Tuesday, November 19, 2013


I love to write. There's no doubt about that. Rarely do I go a day without putting words on the page, whether it be on my current work in progress, edits or social media like Facebook or Twitter, or plotting my next story,  A day without writing to me is like Willy Wonka without chocolate.  

But sometimes for an author like this writing junkie, it's a case of being careful what you wish for. When I was just starting out, my drive and ambition was so strong, I wanted to be published almost more than my next breath.  I could taste it.  I could feel it in my bones.  This is what I was meant to do. 

Well...guess what?  After many years of publication, hitting the USA Today Bestseller list and establishing myself as a historical and contemporary western writer...I have some issues that I must confess. 

Confesssion #1- REVIEWS

I put my heart and soul into every book.  I really do. I don't write fast. I don't write slow. I write at the speed that it takes to make my stories shine.  If I get a great review, it makes my day.  I am happy that the reader/reviewer got the story and understood the character's motivations.  

November release on Amazon and all other booksellers! 

The Secret Heir of Sunset Ranch was an intriguing read. Kat and Justin were both realistically portrayed with the same flaws and issues many of us have. The plot was well played and kept your interest, while the chemistry between Kat and Justin was explosive. A master storyteller, Charlene Sands comes through with another captivating tale, The Secret Heir of Sunset Ranch, a story guaranteed to touch your heart and tug at your emotions.  Debby at Cataromance. 

But I will confess, bad reviews hurt.  Why?  Not for the reason you might think.  Sometimes, there's an inkling of truth in a bad review.  And as a writer, we are always more sensitive to what we did wrong, rather than what we did right.  One negative word, can overshadow, one hundred positive ones.  Isn't that the truth? I'm not happy that the review revealed a weakness in my story, but you can by darn sure, I would never make that mistake again.  

I do hate insensitive and cruel-worded reviews. Luckily, I haven't had any of those, but they are out there and it sickens my heart to see it.  Internet anonymity doesn't mean readers get to unleash their verbal wrath on an author.  I often wonder, would they be so bold as to say those personal, awful things to a writer's face?   Moving on....

Confession # 2 - ARE WE THERE YET?

I get this question A Lot from my non-writer friends and family. So, are you done? Is the book finished?  Can you take a break from writing now?  

I confess I get frustrated at times, because I'm never really done. Writers are in a constant state of perpetual motion.  It's true, if I wanted to write one book every two years, I could do that, but that doesn't a career make.  Writing isn't a Bon-Bon eating, sexy- lingerie wearing, glamorous lifestyle.  Not by a longshot.  Every successful writer I know, is a great juggler of time and resources. We get up early, go to bed late, eat meals at our desk and have to juggle our personal lives, kids, housework, sometimes a day job, in order to get our stories told.  Almost every day, I'm fighting the clock. Even if the story is told, I'm doing edits, revisions, cover art sheets, plotting my next book, going to meetings, promoting my releases....the list is endless.  

Is it the life I chose?  Yes.  Did I know how hard it would be? No way.      

Confession #3 -- I SUCK AT PLOTTING

I do.  I do.  I confess.  Plot is a four letter word to me. Plotting a story is my major weakness. Do I have stories drifting around in my head?  Sometimes.  But do I know where they are going and how I am going to make it all fit? Not necessarily.  I am not a good chess player.  I can't see two moves ahead of me.  When I get an idea, I usually know who the characters are, and how my book is going to end.  But there's fifty thousand words of the in-between, I need to figure out too.  And I dread it. Enter: My fabulous plot group.  Leanne Banks, Jules Bennett, Lynne Marshall, Janice Maynard and myself.  We get together monthly on a conference call or more if there's a story emergency and work out our plotting problems. Five heads are better than one. YES! 

I confess, I need these women. They are friends, writers, plotters and life-savers.      
Leanne Banks, Jules Bennett and me, obviously not plotting at the moment! 

Confession #4 -- FREE BOOKS MAKE ME CRAZY!

I know. I know.  In this economy, you say, it's nice every so often to get a book free.  I agree.  I always hold contests, giveaways, and drawings on my blogs and social media sites.  I feel I'm generous to my readers. I run exclusive newsletter contests all the time. I love giving away freebies. 

But that's different than an author or pub house pricing a book at $0.00 on Amazon or other online venues.  It's a loss leader concept, that has worked well for some authors, the strategy being to build readership by enticing with a free book and then hoping the reader buys the other books in the series or more of the authors works.

What I see is hours, days, months (for me, it's 3 to 5 months) of hard work, dedication and struggle to write a really good book and see it sell for zero. I confess, that hurts.  Why?  It's almost the norm now, the market is glutted with free books. I've heard people say, why should I buy a book, I can get them for free now?   

I'm hoping that's not the case.  I'm hoping that for most of those free books, readers do go buy the others in the series. I'm hoping that being Free doesn't devalue the author or the work.   It's hard for a writer to know what works and how they can build a readership so they can stay in business and continue to write.  I confess, it all makes me crazy!!  

