Please rate your experience…
…at the doctor’s office
…at the restaurant
It seems everyone, everywhere requires my experience rating these days. We’re groomed for it. Amazon: Please review your recent purchase! (And don’t even get me started on what this means to authors. It’s shit, that’s what it is. Shit that Amazon created and now believes is fact. Their data guy even tried to explain this to us at a recent conference…completely unaware that the conditions he was describing were entirely artificially created BY AMAZON. But I digress…) Facebook: Like this post! (So we can determine who is relevant and who isn’t.) Google: We’ve prioritized your inbox for you! (Please stop. STOP. I can read my own damn mail in the order it is received, that you very little.)
And since we’re now groomed to think in terms of rating, ranking, and algorithm’s thinking for us (thank goodness! Thinking for myself is so damn hard!) Everyone else has seemingly jumped on the bandwagon.
It was in the middle of emails and actual paper mail (in my mailbox!) asking me to rate our recent ER visit, doctor’s visit, and an Amazon purchase (note: Amazon can allow sellers to send me multiple emails asking to review my purchase but AUTHORS can’t even ask on social media for a review without being punished by the Zon. Yes, I’m bitter about the double standards) that it hit me:
OUR LIVES ARE NOW REVIEW BASED.
And that’s…shitty. We’re training ourselves to only care about what others think. Instead of, you know, what we think. We’re training ourselves to not think at all, but to base our decisions and actions on the rating and review received. We’re training ourselves to modify our behavior based on these ratings instead of modifying our behavior based on observation, analysis, and instinct. Or, morals. Morals got nuthin’ on Sue’s opinions. (Sue: I just think it’s not right for ABCDEFG or HIJKLMNOP. That’s what I think.)
Why does anyone care what Sue thinks? And why isn’t Sue using facts instead of opinions to share her point of view?
Oh that’s right, because of that pesky rating thing again. See, when Amazon, the ER, and Facebook ask for your rating (or Liking or whatever) they’re asking for your opinion. Your thoughts. They don’t want facts. They don’t want research. They definitely don’t want peer-reviewed research or double blind trials or anything else that presents them with actual data.
No, what they want is your gut reaction. Your feelings.
And the thing about gut reactions and feelings (while they are important) is that they are reactionary and rarely well thought out. They aren’t reasoned and they certainly don’t consider the bigger picture.
In the moment, all you can see, think, feel is your experience. When we “hide behind our keyboards” we don’t have to consider anyone but ourselves. We’ve sliced out the bigger picture and put all our emphasis on the individual. In some ways that sounds really nice. (Women, in particular, are trained to never put themselves first.) But in actual practice (especially when a practice has become as widespread as this) it is destructive.
It’s destructive because we’re taking the humanity out of interactions. We’re taking reasoning away from decision making. We’re taking away the entire process of considering experiences in a three dimensional way.
And here’s where this shift in thinking is really starting to hit us hard: the workplace.
That doctor’s office request for review? They want me to tell the corporation how my doctor did. They need data they can measure and point to instead of interacting with their employees. That is partly because they’re too big, partly because they’re structured to be a machine.
When we train ourselves to care what others think more than we train ourselves to reason on our own, we stop building good leaders. How many good bosses have you had? One? Two? How many bad? I’m guessing most of your bosses were pretty bad. Guess what? That’s only going to get worse. To be a good leader you have to be able to interact with people, consider their needs and the needs of the job. You have to be able to analyze what’s working (not look at recent customer service ratings and base all your decisions on Sue’s opinion. Sue’s opinion sucks!) and how you can improve. You have to be able to think for yourself.
Not what Facebook thinks is relevant. Not what Google prioritizes into your inbox. Not what Sue thinks.
You can’t care if it will upset Sue. Sue’s opinion doesn’t matter. Facts matter. People matter (ALL the people, not just Sue.) And you can’t figure out how to be effective if you can’t think.
It’s even infected higher education (and we all know it’s already completely poisoned all other forms of education.) Students rate their professors. I can’t tell you how fucked up this is. For one, a lot of really amazing professors are also the most hated. For two, students don’t know what students need. They’re there to learn. One of the coolest things about going to college is that the rules fade away. Some professors teach rigidly to tests while others bring pizza and soda to class and just talk. Some take you out on campus adventures while others drone on and on and on behind presentations.
Sometimes you sleep through a class and sometimes you absorb so much it never stops your brain from thinking, even decades later.
