Category Archives: Recognition

Bad review, bad person?

There is a discussion going on in one of the groups I belong to and my opinion on the subject seems quite different than that of many others participating. I have responded there several times, but I felt that it would be best if I moved my opinion off the group, so I wouldn’t just be keeping the argument going. The topic of discussion is whether or not 1 or 2 star reviews should be posted publicly, especially by other authors.

3-Star review

Many say no, because it is mean and humiliating. Okay, but my question is, if an author doesn’t want people to review their books honestly, should we really be worried about their feelings getting hurt? Of course we should, but there is the whole point that when you put yourself and your work out in the public and ask people what they think, you had better have thick enough skin to accept all the answers. It is unrealistic to think everyone will like your book.

I have been criticized repeatedly over the years for a 1-star review I posted of THE LOVELY BONES. Okay, I posted the review publicly so everyone has a right to point out their agreement or disagreement. So be it. Does it make me a bad person because I did not like this book and said so publicly? I didn’t rag on the author, I was not malicious or hurtful. I was honest in my opinion.

My review of The Lovely Bones

I have to admit to reading this book because of all the fuss. Everyone raved about how wonderful it was and so beautifully written, etc. I was very disappointed.

I found the voice of the main character to be contrived and out of character. I hated hearing the story being told by a child in an adult voice. It took away a lot of the emotional impact for me.

I think this could have been much better.

I think it is quite to the point and professional. No one has to like it, it is my opinion.

2-Star Review

Why would you bother to post a review of a book you read and then not be honest? The point of reviews is to help other readers have a better knowledge of what that book is about and what other readers think of it. What happens to the industry if everyone who reads a book either posts a positive review or no review at all, even if they did not like the book and had solid reasons for the dislike? The industry would become a shallow popularity contest…oh wait, it already has. I am furious when I buy a book that has gotten 25 5-star reviews claiming it to be the best book ever and then when I read it I discover that it is poorly edited, poorly constructed, dipping with multitudes of plotholes, and just plain bad. I feel cheated and mislead by each and every person who failed to point out even one of the problems. Now, I am the first to agree that even a poorly written book can be exciting and engaging, I have read many.  I simply tell fellow readers how much I loved the story, but to be prepared for lots of editorial issues. Honest, not cruel. But I certainly would not give it a 5-star review, even if I knew the author.

Bottom line is, a review is intended to serve a specific purpose, if the reviewers cannot be honest, then why bother, it just makes things icky for the rest of us.

One last note. This is for all you authors out there. If you are not willing to give an honest review and STAND BEHIND IT (this means posting it, whether good or bad) then do us all a favor and don’t review books by friends and other authors you know. This is just my personal request/opinion.

I would love to know what you all think of this, whether you agree with me or not. Please don’t hesitate to share your comments, this is a no judgment zone.

I’ve Been Reviewed

Well, it’s about time someone realize I crave praise…er…reviews. Getting them is like climbing into the mouth of a hormonal hippo and tickling her tonsils. Sheesh.

But there is light!

Book Reviewer Gary Roen posted an lovely review for Lost and Found in the West Orlando News Online.

He liked it, he really liked it!

“Syed has written a fun filled story that has interesting characters and a nice even pace that concludes with a very satisfying ending. “Lost and Found” is good clean fun.”

Thank you so much, Gary!!

Independent Book Blogger Awards – Vote for me, Please

Bloggers, get out the vote!

I have successfully entered the Independent Book Blogger Awards. The polls are now open! It’s time to spread the word to my readers and drum up votes for my blog! Voting continues until 11:59 pm EDT, Monday, April 23. It is be okay with me if you want to Blog about these awards and let people know they can come visit my Blog so they feel good about voting for me.

There must be rules…


The rules: The polls allow one vote per person in each of the four categories, and voters must be Goodreads members so that we can accurately tally the results. When polls close, the top 15 blogs in each category will become finalists.


Winners will be selected from among the finalists by a panel of industry judges. Each of the four category winners will receive a pass to BookExpo America (June 5-7, 2012) with airfare and hotel accommodation in New York City.