Confession #5 - LOST WORLD 

Writing can be a lonely existence.  I'm at the computer for hours at a time.  Some days I don't see the light of day (I'm trying to be better about this) where sunshine will turn to dusk before I step a foot outside.   
My buds from LARA (LA Chapter of Romance Writers of America) Picnic Time! 

I confess that I would be lost without the writing community at large (that's you LARA AND OCC) and my fellow writing friends close at hand.  Why is that so important? Because writers "get" other writers. Writers know the complexity and simplicity of loving the craft of writing. They get, how hard, joyful, frustrating, beneficial, heartbreaking it all can be. They get the hours glued in the chair, the distractions, the juggling, the blocked story, the joy of writing THE END, the inner structure of traditional publishing and newfound successes of Indie publishing.  My writer friends can finish my sentences.  We are passionate people. We know deadline hell.  We bitch and moan and share joys and triumphs.  We support each other.  Day in and day out. That's pretty special.  I truly would be lost without them.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my honesty.  What do you think of my confessions?  Do you have confessions of your own?  Do you read reviews and cringe when you see a harsh one?   I'm giving away two books today.  Post a comment and be entered in a random drawing for either a FREE print copy of the first book in The Slades of Sunset Ranch series Sunset Surrender (US only)and an ebook (US or international )copy of The Cowboy Contract 

Sign up for my newsletter HERE  

My thanks to Lee Hyat for inviting me to blog today!! 

***The winner is Janine! Please email with your mailing info!***


Laurie G said...

As an avid reader I really appreciate free books. It's expensive to buy a lot of print books I don't own an e-reader so I have to read KINDLE books on my computer, with the PC app, which I find very uncomfortable.

I do see where you are coming from when a book is on Amazon for free. However, I have purchased many books after reading a freebie from an author that I won as a prize. I know I should write more reviews and that will be my resolution for 2014.

I rarely say anything bad in a review. Twice I have written reviews were I was extremely disappointed with the author's book and felt cheated. I have never said hurtful things just clarified why I found it lacking. One especially bad book sticks in my head and now I refuse to purchase any of that author's books.

Readers do appreciate author's efforts and work. Don't be discouraged. I did buy SUNSET SURRENDER. It is on my TBR pile. Unfortunately life has gotten in the way of my reading. I hope to get back on track soon.

Charlene Sands said...

Hi Laurie - Thanks for your honesty. And I think if a reader is sensitive and constructive in their criticism in a review, it is very much appreciated by the author. I was very disappointed in one of my fav author's latest release, but I didn't write a bad review. I figured, the book wasn't my cup of tea. I will try her next book and see how it goes. I agree, reading a book on the computer isn't very comfortable. Thanks for stopping by!

Janie Emaus said...

I love your honesty. I suck at plotting, too. How long does it take to write a book? As long it needs to get it perfect.

Sherri Shackelford said...

I can relate to all of those! Thank you for sharing :)

Margaret Brownley said...

Charlene, you spoke to every writer's heart with your honesty. Free books make me crazy, too. I don't know of any other profession where so much is given away free. Yes, books cost money but no one complains about the cost of renting a movie or the price of a video game. I know someone who has owned a KIndle for three years and has yet to purchase a book. She gets them all free. Since I write 90,000 words historical novels it takes me 9 month to complete a book. I wonder how many plumbers, electricians, teachers and so forth would work 9 months for free. .

Charlene Sands said...

Hi Janie,
It shouldn't, but it always makes me feel better to know I'm not the only one who isn't good at plot. I swear, I think about it for days and days and then decide I need help!

Charlene Sands said...

Hi Sherri - Oh, I'm glad. It does help knowing I'm not completely off the wall in my thinking!! Thanks for stopping by.

Charlene Sands said...

HI Margaret...thanks for your honesty. I agree, but I do see the value to put a book free, for a few days to garner new readers, especially when there is a series involved or backlist books. And I'm not against giving away books free to my readers, I just can't see it as a business model. Apparently, it works for some authors. But you're many professionals continually give their goods away for free?

Kathleen O said...

I must confess that I do like to get free books for my kindle, but they are usually authors I have never read before.. And If I like them when I read them, then I will go buy their books. And if I don't like the book, which is very rare for me, then I am glad that I didn't have to use my hard earned money on something I didn't like.. But like I said it's very rare for me not to like a book.

Tanya Hanson said...

I thought I left a comment a while ago. I guess it didn't go through, sheesh. Well, Charlene, you do not SUCK at plotting. You've helpd me with many a muddle! Thanks! As for free books, I don't get it. Because I have written both sensual and inspirational, my last two that went "free" for a few days before official release (go figure) got some utterly nasty reviews. Oh well.

I think a lot of negative reviewers are simply jealous...they want to be writers and never took the tine.

Loved your confessions today! xoxox

Pat Cochran said...