But now professors have to care about what rating they receive at the end of the semester. And that’s changing who teaches and what they teach. How they teach it. It’s systematically removing creativity and innovation from the very place we need it most.
That’s on the colleges. Because again they’re too big and too focused on making money to care about genuine quality. All that matters is the ratings they get to boast and the data they can point to.
And then there’s our kids. A generation being raised on reviews. Being trained to care who likes their latest post and to modify their behavior based on the latest experience review. (If you liked this video please give it a thumb’s up and leave a comment! Because we must feed the algorithm beast! It is hungry!) Being trained that their gut-reaction opinion of something is terribly important.
You know how people keep saying things like “Just let the kids play! Send ’em outside!” We should do that. We should all do that. Just play. Just work. Just THINK FOR YOURSELF.
Just call me Sue for the day (I certainly earned it with this dumpster fire of thoughts.)
***If you like reading my books please go to Amazon and leave a review! Apparently my entirely livelihood depends on what you think so Amazon can determine whether my book is worthy of showing up in rankings. It also determines my worthiness to be allowed to pay advertisers to show my book to new readers. Fucked up, right? But again, reviews are important. SO IMPORTANT. So, you know, if you have in fact read my books, did in fact like them, and have not previously left a review saying they were (or were not) a good purchase, you could make YOUR OPINION KNOWN. I’d certainly appreciate it, because while I think the rating and review culture is bad, I have to live in it! And honestly, I really do care if you enjoyed your reading experience. I want you to tell others about it. I just don’t like that we’re chained to it in order to make enough money to live…all because a computer gets to determine whether books are good based on reviews.
A lot has happened in the last week. A lot. At first I attempted to keep up with it all on social media but I’m behind and really, this all deserves a heartfelt blog post. Good news makes me happy. The world needs more good news in it! So without further ado, here is all the big, good, amazing news from my last week!
1. Writers Unite
You remember in Last Fall when Zoe goes on a writing retreat (that Erik and Wes crash and Wes makes breakfast and the girls Instagram it…) well that was one of my Easter eggs. (Easter egg: a nugget of hidden information, secrets, or fun information that can be found when you know what you’re looking for.) My crew of my very best writing friends go on retreat and it is THE BEST.
This year we went to Denver a few days ahead of RWA (Romance Writers of America, our annual professional conference.) We rented a historic house and everyone got their own bed! It was glorious! We worked, we brainstormed around a giant dinner table, we ate, drank, and held a small party for our friends as they arrived in town. Five years ago when I went to my first RWA in Atlanta I knew no one. Not one person at the conference. It was a leap of faith that this was the next right step. At that conference I met Julia and Mary Chris, and through them I met Lindsay, Alexandra, and Laura. My world keeps growing because of them and this year, instead of knowing no one, we had a RITA winner, a double RITA nominee, the Librarian of the Year, and several chapter presidents over for dinner. WHAT IS LIFE???
2. Lindsay Emory Get a Starred Kirkus Review!!
Here’s the story: we’re at the Golden Hearts luncheon at RWA. I’m fixated on the food, because FOOD, and the loudness of the room, when all of a sudden there’s a squeal/squeak from across the table. The kind that makes you think someone just found a roach in their salad (spoiler: there were no roaches or mice or rats of any kind!) I look up to see Lindsay covering her mouth with tears in her eyes. My first thought: something happened to her family. But then beside her Laura starts hyperventilating and reading from a phone. “Lindsay is getting a starred Kirkus review for The Royal Runaway!”
So of course we all scream and she goes from teary eyes to hiding her face and full-on crying. Here’s the thing. A Kirkus review is a big, big deal. A starred Kirkus review is a really big, big deal! Of all the books they accept to review only 10% get a starred review. It means they loved it. It means they see what we saw when we read her book. It’s special. It’s fun. It’s that special sauce of an adventure and a tale and a romance and story you can’t put down. She deserves this review. Here is what they had to say:
“The progressive princess proves to be as resilient as she is rebellious. Even when her throne is threatened, she insists that “human lives are more important than our culture!” Under her reign, “happily ever after” gets a refreshing update.
This imaginative, absorbing, and empowering story is a must-read.”
Needless to say, you need to reserve your copy RIGHT NOW so you can read it the minute it releases on October 9th!
You can also enter to win a paperback copy on Goodreads!
