My first bad review!

It happened! My cherry has been popped! I received my first bad review on Amazon!

Oh well. That five star review monopoly had to be lost at some point.

I honestly don’t mind the criticisms the writer has of the book; I actually think some of the things she says are valid. They are choices I made when I was writing the novel, and perhaps, in hindsight, I should have made different ones. I’ve written three books since then, and I’m almost finished with a fourth. Each book has taught me something different about plotting, characterisation and pacing – some of the most important parts of constructing a book. I’m going to be learning how to write for as long as I write, that much I know.

It’s just the mean-spirited contempt that the review was written with that makes me pause. She – and I assume that the person who reviewed the book was female – seems to have gone out of her way to be as offensive as possible while giving her opinion, down to accusing my friends and family of being the ones giving the positive reviews!

My friends and family largely have no idea that I write romantic spanking stories. They have no idea that I write at all, let alone that I’ve been published. I can’t tell people; I run the risk of getting in trouble at work and I don’t think that my parents would be overjoyed at the thought of my choice of genre although I know that they would be proud of me for succeeding in attracting the attention of a reputable publisher.

I think that particular barb, of all those that she so callously threw, hurt the most because it was so far off the mark. I’m a big girl, both literally and figuratively speaking.  I can take constructive criticism. What I can’t take, and won’t take, and refuse to tolerate is mean spirited nastiness.

This review has reviewed only three books since 2011, and chooses not to give her name. Or a pseudonym. Or even a nickname. Two of the three reviews are of one star. Mine is the only book she’s reviewed in her extensive experience that had been given two stars.

I have to wonder if my book is that bad (which of course, it could very well be) or whether I was unlucky enough to catch the attention of a bitter, unhappy, mean-spirited person who gets some kind of enjoyment from deliberately confusing constructive criticism with vomiting up spurious insults. A person who is not brave enough to sign their name, or any other name, to their writing, unlike myself or the other authors she has taken pleasure in leaving an unpleasant review for.

Well, I’ll probably never know the answer to that question. But as annoying as that two star review is to me, I know that she’s far more annoyed than I’ll ever be by the “amateur and disappointing” Spanking The Governess.

After all, she paid a whole $4.99 for it!

Just think, if she’s bought it when it was released for $2.99, I’d have made far less money from her!

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“Very enjoyable”, “a great plot and sweet characters”, “suspense, action and romance” or “amateur and disappointing”?

Decide for yourself at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk where Spanking The Governess is currently sitting at #2 in the Victorian Erotica section and #4 in the Historical Erotica section!

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I made it to number one! But I missed it…

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Apparently, my little book made it to number one in the Victorian erotica chart! If it wasn’t for the lovely people at Blushing Books, I wouldn’t have known anything about it, though! Despite my near-obsessive checking of Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, I missed the moment completely!

The book is hovering nicely in the top ten at the moment and I am completely humbled by that.  When you look at the other writers who are releasing books in this particular sub-genre, I have some very stiff competition indeed and to think that people are buying my book as well as their book is…well, the best word I have for it is humbling.

Still – I wish I had a screenshot of it being number one, though!

Tomorrow, I get to be an author!

I am so happy and excited! Or at least, I would be if I wasn’t so tired!

Trying to hold down a demanding full time job and write a book is so hard! All I want to do is write, but after I get home from work all I want to do is lay on the sofa and watch Parks and Recreation.

Tomorrow I get to be a published author. Somebody took my book seriously enough to offer to publish it and the sequels that follow it. They didn’t have to – they weren’t being kind. They thought it had potential to sell. They thought I had potential, and that’s not something that I get told very often.

I don’t expect that my book will sell that many copies – I’m not exactly best seller material, after all. I do hope that I make the company a profit so that it repays their trust in me, and that they keep wanting to publish my books in the future. I like the idea of being able to call myself a real author.

I’ve written fan fiction before now, and lengthy stuff too, regularly hitting over 80000 words on stories that have got some great reviews. I’ve self published some contemporary short stories under the name Eleanor Bennett (and made some – a few – alright, four – sales!). Tomorrow, though, will be the first time that I’ll think of myself as a writer.

I think tomorrow is going to be a really great day.

It’s getting closer now…

Spanking The Governess, my first novel with the lovely people from Blushing Books, is released in two days’ time!

You can read the first chapter for free here!

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The new governess at remote and forbidding Briarstone Manor is not whom or what she claims to be. But prior to Elizabeth’s arrival at the great, sad house, no one else had been able to get through to or control the lonely little girl, the supposed daughter of a peer of the realm, who is need of governing.

Since Elizabeth speaks French, the girl’s native tongue, they quickly bond. Being an inquisitive young woman, however, the new governess all too soon discovers a trove of erotic literature, with an emphasis on spanking, secreted on the premises by the lord of the manor, Joseph, Marquess of Hamilton.

Joseph is a man torn between his parental duty to a daughter of questionable origin, and his loathing for Briarstone, least favorite of all his estates. He also is a man who takes a very dim view of a young, pretty woman snooping around to find books she has no business viewing, and also a man who knows exactly what to do when such outrageous behavior does occur.

When she is caught, though, and taken to task, Elizabeth has to wonder—is being spanked, however strictly, by the stern and handsome lord truly a punishment at all? And what will become of her when Joseph discovers the shameful secret of her true identity?

Come join Louise Taylor as she takes us back more than a century and a half to a time when a man was master of the house, and an employee’s place was, very often, across his lap, to find the answers.

Read the first chapter for free here!

I’m very excited about getting this first novel out and seeing what people think. There are two more novels in this series at present, and about 15000 words of the fourth lurking on my hard drive.

A writer of great literature, or just a great writer?

