I have a book review blog and a bible study blog this blog is a little bit of both.
|Posted on December 6, 2013 at 4:05 PM||comments (0)|
I really must apologize for my lack of attention to this blog. Interviews & Reviews keeps me quite busy as does Learning from the Master. In between that, I'm also writing my next book and working on edits for my current one. So I really am sorry for the neglect, but if you ever need to contact me I will respond.
My goodness, time sure flies when you are busy doesn't it? We've only a few weeks left before Christmas day. I've done almost all my shopping online this year. How about you? Have you been braving the crowds at the shopping malls or letting your fingers do the shopping? I must say shopping this way certainly is easier and I've been pleasantly surprised at how many of the stores I usually shop in have a delivery service. Who knew?
I've been steeped in edits for my latest book He Who Has an Ear and in the middle of creating a bible study guide for the book of Revelation. This has to be my most challenging endeavour to date as Revelation is not an easy book to read let alone decipher, but I'm taking a shot at it. In fact, I'm currently leading a study on it at www.learningfromthemaster.com using some of the material I'm writing. So, if you have ever wanted to tackle this book come join me!
In the meantime I've had lots of exciting news. First, I was featured in the October Book Fun Magazine edition for my Bible Study Learning from the Master. It won non-fiction book of the month and is currently in the running for non-fiction book of the year. I could really use the votes so if you could help me I would be most appreciative. Visit www.bookfun.org and you will find it on the righthand side. Scroll down until you come to Learning from the Master.
I also was a finalist in the 50 Great Writers You Should be Reading Contest. The grand prize was $4000. Alas, I did not win it, but I did make it into the top 50 and so I won a place in the book of the same name.
Today, I received my newest book Chicken Soup for the Soul the Dating Game. I have a story on page 24 on how I met my husband. It's called The Bulletin Board Matchmaker. It comes out December 17, but I have a few early copies so if you would like to order one please visit my bookstore.
Last week we had about three feet of snow and today it is so warm the snow is gone and the grass is showing again. I'm hoping for a green Christmas but only because we have to drive eight hours to get my daughter to bring her and her pets home for the holidays. After that it can snow all it wants! I'm sure you all wish for good travelling conditions as well. I will touch base again soon.
|Posted on October 23, 2013 at 9:10 AM||comments (5)|
As a book reviewer, writer and promoter of Christian books, I have begun to notice a trend lately, that I think every writer needs to know. Ebooks aren't as popular as you would think and PDF's are worse.
I remember when Amazon first released the Kindle and everyone feared that the way of the printed book was going to vanish and that bookstores were going to crumble. While some bookstores did crumble, it had nothing to do with eBooks in general, but in the easy online access for ordering a book. Why go to the store and stand in line for a book, when you can go online, read a chapter, then order it to be delivered? For Amazon's Kindle, shopping was easy, one click and you can download your book in seconds, without ever having to leave your home. This is why so many feared the digitization of books. Hardovers and paperbacks would become relics of our past - like records, cassettes and videos which were replaced by CD's, MP3 players and DVD's.
Fortunately, all is not lost for the printed book and in fact, according to The Wall Street Journal, they are doing better than ever.
"The growth in e-book sales is slowing markedly. And purchases of e-readers are actually shrinking, as consumers opt instead for multipurpose tablets. It may be that e-books, rather than replacing printed books, will ultimately serve a role more like that of audio books—a complement to traditional reading, not a substitute.
How attached are Americans to old-fashioned books? Just look at the results of a Pew Research Center survey released last month. The report showed that the percentage of adults who have read an e-book rose modestly over the past year, from 16% to 23%. But it also revealed that fully 89% of regular book readers said that they had read at least one printed book during the preceding 12 months. Only 30% reported reading even a single e-book in the past year.
What's more, the Association of American Publishers reported that the annual growth rate for e-book sales fell abruptly during 2012, to about 34%. That's still a healthy clip, but it is a sharp decline from the triple-digit growth rates of the preceding four years. . .