(***Another Easter Egg: also in Last Fall Zoe reads Lindsay’s book on the plane. It was THIS BOOK that I was thinking of in that scene! And yes, I did read it on a plane!)
3. RITA WINS!
Winning an award for your writing is the end-all, be-all every writer dreams of. We write alone. If we’re lucky our readers will drop us a line and tell us they enjoyed the book. Sometimes they’ll leave a review. Sometimes they’ll leave a bad review or drop us a line to tell us how much we suck at writing. Basically, if you like a book, I strongly encourage you to leave reviews and drop a line to your writer because 99.9% of us only hear about what we did wrong and very rarely hear that what we wrote didn’t suck balls.
Which is why awards feel extra fantastic. It means readers and writers thought what we wrote was pretty fantastic. So this week when several of my friends won awards I was over the moon excited for them!
Librarian of the Year: our dear friend Frannie’s Romance! She loves romance every bit as much as those of us who write it. She spreads the Happily Ever After gospel. And to top it off she’s the sweetest. She even took the time to remind me to breathe when I was overwhelmed by all the extroverting.
RITA WINNER FOR BEST CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE (LONG): Lexi Ryan! I finally met Lexi last year at RT in Atlanta and instantly fell in love with her. She’s one of those authors you want to read because she’s a genuinely good person. We bonded over YouTube obsessions and Crossfit. From the moment she was nominated I was cheering her on because 1) she’s indie and we indie’s need to stick together! and 2) because I like seeing people who deserve the praise and attention win awards. Read her RITA winning book now!
RITA WINNER FOR BEST FIRST BOOK: Alexis Daria! She has the BEST first name but she’s also a genuinely amazing person! Alexis is not only dedicated the her writing, but to our profession. She takes the time to help other writers and participate in our industry. I could not think of anyone better deserving of the award. Read her RITA winning book now!
4. New book alert!!!!!
I tripped and fell over myself when Warning and Wildfires by Autumn Jones Lake released early on Amazon! Apparently that doesn’t help you one-click the Buy Now button faster, but here I am, a mangled tangled mess with a copy in my e-reader! Mission accomplished! I no longer post “reviews” on my blog (conflict of interest and all…) but I DO post about the books I love to read. And Autumn in an auto-buy for me! She writes my favorite kind of romances: alpha males with mushy, protective hearts, and heroines with steel in their bones. Get your copy right now!
5. The Aquaman Trailer
Do I really need to explain that this is Romancelandia crack? I think not. Let’s simply enjoy…
“Red heads. You gotta love ’em.”
Are you reading Reckless Kiss? Every week you get a new episode in your inbox absolutely free! Sign up now and get every episode you’ve missed!
Hello podcast fans! This week you can tune in to the Women With Books Podcast and hear me chat with host Lindsay Emory about writing, my new book series, and what winter was like. She also gives me a pop quiz (hot shot!) of made up and real headlines from Florida. My task was to pick out which ones were fake.
You can listen here:
Apple Podcasts: http://apple.co/2x62epc
Google Play: http://bit.ly/WWBGPlay
Be sure to leave Lindsay a review and check out her past podcasts! She’s had some incredible guests including Penny Reid, Sarah MacLean, and Tamsen Parker!
After you listen be sure to drop me a message and let me know you what you think!
I still can’t believe I got an invite to Lori Foster’s Reader Author Get Together. It was even more amazing than I hoped it would be, as you can tell by this video right here, I had a good time!
I also enjoyed the power of being a Queen for the day.
It’s really amazing how many people will jump into action to help you when you’re wearing jewelry on your head!
***Funny story moment! A couple of weeks ago during the Royal Wedding I drooled over Lindsay Emory’s gorgeous crown. I decided I needed a crown (why didn’t I have a crown??) and since I needed a costume for our Alice in Wonderland themed breakfast, I should get a crown! I spent two days saving crowns on Amazon and finally decided on this one. Here is a picture of Lindsay in her crown. I BOUGHT THE SAME ONE AND I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW IT!
(Isn’t she gorgeous!?)
But I digress. Here are some more fun pictures from RAGT18! The readers were so incredibly warm and welcoming. The other authors were equally sweet and great to hang with. Violet Howe and Sloane Savage did an amazing job of organizing our breakfast! I hope to be back next year.
In keeping with our Read What You Love theme we’ve got more sales and good news for you, book lovers! First off: MY VERY GOOD FRIEND LINDSAY EMORY IS IN ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY!
