{book review} what writers can learn from Becky Wade

Welcome to my first book review! Well, my first since my college newspaper days when I injected these big literary words in some farfetched attempt to sound intellectual. All I can do when I look back on that period of my life is shake my head. Just no.

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Becky Wade and her latest release, Undeniably Yours.

“Oh, you’re looking for a fun summer read? BECKY WADE!”

“Please allow me to interrupt your conversation to tell you that I loved that book, too!”

Yes, I’ve been that girl.

So, what can we learn from Becky Wade? Is it her engaging voice, page-turning action, and lovable characters? Yes, but that’s not what this is about.

This is about writing a stellar debut novel with glowing reviews. And then following it up with another that blows your debut out of the water. 

In my research and talking to other authors, today’s editors really like new writers to have at least two completed manuscripts because some authors will show so much promise and then turn out to be “one-hit wonders.” If you didn’t catch my drift earlier, Becky Wade is not a one-hit wonder.

I loved her debut, My Stubborn Heart. In fact, I accidentally bought it twice during a long reading hiatus because it jumped out to me on the bookstore shelf on two separate occasions. But when I won a copy of Undeniably Yours, I read it in an entire sitting–I couldn’t stand the suspense.

The book tells the story of Meg Cole, who inherits an oil empire after her father’s unexpected death, and the manager of her father’s racehorse farm, Bo Porter. Because it makes sense on paper, Meg wants to shut down Bo’s operations and extinguish his dreams. But she doesn’t count on him being smolderingly dreamy (hunky cowboy, anyone?) and he doesn’t count on developing a fierce protective instinct for her.

I’ll spare you the back flap copy rendition of the plot and just tell you that it’s the deeply layered characters that will keep you turning the pages, the perfectly-timed development of their romance that doesn’t seem predictable, and conflict and even suspense around every corner.

So, the moral of the story (I’m learning) is to follow your debut novel with an electrifying second. If you’re writing a series, don’t exhaust your bag of tricks with the first. Continue learning the craft, playing to your strengths and working hard on your weaknesses. Ask yourself how you can up the ante in your follow-up manuscripts and deliver unforgettable characters and page-turning conflict.

Because someday, it will be important that you reward the readership you built during your first book release so they’ll keep coming back for more!

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  • Wow, Laurie! Congratulations on this beautiful site. I’m delighted that you decided to post reviews and that you chose Undeniably Yours as your first. I can see the time, care, and skill with words that went into your post. THANK YOU for your amazing support of me and my books. Can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.

    Speaking of 2nd books… I’ve heard from editors that they brace themselves when it’s time to receive a debut author’s second manuscript. Isn’t there even a nick-name for it along the lines of the ‘The Sophomore Slump’? 🙂 I think authors sometime slump with #2 because they’ve spent years polishing and re-polishing one novel. When that one finally sells, they set off to write their second one, and for the first time in their lives they’re writing to a deadline.

    I echo your advice: I think it’s great to complete a manuscript, then move on to the next, and the next, etc. I also wholeheartedly agree that writers should play to their strengths. And finally, once an author receives The Call and sells her first book, she should ask for plenty of time to write the next one…. maybe even MORE time than she thinks she’ll need. Unexpected events crop up! Plus, published authors spend a good deal of time on proposals, galleys, and marketing — all of which are ‘writing’ hours that don’t add pages to a manuscript.

    Warmly, Becky

    • Yes! I love that terminology “The Sophomore Slump”! That’s an excellent way to put it. I’m trying to be as prolific as humanly possible until I get “The Call”–or at least as prolific as I can be without risking my husband or daughter’s lives 🙂

  • Can I tell you how much I giggled at your intro paragraph? Because I too remember that time. 🙂
    Looks like I have more books to put on my to-read list…

  • Laurie, I love your post on Becky Wade’s novel. It is so refreshing to find a book review that is more than just a repeat of the synosis of the novel. Thanks for including literary aspects that enhance the quality of the novel in your review! The text reflects your polished writing, critical reading and analysis, and persuasive skills.

    • Thank you! I try to make sure they are productive and informative 🙂