Sunday, August 21, 2016

Book Reviews: Easy to Write, Crucial for Authors

Summer travel and family company have kept my computer time to a minimum, leaving this blog sadly neglected.  I’m back this week, though, with a report about a blog I follow, “Rosie Amber––Book reviewer, Avid Reader and Bookworm. Campaigning to link more readers to writers.”  The link is  

Rosie’s blog features a book review every day from a variety of reviewers, as well as one day a week devoted to writing or marketing.  On July 25, her post encouraged readers to write reviews for Amazon and Goodreads.  Reviews are important for authors because they move books up in Amazon’s rankings and make them more visible.  They also help readers decide whether to read a book or not. 

Reviews are especially important for small-press or independently published authors, who have to do their own marketing.  I know that my choices are often influenced by reviews, especially when it comes to Amazon’s Daily Kindle Deals, where the authors are usually unfamiliar. 

If you think you can’t write a review, Rosie offers four easy steps:

1.     Go to Goodreads or your Amazon account.  Start with a one liner.  Can you include the genre?  The lead character?  The setting?  Say “I really enjoyed this book” or “The book didn’t work for me.”

2.     As above, this time write 4 sentences.  Keep them honest and make them about your own thoughts from the book.

3.     If you wrote your review for Goodreads, copy and paste it to your Amazon account.  Or vice-versa.              [Oops, this is something I forget to do.]

4.     Really stuck for something to say?  Read some of the other reviews for the book, they might jog your memory about a point, but still make your own review honest and genuine.

I discovered Rosie’s post last Monday when I was catching up on my ignored e-mails, and I decided to review three books I had read this summer.  Maybe you'll be inspired, too.  If you loved a book, why not let the author and the world know! 

P.S.  Rosie’s blog inspired British author and blogger Terry Tyler to declare August “Write a Book Review Month.”  If you’re feeling inspired yourself, check out Rosie’s August 15th  blog.  She has a link to Terry’s site, where you can learn how to use Twitter to be listed in the "#August Reviews Hall of Fame."

Monday, August 1, 2016

Visiting the Mentor, Ohio, Skating Rink

Here's me with the skaters and their counselor, senior
skater Alex DiCola

One of the perks of writing for children is that you have a chance to meet and talk with kids.  I did just that last week when I met with a small group of skaters at the Mentor Skating Rink in Mentor, Ohio. Before moving to Florida, I lived in Mentor for twenty years, and both of my children went through school there.  My daughter Heidi skated at the Mentor rink when she was in junior high and high school, and it was this rink that I pictured when I wrote Pairs on Ice.

It was a young group and included some hockey players, so instead of talking about Jamie and Matt and the pressures of competition, I read some sections of my book, and we talked about getting along with teammates that you don’t like.  They had stories about doing projects with kids they didn’t like or who didn’t do their share of the work.  When I asked what Jamie and Matt could have done differently, they had some good ideas, like “Maybe Matt could have said he was sorry for making her fall,” or “Maybe she didn’t have to yell at him.”

I also talked about how I can live in other people's lives when I'm writing.  "I can't skate very well," I said, "but when I write about Jamie, I'm with her, flying over the ice." One girl asked if I liked to read.  She had a big smile when I said that I had always liked to read, that, like writing, reading let me have many different adventures. I asked if she read a lot.  She nodded. I added that when I was a child, we didn’t have Amazon or e-books, so I would bring a pile of books home every time I went to the library.

I always enjoy talking with children.  They’re spontaneous, honest, and you never know what impact you might have.