Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Why I Review LDS Books

I've been sitting here with this page open...well...most of the afternoon. I want to write something personal, but not. I want to show who I am, but other than being a busy wife, mother, teacher, writer, and reviewer, who am I? Looking back over my blog, I realize I haven't written much about myself or my writing lately. It's all been reviews--and with the four more I have lined up in short order, I am beginning to wonder:

1. Is it a conflict of interest for a writer to review other authors' work?

I've thought about it a lot--in fact, I may have even written about it before, but this is how I feel about it today: NO! I don't think it's a conflict of interest, unless maybe I'm tearing them down just in an effort to raise my own books' standing--which I don't do. If I don't like something, I don't write about it. I'm not writing reviews as a way to get favorable reviews in return. I don't think I've had many (if any) reviewers whose books I've also read. I can't even think of two.

Also, I need to read and appreciate other books in my genre. How else would I get any better in my own writing if I didn't learn from others? How else would I observe what readers appreciate or get ideas of how to market? So if I'm going to read and study these other books, why not share my opinions and feelings on them--especially in the hopes of getting the word out to readers about really great books? I think it's a win-win, and I hope you do too.

2. Does it really matter what I say anyway?

I was on Facebook yesterday and was following a thread where people were dumping on LDS literature--lumping it all together, saying ALL of it was bad (unless it written by an apostle). Am I the only one who thinks that's just plain crazy? It's like saying "I never read mysteries. They're all trite and phony and my fourth grader could write better than that." Now before you misunderstand, I do NOT feel this way about mysteries, but doesn't it sound ludicrous? Of course you could find mysteries you don't like. Of course you could find mysteries that are poorly written or have plot holes or are formulaic and boring. But no one would say that ALL mysteries are that way. I don't even need to mention names for you to come up with at least one mystery author you love to read. But unless you've read EVERY LDS book out there, I'm not so sure you could make the assumption that they're all bad.

I love to read. Many genres. And LDS fiction is one of my favorites at the moment. There are some authors and books I like more than others, but that doesn't mean all are good or all are bad. The fact that I've heard opinions to the contrary is actually one of the reasons I was drawn to writing LDS fiction in the first place--that, and the fact that that's where my ideas and obsessions lie at this point in my career. I wanted to add my voice to those of others to raise the reputation of LDS literature. I wanted to write what I personally wanted to read, and I'm glad there are others out there who join in (because I really don't want to read my own books--by the time I'm done editing them, I don't want to ever have to read them again. Roughly sixty times has to be enough, right?).

And because I love to write it--because I love to read it--I want to promote good fiction and nonfiction. I want to help other writers succeed. So whether or not someone thinks I am biased, whether or not anyone reads what I say, whether or not I am able to persuade the nay-saying-LDS-fiction-haters of the world, I am going to read, review, and write LDS fiction. At least for now. Because that is where my passion lies. If you couldn't tell.