Lies and More Disappointment

So my Kindle Unlimited experiment is still charging along and I’m also still reading books for contests. The disappointments I found at the start of all this didn’t stop me from continuing to read. For the contests, I have to honor my commitments. I know some judges give up if they’ve had too many poor books. They just burn out and quit. I tend not to do that. I take a break and read something I really want by a favorite author and recharge myself.  After all, I made a commitment so I stick by it. I don’t think it’s fair to quit although I do see that continuing on when you’re suffering from burn out could be detrimental to fairly judging the books.

fittobetiedI’m not burned out on judging so I’ve been reading along with only a day and a half pause to read Mary Calmes’ Fit To Be Tied which downloaded to my phone’s Kindle app at 9 pm on Thursday night. Love me some Miro and Ian. I also took a break at the beginning of the week to read one of my Kindle Unlimited downloads. And here’s where I get to the point of my post title because the book I read was more than a disappointment.

Thus far, I haven’t divulged any titles or authors and my issues with books haven’t been specific enough (I hope) for anyone to figure out the titles or authors. This might change now. I’m not going to tell the name of the book or the author or the editor, but when I tell you what absolutely disgusted me with this book, you might guess. Well, you might if you know how to spell band names.

I opened up a Kindle Unlimited book that seemed like it had promise. I liked what the blurb said at any rate. I had, if not high hopes, at least moderately optimistic thoughts about this one. Then I saw the copyright credits and thought I’d throw up.

First of all, you either have to pay to search for a copyright online or you can do it for free at any Copyright Office. Most people aren’t going to pay to search these. However, many books have trademark credits, not copyright credits. You all have seen trademark credits right? Where the author acknowledges the mention of something that has a trademark. For instance, if you look up Romance Writers of America, you get this:

Word Mark ROMANCE WRITERS OF AMERICA
Goods and Services IC 035. US 100 101 102. G & S: trade association services in connection with the promotion of high quality romance writing. FIRST USE: 19810215. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19810215
Standard Characters Claimed
Mark Drawing Code (4) STANDARD CHARACTER MARK
Serial Number 76679704
Filing Date July 19, 2007
Current Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Published for Opposition June 17, 2008
Registration Number 3494400
Registration Date September 2, 2008
Owner (REGISTRANT) Romance Writers of America, Inc. CORPORATION TEXAS 14615 Benfer Road Houston TEXAS 77069
Attorney of Record Janet F. Satterthwaite
Prior Registrations 1461390
Type of Mark SERVICE MARK
Register PRINCIPAL-2(F)
Affidavit Text SECT 15. SECT 8 (6-YR).
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

So if you mentioned “Romance Writers of America” in your book, in the trademark credits you would note:

The author acknowledges the trademarks of the following items mentioned in this book:

Romance Writers of America – Romance Writers of America, Inc.

You can do your own search at the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS.) It is absolutely free.

Now, back to the lies part of my title.

The book I read had a copyright acknowledgement and I can unequivocally say that this author did not search for the items listed in her copyright credits. How do I know that she didn’t? For one, a bunch of them are spelled wrong. So I instantly felt as if she’d lied to me. If you had searched on what she had listed, spelled as she spelled it, you wouldn’t find it either under a copyright search or a trademark search. I know you’re wondering so I’m just going to show you the items from the copyright credits that were spelled wrong.

Scorpion
Def Leopard
Pat Benetar
The Notebook © Warner Bros 2004 Starring Ryan Gossling and Rachel McAdams

Screen-Shot-2015-01-19-at-6.48.24-PMNow, she also had Motley Crue (a US heavy metal band) on her list and it was spelled correctly on the copyright credits, but it was spelled this way in the book Motely Crue. The bands listed incorrectly in the copyright credits of the book and in the book itself are The Scorpions (a German heavy metal band), Def Leppard (a UK heavy metal band) and Pat Benatar. And of course, Ryan Gosling’s name has only one S.

Can you see why I would be turned off? She has a copyright list she never actually checked the copyrights on and she used a bunch of famous names and bands and never checked the spelling of those items. Worse than that, she used what appears to be a professional editor and the editor never checked these items or their spelling. That doesn’t seem very professional to me.

