The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer solutions to the ever-present problem which is marketing, and by ‘solutions’ I absolutely mean ‘there will be blood sacrifice made to the literary gods’.

To sign up for the group and exchange tips and tricks for the appropriate sacrifices (timeline is important) go on over to the IWSG sign up page and add your blog.

Every month the blog hop is co-hosted by generous writers who lend us their time to keep the group rolling and on the tracks. It’s not easy, given that writers are more easily sidetracked than a middle-school history teacher whose class just asked about an obscure WWII battle. Give the December co-hosts your support in their difficult mission by leaving a comment and a thanks on their blog.  C. Lee McKenzie, JQ Rose, Jennifer Lane, and Jacqui Murray!

And each month there is a question prompt to get the blog posts flowing. This month we’re answering: Book reviews are for the readers. When you leave a book review do you review for the Reader or the Author? Is it about what you liked and enjoyed about your reading experience, or do you critique the author?

This is a fun one, because I have spent time considering this very thing. Being a writer does throw a wrench into my reading process! Generally I’m wondering at word choices, or thinking of how differently I would approach a plot point, or nitpicking the action-to-dialogue ratio. It’s more difficult to disappear into a book when my inner editor is always on.

But -conversely- being an author also makes me more lenient towards other authors. Y’all this work is a hard, lonely slog through word thickets and the Valley of Marketing Shadows and Review Death. I hardly ever think critically enough of another author’s work to even DNF, and I will name no names or write a critical review. Ever. I feel like it is not my place as an author to critique other authors. No. That’s some sort of strange cannibalistic ritual I have no wish to participate in. If a book doesn’t work for me I will rate it a 1 or 2 star in my Kindle as a kind of reminder/marker to not try that again, and move on.

When I love a book enough to write a review (instead of being lazy and just rating it 5 stars as a reminder/marker to definitely try that again) I am writing the review as a reader to other readers. Since this is romanceland, I make sure to highlight the tropes and how well they were done because we romance readers really, really love our repeated literary themes. I’m pointing out everything I enjoyed (the angst! The witty repartee! THE PINING OMGGGG) so that other readers can know they will enjoy the same things.

This is such a common thing for romance that I’ve even written entire trope-based recommendation lists, which are basically just quick mini-reviews for a whole bunch of books which share a theme and do it well. Examples would be: the pining trope, the grumpy/sunshine trope, the boss bitch MC trope, groveling, and a whole honkin huge list of Beauty and the Beast recs. (And yes, those have been the most popularly viewed posts on my blog since I wrote them. Target audience: reached!)