A 2012 survey by Bowker Market Research revealed that just 16% of Americans have actually purchased an e-book and that a whopping 59% say they have "no interest" in buying one" (source).
So what does this mean when it comes to marketing your book? Should you concentrate only on ebooks, printed copies or both? Sadly, I am seeing a trend where authors (especially self-published ones) are focusing their efforts on ebook sales instead of paper ones. To their own detriment they are limiting their audience. For example, on my book promotion site Interviews & Reviews, I have weekly giveaways. The biggest draw of course for a giveaway is a well known author. However, people are still attracted to subject matter and a well-reviewed book. They don't care if it is self-published or not and they will still enter to win a copy of a book when they can. But here is what I am noticing: Those authors who elect to give printed copies away have more entries and the potential for a new fan-base, than those who rely on ebooks alone.
In order to get their book noticed, many authors have taken to giving their ebooks away for free. Now, if you have hundreds or even thousands of people downloading that "free giveaway" Amazon will sit up and take notice. Your book will start to climb the Amazon Bestseller charts - even though it isn't a best-seller - it's just free. So it goes on Amazon's Top 100 Free Kindle List. But does this marketing strategy ever result in books sold? I'm guessing there might be a spike, but for the most part, people who download free ebooks aren't looking to buy. There may be the rare book that is downloaded that makes the reader want to buy more by the author, but as I say, I think that is rare. For myself, I know that I have downloaded free ebooks from time to time and now I have so many on my Kindle that I haven't read, that I have stopped downloading anything new. You see the problem with a Kindle, Nook or other eBook format, is that free books are quickly forgotten and they can stay in your Kindle for years. I have books I downloaded two years ago that I still haven't got round to reading. Why? I'll choose a print version over an ebook version everytime. My Kindle is great to take to a doctor's office or on a plane, but that's about it. It is as the Wall Stree Journal stated, "a complement to traditional reading, not a substitute."
Of course, the most important aspect about book sales, be they ebook or print, is the review. As a book reviewer, if someone asks me to review their book and they can only send me a PDF, they will probably never get a review from me. I'm guessing most professional reviewers feel the same way. If you can't send me a printed copy of your book or an ebook, so that I can take it with me to invest my time in reading it, then you aren't doing yourself any favours. I recently had the opportunity to review two books from well known publishing houses. Their choice to send it as an Adobe Digital Version (which meant I had to read it on my computer), resulted in my passing these books by. I strongly encourage authors to stop this practice because it does not do them any favours.
Some may disagree with me on this subject, but think of it this way, when it comes down to marketing your book, don't think about which version will sell more (ebook or print), think instead of how much time people are willing to devote to reading. The percentage of people investing time at their computer to read a book in PDF format or an Adobe Digital Version is very small. This will result in no review for you and no one talking about your book. That percentage increases slightly when those readers are presented with an ebook, but only slightly because more often than not, Kindles are used as a supplement to reading print books(going to the doctors, on vacation, commuting, etc.).
As far as marketing goes then, invest your time in both print and ebook formats for your book. To get your book reviewed, noticed and talked about however, a print version is the best way everytime.
|Posted on October 21, 2013 at 3:30 PM||comments (6)|
In the next couple of months, I am about to release my third book and I'm wondering how people will take it. In fact, I'm a little nervous about the whole thing.
Every author is generally nervous about their books. Not because they might have written something controversial, but because it is an expression of so many things to them - their creativity, talent, beliefs and feelings to mention a few. For writers, it is particularly hurtful when a reviewer says something mean about their books. It's like a personal attack on their character. After months (sometimes years) of slaving away at a book, an author feels beaten down after pouring their heart and soul into it and editing and refining it until it is perfect, only to have someone say "it stinks". This can throw a sensitive artist for a loop and prevent him or her from ever picking up a pen again. The old saying, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" applies here for those of you who review books. If you really can't say anything nice, then tell the author privately and gently as to what you didn't like about the book. Was it poorly edited or did the plot have holes in it? A wise writer will take critical words of wisdom over critical words of hate. Don't blab it all over Amazon about your hate for a book like some reviewers do. That's just mean and uncalled for.