Today, an article was published in The Guardian written by Jonathan Jones, an arts correspondent. I’m not going to link to it, because I don’t want to increase that man’s hit count but you should read it, just to see how ridiculous this man is.

In brief, The Shepherd’s Crown was published this week. This is Terry Pratchett’s posthumous novel, the last in the Tiffany Aching series. I have read it and, although I wouldn’t rank it as one of my personal favourites due to MASSIVE SPOILERS, it is a good Pratchett book. It deals with death, and what happens to the living once somebody you love has died. It talks about how to forge your own path when you live under the shadow of somebody great. It shows the importance of accepting the faults of others, and how sometimes you have to learn to band together, even with people who irritate you, when a bigger threat occurs. It’s also about six inch blue men who like thievin’, fightin’ and drinkin’, Horace The Cheese, a Lancre Blue who has a very vicious streak indeed and the importance of garden sheds. It is, in fact, very much a Pratchett novel

I read the first few chapters through blurry vision, crying as much for the death of an author I loved as for the death of the character that he decided to let go. I’m biased, I know. I love his work. I have since I was thirteen. His work varies in quality – there is a Golden Age of Pratchett, coming after the first few where he was cutting his teeth and before the later books, where he was writing in a different style, either deliberately or because of the “embuggerance”, the variation of Alzheimer’s disease that robbed us of him. I’m not a fan of the later works, particularly – I’m not really fond of Moist von Lipwig, if I’m to be honest. I’m a Golden Age girl, and always will be. My personal favourite is Lords and Ladies, although I’m always up for a bit of Soul Music. I prefer my Sam Vimes in Guards, Guards! than in Snuff, but I also like the books that seem to be out of continuity, like Small Gods.

I will, however, take one of his works that I’m not so fond of over any other writer in the genre, though. I love him and his books that much.

That’s just me, however. That’s my opinion. You’re allowed not to like him. You’re allowed to have read one or two of his books and thought, “Sorry, not for me.” That’s fine. That’s what it should be like. Everyone is entitled to their honest, informed opinion.

But writing an article for a newspaper – a big newspaper, one of Britain’s best sellers – saying that Pratchett is not a good writer, that the fans that mourn his death are venerating somebody who doesn’t write great literature when you haven’t read one of his books yourself is just not on. If Jonathan Jones had read a book and disliked it, that would be fair. But he hasn’t. He says so in the very first paragraph of his article!

How can you criticise a book – or over forty, actually – if you haven’t bothered to read one? Can you do that? Can I write an article criticising, oh, I don’t know, a series of paintings by an artist that I haven’t bothered to view myself? Of course not. It’s the same as saying “I hate chocolate ice cream” when you’ve never tasted it. It’s stupid, and beneath somebody who claims to be educated.

Because Jonathan Jones is educated, you know. In the article he goes to great length to point out that he knows what Great Literature is, because he’s just finished Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. Austen wrote Great Literature, Jones assures us. Why on earth are people mourning Pratchett and claiming that he is a modern day genius when there are people like Austen around, creating books like Mansfield Park?

Oh dear, Mr Jones. Oh deary, deary me. And probably lawks.

Let’s start with the fact that nobody ever sits down to create Great Literature. Writers write to tell a story. Some writers, like Austen (and Pratchett) use satire as a method to tell their story. Some writers, like Austen (and Pratchett) use humour to tell their story. Some writers, like Austen (and Pratchett) attack commonly held ideas about how society works, and how people are unfairly treated. They shine a light into dark areas. They hold a mirror up to the world. And, if they’re Pratchett, they make us laugh as they make us open our minds. Oh, wait, Austen did that too.

Silly me. As a Pratchett fan, I can’t possibly understand how Great Literature works.

But when Austen sat down to write Pride and Prejudice or any of her great works, she didn’t know she was writing Literature, with a capital L. No other writer did either. Let’s be honest, when Shakespeare was banging out hit after hit for the Globe, it’s not like it crossed his mind that half a millennium later teenagers would be trying to puzzle out the dirty jokes in Romeo and Juliet under orders from the Department for Education.

It’s other people who make stories into Literature, not the writers. It’s the fans, and the critics, and the teachers who put the books onto school and university syllabuses.  It’s the people who won’t shut up about how great this writer is. It’s the other writers who have been influenced by them.

If a writer can make a story speak to people, even people born long after they themselves have died, that makes it Literature.

I think that Jonathan Jones picked an Austen book as an example of great Literature because he gets to show that he’s a modern, enlightened man if he picks a book by a female author. What a shame he chose Jane Austen, because I think that if she was alive today to read the article, she’d be quickly creating a character for her next satire; that of an arts critic who writes pompously and scathingly about an author he proudly admits to never reading. Actually, I take that back  – I’m not sure she’d take something handed to her so easily. Jonathan Jones has made himself too easy a target.

It’s the ultimate irony- in showing his proud Literature credentials, Jonathan Jones reveals himself to be clueless about the author he holds up to be a master of the genre.

I think that she’d be howling with laughter about this ridiculous article. I think Pratchett would find it amusing, too.

So no, Jonathan Jones, when people think of the canon of English Literature, most people wouldn’t put Pratchett there with Austen, or Swift, or Pope. The thing is, though, when Austen, Swift and Pope were writing, they weren’t considered great writers of Literature either. That’s what time is for.

Come back in a hundred years, and we’ll see where history ultimately lands on where it puts Terry Pratchett – beloved comic fantasy writer and satirist, or guilty of committing acts of great English Literature.

I know where I put him, though, and I suspect it’s where his millions of devoted fans put him too – on their bookshelves, and in their hearts. And at the end of the day, I suspect I know where he would have wanted to end up.

passionate about the past