Friday, May 30, 2014

Book Review: The Extroverted Writer

For months now I thought the title of Amanda Luedeke’s book, The Extroverted Writer: An Author’s Guide to Marketing and Building a Platform, wasn’t for me because I was an introvert. Well, duh… that’s exactly who should read it. (Sorry Amanda, didn’t get that at first.) The book is filled with valuable insight about book promotion and platform (that dreaded word that all writers hate) and it’s told from a literary agent’s perspective.

I found Amanda’s voice clear and to the point. Case in point, she talks about the excuses that writers make about promotion, and says finally: “My friends, the Internet eliminated the Introvert’s last excuse. The Internet is your best friend.”

Making Nice With Your Best Friend

I do believe that the Internet is our best friend as writers. I wouldn’t have a career without it. I’d still be sitting in a corporate meeting somewhere getting talking over. (Don’t you love it as an introvert when someone asks you a question and then talks when you pause to answer it?)

But I digress.

Her main piece of advice is to jot down ten things that are doable for personally from the host of ideas she offers for promotion. This is manageable and actually kind of fun.

What Makes for a Good Platform?

I have a pretty good platform and I’m even tired of hearing about it. But it’s an important part of book marketing, so let’s talk specifics. This was one area I really appreciated since it came from an agent’s perspective. Specifically, what makes the basis for a good platform?

Amanda says:

If you have a website or blog, your monthly unique visitor count should be at least 30,000.
If you have a Twitter account, your followers should be at least 5,000. 
If you have a Facebook group, your following should be pushing 5,000.
If you write for ezines and e-publications on a regular basis, you should have your words in front of at least 100,000 readers per month.
Blogging is the easiest way for any author to get his or her feet wet when it comes to building a platform.

I can tell you personally that these things are absolutely not hard to achieve. So if they seem like “huge” numbers to you they really aren’t, even if you start from zero today. I found this very encouraging.

Helpful Tips

I’ve been at this awhile, building my platform mainly so I could get freelance jobs. (I guess I went in the opposite way or backwards, depending on how most authors do this.) But the point is, I had already did a lot of what she suggests. Still, I was able to learn a few new nuggets in which it market myself and my work. Things like the #askagent and #10QueriesIn10Tweets were something totally new that I hadn’t been aware of.

A Warning About Being Annoying

Amanda warns, though, that with all this talk about promoting our books, we need to be cognizant of our readers. In other words, don’t annoy them with constant posts about your book! I love this piece of advice. We all know people that do this, don’t we? You follow them on Twitter and they respond with a “buy my book” tweet. Ugh.

She cautions us from having too many repeating things out there (like our Twitter feed going into Facebook and vice versa) and just tweeting out things without there being engagement. 

If you’re a newbie wondering how to build your platform, this book is a gem you need to buy today.
_____________________________________


Cherie Burbach has written for About.com, NBC/Universal, Match.com, and more. Visit her website, cherieburbach.com.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Four Things I Learned From the San Antonio Spurs



Google Free Images
Four Things I Learned from the San Antonio Spurs

I don't have an athletic bone in my body, but I am inspired by the San Antonio Spurs. They should be next to the word 'team' in the dictionary. Described as "a bunch of guys who have gotten over themselves," they get the work done. I love their determination and heart. The boys lost to OKC Sunday night, but I believe they'll pull it out and win the Western Conference. Here's what has inspired my writing life by watching the Spurs.

1. Learn the basics. The Spurs have the basics of basketball down to a science, which makes for professional excellence. A writer needs to hone basic skills of grammar, sentence structure, properly formatting a manuscript, and adhering to submission guidelines to name a few. These basic skills separate a novice from a professional.

2.  Practice, practice, practice. The Spurs basic skills are taken to dizzying heights by their level of commitment to preparation. Countless hours of practice frame the beautiful strategy and logistics of their famous teamwork. Writers need to practice as well. Talking about writing, reading about writing, getting organized and joining social writing groups are all important, but that's not writing. Writing is writing. You can't edit or submit a blank page. Write. Just. Do. It.