But what if your book is controversial? For instance, as a prelude to his book release of Strange Fire, this past Wednesday, pastor and author John MacArthur had a conference called "Strange Fire". In the conference (as well as the book) he basically rakes the coals over charismatics. He is brutal in his judgement. He condemns some (not all) to hell by their behaviour in regards to the Holy Spirit. You can watch part of the conference here. Some things I agreed with, but I think for the most part, Pastor MacArthur has confused Charismatics with Word of Faith people like Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland or Todd Bentley. Whose antics have always been questionable in Christian circles. Instead Pastor MacArthur has lumped all Charismatics under the same banner. He assumes they do not read their bibles, have no gift of discernment and that they all bark like dogs at their services.
Very controversial don't you think? To dedicate an entire book to attacking fellow Christians in such a way? Yet, his book has become so popular that it has been translated into several languages and published already before it's even out in North America! And people are talking. They are reacting and you can be sure they are going to be buying his book to find out what all the fuss is about.
The same thing happened with Rob Bell when his controversial book Love Wins came out. The difference of course is that while one is trying to point out faults in the body of Christ, the other is trying to teach false doctrines. Bell's book was popular because as a Christian he basically turned his back on God's plan of redemption and declared that no one is going to hell, everyone no matter how bad. or no matter their religion, was going to heaven. Anyone who reads the Bible knows that's not true. But, it was so controversial that it became a very popular book at the time.
And what about the book The Shack? The author made God a woman! *gasp* and well...some of the other stuff in it was really out there. . . but it was a self-published book that sold thousands and became a number one bestselling book all due to it's controversy.
So, is it worth it to put a little controversy in your book from a marketing perspective? I did it unwittingly in Come to Me. Some Catholics (not all of them, some liked it) hated me for it because I dared to make Mary human. Come to Me was compared to Dan Brown's the Da Vinci Code by one reviewer, who believed I had blasphemed Mary. In her eyes I had because she was Catholic. But I wrote it from a Protestant perspective. Did her remarks hurt? You betcha! She said some mean things. Did it help my book? During the first two years of its release, it was in the Amazon Top 100 Bestsellers at least six times. So, in the end, a little controversy was a good thing. Even if it was unintentional.
However, I hate confrontation, so no controversy at all would be fine with me. I also don't like it when people think I'm a horrible person, or I've lost my senses. But, if I am faced with a choice between telling the truth and shading it, I will tell it like it is every time. Hence my nervousness for my next book. I'm worried some people will be offended and I'm worried some people will think I've lost my senses. But that's okay. I'll willingly weather the storm if God is glorified in the process. But can God be glorified through controversy? I think so, especially if it means people are picking up their bibles to discern the truth for themselves.
Is controversy necessary for every book or even a movie? Definitely not. Is it good for marketing? Unfortunately, yes it is. It didn't hurt Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. His movie was declared to be anti-Semitic before it even came out and people picketed the movie because of it. However, those who saw the movie, know that it was not anti-Semitic and in the end, it made $400 million dollars world-wide.
I don't think most writers set out to make their books controversial. I know in my case, the research I stumbled on for He Who Has an Ear had to be shared and well . . . it couldn't be ignored. I had a choice to make. Time will tell if it was a good decision or a bad one.
|Posted on October 16, 2013 at 1:50 PM||comments (0)|
Yes, it has been three months since my last post. Well...maybe two and half! But I have a good excuse. I was finishing my latest book. It is now with my editor. With any luck it will be out just in time for Christmas. If not, we're looking at January 2014.
The book is called He Who Has an Ear, Who the Seven Churches of Revelation are Today. It's a short book, but packed with a lot of information. I wrote it because I think the topic of the end times is not discussed enough in church and it should be. We should be preparing ourselves for Jesus' return, yet in most churches, we are still in the "milk" stage. In other words, we are still children in our faith. Our Pastors are feeding us just enough to keep us alive, but not enough to help us grow and prepare for the things to come.
