLED with hundreds and hundreds of books I haven’t even read yet. Book buying is a compulsion :) It makes me HAPPY to buy books even knowing I can’t get to them right away and I’m always hopeful that with each new book purchase that I’ll find an author I fall in love with and can glom an entire backlist.

And of course I have my “comfort” reads on my Kindle and those I turn to far more often than a book I haven’t read, which may sound silly, but there are times when I NEED a book that I KNOW I’m going to love and so rather than risk a brand new author or brand new book, I fall back on something I’ve read and loved many times. There’s NOTHING more satisfying than losing yourself in the pages of a “happy sigh” book :))

So there’s my book dish for the day as well as some shout outs of some authors I love. I may not be able to give a recommendation for books that are very similar to mine, but I NEVER have a problem giving a recommendation for an author I’ve loved and adored their books.

What about you? Have any that I didn’t mention? I’m always all ears for new books/authors and I love going to Amazon with a list of books to buy *g*

xoxo

Maya

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?

The great ARC giveaway!

Ok guys, here’s the deal. I love my readers. Adore you guys. And you’ve all been so wonderful to me. So I wanted to do something in return. A kind of a “I love you to pieces and thank you” pressie :)

Normally ARCs go out to reviewers, bloggers, review sites etc ahead of the release date of a book. But I wanted to do something special this time. I wanted to give the readers who don’t normally get a chance to receive these early copies a chance to get their hands on one. So here’s what I’m going to do.

I’m going to give away ARCs of Sweet Addiction. I have 38 left, and I’m going to give them away here and on twitter.

A few details to get out of the way. I’ll give away 20 copies for this specific blog giveaway. I’m going to leave the contest open for an entire week to give as many people as chance to enter as possible. You MUST check back to see if you win. I won’t go looking for you if you don’t email me with your mailing address. You have to claim your prize or else it’ll be given to someone else. Don’t worry, I’ll give you a few days to claim it.

Also, these ARCs will be mailed out at the first of MARCH. I’m doing the giveaway now but it’s because I need names and addresses well ahead of time because my publicist is on vacation for some of February and I want to make sure she has everything she needs so that she can mail the books when she returns. So I’ll post the giveaway now. I’ll leave it open until Saturday or Sunday January 28th or 29th (I’m leaving myself the weekend because I’ll get busy and I’ll totally forget) So start checking back that weekend and I’ll give you a few days into the next week to email me.

There are no conditions for receiving an ARC. You don’t have to be a reviewer or blogger or anything but someone who wants a chance to read the book early :) It’s yours to do with what you want. You can use it to start a fire or you can let your dog chew on it. Totally up to you.

So with all that covered, let’s go win some books! To enter, just comment below and tell me what you’re favorite Sweet book is in the series. DON’T WORRY. If you haven’t read any of the Sweet series, you aren’t going to be penalized. The drawing is totally random lol. If you haven’t read any of the prior Sweet books, then tell me what your favorite erotic romance novel is.

That simple. Have fun, and good luck!

<3 <3 <3

Maya

Looking for short story recs!

I was having a twitter conversation with Inez Kelly about how little reading time I’ve had lately. Seriously, this year has been CRAZY and the ironic thing is, that it was supposed to mark a slowdown for me. But uhm yeah, not so much. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve written a historical romance, two shorter contemporary romances for Harlequin Desire, an erotic longer novella (40k words) the 4th KGI book and now I’m immersed in Sweet Addiction. So yeah, my reading time has been non existent because along with all the work I’ve been devoting time to, things have been really busy with my family.

We’ve traveled. My daughter is playing softball and we’ve devoted a lot of time to her practices and her tournaments. The year has sped by so frighteningly fast that well, reading has just fallen by the wayside. Which makes me sad.