Well, after a few hours I got over my disgust and I decided to give the book a chance anyway. It didn’t disappoint. It was just as bad as the copyright credits lead me to believe. It was full of spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. The characters were juvenile in speech and behavior. I actually liked the main characters. I wanted to see them together. But the entire story was so full of the fate, destiny and soulmates stuff that I expected to have vampires or werewolves or some other kind of shifter turn up. The level of “mates” stuff and coincidences happening in the book was so over the top I expected it to be a paranormal.

kindleunlimitedAnd so here I sit still disappointed in what I’m getting from Kindle Unlimited. You really can’t judge a book by it’s Reese Dante cover. She, like me, does covers for any author who can pay for one. She doesn’t discriminate between authors who can’t write and those who can. Neither do I. I don’t read most of the books I do covers for. She probably doesn’t either. So just because a book has a professional cover doesn’t mean it’s been professionally edited by an editor that knows what they are doing or that it was a decent enough manuscript to actually be published in the first place.

I feel bad for the writers out there who don’t know the craft well enough to realize they are being ripped off by editors who purport to be professional but who leave these books filled with mistakes a 6th grader could catch. Every day that I spend writing, I thank my lucky stars Mrs. Betty Hodgins who drilled grammar, usage, sentence structure and more into me in my 7th and 8th grade honors English classes. I hated her then, but my God, I love the woman to bits now because my editors are always happy with my work. (Translation, I don’t give them a lot to do. LOL)

It’s really sad that my experiment with Kindle Unlimited is going so poorly. And I’m even more disappointed by the fact that a lot of these self-pubbed books that aren’t that well written are making it into the contests I read for. It seems like if I want a decent book, I should look to who the author is and whether or not they have ever been published by a reputable house. That’s the only criteria I can find anymore that mostly guarantees I won’t be cringing over the misuse and misspelling of words every other paragraph.

Next time, I have a bone to pick about non-standalone (series) books in contests. Yeah, I won’t go there today. 😉 Happy reading everyone!

Lex_Sig

What’s New Pussycat?

I know, I know. I’m late coming back here to give away audiobooks from my New Year’s giveaway. Three people had the correct answer! Yvette, Emily W and Lee Todd win their choice of audiobook from me. Yay!

TheHardestPart_200So on to what’s new…I’m sick. Well, I was sick. All weekend, puking. Turns out it was just a reaction to adding a pain med to my already long line up of stuff I take. So they switched me to something else. It doesn’t make me puke but it does make me sleepy. Makes work a challenge. And the pain med that made me puke is one I’ve had before so it has to be the combination of stuff I was on. I think it didn’t like the hormone stuff my other doc has me on. Anyway, waiting for an insurance authorization so I can get yet another CT scan because it seems like the kidney stones are trying for a reappearance.  Just what I need when I have a full schedule. Story of my life. *sigh*

Meanwhile, on the writing front I have a sweet, hot short story just out for your reading enjoyment! It’s been in the works since August so you can see how sick I’ve been. The Hardest Part is a story of love and optimism and getting what you deserve for being positive in the face of negativity. I hope you readers like it!

I’ve also got other books out in audio format. Kissing Joan Collins is out in time for Valentine’s Day which is perfect because it’s a Valentine’s Day story! Also out is Rousing Caine which is a very sexy ghost story. Check out the covers!

 

KissingJoanCollins_audio

RousingCaine_audio300

I’ve got lots of codes for free copies of my audiobooks so look for me to be doing giveaways here and there across the net and on Facebook. Meanwhile, you can hop on over to Facebook and vote for The Hardest Part’s cover in the Love, Lust and Lipstick Stains cover contest! Your vote is much appreciated!

That’s it for me. I’m off to work. Cross your fingers I either don’t need a pain pill or that I can manage to stay awake when I take it!

Happy Tuesday!

winter-lex

 

 

Trading Opinions

I know I haven’t been around in a long while. I’ve been busy and well, tired. Really tired. But stuff has happened since the last time I took to my own personal forum here. To catch you up quickly, here’s a rundown.