3. Many counselors. My favorite team has a team – coaches, trainers, advisers, and all kinds of staff that help make them what they are. Writers must be willing to work with critique partners, editors, and agents. A team of prayer partners is essential. We've got to have a teachable spirit to have any kind of successful writing career. It takes the team.

4. Shoot. For basketball, it all comes down to the ball going through the hoop. All the practice and preparation hangs on the moment that ball makes successful contact. It took three attempts at one point in that Sunday game to make the basket, but they doggedly kept after it. A writer desiring publication has to submit. We have to get it out there, learn from our rejections, and submit again and again and again.

Learn the basics, practice, get counsel, and shoot. The Spurs' winning combination will serve a writer well.

Shaquille O'Neil, in the role of commentator, said that he didn't think the aging players on the Spurs team could outplay Portland. Wrong. I love that since this aging writer came late to the game.

Even if You’re Not a Spurs fan, This Video Will Allow You to Appreciate How Beautifully They Play.




Go Spurs! Go writers!
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Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Book Review: WayFarer by Janalyn Voigt



E-book $5.99
Print $15.99
ISBN: 978-1611162929
Jan 2014 by Pelican/Harborlight Books
Buy on Amazon
About the book:
Trouble stirs between nations and rebellion threatens Faeraven.

When Kai returns with the supposed DawnKing, Lof Shraen Elcon cannot trust that the Elder youth truly is the prophesied deliverer. Driven to prove himself, Elcon banishes the boy and embarks on a peace-keeping campaign into the Elder lands, where he falls in love with an Elder princess betrothed to another.

Sometimes the deliverance of a nation comes only through the humility of one.

Declaring his love would shame the nations, but Elcon is torn. As war approaches, Elcon’s choices lead him on a journey of discovery that will either settle the lands or leave them mired in conflict. Can his kingdom ever be united, or will the consequences of his decisions forever tear asunder the fabric of Faeraven?

See the post with Janalyn on her fantasy creatures here.

My Review:

I loved the first book of the series, and I expected this one to be a sequel. It sort of is…but not really. Both books are stand alone, though related. The quest of the The DawnSinger has been fulfilled—only the person who should be the most grateful, Elcon, the new King, can’t accept this DawnKing who seems nothing like a savior should be. Elcon banishes the youthful, obviously part Elder DawnKing and proceeds to make a disaster of his life and his kingdom.

I admit that I had mixed feelings about this book, and even as I eagerly anticipate the third installment in the Tales of Faerhaven, I come back to think about this story. I read it weeks ago, but struggled with what to share about it. The story was like watching your best friend do everything possible to sabotage any good thing that could happen to himself or anyone else around him. I experienced a huge range of emotions during this journey, which is what any good author wants to draw from her readers.

Elcon managed to drive a deeper wedge between his kingdom and that of the Elders, a people of different race by falling in love with the princess and marrying her, after forsaking the woman he was expected to marry. This wouldn’t normally be a bad thing, except that he managed to make a mess of it. Voigt doesn’t mind making her readers fall for characters and then pulling the rug out from under us.

WayFarer is filled with both familiar and strange but compelling characters and creatures, a story that readers of epic fantasy will find satisfying, yet wanting more. I miss Kai and Shae, yet I have a feeling they’re still there. A very good read.
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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Grammar, Oversimplified

Confused womanFor many of us, if we were ever required to do it at all, it has been ages since we've diagrammed a sentence. I actually have a book on how to do it on my wish list on Amazon. Even if we don't know the particulars of diagramming, most of us remember the bare-bones basics: Subject, Verb, Object. Stripped of their verbosity, most sentences contain these elements.
I want to share with you something that I see frequently in my work as an editor and show you the short-cut way of figuring it out.

