Of reviews and sequels

My week started with the most amazing review of Playing the Game (Neighborly Affection #1) from Mary at Mary’s Menage Whispers. Amazing enough that I’m still giddy about it a week later.

Chapter after chapter, I was captivated by the very real process of a woman that discovers her submissive self and how a man tamed her, day after day, week after week, month after month. … It is the kind of book that makes you think: yeah, that makes sense. If I was in her shoes, I would act like this. And THIS is the best compliment I can ever give to a BDSM romance. — Mary, Mary’s Menage Whispers

See? Giddy-making, right? Being a 5-star top pick isn’t too shabby, but what excites me the most is knowing that for at least one reader, I’ve accomplished what I set out to do — make my characters real. You know the kind: Velveteen Rabbit real. Loved-off nose and saggy haunches and all, finding a new life and exploring a new world with new friends. Because that’s how real they feel to me.

I added a reviews page to the site so you can see how Henry, Alice, and Jay measured up with other readers. Reviews, whether good or bad, push me to put in that extra hour (or days) on edits. The characters deserve to look their best, and readers deserve to see them at their best. I’m just the go-between.

For the last eighteen days, I’ve been going pretty much nonstop on editing Crossing the Lines, the second Neighborly Affection book featuring Henry, Alice, and Jay. Today, I sent it back to my editor with a red-lined sea of deletions, changes, and additions that I hope will make it resonate even more strongly. This won’t be the last round of editing for Crossing the Lines, but it’s the biggest one, the one that tightens the shape and deepens the point of view. So my week is ending as fabulously as it started, with a sense of giddy satisfaction and accomplishment.

I’d also like to thank everyone who has added the book to their Goodreads to-read list. I hope when the mood strikes you to read Playing the Game, the characters will earn an Exceeds Expectations. Jay’s a people-pleaser, and Alice is a skosh competitive-perfectionist, so they’re both happy when they can bring good grades home to Henry. (And Henry, of course, would find it rude to disappoint a guest visiting his book.)

M.Q. Barber

M.Q. Barber is the USA Today bestselling author of the Neighborly Affection contemporary romance series. She's also an inveterate, unrepentant scribbler of ideas on whatever's handy.

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