THE ROMANCE REVIEWS 4th Anniversary Party

trrIt’s a month long celebration and I’m there! Well, I’ll be there tomorrow for a Question & Answer type game.   I’m offering up an ebook copy of Drive Me Sane to the person who wins.  And along with me, there are hundreds of other authors with prizes galore!  Head on over to The Romance Reviews for all the details.  Please note that you must be registered and logged into their site to take part in the giveaways.

I must admit, I’m partial to this site.  Unknown to me, my publisher submitted Drive Me Sane to them for a review.  Needless to say, I was beyond words and in tears with their response.  No lie!  I bawled like a baby.

You can find Angi’s 4 Star Review here or below:

“They fell in love as teens but their fears and frustrations as young adults drove them apart. Years have passed and, now, both their lives are on a downward spiral. An unforeseen chance to reconnect is the second chance they both desperately need to exorcise old hurts, as well as conquer the troubles that are currently holding each of them hostage.

Discharged from the Army and suffering PTSD after a tour in Afghanistan, Sera Cavins makes a quiet return to her Uncle Roy’s empty home in Kentucky to attempt to get her broken life back together. The remorse, regret, and guilt she feels has manifested into fears she’s not ready to confess to anyone. Finding her former fiancé Tyler Creech at her uncle’s home brings back even older hurts that make it doubly hard for Sera to hide the many secrets that steal her peace of mind and sap her wounded spirit.

Up and coming country music star Tyler Creech’s life is being consumed by the demands of his career, and his life no longer seems his own. The mounting pressure is taking both a physical and mental toll on him, so a few weeks’ hiatus at his mother and stepfather Roy’s home in Kentucky is where he hopes to work through some of the issues that are leaving him sleepless and torn. He never expected to run into Sera Cavins, the woman who pushed him away and who still haunts him with unresolved heartache and regrets.

If they can bear to share the same roof, maybe they can finally uncover the reasons behind their broken engagement and broken lives, let go the pain and fear and, finally, heal and move forward together.

Debut author Dena Rogers makes a spectacular entrance to the field of romance with this nicely paced emotional tale that’s sole focus is on mending broken hearts and broken lives. In my humble opinion, one can’t help but applaud the author’s tackling of the subject of PTSD in a former female soldier, and I thought her handling of the subject was relevant, vividly moving, and very well done.

With regards to Sera, I found her attempts to repress her emotions, as a means of self-protection, to be utterly convincing and understandable, even though I found I didn’t always like her when she engaged these defense mechanisms. Ms. Rogers nicely countered Sera’s actions with the often understated actions of Tyler, whom she characterized with the compassionate ability to understand and sense Sera’s needs in the face of his own troubled emotions. This balance of give and take in characterization truly enhanced the gradual changes in this couple’s relationship and kept the plot moving with new revelations and just enough valid recriminations to keep Tyler and Sera’s relationship grounded and real.

Despite the novella length of DRIVE ME SANE, this tale has lots of depth, adequate back story, and there are few psychological or emotional issues that are left untouched. Crafting such a compelling story in approximately one hundred pages is a feat that deserves recognition and surely designates Dena Rogers as a talented new author to watch.”

Do Reviews Really Matter?

Apparently they do, at least to some people. I’m not one of those that read a review before buying a book. In fact, I never look at the reviews until I’m finished and then it’s only to see if other’s felt the way I did towards it. I’m a title, cover, blurb girl. If the title and cover catch my attention, I’ll turn it over to read the blurb and then if it’s something that catches my eye, I buy it. But never do I look at the reviews prior. I’ll be honest, I don’t really get the whole book review thing. This is coming from someone that has done review’s for a couple different sites, but as a reader, I don’t understand why someone would judge a book based on another person’s opinion. We are all different and like different things. Maybe I’m not the norm, but I’d rather try something out and make my own opinion. However in attempting to market my book, I have come to realize just how important reviews are. I’ve previously mentioned the struggles of asking book bloggers to write a review. I’ve received two. One was mediocre. It wasn’t great, it wasn’t bad, they said they liked it. The other was an amazing review, the kind that every first time author wants to have. So, right there goes to show you that opinions differ. However I’ve come to notice that many readers want to see not only positive feedback about a potential book, they want numbers. They don’t want five reviews, because we all know those first reviews come from our friends and family. They want to know what people who don’t know us think of our book. I don’t have a problem with this. I’m not an easily offended person. I know my writing isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea and I know there are going to be good reviews along with the bad. So I’ve continued to seek out unbiased reviewers, but it’s not always an easy task. Late last night, I sent another request. This wasn’t aimed at a specific blog or blogger, but a group of authors, readers, publishers and reviewers, whom pick and chose what they are interested in. I received a response today and after seeing the subject I was excited. Yes! I got a hit. But then I read the message and my stomach knotted and my chest heaved in a big sigh. My first instinct was to reply with, “Thank you for your interest, but I’d prefer that you didn’t review my book.” It might sound crazy, but that was my honest reaction. Maybe I should back up and tell you a little about my story so you’ll understand my predicament. The heroine in Drive Me Sane is an army veteran suffering from PTSD after a deployment to Afghanistan. It’s funny that just as I sat down to write this, I read a blog post of a friends that entailed how writing about what you know leads to writing about things you don’t know (Thanks Bill). I grew up near Ft. Hood, Texas so the military has always played a role in my life. I come from a strong military family; my husband served, my sister and brother in law both served, even my dad was in for a short time. I have several cousins and uncles who have also spent time in the armed forces, as well as, many friends who have devoted time as well. As for me, I thought about it once. Fresh out of high school and in my first year of college, I even went to see a recruiter. I was all up for it until I was informed that I’d be showering with other woman while in basic training.  That was the end of that idea. So I have no personal experience with being in the military and definitely no experience with PTSD. And yet, I chose to write about a female character that has experienced those things. It wasn’t the path that I set out to take. I knew my girl would be in the army, but never intended for PTSD to be a part of my story. It just happened that way. I researched the disorder and spoke to people about it, which did help in trying to develop her character, but I’m also a true believer in that if you’ve never walked in someone’s shoes, you truly have no idea how they felt. Which brings me up to point. My response came from a two time Iraqi War veteran. A gentleman whom has experienced the things that I know nothing about, yet tried to convey through words for others to read as enjoyment. Do you see my delimina? I see this going one of two ways: really bad or really good. I knew at some point my book would likely fall into the hands of a female soldier and I’ve always had mixed feelings about that. I worry if I missed something or if I stayed true to fact. I suppose every new author has concerns about these things. So my first instinct was no, I’d rather he not read it, because I’m sure what I’ve written can never stand up to the real thing and the last thing I would ever want to be is disrespectful in anyway. It took me five hours to think about it and respond, because not only will he be reading this from a soldiers perspective, he will also be reading it from a man’s. Please don’t think I’m being biased, but the truth is, romance is generally a woman’s genre. So it does surprise me a little when a man say’s he’s going to read it. In the end, yes I sent him a copy. Because, as a writer, I need to learn to overcome these fears. The fear of offending or completely botching it up.

So back to my question: are reviews really all that important? Generally, I’d say no. But this one? Yes, it’s very important, because it’s coming from someone who, to a certain degree, has lived my story and their thoughts will hold a great deal of meaning to me.