For more details on rules and background on the judging process, please see the Contest Terms.

Key Dates:

  • Monday, April 9 (at 11:59 pm ET) – Deadline for entries
  • Tuesday, April 10 (12:01am ET) through Monday, April 23 (11:59 pm ET) – Voting
  • Week of May 1 – Shortlist of finalists announced
  • Week of May 7 – Winners announced

The awards are organized by the Association of American Publishers Trade Division members and Goodreads.

Let the voting begin!

Love is Murder 2012

I know, it’s been a while since I posted. It is always hectic just before I go to an event. February’s event was the Love is Murder 2012 Conference. If you have not been to this event, you really are missing out. It is not your typical writers’ conference or readers convention, it is a lovely mix of the two.

First, let me congratulate (and thank) Mary Connerty. During LIM 2012, we offered an entry to win a FREE Kindle for each Echelon eBook guests purchased. Mary has a new Kindle, thanks to her purchase of the eBook Totally Buzzed by Gale Borger.

Second I would like to congratulate Echelon Press Mystery Author Robert Goldsborough for his well-deserved Lovey Award for Best Historical Novel for his mystery Terror at the Fair.

The LIM board, as they are affectionately known (or sometimes, “Hey, you!”) is comprised of one of the most committed group of volunteers I’ve ever met, and I know each of them rather well. I consider this an honor. At any rate, LIM caters to readers and authors of the mystery genre, with a splash of romance thrown in to keep things lively.

The con offers workshops for writers of any level, as well as panels and events to keep the readers (and everyone else) entertained for the entire weekend. One of my favorite things to do is the editor/author appointments. I have been doing them for many years, and I have found a large number of my Echelon authors, past and present, at those appointment tables. If you are an aspiring mystery writer, or even an already published author shopping a new manuscript, the editors and agents at LIM are among the most gracious. And I’m not even including myself in that statement (though I am kinda cool sometimes.)

Karen L. Syed with award-winning authors David Morrell and Robert Goldsborough at LIM 2012And if you are a reader, I don’t know of any other conference or convention that offers the opportunity for such intimate interaction with the speakers, guests, or professionals. Whether it’s in the lounge, at one of the meals, or at any of the other social events. The special guests go out of their way to make themselves accessible to the fans. For example: In 2004, I heard David Morrell (creator of Rambo, and the author one of my favorite books, Creepers) talk about the value of marketing for authors. I was at a point in my publishing career where I was perched on a very precarious edge and considering quitting. His keynote that night at LIM changed my life and inspired me to change my thinking and forge ahead. We are celebrating our 11th anniversary for Echelon Press this month. On Saturday night at LIM 2012, David Morrell spoke again and this time he indicated that he was making a correction to his previous keynote. I couldn’t wait to get out of that banquet room so I could pull him aside and let him know that I didn’t consider his keynote a correction, but a wealth of additional input that will hopefully serve both authors and readers. To paraphrase, he reminded authors that the book business isn’t just about marketing, and that they should look deep inside themselves and write the stories they are meant to write. Forget about chasing the “market” when writing, just write from within yourself. It is some of the best advice I’ve heard in a long time. Because when you write the right book the way it is supposed to be written, it will ultimately be the greatest gift you can give readers. I have said this before, but it bears repeating, David Morrell is not only a brilliant writer, but also a brilliantly inspiring person.

Chicagoland "Those Were the Days Radio Players"Aside from the keynote, there were a number of other awesome events, including one of my favorites, The Chicagoland “Those Were the Days Radio Players,” who perform actual radio shows as they were performed in their glory days. It is an amazing thing to watch and I hope they continue to do the shows each year.

Well, I’ve gone on a bit. I’ll pop out for now, but stop back by later in the week to read my next LIM 2012 post, “Burning Bridges: or 5 things you should have known before attending LIM 2012.”

Until then…

Have You Read Origins by Sean Hayden?

You can help pick a real winner!

The Paranormal Romance Guild is happy to announce your Book has been chosen as one of the Best Reads in 2011 by our reviewers and we are having a contest for readers to choose the winner…Voting will be on our site All nominees can be seen if you click here.