Expressed/Implied Subject

One of the most common sentence structure errors I find involves participle and gerund phrases. Let's start with what those two dubers are:
Petting her cat, Patricia stared idly out the window. --petting her cat is a participle phrase; the subject of the sentence is Patricia.
This sentence structure is a tool for authors who want to show their character doing more than one thing at a time. You don't want to overuse it because "-ing" words are climbing high on the "don't do that" list. But the "-ing" form is not the only construction of the participle phrase:
Doused by the water balloon, Casey laughed.--doused by the water balloon is the participle phrase; the subject of the sentence is Casey.
Both phrases before and after the comma pertain to the subject--which makes this structure different from a gerund phrase, which is the subject:
Petting her cat soothes her.--petting her cat is the gerund phrase, making it the subject of the sentence.
Can you see the difference? In the sentences above, the participle phrase modifies the subject; in this last one, the gerund phrase is the subject.
I haven't noticed a lot of problem with the gerund phrase, but the participle phrase tends to confuse people. Grammarians will tell you not to misplace or dangle your modifier, which is great if you know what a modifier is and how you lost it or left it dangling in the first place.
So here's the trick: Figure out the subject of the sentence.
Petting the cat, it purred in her lap as Patricia stared out the window.
Can you see what's wrong with this sentence? The implied subject of the first part of this sentence is Patricia; the expressed subject of the second part of the sentence is "it"--making the expressed subject of the entire sentence "it" (referring back to the cat). So, how does a cat pet itself?
A sentence with this construction should have only one subject. The subject of this sentence should be Patricia. So here's the quick fix:
Petting the purring cat, Patricia stared out the window.--petting the cat is the participle phrase, Patricia is the subject, purring is an adjective in this case, and cat is the object of the petting.
Try this one:
Walking from room to room, the house seemed quiet.
This one's trickier, because it's intended to be in a deep POV. The implied subject of the first part is the unnamed character. The expressed subject of the sentence is the house--and if the house itself can walk from room to room, you have entered the Twilight Zone.
The oversimplified version of what I've been trying to say is this: Who/What is the expressed subject of the sentence, and is it the same as the implied subject of the first part of the sentence (the participle phrase). If they don't match, fix it.
Caveat: These are not the only sentence structures you can find a participle or gerund phrase in. These are just the structures I find most often when editing.

Give It a Comma

We're still talking subjects here, so bear with me. This one is a little trick to help you remember whether you need a comma with "and."
What's the subject here?
Lydia scrubbed the clothes on the river rocks and wished Mark would help her.
If you said "Lydia," you get to advance to the next level.
So, what's the subject here?
Lydia scrubbed the clothes on the river rocks, and Mark helped her.
If you said, "That's a compound sentence, and you're trying to trick me," you've hit the nail on the head. So, can you tell me why the second sentence has a comma and the first one doesn't?
The subject of the first sentence example is Lydia. She scrubbed and wished--she's the subject of both sentence parts surrounding the "and."
The subjects of the second sentence example are Lydia and Mark. The subject of the first part is Lydia, the subject of the second part is Mark. You stick the comma before "and" because you've got two subjects thrown together in one sentence. Or, you can say you have two sentences thrown together with the conjunction, "and."
Let's play with this some:
Lydia scrubbed the clothes on the river rocks and rinsed them in the current and wished Mark was with her.
Lydia scrubbed the clothes on the river rocks, rinsed them in the current, and wished Mark was with her.
Lydia scrubbed the clothes on the river rocks and rinsed them in the current, and wished Mark was with her.
All of these are right. The subject of the sentences is Lydia, but you've got her doing a list of things: scrubbing, rinsing, and wishing.
In the first sentence, the activities are separated by "and," and no comma is necessary since the same subject is doing all the action.
The second sentence uses a comma to omit the first "and," emphasizing the list of activities. According to the Chicago Manual of Style (the book publisher's Bible), lists of three or more things (activities in this case) are divided by a serial comma--including a comma before "and." If you're ever in doubt, strip the sentence down to its subject and verbs. If it turns out to be a list of activities, use the comma, even before the "and."
The third sentence is a subjective use of the comma. I'm sure there's some technical term for it, but use of the comma here is more artistic than standardized. Since the first two activities are related, they aren't separated by a comma. But the third, the "wish," expresses a mood, a desire, an internal emotion that the author may want to emphasize as separate from the rest. Putting the comma there separates that phrase from the practical to the wistful, illustrating a difference in tone for that part of the sentence.
Another way to write that last sentence is with a participle phrase (going full circle here):
Lydia scrubbed the clothes on the river rocks and rinsed them in the current, wishing Mark was with her.
Wishing Mark was with her, Lydia scrubbed the clothes on the river rocks and rinsed them in the current.
The construction of these last three examples, which emphasize the "wishing Mark was with her" part, is entirely up to the author. Personally, I like the one without the participle phrase best--and if you use the participle phrase too often, you may have to change it.
Bonus construction:
Lydia scrubbed the clothes and Mark rinsed them.
There's no comma in this sentence because both parts are short. According to CMOS, that's fine--but also according to CMOS, if you want to put a comma there, you can. Doncha love it?
Recognizing your subject helps in your sentence construction and comma placement. It isn't "Grammar 101," which indicates a college level course. It's "Grammar School." I'm sure you remember all this; you just needed a little nudge to the gray matter. Glad to help (assuming I did).
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Monday, May 19, 2014