BitterBonds_200New sequel to Broken Bonds released. Bitter Bonds was #1 on ARe and top ten gay romance on Amazon. Entangled was #1 free gay rom on Amazon, now still top ten. Got a contract for the revamped Insolent. It’s in edits now. Working on Out of the Pocket (sequel to Scrambling), Fire Storm (next Tales book), and Subs for Lunch (short story in the Souls in Bondage world.) Have five books now in production for audiobooks, Unbreak Me (narrated by Rebecca Roberts) and the first four Tales of the Darkworld (Shifting Winds and Hot Water by female narrator Jenny Urban, Fire Season narrated by Chip Wood, and Ride the Lightning narrated by Sarah Pamero.) In particular, Fire Season sounds soooo exciting! There’s news on the health front (perimenopause still kicking my ass) and the family front – my kid went to stay with her dad after he hadn’t spoken to her in about 5 years and my MIL has been in the hospital since the 4th of July. My hubs’ stepdad with Alzheimer’s has to go into a home now since my MIL can no longer care for him.

What can I say? Life is busy and ever changing.

EROTIC - Reviewed by LASRSo you’re probably wondering about the title of this post. Now that I’ve gotten past the what’s new with me crap, I’ll get to the subject of today’s rant. Well, maybe rant is too a strong word. Definitely, I have something to say and since I’m on my blog, I guess I think you all have the right to hear my opinion! LOL And that’s what I want to talk about…opinions.

Reviews have become a hot button these days. Giving away books in trade for an honest review. Paying for reviews. Not getting reviews unless you practically twist someone’s arm to give you one. Review places springing up everywhere. Review places only reviewing books from authors who pay for ads on their site. Review places only reviewing authors who are friends of theirs. Goodreads snark reviews. Amazon reviews of books not even read. Misinformation in reviews. Authors trading reviews.

Rated 5 cherryThe list of subjects related to reviews is a lot longer than my little list. Books I have with publishers are always sent out to the publisher’s list of sanctioned review sites. A lot of publishers carefully weed out review sites that have trashed their authors’ books and send only to those sites that seem to offer honest, positive reviews of their books. I rarely seek reviews from review sites for books I have with publishers. I don’t want to duplicate efforts. Instead, I focus my promo elsewhere.

2lipsbanner1

Now, for my self-published books, I have actively sent them out for review and lately, I’ve joined some Facebook groups where people will accept a copy of your book in exchange for an honest review or where authors trade books for review. The trade for honest reviews has been slow, but that’s okay. I don’t want or need to be one of those authors blasting across Facebook that I have 150 five star reviews. (At one time, Rainbow Award Finalist and Jessewave Top Ten Book of 2009 Fire Season had over a dozen 4.5 and 5 star reviews, but 150? Not even counting Goodreads and Amazon did it hit 150.) Frankly, I don’t believe the veracity of those claims or at least, I don’t believe all of them. I have the evil sense that they went to Fiverr and paid $5 for a bunch of 5 star reviews from people who never read the book.

RR-cir-125Now, the authors exchanging reviews thing is a little different. As a published author, and as a person with very little time to read, I don’t waste my time on books that are not my specific reading genre. So if an author of a self-help book solicits a review from me in exchange for reviewing my book, I’m going to turn him down. I don’t read self help books much and I don’t feel it would be right of me to read something I don’t really want to read. And I’m sure I don’t want to force my gay rom on a straight arrow author. I can just imagine the fiasco that review would be!

reviewertoppick2

But you know, I see all those requests for trading reviews (trading opinions really) from the self published authors on those review groups on Facebook. Once in awhile I’ll click on the link to the person’s book to see if it’s something I might want to read. Usually, it’s not. Today, however, there was one.

I clicked the link which took me to Smashwords, thinking maybe I could trade reviews with this author. I clicked the sample function to check out the book. Guess what I found? A prologue that was an info dump. A first chapter poorly written and punctuated with more info dump and a plethora of passive voice. I don’t believe it was edited. And if it was edited, the author wasted the money she paid for the edit. It was not a book I would have contracted back when I was an acquisitions editor. The author needs to hone her craft better because what she put out was entirely sub-standard.

