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Monday, October 18, 2010


LASR, thank you for hosting me on your blog.

As I am blogging for a review site, it seems appropriate to talk about reviews. Let’s face it, reviews are the last thing we care about before publication. As we sit in front of the computer and eagerly type, we want to share the book of our hearts, that first story we have rewritten a hundred times in our minds before gathering enough courage to share the words with our monitor. As the story takes shape and the first draft is finished, we dance with joy. High five. I wrote a book. Our goal shifts as we focus on polishing the manuscript and exchange critiques with fellow writers.

Critiques are the first form of review a writer will get. They often hurt. How dare you criticize my masterpiece? Not criticizing, just critiquing, my friend, and helping. We quickly learn to accept critique and give as good as we get. We also realize that these critiques drastically improve our writing.

Writers face the next form of review by entering contests. Here published authors and advanced writers will judge the work and evaluate the performance with a score. If the score is good, we are delighted. If the score is low, we whine, seek comfort and either accept the suggestions and use them to improve our writing, or complain about the judge and ignore the comments. It’s a matter of choice. But keep in mind the review is still given in private.

Reviews bite the writer much harder when they come from an editor or an agent who requests revisions. By then, we have developed a thicker skin and immediately agree to do whatever it takes to get the book published.

Once published your story is official, at the mercy of readers and reviewers. I remember my impatience and anxiety as I waited for my first book’s reviews. Those few words of praise that will validate my work, that will give me the confidence every new author craves, and a new boost of energy to write a new book. The smile of happiness that brightens an author’s face when she first glimpses her 5 or 4 stars should be captured on camera. How many of you have shouted on her loop: Wooohooo, 5 stars!!! I made it.

Yes, you made it. The review is your graduation certificate and you deserve the applause.

The Long And The Short Reviews~ 5 Books. Best Book of The Week. Ms. Risk has done an outstanding job with Babies in the Bargain and is a very talented writer who gives the reader what they are after. I highly recommend this book. This one will keep you on your toes and make you beg for more. I can't wait to read more of Ms. Risk's work in the future.

The Long And The Short Reviews~ 4.5 Books. Mona Risk’s writing sweeps you into the story from the first page, and keeps you turning the pages. Rx For Trust, the first book in Mona Risk’s miniseries, ‘Doctor’s Orders’, is full of emotion, suspense, intrigue, good intentions and determination, depending on which character POV you are looking from.

Readers become your unofficial reviewers. A fan letter is the best review you can ever get. This one made my day and my month!!“I totally recommend Mona Risk!!! Read and you won’t be sorry. Worth every penny you pay for her books. Take it from the constant reader.”

So what is your experience with reviews? Writers: Do you use them as a critique and learn from them? Are they a promotional tool? Readers: Do reviews influence your choice of a book? Do you write a review after reading a book you particularly enjoyed?

I will send an electronic copy of Babies in the Bargain to a lucky commentator.

Bio: As a Ph.D. in Chemistry and former director of an analytical laboratory, Mona traveled to more than fifty countries on business or vacation. To relax from her hectic schedule, she avidly read romance novels or mentally plotted her own books. Now, she lives in sunny Florida with her husband.

Mona likes to set stories in the fascinating places she visited. Her first book, To Love A Hero, is the difficult and sizzling love story of an American chemist on a mission to Belarus and the Major General of Belarus. Her romantic suspense, French Peril, set in the beautiful Loire Valley relates a dangerous treasure hunt for a precious statue by an American architect and a French count. Both books are available at Cerridwen Press.

Mona also writes medical romance novels published by The Wild Rose Press: Babies in the Bargain received ten stellar reviews, was voted 2009 BEST ROMANCE NOVEL at Preditors & Editors Readers Poll and won 2009 BEST CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE at READERS FAVORITE. Rx For Trust received five top reviews and won 2010 BEST CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE at READERS FAVORITE. Rx In Russian will be released in April 2011.


Mona Risk said...

Thank you Marianne and Judy for giving me the opportunity to post on the LASR blog and thank you for the great reviews I received at LASR.

Celia Yeary said...