Her upcoming book, The Royal Runaway is listed as one of their top books to read and I am so proud of her and this book! It’s amazing! You can see the article here.
Now, onto the sales! (*As always, these prices are good at the time of posting and you should always verify before purchasing!)
7 Dirty Lies is on sale for 99¢ through WEDNESDAY 5/23 ONLY!
Take the Lead is on sale for 99¢ through TODAY (5/21) and $1.99 from 5/22-5/25
And the sequel, Dance With Me, is on sale for $1.99 through 5/25 as well!
Linger is 99¢!
Are you signed up for my newsletter? Starting tomorrow and every Tuesday after I’ll be releasing a new episode in my brand new serial, Reckless Kiss! Sign up here.
We here at Alexis Anne believe you should read what you love, but book hoarding, while amazing, is also expensive. So this week we’re bringing you a selection of books that are free or on really amazing awesome-sause sale. Get your one-click fingers ready and #readwhatyoulove!
*please remember that these prices were good at the time of posting and to double check before purchasing!
Tease by Alexis Anne: FREE!
Personal Geography by Tamsen Parker: FREE!
Also by Tamsen (and several other amazing authors):
Rogue Hearts by Various Authors: 99¢ through 5/17
Caged in Winter by Brighton Walks: FREE!
Taking Chances by Aria Glazki: 99¢ through 5/13
Loving the Secret Billionaire (an Alexis Anne top pick for reclusive billionaire crack!): 99¢
Bad For Her by Chrisi Barth: 99¢ through 5/20
Resisting Santa by Lindsay Emory (a Mistletoe Key book!): CRAZY PAPERBACK SALE! Only $3.12! I have no idea how long this will last!
Happy reading! I’ll be back soon with more great deals. In the meantime…
And if you haven’t yet, now is a great time to sign up for my newsletter. Starting next week I have a brand new story releasing every Tuesday! (And if you sign up now you’ll get the link to the story I just finished! Bonus!)
Today is the day, dear readers! Zoe, my quiet writer, gets her happily ever after with Erik, my quiet leader. They complimented each other in ways I didn’t expect when I first started writing, but that’s part of the fun of writing. No matter how well thought out your characters are, no matter how much you’ve plotted, once the words start flowing they take all your preparation and create something all on their own.
Please check out the blurb and then grab yourself a copy! And please let me know what you think when you’re done! Last Fall is available in ebook (with the cover you see above) and in paperback.
“Last Fall was a simply gorgeous slow burn of a romance! Erik is a caregiver by nature and his patience waiting for Zoe to become comfortable in her own skin and with him was breathtaking. As a reader, you know he wants so much more, but he places her well being first at every turn. I also really enjoyed watching his interactions with the team and his family . . . he really is a great big old Papa Bear!
Zoe’s character is beautifully broken. She left an abusive situation and created a new life for herself. She’s got amazing friends and a very successful career, but is completely gun shy when it comes to going back into a relationship – especially with an alpha male of any kind. She refuses to feel owned or controlled again in any way, and rightfully so. Watching her learn to trust and open up to her feelings for Erik is like watching a flower bloom. This couple works so well together that even though it’s a slow burn, it’s an amazing tale as they find their way to one another.
I also want to give a shout out to Alexis Anne for the book’s ending. When Zoe needs Erik more than ever, she gets so much more than she ever could have imagined – it is like something Zoe would have written in one of her own romance novels!
5 stars for this completely heartwarming romance!”
My dark, dirty, sweet, reclusive billionaire is on sale for the holidays!
Cosmopolitan (yes *the* Cosmo) called it “Very erotic” when they featured it on their website! Check out what readers are saying:
“This story has soooo much, and kept surprising me! A secret affair (with lots of sex), dirty & complicated, but also an intensely sweet & deep romance.”
“Awesome storyline with fantastic characters, love, heartache, hot sex, violence and one heck of happy ever after you must read.”
“This book was SO well written. Alexis Anne knew these characters inside and out and portrayed them beautifully. One of the most satisfying reads ever!”
Amazon AU: http://bit.ly/1kwxswm
Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/1MljU1v
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1iFInm0
Want more? Of course you do!
Check out these great books on sale, too!
A Time to Fall by Jess Vonn (Free in KU)
The year is winding down and I’m looking ahead at 2018. Authors are always thinking about their next project and that’s the topic of my Friday chat this week.