But I’ve found that even if I can’t commit to a full length novel (even as insanely fast as I read) that shorter works really do the trick when I really just need time to let my brain rest and enjoy something. Such was the case when I impulsively picked up Cara McKenna’s latest short story, Don’t Call Her Angel. It was perfect, see, because I was done in about half an hour. And then I could go back to work, or go take my daughter to practice or even cook supper. OMG you guys seriously don’t know how long it’s been since I last cooked lololol. My poor husband was in shock last night when I actually went into the kitchen and fixed supper.

I’m getting off topic….

So to get to my point, I’d LOVE some recommendations for SHORT stories. Novellas, short stories. But I want them to be really good. And satisfying. They don’t have to be “change the world” earth shattering. I just want something yummy that satisfies my need for a “quick fix”

Got anything for me? Oh and yeah, I should clarify, I want it to be romance. Don’t make me sad when I’m trying to work!! :)

Top Ten Random Things That Annoy Me

Eh so this is a post poking fun at me and the things I find annoying. Note: Most of them are ridiculous, nitpicky or just plain weird. But hey, who knows why people are annoyed by the things they are :)

1. Reviewers who take multiple names/accounts so they can post multiple reviews of the same book while appearing to be different people. How creepy and stalkerish is that? I admit I’m puzzled by why people do the things they do. I just find it weird and awfully time consuming. I can’t imagine why anyone would invest that kind of time focusing on one book/author. (and yes this does happen. Really!) I’m always left with the same question. What do they get out of it? What’s the payoff?

2. Authors who preach at other authors about how they should behave/act/react whatever. I find mostly that authors who complain the most and point the finger the most are usually the ones most guilty of stupid and or unprofessional behavior.

3. On twitter, people who post vague tweets in response to something that happens on a closed loop. I mean why? Your followers aren’t on that loop and they don’t care about your self righteous response to something they have no clue about. Nor are they interested in your attempt to make yourself look good at the expense of mocking or criticizing someone else.

4. On Facebook, people who have their twitter feed posted to their facebook. And little else on their page. You aren’t talking to your Facebook followers. You’re talking to your TWITTER followers and Facebook people don’t have a clue nor are they interested in eavesdropping on your twitter feed. If they wanted to read your tweets, they’d sign up for twitter and follow you. Facebook people want to talk to you via Facebook. Not twitter!

5. People who try to tell me what I can or can’t do, or that my choices aren’t valid because they aren’t choices they themselves would have made. Just…go away.

6. Gas stations that haven’t raised their credit card limits accordingly to the huge increase in price per gallon. Hell, I can only put half a tank of gas into my SUV at a time. Get with the program. At almost 4 bucks a gallon, your “limit” is chump change.

7. Unmotivated, lazy people who rail at their lack of success and yet won’t do a damn thing to change their circumstances. This is particularly relevant in sports. I see this and it’s really annoying when say half a team works hard and wants to win and learn and the other half could give a crap. This is also relevant in well just about everything. Is see it in publishing a lot. Authors like to whine and complain about how this and that isn’t working or they can’t sell books or they can’t write because of some reason or another and there’s always an excuse for failure and reasons why they can’t do something.

8. When my children follow me from room to room as I run with my laptop trying to escape to somewhere silent so I can get my word count in for the day and they follow me like a pack of wolves who’ve scented blood. Yes, I’m being dramatic. No, I’m not lying. I think the wolves might be quieter at least.

9. People who don’t respond. Now this sounds vague or general but really it’s a pretty broad annoyance in any field. Whether it’s a phone call, email, whatever. I admit I’m not the most patient person in the world. It’s a fault of mine. But when I can’t get information or a response or SOMETHING from someone after repeated attempts, emails, phone calls or whatever? It’s a pretty sure thing I’m going to be pissed. And grumpy. And extremely irritated.

10. People with a sense of entitlement. Now really this shouldn’t need any explanation. It too applies to a broad spectrum of people and circumstances. I see it a lot. It annoys the shit out of me. People want what someone else has. They don’t want to put in the work that someone else has. But they want it. Think they deserve it. They should have it for no other reason than they feel entitled.

Feel free to add your own if like me you needed to vent a little steam. It’s either that or develop an eye twitch *g*