5 Things Mad Men Can Teach You About Publishing

The AMC TV Show Mad Men kicked off its final season last month.  The show is about ad executives in the 1960s, and has been immensely popular since the first season.  Here are some things Mad Men can teach you about the world of writing and publishing.


Photo by Michael Yarish/AMC


In the Book World Style Counts

One of the things Mad Men is known for is the iconic 60s style of the show.  The clothes, hair styles, office furniture, and homes are meticulously recreated, and give us a glimpse into a different, sometimes more formal, world. 

One reason this show stood out from the very beginning was that it was different from everything else on television.  There's a good lesson in that for writers and publishers.  Style that is original, and not a copycat, will always get people's attention.  As a writer, you never win by trying to write like someone else.  You can only write like yourself or you will come off fake.

The same is true about the style of a book itself.  Book styles, cover art, and packaging all need to be original and authentic to truly catch attention.



Photo by Jordin Althaus/AMC


Products Appeal to the Personal Side

In coming up with ad campaigns, viewers see Mad Men character Don Draper coming up with slogans and visuals that appeal to the personal side of their client's customers.  Draper often looks at things happening in his family or daily life to get ideas for products.

Translate this to the book world.  Marketing blurbs and book descriptions need to be written to hook someone into wanting to find out more.  Offering a personal side and tugging on a reader's emotions can transform a book into something that stays with the reader for years to come.  They might not remember the words, but they will always remember how they felt.



Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels/AMC


Details Are Important

Part of what makes Mad Men so fun to watch is the detail the show's producers go to in recreating 60s life.  The items on the set, the way someone wears a dress, or the way they talk about things are all meticulously detailed to transport you to the 60s.

The same should be true of books.  The books that seem to get the most loyal readership are those that have such vivid detail it gives people something to talk about.  People want to know about characters, so the small nuances of their life are important in telling a story.



Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels/AMC


Telling a Good Story Still Trumps Everything

Mad Men isn't just a show about style over substance.  The reason it has developed a loyal fan base is because people want to know what will happen next in the lives of its characters.  The writing of the show is as important as the detail of the sets.

With books, a good story will always catch attention.  It doesn't matter if the book is from a first-time writer or a seasoned novelist.  Give readers a good story that they will become absorbed in and they will gladly hand over money for your book.

You Won't Sell a Product No One Knows About

On Mad Men, ad executives need to come up with campaigns for products that are superior to their competitors, and yet seem to be lacking in sales.  Advertising helps get that accomplished.

In the book world, the term "advertising" encompasses many different things, but the overall result in the same.  Writers need to do social networking, blog, respond to readers, and more, to get people interested in buying their book.  The best book in the world won't sell unless readers know it is out there.