So what will 2018 hold in romance? I’m hoping a new wave of romantic comedies that focus less on falling in love as the solution to life’s problems and more focus on an improbable journey. One filled with laugh-out-loud but relatable moments, reminding us all of our humanity, and in the end, make us all really happy.
I want the warm fuzzies, but without the sickening sweetness of too much fluff. Maybe I’m an outlier. There’s certainly a massive following for the Hallmark channel. And there’s nothing wrong with the fluff. If you like your romances fluffy, more power to you!
But I like mine with some reality thrown in. I want to feel like just maybe this could really happen if the right ingredients mixed together. I want to relate to the characters and see myself reflected back at me. I’m not sweet or fluffy, but I do love a feel-good romance filled with funny moments.
Dear 2018, can I have that, please?
I have so much to tell you guys so instead of burying you under a pile of information I’m going to break it down into a BEST OF NOVEMBER list! Woot! Let’s get started!
Summer Heat is FREE!
For a limited time I’ve made Summer Heat free! Why? Well, I’m playing around with some behind the scenes stuff on the business end. You’ll see that the book is now listed as Book 1 in the Wild Pitch Series, a spin-off of the Storm Inside series.
Nothing has changed. The book is still #5 in my mind, but Summer Heat, Night Games, and the upcoming Last Fall (Zoe’s book) can also be considered their own little series, so I’m testing out having these three books as a spin-off. Basically I’m making it less intimidating for readers who haven’t tried the series.
So if you haven’t grabbed the book yet…do it now! And then join my reader group on Facebook! We’re doing a read along! I’ll be in there everyday to answer your questions, share fun facts about the book, and give away some prizes!
Mistletoe Key: a Hallmark movie you can read!
The holidays are fast approaching and a lot of us are ready for some Christmas cheer right now! Guess what? We have that for you! My writing group decided to start a “World” where we could each bring our talents and flair to the page. Thus, Mistletoe Key was born: a tropical island where Christmas is celebrated year round!
Lindsay Emory kicked us off with her funny, sweet, holiday book, Resisting Santa! Next week Alexandra Haughton brings us Blue Christmas, and then this spring Julia Blake and I will bring you two more installments! (And I’ll have a sneak peek of mine in just a couple of weeks!)
Get Resisting Santa now!
You want more? Okay. I can do that! Here are some holiday freebies for you to enjoy!
Allina Hemphill’s been (unsuccessfully) set up by her parents too many times, but when her mother’s scheming puts Blane Douglas in her sights on Christmas Eve, she finds she’s more than happy to steal a kiss under the mistletoe.
This Christmas, Mollie Embry feels like a misfit toy. When her parents announced their divorce over Thanksgiving leftovers, it rocked the foundation of her life—even though she’s almost thirty, not six. By refusing to take sides, she finds herself with nowhere to go for the holidays. Which is fine by her because the magic of the season has lost its sparkle.
Reluctantly, Mollie agrees to join her best friend’s little family celebration—it’s better than spending Christmas alone. But when their party grows by an unexpected number at the candlelight Christmas Eve service, it’s a blast from the past who just might be able to help her put the spark back in the season of love.
My Favorite Book This Month
I’ve binge-read all of Autumn Jones Lake’s books this month. All. Of. Them. It started with Bullets and Bonfires. Her video ad totally hooked me in. Hot alpha cop? With a crush on his childhood BFF? Who needs his help (but doesn’t want it?) SOLD. And then I had to read everything. This month she released a two-part story that I devoured. These two books are my favorite in the series and I think you all will love them. Autumn writes about sweet alphas who love and respect their women. While most of her books take place in an MC, it’s the kind of MC we’d all want to be part of (if we wanted to be in an MC.)
Check out Bullets and Bonfires
All of my other favorite things…
This month I’m crushing on:
MOVIES: Thor: Ragnorak. It was amazing and fun and the soundtrack is awesome!
TV: The Expanse (watch Season One on Prime) it’s a scifi, but it’s a mystery, but it’s kind of a western, and in season 2, a little bit of a horror. It’s amazing!
MUSIC: Imagine Dragons. We’re taking our oldest to his very first concert! Ahhhhh!
PODCAST: Lindsay Emory created a book club you can listen to! She has an amazing lineup of guests. Check out Women With Books!
I’ll be back real soon with more excitement! There is a lot happening right now! Including that Mistletoe Key short preview I promised at the top…stay tuned!