The Week: 29th October – 4th November

(Post from Friday night):

I was going to start this post with some flippant comment, but instead, I left Canberra for Sydney this morning, only to discover that a massive bushfire is about to hit my part of town (much like in 2003), along with a severe heatwave and huge winds. After I arrived in Sydney I heard from my father that houses in my own suburb have had trees fall on and crush them. Other – massive – trees have fallen and blocked major roads. The fire is still out of control, and getting closer.

It’s raining in Sydney. I wish they’d send some of their rain to us.

I am flying to China in a few hours, so I guess I just hope for the best…

But – hey – climate change doesn’t exist, right?

.Halloween Canberra Australia 31st October 2018 Sonya Heaney Jack-o-Lantern Pumkpin Witches Hot Afternoon.

Halloween indoors because it was too hot outside!

On Wednesday we booked tickets to travel to a few countries next year. I’m going back to Ukraine for several weeks, and then on to Romania (I’ve been to the border on the Ukrainian side before, but never actually to Romania!), and to Georgia. So: to two of the countries currently being invaded by Russia, and one neighbour!

Goodreads Choice Awards 2018

Happy Halloween!

le-squelette-joyeux

Manga Sense and Sensibility

Manga Classics Sense and Sensibility by Po Tse (Art by) Stacy King (Story Adaptation) Jane Austen (Original Story)

Memorial to the Great Purge

To China

Goodreads Choice Awards 2018

Goodreads Choice Awards 2018

I have a long history of saying how much I despise these awards, but if you’re a member over at Goodreads you can now begin voting for the “best” books of 2018.

The awards are more a popularity contest than a measure of quality, and they notoriously snub genres favoured by women. They also exclude books released in the final two months of the year. However, if you want to vote the first round is open now, and will close in a few days.

 

Goodreads 2017

Goodreads Choicde Awards 2017

Yet again, Goodreads members can vote for the “Best Of” of the year, and yet again the voting has been opened with a sixth of the year still to go!

I have just begun Joanna Shupe’s A Daring Arrangement – released on the 31st of October – and I already know it will be one of my favourite reads of the year.

It also doesn’t have a chance to make it into the nominations, seeing as it came out hours before the voting opened… I really wish Goodreads would rethink how they do their yearly awards!

The Week: 31st October – 6th October

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Spring afternoon in Canberra.

It wasn’t actually this week, but the early Sunday morning earthquake in Italy was devastating.

Norcia Italy Sonya Oksana Heaney June 2016

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(The picture at the top is one we took in June. Note in the second picture the tower on the left is destroyed even though it has not yet fallen.)

norcia-earthquake-destruction-30th-october-2016

I am not much of a Catholic anymore, but the fact the church where Saint Benedict was allegedly born finally succumbed to the earthquakes hitting the Norcia region? That is one of the most historically devastating things to have happened to Italy in modern history. One local said that the moment she saw the closed-order nuns fleeing, (women the public never see), she knew the town was finished.

sonya-heaney-norcia-italy-june-2016

I’m not exaggerating or being sentimental because of recent events: Norcia is one of my favourite places in the world, not just in Italy. The people, the food, the beauty of every street (before it was devastated) and of the mountains it sits in the centre of.

The whole town – and many others nearby I have spent time in – are either totally destroyed now, or severely damaged and unlikely to ever recover. I’m so shocked I was last in that part of the world only a few months ago, and we were talking about what a massive earthquake risk the area was; we never really expected it to happen.

I have seen people we’ve spoken with many times in news photos and footage, and so know they survived, but I have no idea how they can ever recover from this. These are the same families who have run the towns for centuries. One older woman, whose family owns many hotels and restaurants there – some of them in that very square – was proudly showing us a magazine article about her family’s success only in June. I still have a copy of it.

We are heading back to Italy for the better part of a month in February. I hope this horror has finished by then.

3rd-debate-putin-and-trump-together

Please, America. Do not put the whole world in danger in a few days’ time. Voting for Trump isn’t just dangerous for Americans; it’s dangerous for all of us, and especially for countries like Ukraine and Syria. We don’t get a say in the election’s outcome, but you do.

The Goodreads Choice Awards

goodreads-choice-awards-2016

My review of The Legendary Lord (Playful Brides #6) by Valerie Bowman

the-legendary-lord-playful-brides-6-by-valerie-bowman

Anne Gracie’s Upcoming Book

marry-in-haste-marriage-of-convenience-by-anne-gracie

Melbourne Cup Day

life-as-i-know-it-by-michelle-payne-and-john-harms

The Twentieth Anniversary of Romeo + Juliet

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The Goodreads Choice Awards

goodreads-choice-awards-2016

They’re back! The Goodreads Popularity Contest Choice Awards finish their first round of voting very soon, where you’re supposed to vote for the most publicised best books of the year in a few different genres (with some genres being overrepresented, and others barely given attention). What’s sad is that some of the best books this year have only just been released (Baron!), so nobody has had time to notice them, let alone vote for them.