We have this wonderful book at the end of the Bible that is rarely addressed and sure, maybe it is difficult to understand, but all the more reason to discuss it! So, I asked myself the question: Who were the churches Jesus wrote those letters to? And who do they represent today? Is it important? Is there a message for Christians today that we need to be aware of? I believe so.
While some might find the contents of He Who Has an Ear controversial, I believe it will open the door to further discussion on where the church is headed now and where she needs to be for Jesus' return. In the book, I look at all seven letters and we get to the heart of Jesus' message and what it means for us today. Topics range from the Rapture, to false doctrines and preachers in the church today.
I will let you know when it comes out.
|Posted on August 11, 2013 at 8:10 PM||comments (0)|
I can't believe how long it has been since I last posted here. We've had a lot happening since my last post in July. I ended up being on I.V. antibiotics for three months! Carrying around an I.V. pump and generally feeling awful, put my writing behind a lot, but now I'm back at it and in full writing mode. We also almost lost my beautiful little great-niece Micaela (pictured left) to pneumonia. I would like to thank everyone who was praying for her. She is home now and doing great!
I mentioned previously that I was writing a book on all the crazy doctrines infiltrating the church these days. Well, I didn't wait to put it out as a book. I was finding so much nonsense I posted them all as blog posts because waiting for a book to come out to warn people about false teachers/doctrines seemed like a bad thing to do. Warnings should be immediate. So you can read them all at www.learningfromthemaster.com
However, I am working on another book and I'm almost finished. This one is on the Letters to the Churches in Revelation. I am asking the questions - Who are the seven churches of Revelation? Are they still there today? Do these letters to the seven churches in Asia represent real churches or a type of church (e.g.Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal, etc.)? Are the warnings relevant to this generation? Are they for each of us as individuals? Some scholars say that the seven churches represent different ages in history and that the church age today is represented by the church of Laodecia (the one Jesus said he was about to spit out of his mouth). I aim to prove that theory wrong. I haven't got a title for it yet, but when I do I'll let you know.
|Posted on July 10, 2013 at 11:55 AM||comments (0)|
I am currently writing a new book on deception in the church. It covers everything from false teachings to false prophets. My husband believes that I shouldn't concern myself with what the church at large is doing. That I should only worry about how I'm doing and what our church is doing. But I can't! My heart is literally breaking with the things I keep seeing and hearing. And I am coming up with a disturbing fact, which will probably alarm and anger many Christians. I can't tell you about it now, as it will be revealed in the book. I am in the research phase and I have to say...certain segments of the Christian population are getting into stuff that is crazy, stupid and outright blasphemous.
Case in point - The Holy Ghost Hokey Pokey. Yep...it is exactly what it sounds like.You want the Holy Spirit/Ghost to do something in your life? Something amazing? Then you need to do the Hokey Pokey! (*Since sarcasm doesn't translate well on the written page, let me just state here and now, I am being very sarcastic).
This is how you do it:
You put your right hand in, you put your right hand out,You put your right hand in and you shake it all about. You put your left hand in, you put your left hand out, You put your left hand in and you shake it all about. You put your right leg in, you put your right leg out, You put your right leg in and you shake it all about. You put your left leg in,you put your left leg out, You put your left leg in and you shake it all about. You put your whole self in, you put your whole self out, You put your whole self in and you shake it, you shake it, you shake it all about! (This is where the Holy Spirit apparently comes down and heals you or does something so amazing that everyone around you just can't believe it)!