__________________________________________________________

Cherie Burbach has written for About.com, NBC/Universal, Match.com, and more. Visit her website, cherieburbach.com.
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Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I like to read outside my genre to get ideas, gain a fresh perspective, and learn something new. Young Adult fiction is one of the most popular genres checked out of the library where I work. I decided to venture along that path, and picked up this book.

I loved the strong characterization. I liked Hazel and Augustus very much, two very smart and witty teenagers who both have cancer. Although we all know someone who has suffered from the disease, and most likely we know someone who died from it, the deep POV of Hazel's journey gave me quite an education into the life of a young person living with catastrophic health problems.

Hazel has read a certain book over and over. She puts Augustus on to it and the two of them use Gus's gift, granted by the Make A Wish Foundation, for a trip to Amsterdam to meet the author. They desperately want to find out what happens to the characters after the end of the book. This metaphor for their search for significance is a disappointing venture. 

I acknowledge that this is not a Christian book written for a Christian audience. If it were, I'm sure it would have had a more hopeful message. I read this book with a lump in my throat through every page. Not because of the imminent outcome, not because of the tragic love story, and not because of the pain and suffering. My grief is that these characters live this story without the hope of a future because of Jesus Christ. God is relegated to the less intelligent, or at best, the great unknown. Tears welled up in me as these two grasp for meaning apart from the great Love. I fear that the soon to be released movie based on this story will Hollywood glamorize those principles to a generation looking for answers, and that makes me even more sad. There is a sprinkling of profanity, but as usual, totally unnecessary. For that reason I cannot recommend it.
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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Expanding Into The Brick & Mortar Stores

When I began writing I had not a clue about anything. I only knew I wanted to write and publish my novels hoping someone would purchase and read them. I've fallen into many of the pits many fledgling self publishers do. The learning curve is high in the writing, editing, and getting the first book on Amazon in both Kindle and print form as well as Smashwords. Many uploads of files later and my first book was available for sale. I've had success with all my novels, at least I think of it as success. Am I a New York Times Bestseller? No, but I've done well enough in the two years since Healing Love came out.

Marketing is something I've struggled with. I decided to produce a number of books before I did much marketing. Read that spend money on marketing. Some authors write one book and market it immediately. I chose to write six with little marketing and now am ready to promote the seventh. At the same time I decided to expand to, hopefully, get into the major sellers of print books.

Looking into Barnes & Noble, Family Christian Bookstores, etc. I found that none would order wholesale from Createspace. I can understand why. They are all in competition with Amazon. In order to break into the print market I needed to have by books available from a distributor the companies dealt with. Some companies had lists of these distributors, others did not.

I looked into having my books printed by various publishers and printing houses. There were various fees associated with each, some reaching into the thousands of dollars. In the end I chose to try out the POD arms of Ingram.

Ingram has two POD companies. I chose to try out LightningSource. The only reason I went with it is because, at the time, I could set the wholesale percentage discount. Since I began this effort IngramSpark has added a 'short, academic' 40% discount option in addition to the 55% discount.

I found the interface for LightningSource's website to be difficult. The instructions were limited and I couldn't find answers to my questions online. There was not an easy way to find the titles I was attempting to complete and put into their POD. When I emailed asking for help with issues or requesting a telephone help it would be several days before I received a reply. At times it took three to four emails to receive a response. When I attempted to contact my representative the representative was, in my opinion, rather rude and I wasn't able to get to my representative. Whether the files have been submitted or not they cannot be re-uploaded without a charge. I spent over $150 making such changes. This doesn't promote the inclusion of independent authors unfamiliar with their technical requirements. Please note, these were my experiences. Others may have totally different and positive dealings with LightningScource.

My frustration moved me on to try IngramSpark. The experience has been totally opposite. The website is user friendly, the instructions clear and easy to find. The ability to upload files and information and change it, without fees, makes the corrections free until you submit them for review. I chose the 40% discount and will receive a decent royalty. Both times I've submitted a support ticket I've received an answer within 24 hours worded clearly and politely by an individual not a canned reply.

