It’s that day of the year again: I made it all the way around the sun without being eaten by a faster predator. I shall celebrate with cake later (my husband made me a cake!) and intend to be pretty much a sloth, but since I’m forty-mumble, I don’t really need any more things. So, I started a tradition years ago where instead of presents, I asked people to tell me about a book they loved instead.
When I became an author, I started asking people if they’d maybe take a moment to write a review about a book they loved somewhere. Just one book, and just one review, and only if they were up for it. (And, no, it doesn’t have to be mine. I’m not using my birthday to guilt reviews of my own books.) Making noise about a book you loved gives the book presence—get it, birthday presence? Sorry, I’ll see myself out—and word-of-mouth is pretty much the best thing ever.
Now, I’m not talking about writing an essay here. Truly. Back when I worked at the bookstore, we had these little “Staff Picks” cards that slid into acrylics, and they were pretty small, so by virtue of their size there was only so much room to write a review. It may surprise you to learn a lot of staff struggled to write reviews. They could hand-sell out loud in conversation like gangbusters, but writing down a review stopped them cold. So I came up with a quick and easy three-sentence review process, and it worked fine.
The cue-card review went thusly:
- A sentence letting a reader know what to expect from the book (without spoilers). In romance, this is often where I likely mention the main trope of the book, drop a word about the characters, and give a general idea of the tone: Something like “Bet Against Me is Fiona Riley’s excellent—and steamy—enemies-to-lovers pitting two high-powered real estate brokers in a contest to outsell the other.”
- A sentence talking about what was unique/awesome/moving/exciting about the book (again, without spoilers). Something you think really stood out about the book and speaks to why you loved it. Staying with Bet Against Me, I’d probably say, “Fiona Riley builds queer friend groups into her writing in a way I really love, and also explores family dynamics I rarely see in queer romance, but really appreciate.”
- A sentence that uses either a well-known author or some facet or genre as an example of the type of reader you think would enjoy this particular book. So, “Any reader of enemies-to-lovers will likely love this, and it launches a new series I think fans of Melissa Brayden’s Soho Loft series will really enjoy.”
So! It’s my birthday, and if you’re up for it, drop a line telling me about a book you loved. Or just link to a review you agree with. Or, heck, just drop a note saying “I LOVED THIS” with a link. All of these things are also super-valid and wonderful ways to do that whole word-of-mouth thing. Clicking a “like” or an “agree” on someone else’s review somewhere also helps. I don’t want this to be a guilt-thing, or an imposition. If you’re not up for it—it’s 2021, who’s up for anything right now?—that’s cool. No harm done, truly.
Ditto if you’ve already got your own method of writing reviews or gushing about books. That little blue cue-card up there is meant to be a helpful guide for people who want to write a review and feel stuck, not a form to fill in if you’ve already got your own, authentic style. (I feel like I keep saying “you don’t have to do this” over and over, but to be super, 100% clear: you don’t have to do this.)
Oh, I do have one more thing, though. By fun coincidence, I got the final blurb and cover of something yesterday, and so maybe I can also turn this whole birthday thing into an announcement and cover reveal? Is that cool? (No, seriously, is that cool? I’m old now, so I have no idea what’s cool any more. I bet “cool” isn’t even cool, is it?)
According to Ivan’s sister Anya, Ivan’s tea leaves promise his perfect match is out there somewhere, just waiting to be swept off their feet. Ivan knows Anya’s always right—an annoying trait for a sister if ever there was one.
Ivan’s own knack with tea might not deal with the future, but it’s pretty good at helping with the here and now. When Walt, a tall, dark, and grumpy soldier shows up at his store, NiceTeas, in obvious need of a hand—and a dog-sitter—Ivan rises to the challenge and offers blends to make Walt’s life a little easier. There’s just no way he can help falling for the guy. But Anya says Walt’s not the one for Ivan, and the tea leaves don’t lie.
Is it worth steeping a here-and-now while waiting for the one-and-only? Ivan’s not sure, but everything tells him it’s all just a matter of finding the right blend.“A Little Village Blend,” ‘Nathan Burgoine
Eee! Yep. “Village Fool” just released this week and there’s already another Village story in the pipeline? There is indeed. I don’t have more details than the above, but I wanted to share. And you may notice the differences there in the cover and blurb. This isn’t one of the holiday Village stories, and if you check out the teapot Ivan’s pouring, you’ll note the little sparkles of magic. This is 100% part of the Village shared world, but this time the magic is a little more front-and-centre, like it was in “A Little Village Magic” (which you can find in Of Echoes Born). That’s the difference between the “Little Village” Novellas and the “Village Magic” Novellas, but both are contemporary, both are wee little meet-cute queer romance novellas, and both share the same people and place, but one bunch are about holidays, the other bunch are about magic.