ReviewedAtCTR

So how can I justify doing a trade of reviews with her? Yes, her book is in the genre that I read. Yes, I could give her an honest review, but that review would be hard pressed to make two stars. And if I reviewed her book and honestly said I didn’t like it and noted all the stuff I said above about the lack of quality in the writing, editing and content, would that author then be angry enough to trash my book in review? It would be her honest opinion after all except that it would be biased based on her anger at my review of her book.

And that brings me back to the whole conundrum of whether or not to participate in these review swaps. I guess I need to read the samples first before I decide to do a swap and read the other author’s reviews of other people’s books too. After all, if I can clearly see in the sample that an author needs to go back to the classroom, that’s not a book I want to be involved with even in terms of a review. And if I can see from an author’s other reviews of books that he/she is snarky and/or mean or doesn’t write an honest review where you can see that they read the book, then I don’t want that person reviewing me. I’d rather do without, thank you very much.

fourjunkiesratingsA trade of opinions, er reviews, is only good if it benefits both people. If you’re going to trade reviews, make sure you’re willing to give the book and the author a fair shake. Only do reviews of books you would normally read. Check the book sample out first so you aren’t stuck reviewing something substandard or something you can’t say anything positive about. Check out the other author first and make sure your book is something they would probably enjoy reading.

Don’t set yourself up for failure! Asking someone who is straight and doesn’t read romance to review a gay rom is asking for trouble. It’s like subbing a sexually explicit BDSM book to a Christian inspirational publisher. You’re doomed to be disappointed.

FARLogo_FiveAngel

Thus far, I haven’t engaged in any trading of reviews. The stuff I’ve been interested in is either written by someone who doesn’t read my genre or, like the book I mentioned above, has been so poorly written I know I couldn’t give it a positive review. And I won’t review something I can’t say something positive about.

So I guess my little rant about trading opinions is that you need to use caution doing this because the old saying really is true. Opinions (aka reviews) are like assholes. Everyone has one and occasionally it stinks…to someone.

Happy Saturday everyone!

winter-lex

 

PS: Yes, the graphics used in this post were all earned by my books. If you’re interested in seeing how my latest releases are doing at review sites, here’s some info:

For Bitter Bonds, 5 paddles from BDSM Book Reviews and 4.5 stars from Joyfully Jay!

4 Sweet Peas from Mrs. Condit Reads Books for Mixed Tape Vol 2 which has Save Your Love in it.

4 stars from Smile Somebody Loves You for Save Your Love and 2.5 stars from MM Good Book Reviews. (It was a positive review but the book was too sweet for the reviewer!)

Bitter Bonds

I’ll admit, I’ve been seriously busy. It’s tax time and I’ve got a million other things going on at the same time. I’m even out of time to post here. Time to head to the EDJ. But I did want to drop some info here on the blog about one of the things that’s kept me busy…Bitter Bonds.

Bitter Bonds is book 2 of the Souls in Bondage series that I started with Broken Bonds which has been a best seller at All Romance eBooks and a gay romance best seller at Amazon. Bitter Bonds isn’t quite as angsty as Broken Bonds and it takes place over a longer span of time. (Broken Bonds took place on Christmas Eve.) Both heroes have issues though.

The twink angels are back trying to fix things as their wings molt. We meet other people from Darkness, the leather club. We find out that the series is set in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Haven, Micah and Nick are all back. And you get to meet Finn and Jake whose love story has some heartwrenching moments.

Here’s the cover, trailer link and the blurb and then I’m off to work!

BitterBonds_432

TRAILER

Blurb:

Dominant Jake Conrad isn’t going to get involved in another relationship with a sub. His motto is burn me once shame on you, burn me twice shame on me. Burned by a former submissive,  Jake vows never to collar one again. And then his best friend Ray brings him a sub like no other. Finn is as broken as Jake is bitter. But the white haired submissive has secrets and talents Jake never dreamed of and the lure of Finn’s need for protection calls to Jake’s soul. Everyone Finn has ever loved has walked away from him. He fears caring for anyone when he knows the outcome will shatter his heart again. When Finn finds himself falling for Jake, he gives his lover the ultimate gift, a chance to have the dreams he set aside years before even though he knows that if Jake accepts the gift, he’ll walk out of Finn’s life forever.  A slave to his love for his dominant, the submissive finds his true strength in erasing Jake’s bitterness even at the cost of his own happiness.