You just can't make this stuff up - so see it for yourself. And if you think this is real and that the people are actually experiencing the Holy Spirit, think again. It is led by false prophet/apostle Rick Joyner of Morningstar Ministries and he knows how to work a crowd into a frenzy. The following video shows people doing the hokey pokey and believing with all their hearts that it is not blasphemous to mock the Holy Spirit in this way. God is not to be mocked! Galatians 6:7 confirms this, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap." The people in this video believe they are receiving the Holy Spirit and being healed. This is just another false deception perpetuated by a man who is a master con-artist. The Hokey Pokey is NOT how the Holy Spirit works. When people start shifting from a truth-based Christianity to a feeling based Christianity they are opening the door ever wider for deception.
|Posted on June 14, 2013 at 8:10 PM||comments (2)|
Sometimes I feel like giving in and crying my eyes out. For the month of May I was on I.V. antibiotics. On Sunday, I finally got my I.V. out and started oral antibiotics. Only to have the infection spread and attack me again!
I am quite frankly, sick and tired of being sick and tired. Truly I feel like I am living a neverending story of sickness after sickness. Aside from the occasional blog post I can't remember the last time I worked on my next book. Tomorrow I will head for the ER again. I'd go tonight but I am in so much pain and so weak that I don't think I could handle waiting five hours in the waiting room. I called ahead - that's the wait time.
So if you don't hear from me for a while, that's the reason. If you think about me in the interim I would appreciate your prayers. I know God has a reason for all this and as soon as I find out I'll let you know!
|Posted on June 4, 2013 at 4:30 PM||comments (4)|
Life is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to get.
Forrest Gump's mother was a wise woman, unfortunately this week I got all the crummy chocolates in the box and she never said what to do with those. However, I do believe I found the answer.
This past Friday was moving day for our daughter Sarah. She was moving to Ottawa, a normally seven hour trip from London. We knew from the outset that this move would be difficult as several things started happening before we even left. It started with the movers we had hired, who decided four days before the move that they could not guarantee our move-in date, stating that Sarah's furniture would arrive sometime between June 1st and June 8th. This of course was not acceptable. Plus, the original price quoted was doubled. We scrambled for other movers only to have the same non-guarantee of move-in date. Apparently, this is standard practice now. So, we had to settle on a U-Haul. Jim and Andrew would be moving all the furniture and I would drive the van with Sarah's animals - a rat and a cat. Fine so far, crisis averted.
Two weeks ago I was on I.V. antibiotics for an infection in my leg that I get two or three times a year. It seemed to be clearing up. But on the Thursday night before we left, I noticed it was getting red again and swollen. The infection was coming back. This was not good because I'm not supposed to keep my legs down with this infection, unfortunately I had no choice but to drive seven hours to Ottawa. By the time I arrived, my leg was twice the size it should have been and the infection had spread throughout the entire leg. However, both Jim and I were so exhausted we decided to wait to go into Emergency. We went to the hotel and pretty much zonked out for the night.
The next day was move-in day and many things needed to be done. It seemed logical to me to take myself to the ER while everyone else worried about the move. I arrived there at 10:00 AM and left around 3:00 pm. Fortunately, God had provided for me in a really super way! I have suffered with chronic cellulitis for years. This infection can lead to the flesh-eating disease, so it is not something to fool around with. The head of Infectious Disease and Control was in the hospital and he came down to assess me. Turns out the treatment I received in London was not adequate (the dosage of antibiotics prescribed was too low). Due to the rapid rate at which the infection was spreading I was immediately given a massive dose of antibiotics and an I.V. pump was ordered.This pump delivers the medicine to me every eight hours and the nurse comes once a day to change the bag.
While I waited for a call from CCAC (Community Care Access Centre) I went back to my hotel for a snooze, when the unthinkable happened. The fire alarm went off! This was the same hotel we stayed in last time when the fire alarm went off two weeks ago! Once again, I found myself alone in a potentially dangerous situation and once again I had to take the elevator to get out of the hotel with my scooter and again the lobby was blocked so that I couldn't get out. One of these days I'm going to ask the staff at that hotel why they leave luggage racks pulled across the exit so that no one can get out in a fire. It's the craziest policy I've ever seen. At any rate...this time instead of it being burnt toast, it was a teenager who pulled the alarm. I found this whole thing very funny. I mean - what are the odds?