Just finished reading your Secret Heir of Sunset Ranch, now
reading Jules Bennett's To Tame A Cowboy. Will have to make
a bookstore run to get the earlier Sunset Series books. Thanks
for writing books that I always enjoy!

Pat C.

Pam Crooks said...

Add me to your ranks as an author who feels like "Free" has been overdone. I have to admit I got caught up in that thinking 1 1/2 years ago when I put my western romance, HANNAH'S VOW, for free. It worked really well at the time, my rankings shot up, but it was short-lived, and if I ever think of how much money I could have made by selling those books? Ugh.

I, too, know of readers who download free books in a frenzy with little (or no) intention of buying. Why should they? We authors are making it too easy so they don't have to.

So my thinking has changed, and I'll likely never put a book free again. On sale, yes, but not free. Like you said, we work months and months on our books. Doesn't quite seem right to give them away!

Great post!

Robin Bielman said...

Hi Charlene! I loved reading this post! It's so nice to know that we writers share many of the same struggles and issues. Hugs! Oh, and I just finished reading The Secret Heir of Sunset Ranch and LOVED it!

Charlene Sands said...

Hi Kathleen - Yes, that's the purpose of free books, to introduce authors to new readers. And it does work and help join new reader to author. I'm glad you are such an avid reader...wish I had time to read more. So many books on my To Be Read list!

Charlene Sands said...

Hi Tanya - unfortunately we have to take the bad reviews with the good. Thick skin helps us writers. But nasty reviews aren't necessary at all. I loved helping you with your stories, but YOU are a great plotter. You have a ton of ideas bouncing around in your head!

Charlene Sands said...

Hi Pat C - Well, thank YOU for enjoying my books. That makes me happy. I hope to write books that most readers will find entertaining and interesting.

Charlene Sands said...

Hi Pam - Thanks for your honest post. I had a friend you had something like 18,000 free downloads, but it really didn't help boost her sales afterward when it went back to a reasonable sale price. I think what worked a few years ago, doesn't really work so well now. Publishing is changing daily, we just have to remember to write the best book we can.

Charlene Sands said...

Hi Robin - oh,my goodness. You read my book already? That's fast. I am glad you liked it. I know how busy you are too. Thank you!!

Samanthe Beck said...

Hi Charlene,

Like everything else you write, this post was perfect! It does my newbie heart good to hear an accomplished author share her challenges and realize I'm not the only one who feels like I can't plot, like a 2 star review obliterates a handful of 4's & 5's, and no, I am never going to get "there" so stop asking if it's done! Thank you!

Charlene Sands said...

Hi Sam - Oh, thanks so much. It feels good to get my confessions out there and that so many of you agree with me! Thanks for stopping by!

Tara Lain said...

Great post. So many truths! My suggestion is count the reviews -- don't read them! LOL. Occasionally i go back and read them and look for good things and ignore the bad if possible. Thanks again. : )

Janine said...

I could have sworn I posted earlier this morning, but I don't see it now. This was a wonderful interview and really loved the Slades of Sunset Ranch series. It was one of my favorite romance series of the year.

Charlene Sands said...

Thanks, Tara. I like your suggestion! Thanks for stopping by!

Charlene Sands said...

Hi Janine - That's no problem, it happened to someone else this morning too. I appreciate you coming back to add a comment. Thanks so much for telling me you enjoyed my stories. It means a lot. You are the best!

Mary Preston said...

I appreciate honest reviews, but I don't think there is any need for reviews to be harsh.

girlygirlhoosier52 said...

I now have a better understanding for the process, thanks to you. And I have always enjoyed your writing. So, please, don't let the negative stuff get to you... some people are just never happy... with anything... I know, because I worked with the public all my life and I can attest to the fact that you can't make everyone happy all the time.

Charlene Sands said...

Thanks so much for your support Girlygirlhoosier52. I appreciate it!!

Charlene Sands said...

Hi Mary - and thanks for your insights. I agree!!

Julia said...

Hi Charlene,
This is a great post, and I love your honesty. I have to admit that I've downloaded my fair share of free books to my Kindle -- especially when I felt like I'd been overspending on my reading habit. If I enjoy a book, I ALWAYS look the author up and buy more of her books. I've found several new authors this way whose books I now regularly buy now. On the other hand, I've also loaded a bunch of not so great books that I end up dumping.

I do think that a 99 cent sale or even $1.99 would work just as well as "free". I definitely appreciate all of the hard work and hours and sacrifice that go into writing a book, and that shouldn't be undervalued!

Eli Yanti said...

I liked read review sometimes and about free book, everyone ofcourse like it but let me tell you because the free book we as reader can know which book is good and great author and then buy some other their book but honestly to say that some peoples only one free maybe because they are really one all free or their financial problem then can't afford to buy book.

And for me, if I can't the buy when the author is so kind to me, the other thing I can do is post the review or recommend to friends

Btw thanks for your posting :)