I'm waiting on the final approval for my next book, Seeing The Life, as I write this. The site does a preliminary review for correctness of the files uploaded to see it they meet the technical requirements. Replacing incorrect files is not cause for being charged.

One issue I had was having my files in CMYK color. Not having a program which does this I did a search and found Puzzleflow Online an online converter which is free and does a great job converting my RGP files into CMYK.

I know there are other POD distributors available. Your experience may be different than mine. Your choices may be different. So far IngramSpark is a good fit for me. I'm hoping for a long and mutually successful endeavor getting my books onto store shelves around the country.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sophie Dawson is an award winning author who is releasing her eighth novel in June 2014. Her Cottonwood Series and Stones Creek Series have been best sellers on Amazon. Her first novel Healing Love has garnered several awards. She has a new book, Seeing The Life, centering on the life of Yeshua the Messidah set for June 7, 20i4 release.
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Monday, May 12, 2014

Invasion of the Logic

conflictYou've heard authors talk about turning off their internal editor? There's a reason for that. Authors and editors think differently, and if one can't shut off the other when necessary, there is conflict.
I doubt I'm telling anyone what they don't already know, but this really is a right-brain, left-brain kind of thing.
I always get it confused, so in case you do too, here's the theory: "right brain" folks tend to be more artistic; "left brained" folks more logical. So when the right brained author has the left side of his brain pokin' its nose into his business, he gets stymied. Stilted. Stopped.
And when the left brained editor is reading the wonderful works of the writer who has pushed the limits of artistic license, he becomes mortified and indignant and threatens to yank that license away. Illegal use of imagery!
Not long ago, there was a discussion on an editor's loop about using the thumb to wipe away tears. "He wiped away her tears with his thumb." For some reason, the originator of that discussion simply couldn't picture it, said nobody'd ever wiped her tears with a thumb. I tried to picture it the way she was talking about it--a hitchhiker's digit coming at my dampened cheeks certainly did eradicate all thoughts of sweetness and romance.
But that's the way editors think. Logically. Literally. Which is how the floating body part became a bad thing.
If you picture it literally, "her hand trailed the banister all the way to the second landing" gives you an image of a disembodied hand floating up the rail. The editor in me is giggling at the image the entire time I'm striking out the line. The author in me knows darn good and well that the reader isn't going to think a hand would actually take off up the stairs without the benefit of the rest of the body. Readers are smarter than that.
But the editor says, "Illegal use of imagery!"
The author sulks and types, one jabbed, resented key at a time, "She walked up the stairs."
Can't even say "she walked dreamily up the stairs" because "dreamily" is a dadburned adverb, and you already know you're gonna get dinged for having anything on planet Earth with an -ly suffix, and hang all editors!!!
But let's go back to "He wiped away her tears with his thumb." I'd be willing to bet that a bit further up the page, the author had written something along the lines of "he cupped her face in his hands." If that's so, it makes perfect sense. Guess which finger is closest to the tears when her face is cupped in his hands. Can ya guess? Can ya? Huh?
Score one for the author.
Or the author uses punctuation to present attitude. "Wouldn't that be nice." reads a whole lot differently than "Wouldn't that be nice?" to me. The first has snark written all over it; the second sounds like my sweet Aunt Joyce in all her Southern charm.
The editor's first response is to slap a question mark on the snark.
Dagnabbit.
It may be grammatically correct, but it lacks punch. Paint the bulldog's toenails pink, and he just doesn't seem the same. It's conflict, I tell ya. The editor's adherence to the rules will always conflict with the author's inherent desire to break 'em.
The flip-side of this causes conflict, too. If you're a left-brained author taking a stab at fiction, you gotta let go and let it flow, 'cause if you don't, you're gonna sound like a textbook.
This isn't just the "editor" in you getting in the way of your writing, which is problem enough. Having the editor butt in means you can't get ahead unless you fix absolutely everything that's wrong with every single paragraph, line, and word that has hit the page thus far.
No, it's also the invasion of the logical side of you--the side that looks at your line, "she settled behind the steering wheel" and whispers, "before she gets in the car, she has to open the door. No wait--before she can open the door, she has to unlock it. But then, she'd have to get her keys out of her bag. She'd probably have them in a particular pocket in her purse, so she'll have to reach into that pocket to pull them out..."
ACK!
It's one thing when the editor and the author are two different people. It's another when that conflict rages within one head. Truly left-brained people need to learn how to give in to their right brains while they're writing, and keep a tight lid on the left side until the first draft is done. Truly right-brained people need to learn how to give in to their left brains while they're editing what they've written, and not a moment before.
When you figure out the mystery of how to do this, let me know, okay?
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Monday, May 5, 2014

