Girls Write Out
Friday, December 23, 2005

I got my first really bad review this week. It was from Publishers Weekly,a publication hardly known for being kind to Christian fiction. It was for a book that I thought was my best and it really rocked me at first. But when you read the context of the what they didn't like, it was obvious they don't like Christian romance. The reviewer criticized the fact that the heroine had to become a Christian before they could commit to marriage. I don't know what kind of faith walk, if any, the reviewer has, but it's obviously not one that follows what God says about that. Romance is all about a HAPPY ending. There can be no happy ending if the one you love most in the world isn't going to heaven with you. I've seen marriages like that, and it's always a source of conflict and great heartache.

The other things the reviewer said made it clear he/she hadn't really READ the book. They mentioned the cliche of a city girl learning something in small town life, unattractive non-Christians or sexually provocative ones. Now there was NONE of that in Alaska Twilight. The city girl HATED the wilderness and the romance is only resolved with compromise, which is what real love is all about. The unattractive women in the book were CHRISTIANS and there was no sexually provacative non-Christian.

I'm writing for the people who treasure commitment, and hold to the same hometown values I have, and that's what I'm going to continue to do. I'm not going to change my type of book just because some reviewer who is out of touch with the Heartland gave it a quick, contemptuous glance through and blasted it for things that it didn't even have just because they were biased against Christianity. Now I kind of feel like I've taken a lick for Christ and it feels pretty good.
Colleen Coble  
posted at 2:43 PM  
  Comments (11)
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At 5:20 PM, Blogger Denise Hunter said...

That review was SO undeserved, Colleen. If it were just opinion, that would be one thing, but he made mistatements, like you said. And you know what they say . . . any publicity is good publicity.

At 5:59 PM, Blogger Kristin Billerbeck said...

I can honestly say I've never bought a book because of a review. I've bought one because my friend, or a store employee recommended it, but never because of a review.

And I think that's a problem with reviews. The people they matter to are a small subset of readers. That's why you can get a GLOWING review in some important book journal and have four people read your book. In contrast, there are writers like Danielle Steel who such journals only review with disdain and she sells millions anyway.

So really, if you're writing for that group of literi where such things matter, ouch. But if you're writing for humans with front lawns, living lives out in the suburbs, WHO CARES?

At 6:53 PM, Blogger Camy Tang said...

That's AWFUL! I can't believe a professional reviewer would be so freakin' biased against Christian romance and then comment on things making it obvious she didn't even READ the book.

If I object to something in a book, I usually have a very concrete reason why. Like I didn't buy it when heroine heard a noise and went outside on a dark and stormy night without a flashlight in her nightgown when the news had been warning of a serial killer on the loose. Stuff like that doesn't really flip my "suspension of reality" button.

But I can't believe the reviewer didn't like the fact that the heroine had to become Christian first. Even secular marriage counselers recognize the fact that disparate religions is a huge roadblock to good marriages.

And then all the stuff she complained about that didn't even HAPPEN in the book? Come on, people! Did she stop reading on page 20?

Okay, okay. You're obviously much more calm and loving than I am.


At 12:33 AM, Blogger eileen said...

You stay with what makes you Colleen! Proud of you.

At 4:59 AM, Blogger Elaina Avalos said...

Reviews are so entirely subjective. I always, always check the book out for myself. As a reader the test for me is not what some punk in a journal or whatever...has to say but when I read the back cover or open the book and read the first paragraph or catch the author in an interview somewhere.

The "literati" are so completely full of themselves sometimes it makes me want to puke. And then puke again. Some time I'll tell you how I really feel about the matter. ;)

Don't lose any sleep over the punk's review.

At 7:22 AM, Blogger south asia said...

I don't think I've ever even READ a review. And I'm an avid reader. :)

At 11:02 AM, Blogger Jaime said...

I spent a month taking a journey into the world of secular romance which I'd never done before. I felt depressed for a whole week until I figured out the books were making me feel down just by reading the "great romance" filled with distrust, promiscuity, arrogant men who are filled with ego and lust (which somehow gets magically interpreted as love and TENDERNESS?!?), and women don't value themselves enough to be the treasure they really are.

Well, that test proved one thing - when I transferred back to Christian romance, the darkness lifted and i was filled with hope again.

So, thanks to people like you who write these "awful examples of boring Christian literature", people like me are reaffirmed daily that the choices we're making fill us with joy and hope and strength ... and glorify our Father too!

At 11:58 AM, Blogger Rachel Hauck said...

Colleen, you figured it out. The reviewer didn't really read the book, or if they did, they read it with attitude.

I love what you wrote though... "feels good to take a lick for Jesus." :) Amen. And you know what, He's looking out for you. I bet this is your best selling novel yet!

Merry Christmas. Rachel

At 3:43 AM, Blogger Heather Diane Tipton said...

Robin read me the review over the phone... I haven't read the book and I knew the reviewer hadn't read it!

Ditto what Eileen said!

At 10:40 AM, Blogger Corina Bowen said...

Its funny how the "world" is quick to point out or degrade and if they can't do it with truth they make up stuff! I think of 1Cor1:18 and it all makes since why we get the reviews. But thats ok- Keep pushing Colleen, you MUST be on the right track! :-) Before you send each one in start praying that whoever reads it, touches it, or reviews it sees God's truth and falls on their knees!!
Never know.... the one that He wants to reach with your work might just be that review writer!! hehe

At 11:40 AM, Blogger Robin Caroll said...

Well, C, I told you....A MAN wrote the review because he apparently didn't "get" the romance thread, if he even bothered to read it! Let's see....I have some tar around here...anyone have some feathers?


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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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