I have not read a single book in the romance category, though you can write another one in if you want. It seems a little pointless, considering how MANY books are published in the genre every year. I’ve noticed I’m not the only one upset some of the best books this year are nowhere to be seen in the nominations. Taking Fire, Marrying Winterborne, Baron and The Summer Bride are only a few of the books that need to be there ahead of many of the actual nominees. Some of the biggest names in the romance genre are nowhere to be seen, and some authors I’ve never heard of are. Is this a sign the New Adult/real adult romance division is splitting even more?

I’m going to take a guess and say something in the New Adult subgenre is going to win for romance.

If you want to vote – and you have a Goodreads account – you can do it HERE.

Your book is like a toaster.

Goodreads Logo Banner

Obviously, this is about SOME authors, not all authors.

There have been a few things that happened recently that have me flabbergasted. Of course there is no rulebook for how involved an author should get with readers and with review sites (however, review sites DO have rules!), but I would have thought common sense would fill the gap.

Author sites like Romance University dish out a lot of good advice, alongside some utterly WRONG advice. Sometimes I wonder if authors remember they are also readers, and were readers first. They need to think about the product they’re selling, and think how a customer would feel about their behaviour.

I’ve been coming across some truly appalling advice recently, and have also seen and experienced it in action.

For example:

Authors spamming Goodreads.

Multiple articles on author advice sites actually TELL authors to spam the site. They tell them to add their own books to every Listopia they can find, tell them to comment under reviews of their books, tell them to send private messages to people who review their books, and so on.

Uh, NO. Do Not do those things!

Readers don’t like being harassed and intimidated by the creator of the product they bought. And a book is a product the same way a toaster is a product. Once you buy that toaster you can do whatever you like with it and say whatever you want about it. No different to a book.

Listopias are the lists of books on Goodreads. “Best Romantic Suspense”. “Best Cover”. Once upon a time they were spammed by Twilight fangirls, who ruined every list by voting Twilight and every connected book to the top of it, even though the book didn’t fit the topic.

Now the lists have been ruined by authors. People go there for recommendations from other readers, not to be advertised at! Apparently the list function has become very unpopular recently, because authors actively encourage each other to spam them, and then make deals to vote each other’s books to the top.

Commenting under reviews (especially on Goodreads) might seem like a good idea, especially if you’re thanking someone for liking your book.

However, it is often intimidating, and readers can’t have an honest discussion about a book if Big Brother is watching over their shoulder. I’ve had so many conversations silenced by an author who just couldn’t help themselves.

What if I want to ask the reviewer something like: ‘I hear this book has homophobic comments in it. Is that true?’

How am I supposed to ask that when I know the author is following the discussion and likely to get angry about it?

What if I want to ask the reviewer if the book is as good as the first one in the series? How in the world is the reviewer supposed to answer that question when the author is hovering over her?

There are exceptions, and there are some authors I fell I “know” well enough that comments are fine. But to do drive-by comments under reviews really is a terrible idea.

Sending messages to reviewers.

Talk about making me flabbergasted! Who in their right mind thinks it’s a good idea to harass your customers via private messages?! Contacting people for a review is one thing, but that’s where the transaction ends. Randomly contacting people you don’t know is a little creepy.

I had one author last year who thought that me reviewing one of his books was the beginning of a long and beautiful relationship, and I was bombarded with private messages nonstop for weeks. Weird. Really, really weird.

Arguing our point in someone else’s review space.

This actually made me rethink some of my Goodreads friendships. If I point out I don’t like something, STAY OUT OF IT. Unless I’m accusing you of being a Nazi, you can’t come in and ‘splain to me why I’m wrong – or evil.

Two recent incidents:

I said in a status update I think the “Street Team” concept is an unethical way to get your books out there.

The author retaliated by attacking me personally (WHY was she reading my personal status updates?! We weren’t even “friends”), and then setting all her fangirls from the street team on me too.

Another time, I commenting that I’m sick and tired of Australian books being written with American terms and expressions we don’t use here.

The author jumped in on the discussion and said something to the effect that US English is better and really popular. Well, sure, if you want to think that I can’t stop you, but it’s also WRONG for a book set in another country!

This all sounds like common sense, right? But apparently it isn’t, because authors keep telling each other behaving like this with their customers is fine. Honestly, I don’t WANT to know what people are saying about my work. I don’t know why authors set themselves up for disappointment by reading everything on the internet.

If authors want advice on how to interact online, they should be listening to readers, not each other.

It might be a good idea to think of your book as a toaster, and act the way you would if that’s what you had to promote.

Back From the Beach

And into the extreme heat in Canberra! After a week in Coolangatta on the Gold Coast, we are back to the dry inland heat. Now I can try and get caught up with my blogs and notifications.

By the way, what the HELL have they done to Goodreads?! The whole site has been changed while I was away, and now has a horrendous, unreadable font. I was on there long enough to add my opinion to the comments on the changes, and even in that short time I became really dizzy and got a headache.

I won’t be using the site for the time being, and can only hope the crazy people who run the place come to their senses and change some things back!

Coolangatta Gold Coast Queensland Australia Beach Sonya Heaney 18th December 2015