Until the pump could be arranged with CCAC I had to go into the ER for each dose. So, I was back in the ER again at 10:00 pm that night, where unbelievably, they made me go through admitting all over again, asking me the same questions they had asked me in the morning, even though I had a note from the specialist to rush me through. The next morning at 6:00 am I still didn't have a pump, so back to the ER we went and ...yep...went through the whole thing again - triage, questions about allergies, etc. If you've ever been in an emergency area you know the drill.
At 2:00 pm we headed over to CCAC where my pump was supposed to be waiting for me. But no...for some reason (even though they told me to come to their office to get the pump hooked up to my I.V.), they sent it to my daughter's apartment! Obviously, no one answered the door because we were all at the CCAC where they told us to go. So, I waited for some time and eventually the delivery guy showed up with the pump. Finally! Everything would be clear sailing from here - right?
Cut to later that evening as my 10:00 pm dose is about to begin. We had just finished a late supper when the most excruciating pain exploded from the site of my I.V. all the way down to my hand and back up to my shoulder. The pain would not let up, so we rushed back to the ER where praise God, the nurse on duty recognized me and realized right away that my I.V. had gone interstitial (came out of my vein) and the antibiotics were going into the surrounding tissue. By this time I was bawling like a baby (and praise God again!) they didn't make me sit through another triage and admittance session. Instead they took me right back inside and got me a new I.V.
So, you can see I got some crummy chocolates in there, but I got some good ones too. The best one came the next morning as I tried to get dressed. Somehow, don't ask me how, my bra got stuck in my I.V. tubing and I couldn't get it off. It just flapped there like a flag at half mast. Not wanting to be out in public with my bra dangling from my I.V. I quickly stuffed it in the bag with the pump. When the nurse opened the bag at the clinic to replace for the day, she had a nice little surprise waiting for her. That was my best chocolate of the day! I laughed so hard it made up for all the other craziness and everyone else got a laugh out of it too.
It's those moments, those chocolate covered, caramel nutty moments, that you have to look for in life. Yes, you never know what you are going to get. Everything may seem to be falling apart. You are getting all the bad chocolates. It may feel like nothing good is ever going to happen to you again and then you reach in and pull out that very best chocolate you've been waiting for all day and your whole attitude changes. You have just found out that next to chocolate, laughter is the best medicine. If you can learn to find the funny - those "chocolate moments" that make everything better - you will learn how to survive anything that life will throw at you. Even yucky chocolates.
So from now on when you find a chocolate you don't like - throw it away and reach for something else. Choose to see the humour, find the funny, because let's face it, while Forrest Gump's mom is right about never knowing what you're going to get, we can choose how we will respond to those "bad chocolates in life" by keeping the right attitude in the face of trials and troubles. God gave us the gift of humour for a reason. Use it to your advantage the next time life starts to get a little overwhelming.
|Posted on May 13, 2013 at 8:45 AM||comments (0)|
My husband Jim, my daughter Sarah and I have been in Ottawa since Friday night. We left Andrew at home to take care of the cats. We are here because Sarah got a job offer and has to start work in two weeks. This means she is scrambling to find an apartment. We found one, but now we must wait for credit checks, etc. before she is approved. So, in the meantime, we are waiting and driving around Ottawa, getting to know the area.
Yesterday was Mother's Day, so we decided to go downtown to the Tulip Festival. But before we got there we saw an IKEA. Well everyone knows if you see an IKEA you must go in, plus we don't have an IKEA in London so we spent half the day there. It was late in the afternoon when we left the store and decided to go downtown. Somehow Jim took a wrong turn and we ended up in Hull, Quebec. We didn't know it until we stopped seeing English on road signs.It was a good thing I wasn't driving because I had no idea what some of the signs were saying. The first one I saw was ligne d'arret. I knew arreter was stop, but I had no idea what ligne was. For those in the know, it means "stop online" (I had to look it up on Google). I'll never understand Quebec as long as Iive. The rest of Canada has English and French on their signs, but in Quebec it's just French. If you get lost there heaven help you! You'd think that they'd at least want to stop you from having an accident. Obviously my mandatory six years of French in public school did me no favours.