Voting will begin at 9 am on the 6th of January EST. We hope fans of Origins will visit the site and cast their vote for it.


Origins by Sean Hayden

Buy Now!


The Test of Time (Bookstore spotlight by Nancy Lynn Jarvis)

I live in Santa Cruz, a small county with arguably the greatest per-capita number of independent bookstores in California. We take our indies seriously here, so seriously we have no chain bookstores in the county.

The brightest jewel of all our indies is Bookshop Santa Cruz. Bookshop, as it is affectionately known by locals, opened in 1966. It stayed open after the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989 destroyed its brick and mortar building by operating out of a gigantic tent while rebuilding. Bookshop thrived even after Borders opened a death-star of a store a block away. In the economic downturn, Bookshop Santa Cruz innovated; Borders closed last year. There are over twenty full time employees working for Bookshop and the store hosts over a dozen active book clubs. “Let’s meet at Bookshop,” is an often heard refrain throughout Santa Cruz County.

Big names like Jonathan Franzen, Amy and David Sedaris, and Jane Fonda have had book signings sponsored by Bookshop Santa Cruz. If the name is really big, Bookshop rents the civic auditorium for them–crowds over a thousand strong don’t fit into Bookshop Santa Cruz.

I’ve always been a fan of Bookshop Santa Cruz so you can imagine how excited I am that I’ll be introducing my latest book, The Widow’s Walk League on July 26th at their Local Authors Night. Giving local writers a chance to interact with their community in another of the things Bookshop Santa Cruz is known for doing right.



Twitter: @BookshopSC

Nancy Lynn Jarvis has been a Santa Cruz, California, Realtor® for more than twenty years. She owns a real estate company with her husband, Craig. 

After earning a BA in behavioral science from San Jose State University, she worked in the advertising department of the San Jose Mercury News. A move to Santa Cruz meant a new job as a librarian and later a stint as the business manager of Shakespeare/Santa Cruz. 

Nancy’s work history reflects her philosophy: people should try something radically different every few years. Writing is her newest adventure. 

She invites you to take a peek into the real estate world through the stories that form the backdrop of her Regan McHenry mysteries. Details and ideas come from Nancy’s own experiences.

Sean Hayden…the man

There comes a time in your life when you really must step down off your personal pedestal and give credit to other human beings (or dogs, or cats, if you feel that strongly about them.)  Today, I am giving a shout out, heads up, or whatever clever little saying you want to use to Sean Hayden.

Not too long ago, Echelon’s Sr. Editor stepped down (so she could have a life). Kat had been with us for a very long time and I was devastated. Then out of nowhere,  a voice whispered in my ear, “Hey, you need help with anything, I’m your man.” Or something like that. Some time before that Sean Hayden had signed a contract, actually two, with Echelon for his Vampire series. Now, I’ll admit, I wondered what this devilishly handsome and mild-mannered young man could do to help me.

Click Cover to Buy eBook Now!

He soon answered my question. Sean stepped in a the new Sr. Editor for Echelon Press. Since then he has picked on, teased, coddled, inspired, and encouraged me. Who woulda thunk it?

On top of his day job, where he is some kind of master with fiber something or other wires or some such thing, he has helped reorganize Echelon Press. He has brought in several new authors who are delightful in their own rights. He has also become one of my most prolific authors.

Over the next year Sean will see six short stories published as part of our new Quake Electric Shorts program. He is writing The Magical Steam Carnival of Professor Pelusian Minus with his eleven-year-old son, Connor. It is a wonderful series and it warms my heart to see Sean working with his son on this project.

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We also released Sean’s first steampunk short Lady Dorn. I encourage you to check it out. And speaking of steampunk, Sean will have a story in the upcoming Echelon anthology Her Majesty’s Mysterious Conveyance.

And we should not exclude Deceptions, his upcoming and eagerly anticipated follow-up to Origins.

I would be remiss if I did not tell you all what a swell guy Sean is. I have discovered that there is little he isn’t willing to endure for his friends and I count myself lucky that he found his way into my company and my life.

Have a super day!

*Sean, can you please mail that check now. I did what you wanted.