MONA--Reviews--we breathlessly wait for a review site to choose our book and allow an anonymous stranger to read and critique--review. I think it's great fun, but I've never received a bad review. If I had--and maybe my time will come--I'd probably take it personally, as in, "You really don't like ME, do you?" (I know, it's juvenile.)I reviewed for WRDF for months, and learned more about writing using the guidelines and critiquing someone else's writing than I have learned almost any other way.
That said, I know reviewers are to make positive comments, but if one gives me a four, raves about the book, etc. but does not give me a clue why she counted that one point off--then there's no learning facet to a review. The only criticism I've received has stuck in my head--a reviewer who gave me a four, and at the end said something like, your secondary female character is stronger then your heroine. I did not think so--aren't we a stubborn lot?--because my heroine transformed into a real heroine during the novel. She didn't start out that way. The reviewer saw her as a little weak for the heroine.
Interesting things to ponder, Mona--and it's too early here for my brain to work this hard! thanks--Celi

Keena Kincaid said...

Good morning, Mona.

In general, my books get 4 or 5 stars, but I've had the same book earn from 3 to 5 stars. What this taught me is how very subjective a review can be even among professional reviewers.

I think the differenced between the 4 stars and the 5 stars is nothing more than that elusive connection between book and reader. We don't all have the same books on her keeper shelf, after all.

I read the reviews for any insight I can glean from them, share them. However, I think word-of-mouth sells more books than anything else. (Some review sites have that kind of connection to their readers and a great review on the site will sell books to the regular visits of that site).

liana laverentz said...

What a wonderful post, Mona. The progress of a book is indeed a trial by fire from first reading to last. Congratulations on your great reviews...all along the way!

Joanne said...

Hi Mona,
Thanks for your great post. I have not had any of my manuscripts reviwed, as I am still unpubbed. But I can imagine the anxiety along the way. Congrats on your excellent reviews!

Mary Marvella said...

Interesting article with food for thought Mona.

Critiques can bite, all right. So far my critique partners are my only reviewers, since I have no sales and don't do contests.

I'd give you 6 Stars out of 5 for this post.

StephB said...

A very insightful post, Mona. Reviews can be nailbiting can't they. I've got between 1-5 on my stories, (quite a range isn't it!)

You know I enjoy your stories and writing, Mona. French Peril has go to be one of my favorites.


Judy said...

Good blog, Mona! No matter where a writer is along the way, good feedback is invaluable. Writing is a lonely, worrisome journey and every little bit of confidence helps! Glad your reviews are so good! Thanks for sharing!

Autumn Jordon said...

Great blog, Mona. Oh wow! Reviews make me bite my nails. So far, I've been very lucky and had great reviews for Evil's Witness and obsessed bY Wildfire. I did however take note of comments which would make my next work even better.

Mona Risk said...

First I want to apologize for not answering your comments yet. I have been out all day baking cookies for the church--yes me who never baked anything in my life, LOL--but it's never too late to learn.

Mona Risk said...

Celia--you made me laugh with you saying that of course you would take a critique personally!! Your books deserved all their great comments and raving reviews.

Mona Risk said...

Keena, like you I had reviewers telling me they love the book and then giving a 4 or 4.5, which tells me there is something that is not to their liking but they can't pinpoint it.

Mona Risk said...

Hi Liana-- yes a trial by fire. You said it so well.

Mona Risk said...

Joanne, after winning so many contests, including the Golden Pen, I am sure your books will have raving reviews. Not to worry about that.

Mona Risk said...

Mary, good critique partners are the best friends a writer can have. My CPs Helen Scott-Taylor and Joan Leacott are such dear friends now. We know each others' style. We can't live--or write-without each other and never get upset by each others' critique.

Mona Risk said...

Steph, thank you for your wonderful reviews of my books.

Mona Risk said...

Judy, you are right. Even when we try to save the face, we are secretely suffering from such lack of self-confidence when it comes to writing. A good review or a contest win is a great morale boost.

Mona Risk said...

Autumn you have great stories and great reviews.

Joan Leacott said...

Mona, I'm always delighted to critique on of your stories and then bask, just a little, in your reflected glory.

Mona Risk said...

Joan you are so sweet. I owe you so much.

Maggie Toussaint said...

Hi Mona,

I'm not sure how many books I've bought because of good reviews, but I know I think twice about reading a book with lousy reviews.

The overriding comment of critiques, contests and reviews if that they are all subjective, ie someone's opinion. It would be wise if we kept that in mind!

Mona Risk said...

Maggie-- Unfortunately, our whole business is so subjective, or as they say in French you can't argue about color and taste.

Mimi Barbour said...

Not only do reviews give you a good inkling as to how the readers might like the story, but it can also be a wonderful blurb to add to the next book you might write.