Eventually we found ourselves back in Ottawa and headed for the Tulip Festival - only to have it start pouring. Of course since it was so cold it turned to sleet. We waved at the Tulips as we headed back to our hotel. After a lovely dinner we called it a night. Only to be surprised by a 5:30 am wake up call from five handsome firemen.
At first, the alarm was very slow and then it would stop, so we didn't know if we should take it seriously or not. My husband was the first one to drag himself out of bed to find out what was going on. Sure enough, fire trucks were in the parking lot. Having been an apartment dweller for a number of years, we knew that not all alarms (95% in fact) are fire related.So, we still didn't bother to leave our room. Then the alarms started clanging louder and faster together. That got me out of bed in a hurry and as I was dressing Jim and Sarah went downstairs to see what was going on. The thing is, we were on the fourth floor and if the fire were real, there was no way I was getting downstairs due to my disability. I waited for them to come back and get me.
I was left behind to burn in our hotel room. Happy Mother's Day to me! After several attempts to keep our room door open while driving my scooter through it, I finally made it into the hallway and headed for the elevator. That's when I remembered you should never take an elevator during a fire, but what choice did I have? When I finally got downstairs I immediately smelled something burning, yet the firefighters were all standing in the lobby. Then I noticed that I was not going anywhere because someone had taken all the luggage racks and placed them in a straight line across the lobby, blocking the exit. Yes, in this hotel they want to keep you from escaping any fires!
Assuming they had put the fire out and having my way blocked I stayed put. Besides, I reasoned, if there was a fire, the safest place to be was near a fireman, right?
They told me to go outside and promptly moved the barricade.
I found Jim and Sarah shivering, along with about 200 other people dressed in their p.j's.The all clear was eventually given and we went back inside. I asked the fireman, who had a huge red axe resting on his shoulder, if there had been a fire and he said no. What I smelled coming off the elevator was burnt toast. Now, I'm not saying the fire department rushed to our aid at 5:30 am this morning because someone burnt their toast, but it sure seemed like it.
I think I'll be glad to get home.
|Posted on April 18, 2013 at 12:35 AM||comments (4)|
What type of people review books today? Do you have to have certain qualifications? Should you charge for book reviews? Do I have to be a professional writer? These are questions I get asked all the time, and so I thought it might be helpful to share with you, on how to get a review started.
There are tons of people on the web today who review books. Some of them are professional writers, others are just people who have read a good book and want to tell everyone what they thought about it. Still, there are those who love to read and love to get free books and feel it is a way to give back. Others find themselves in the unenviable position of having a friend ask them to review their "just released" book. They say yes, start reading and then find themselves in a pickle. Why? Because the book is horrible! What will they say to their friend? How can they break it to them gently without ruining their friendship? Some get so concerned about hurting an author's feelings that they give up reviewing books altogether. It doesn't have to be that hard. I have read books by all kinds of different authors, some of them I liked and some ... well ... they just weren't my cup of tea. But being afraid of hurting someone's feelings shouldn't put you off reviewing a book. You don't have to be mean about it and if the author you are reviewing is smart they will keep your thoughts in mind as they begin their next book. It is a wise author who can look at a review as they would a critique and learn from it. They may not be able to change the book just reviewed, but they can remember those suggestions and use them to improve their next book.
So, how do you start a review? I begin with the overall feeling I had when I finished the book. Did it move me to tears or laughter? Was I sighing with satisfaction? Or, was I just glad to get it over with? Very rarely do I find a book that I don't enjoy or learn something from. But sometimes I do come across books that leave me groaning aloud, longing for it to end. I will tell you what I do in that situation in a minute. For now, let's concentrate on a book you have just finished reading. How did it make you feel? Did you learn anything? What was the major theme of the book? These three questions help me write my opening lines. Below are a few examples of opening lines to books I have recently reviewed, to give you a better idea on how I begin.