Bitter Bonds will be coming later in February. Happy Monday everyone!

winter-lex

What Would the Neighbors Do?

I’m back from resting after my month long blogging and annual giveaway. I figured I’d start right out with a funny tale about where I live. I live in a canyon, literally on the edge of a hill. I look out my door and all I see is hills and cows. It’s a mobile home and yes, I live in a trailer park.

Since I’m at the end of the road, I only have one next door neighbor and I rarely see her. Her driveway is next to the backside of my house. Our mailboxes sit at the end of her driveway and the narrow walkway that runs along the back of my house. Most mobile homes have a back door on the carport side of the house. That’s true of her house, but not my house. My carport is wide, not long like most. You have to cross my carport to get to my porch and my front door.

Since my house doesn’t conform to the normal patterns it throws the mailman, the UPS guy and the Fedex guy for a loop. They end up knocking on our back door when there’s a package. Or if they are particularly stupid, they just leave it on the back door step and don’t bother to knock at all.

Now, my washer and dryer are pretty new. Not even two years old. Nice front loaders that we bought when we moved in. They’re just an eensy bit too deep for the washer and dryer space in our laundry room so, of course, that back door won’t open.

Rott tends to watch out for any packages we have coming. For awhile we had a decent Fedex guy who always figured out where the front door was. But most of the stuff we get comes UPS or US mail. The mailmen we’ve had out here? Seriously? They have the IQ of a dirt clod.  They never knock if there’s a package. The package is always left at the back door and it always looks like the moron tried to shove it in the mailbox first. Yep. Crushed box.

So Rott and I shop at a few places online. New Egg, Bath and Body Works, Amazon, Crutchfield, Wen…and Adam and Eve. Rott likes the anonymous looking packages from there. They crack him up mostly because we could give a doody if anyone knows we bought something from there.

The last thing we got from Adam & Eve (NSFW!) wasn’t a very big package. The names of the items were pretty amusing so we couldn’t resist. Anyway, Rott was watching out for the package. He figured it would come in a padded envelope and get shoved into the mailbox.

NUH UH. It got left on the back door step. The only reason Rott knew it was there was because the next door neighbor was standing on our sidewalk holding it in her hand. He heard a sound and peeked out the back door window and there she was. He bolted for the front door, around the front of the house and found her stand there turning the package over in her hands. Slowly, she handed it to him.

“Um, I was going to bring it around to your door,” she said. “I didn’t know if you’d already checked your mail today. Didn’t want the package to get left out. Looks like rain.”

And with that she back to her house. Rott went back into our house.  He thought about it for awhile and when I came home he told me the story. Then he tells me, “I think she was gonna steal it.”

I blinked. “Why would she steal it? She doesn’t have a boyfriend or a spouse that I’ve seen.”

“I dunno, but I think she was gonna steal it. She knew what Adam & Eve was and she was gonna take the toy.” He was adamant.

We looked at each other in silence for a long moment. Then we both went, “EWWWWW!”

Then Rott laughed. “Can you imagine what would happen if the old geezer across the street got it? That mailman’s dumb enough to get the boxes wrong. It could happen.”

For once, I really, really did not want to know what the neighbors would do.

And now some Lex Valentine news…Broken Bonds has been selling well and made it up to #5 or so on the Amazon gay romance list. But yesterday I got an email from ZAM because she saw that Broken Bonds had made it to #1 on All Romance eBook’s Top Ten List. WOOT! I was so excited! It’s an all around bestseller this little Christmas novella. It makes me really happy.

Before I go, I have to show off the cover I did for my friend author AC Katt. I can’t wait to read this book and I was so excited to do the cover for Jim’s story.

JacksBack_432

It’s sort of the sequel to A Matter of Trust so go read that one first!

One last thing, does anyone know WTF is up with the Twitter feed widgets? I cannot find one that works! Anyway, that’s it for me. I’ll be back next Monday with some other tidbits about my life and writing! Happy Monday!

winter-lex