Guest Post: Writing Children's Book Reviews with Stephanie Burkhart

Writing Reviews For Children's Books
by Stephanie Burkhart

Writing reviews isn't easy. As authors, we all like to get good reviews, but it's important to give reviews, too. I thought I'd talk a little bit about how I try to write reviews for children's books. Next month I'll focus on writing reviews for mainstream novels.

Children's picture books aren't that long, but you have to capture the essence of the story in a dynamic paragraph or two.

My first sentence or two I try to capture the plot of the book without giving it away and I usually end asking if the main character can solve the problem? (That's the hook to get you to read the book – to find out if he/she does.)

Then I talk about the illustrations. Are they eye-catching? Unique? Fit the story?

Other things to mention in the review: Is the title appropriate? Is the author's writing style engaging? Did you understand the main character's challenge? Was the ending satisfactory? Would you recommend this book? What's the age range for the book?



                                                            My son, Joe, reading

Here's my review for The Marshmallow Man:

"The Marshmallow Man" is an entertaining story that will have children flipping the pages to find out what happens next.

An old lady who is lonely creates a marshmallow man to help keep her company. The marshmallow man however, is an adventurous soul and sets out with the refrain, "You can't catch me, I'm the Marshmallow Man."

The story will appeal to preschoolers' and young elementary students' sense of adventure. The Marshmallow Man stimulates a child's imagination. Macquignon's illustrations are sharp, bringing the story's creativity to life. "The Marshmallow Man" is a fine book for any 3-7 year-old's library.

  
Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. When she's not working at her day job, she's writing and being a Cub Scout mom. She loves chocolate, adores coffee, and enjoys taking walks around Castaic Lake. Her story, "The Giving Meadow" is published with 4RV Publishing. Caterpillar makes his way through the meadow with the help of some friends.

Find her on the web:

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/StephanieBurkhartAuthor
GOOD READS:
YOU TUBE CHANNEL: http://www.youtube.com/user/botrina?feature=mhee
PINTEREST: http://pinterest.com/sgburkhart/

NOTE: This post originally appeared March 23, 2014 on 4rvreading-writingnewsletter.blogspot. Reprinted with permission.


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Friday, May 2, 2014

Sailing Out of Darkness will sail into your heart

sailing out of darknessNormandie Fischer is at it again--illustrating the complex heart of the mature woman. Hers aren't the novels of first love and high hopes for the future. They aren't aimed at fresh-faced youngsters looking for romance--and a husband, children, and a house with a white picket fence. They're aimed at women who have already been there, and wear the tarnish to prove it.
After years of marriage and raising two children--now adults--Samantha "Sam" Ransom got tossed out by her husband and caught by her childhood friend-turned-lover. Big Mistake #2.
Her remedy is to get away from everyone and everything, so she heads to Italy, ostensibly to visit her daughter who is studying there, but primarily to sort out the question many women face as they mature: How could I be so stupid?
By the time she's faced with a new possibility of loving and being loved, the only conclusion she has reached is that she can't trust her own judgment. Best not to climb out on that limb a second time.
As always, Normandie's portrayal of the kind of pain and confusion a rejected woman bears is spot on. Her promise of hope and healing through reliance on God and His grace is also spot on.
As a Women's Fiction writer, Normandie knows the heart of women--which earns her another five stars!
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