"Once again Ann H. Gabhart has blown me away with another great book. She never disappoints and Scent of Lilacs will bring you to tears, make you laugh and if you grew up in a small town in the 60's like I did, bring back fond memories."
"I review for several publishing houses, but once in a while I like to read something self-published, because I always find gems. Melody's Song by author Kathleen Friesen is my latest find."
"If you are new to writing, have a million questions and don't quite know where to go to get them - have I got a book for you! Duke the Chihuahua Writes, by award-winning author Donna Fawcett (and Duke the Chihuahua of course) is a delightful book for the beginning writer."
As you can see, all three of these books made an impression on me and so I try to convey that feeling in the first opening lines. As it is in writing a story, the same is true of reviews. You need an opening line. Something that will draw the reader in enough to keep them reading until the end. You do not want to jump in and start describing the story and characters right away. That comes next. The opening lines are personal. They should reach out to your audience as if they were in the room with you and you were discussing the book over tea. They should express an eagerness to share with the world the "gem" you just found. Also, please note the titles of books should be in italics and the author's name should be in bold. In addition, try to limit your reviews to no more than 350 words. Some newspapers require less than that. So be aware of your word count.
The next paragraph or two, will involve introducing the characters without giving away the ending. In other words, a general outline of the story. The following are examples:
"After losing her husband to cancer, the author began to chronicle her thoughts and experiences of what she was going through. She begins with the statement, "By the end of this month, I expect to know my own name." This sets the tone of the book and guides the reader along with the author on her journey to self-discovery. The result is a book that will bring much comfort to anyone who has lost a spouse - widow or widower."
"Melody Jamison has recently moved to Saskatoon. While her move was necessary (she could no longer keep up the farm after her husband died), she also hoped that the nightmares of her husband's tragic death would go away in a new setting. Unfortunately for Melody, changing locations doesn't work. In addition to the nightmares that plague her, she worries over her son Will, who left home determined to prove he didn't need his parents, God or anyone for that matter. As Melody tries to lift her concerns to the Lord, she begins to doubt her faith in God and demonic attacks soon set in. But God is bigger than Satan and He uses the people in her new neighbourhood to not only strengthen her faith, but confirm to those around her that God is real and loves them."
Both of these examples are very different. One is of a non-fiction book, the other is a novel. The first book impacted me so much, I wrote three paragraphs on what I learned from the book (going over my own rule of keeping reviews to 350 words or less)! The novel on the other hand, required only one paragraph to best describe what was inside the book. Sometimes, for novels, I may take two paragraphs in order to highlight the important characters.
The next part of the review becomes personal. You are once again, back in the kitchen having tea and this time you are expressing what you loved the most about the book and how it impacted you. This is also where you gently let the author know what would have helped the book, if you were disappointed in it. What you found distracting, or to point out improper formatting, excessive typos, etc. This is not where you are mean. There is never any call to be mean. Pretend you are in a critique group and "sandwich" your review. In other words, start out positive then suggest areas that could use improvement - if it is necessary. Don't look for things to criticize, just to be critical. If you enjoyed the book then what is the point of telling the author she had a typo on page 258? It doesn't add to your review and makes you look petty. After you have made your suggestions end on a positive note.
You do not have to give glowing reviews everytime. Let's face it, some books just miss the mark. If you can't find anything good about the book, then don't write a review! Email the author personally and explain why you had a hard time with it and why you cannot post your review. If however, you are being paid to write a review then you have no choice. Please let the author down gently. You don't know how old they are - they could just be starting out. Don't discourage them, encourage them by focusing on what they did right and then suggesting what could be improved.
I finish all my reviews with a final line and a rating. For example:
With lots of romance and intrigue this is another Tracie Peterson book you will want on your shelf. I give it 5/5 stars!
I hope this helps you as you write your next review!