One day, Sam will move to the beach…

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For all the reviewers in the house…

After a conversation with a reviewer in the m/m community, I was taken by the need to write you reviewers, for lack of a better term, a love letter. I’ve met a handful of the reviewers in the m/m community, and every one that I’ve spoken to has been a lovely person. I feel lucky to be writing in a genre that has these people in it.

You guys don’t have to be here. It’s not your job. You don’t get paid to show up. Most of the time, you don’t even get thanked for your efforts. You sometimes get treated like dirt for expressing your opinions. On terrifying occasion, people get threatened, stalked, and attacked for being reviewers. With all that, the fact that you stick around and keep going? It amazes me.

I’m a writer. I could try to be something else, but I’ve done that, and it doesn’t work for me. So I have to be here. I come back every day not just because I love books, but because this is my bread and butter. If I do my job well, I get paid for it.

You? You’re just here because of the books. You could read and not review, but you choose to share instead. Sure, sometimes if you review long and well enough, you get free books to review. You didn’t get promised free books at the outset, though, and chances are they’re not the only reason you’re here.

And sure, there are some books that make you angry, or bored, or disgusted, and you give them bad reviews. But you’re not here for those. You’re not here because you want to insult bad books. You’re here because you want to find the good ones, and share them with other readers. And frankly, there’s something incredible about that. You’re here to find and share joy.

Sometimes your review will disagree with the overall opinion of the community, and that’s fine. Sometimes you’ll review and then realize that there were issues surrounding the book that you didn’t know about, and that’s fine too. Sometimes, you’ll give my favorite book (or even *gasp* my book!) a bad review, and that’s fine too.

The thing is, you’re here. You show up and tell us about the amazing books you’ve found, and everyone needs more amazing books in their life.

Thank you.

 

*I swear, this isn’t an attempt to get better reviews. As has been said over and over again, reviews of my books aren’t for me, they’re for potential readers. If, as a reviewer, you feel like my book deserves to be panned, pan away.

Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

-Eleanor Roosevelt

His Quiet Agent by Ada Maria Soto

After recommendations from Ami and Annie from FTtB, I knew I had to read this one. There aren’t many books with any kind of asexual representation, and fewer with anything I’d call /good/ representation. (Hint, if your character is somehow ‘reformed’ into a different sexuality, then it’s bad rep.)

This did not disappoint. The characters were well-formed, realistic people, with flaws and quirks that made them fun to read about. I’m sure one of the common problems people might have is that there isn’t much of a plot, because it’s not one over-arcing storyline. Instead, it’s a character-driven story, and focuses on how the two main characters come to love and trust each other.

While the main characters work for a government agency, they aren’t ‘secret agents’ as in the generally used romance novel trope. There’s no action sequence, no chase scene, no passionate sex anywhere to be found. If you’re looking for that stuff, skip this.

The book is exactly what it says it is, and is one of the most aptly titled pieces of fiction I’ve ever read. If you like the idea of a quiet, sweet romance, and think people can love each other without sex, then definitely read it. It’s excellent writing, good representation, and is going on my list of favorites for sure.

Imagination is more important than knowledge.

-Albert Einstein

This Is Us

Since I’m on a roll with the whole linking other people’s clever posts instead of just coming up with my own content, I’m going to hit you guys with a double.

For those of you who’ve been in the m/m community more than a year, you’ve probably seen all of this. I’m not really interested in rehashing any drama, but a few important blog posts came out of it, and I think they should be re-read with a wider context in mind.

Dylan St. Jaymes: Intent =/= Impact

and

K.J. Charles: How To Like Bad Things

I may not read or enjoy some kinds of problematic content, but I’ll defend forever the right of people to read and write it. However, when that content’s existence hurts people, it’s indefensible. When it adds to an overall problem that’s causing strife and death in our world, it’s indefensible.

So basically, don’t kinkshame. Good people can read things you don’t like. And don’t support the normalization of hatred, because that’s not a kink, and it’s never acceptable.

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.

-Jane Austen

On Book Reviews and Bad Behavior

So there’s been a lot of talk recently about reviewing books, the behavior of authors in relation to reviews, and the like. I was thinking about writing a long post about the reviewer/author relationship, and how we’re essentially co-workers, only reviewers don’t get paid to show up.

But then I was hanging out on Twitter, and Annie from From Top to Bottom Reviews referenced a Santino Hassel post about the subject, and after reading it, I feel I can safely say that he’s got me covered.

Santino’s post about the author/reviewer relationship.

If you’ve ever wondered about how to react to a situation with a reviewer or an author, I think this is pretty much it. I feel totally unnecessary in its presence.

I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.

-Oscar Wilde

Read More

Building an ARC review team

I’ve had a few queries about how people might join my ARC review team, so I figured I’d respond to everyone in one place.

If you’re interested in getting ARCs of my books for review, I would love to send them to you. Just email me at: sam@burnswrites.com  with a link to a review you did of any of my books. They don’t have to have a certain star rating; I love honest reviews that have critique in them, too. If you enjoy my books and want on the list, I’d love to have you.

Next up: Strike up the Band

Now that Sins of the Father is live, I’m refocused on what’s next: Strike up the Band, to be released in September.

This is Jake’s story, and it’s kind of close to my heart. First, because Jake is literally the first character who came into being in this universe. Second, because Jake, like me and at the suggestion of the excellent Ami, is asexual.

I spent a lot of time trying to decide what asexual looked like for Jake, since it’s different for all of us, and tried to make the book informative on the subject without reading like a wikipedia entry on the subject of asexuality. It’s a finer line than I would have thought.

I’m still trying to decide whether to include this in the blurb other than as a warning that unlike the previous books in the series, this one will have no sex scenes.

For the curious, here’s the blurb:

Jake McKenna doesn’t want to be here. He doesn’t want to be on tour, he doesn’t want to be playing guitar, and he definitely doesn’t want anything to do with Brian Mulholland. He’s biding his time until the tour is over so that he can walk away from his music career for good.

Brian didn’t ask to be here. Okay, maybe he did. Fine, you know what? He wanted this. He may not like the circumstances that have landed him in his dream job, but he’s not going to let anyone ruin it for him, even if it’s the insanely hot guitarist he’s had a crush on since the first time he saw the band play. He will win over Jake McKenna if it’s the last thing he ever does.

 

Personally, I suspect Brian will manage to win Jake over, despite the hurdles they both have between them and the end of the tour.

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