Sunday, August 15, 2010

Feed Back for Dieters

Gabriella Herkert

Catnapped and Doggone

Last week’s write a rejection for a favorite classic set up this week’s challenge. Reviews, like rejections, come in more flavors than Baskin Robbins. There’s the it’s my fav-fav-favorite marshmallow double fudge inducing diabetic coma. There’s the it was good but I could have written it better surprise pucker of lemon gelato. And the ever favorite I only read it because someone was going to pay me for this review rocky road. Maybe it’s just my Wisconsin upbringing and faithful promise to remain true to all that is dairy, but I never met an ice cream I didn’t like. Or one that didn’t have a place somewhere on the menu. So here they are – the flavors of the week.

Triple Chocolate Decadence – double scoop in a waffle cone

A reader once sent me an email link to a review for Catnapped she put on her personal web site which was actually set up to help her build a community of other people working to lose weight. Not only did she find Catnapped purrrrrfectly fun and a meow and a half (extra points for punning) but she looked up how many extra calories are burned laughing. Laughing at my baby increased calorie burn by up to 20% or the equivalent of 10 to 40 calories per fifteen minutes of guffaws. She included a link to a study that said so. I checked. Real science. Then, she recommended including my book in her team’s overall weight loss strategy. All that love, from a stranger, for a book I sometimes thought would never be read. And she made it relevant in her own life. I’ve had some great reviews since then. But I never really got over that first really big ice cream headache. It hurt, in the way that big moments often do. It also left me craving more.

Banana Low-Fat – one scoop in a cup

Amazon has essentially anonymous reviews from readers. According to one, Doggone is the worst book ever written. I’ll admit this one generated the same gag reflex I’ve experienced with anything banana since my mom tried to force Gerber’s past my clenched baby lips. The worst book ever. Huh. Ever? Well, that would be a sort of an accomplishment given the number of books written historically, I guess. I was paralyzed from the shock of it. Then, I read the rest, forced myself, too, actually. The reviewer found the ending too sweet for the rest of the book. The worst book ever and he or she read to the last page. Then he took the time to write a review on Amazon who doesn’t even pay for them. Anonymously. Maybe I didn’t do everything wrong after all. I really don’t like banana and ice milk isn’t even ice cream but if I didn’t have it – once – I wouldn’t know how much I really hate it. I also wouldn’t be working so hard to make sure I didn’t have to eat it often. So I guess, even banana low-fat has a purpose. Sort of.

Hand-churned Summer Peach – served in a silver dish in the pool at the Grand Wailea, Maui

My first “review” came from a contest. I submitted Catnapped to the Maui Writer’s Conference Rupert Hughes award committee after having written exactly the number of pages required to submit. I hadn’t written the rest. Didn’t even know where the book was going. When they called my name to hand me my award, I thought I’d tasted sublime. Ten seconds later, John Saul, he of I’ve sold fifty million copies fame, handed me the statue and my favorite review of all time. He said “I love Russ.” Three words. Not even on paper. Just a guy with the name of one of my characters committed to memory. Those perfect moments are fleeting to be sure. The photo of me nearly dropping the brass sculpture with a look of horror on my face posted on their website lingered longer than that flash of pure magic. I know you can’t have hand churned peach every day or the reverence would fade. But it’s the flavor I close my eyes to imagine whenever the others overwhelm my scale and undermine my confidence.

May all your books – as writers and readers – be the pits. In the best way.
Thanks for reading.



Rebecca Cantrell said...

May your next review be ginger ice cream from Hula Beans on Ali'i Drive!

Congrats on the Rupert Hughes! The head of my agency sponsored that award and they diligently read them all. I miss the Maui Writers Conference. It's gone now, but it's where I found my agent, got my first blurb commitment (thank you, James Rollins!), and met a lot of friends.

Too bad I never met you while I was there though, Gabi. Bouchercon?

Gabi said...

Maui was my first conference and the first time I felt community. I'm sorry it's gone but understand it was cost prohibitive. I wonder if we were ever there at the same time and just didn't meet?

I haven't signed up for B'con yet since I don't have a new book out but am thinking about going anyway and stealthing. It would give me a chance to meet all my CM buddies, at least.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

We could do a CM lunch or drink or something. And you could come to my IDRAK launch on the 17th...

I was at Maui in 98, 06, and 07. 98 from CA and the others on a quick puddlejumper. When were you there?

Michael Wiley said...

A "worst ever" comment seems contradictory, especially from a reviewer who has read through to the final pages (as you note). I figure that a "worst ever" judgment must come form someone who has reacted strongly to the writing, and so (contradictorily) the writing has done its work well. A review that says a book is mediocre -- not uneven, just consistently bland -- seems worse.

Gabi said...

I would love to be at your launch and food activities are always welcome. I'll let you know when I decide.

Gabi said...

You're absolutely right. Blah is worse than YUK, YUK, YUK.

Shane Gericke said...

Amazon reviews: feh and ptoi. I' be more impressed if they'd sign their real names and put up their websites.

That said, I sure like the good ones I get ...