3/31/2011

Reviewing books--a helpful guide

HOW TO WRITE A REVIEW

Title

When I am posting a book review on a blog or website, I always use a title similar to this:

A Place to Belong
By Linda Goodnight

Reviewed by Lacy Williams

This lets readers know you aren’t taking credit for the book, just posting a review. If you are on a website like Amazon.com or Goodreads, where you will already be on the “product” or “book” page to leave a review, don’t put a title on the review.

The Blurb

The blurb portion of the review should be similar to back-cover copy. Not too long, maybe around 100-300 words. You want to let the reader know what happens in the beginning of the book and get them interested in the characters (especially anything unique about the characters), but DON’T give away the ending. Try to make it a question so that the reader really wants to know the answer.

Widow Kitty Wainwright is happy being single. She’s not interested in dating, only preserving her late husband’s memory and running her motel in the small town of Redemption, Oklahoma. Jace Carter has been in love with Kitty for awhile now, but he’ll never tell her. Why? Because of his dark past. He knows that even though he and Kitty have a shared faith now, what he’s done and who he’s been would ruin any chance of them being together. So why is he so drawn to the lovely widow? When someone from Jace’s past shows up in Redemption, Jace faces the choice of revealing his past or keeping quiet. Can God help Kitty get over her past love? And if He does, will He clear a way for Jace and Kitty to be together?

The same way you do in any of your writing, try to pick strong nouns and verbs and go easy on the adjectives and adverbs—pick and choose the very best of those when you need them. Also a little note: writing the blurb is great practice for preparing onesheets and verbal pitches like you would use at conference.

The Content

This is where you get to be subjective. What did you or didn’t you like about this book? What did the author do really well? What would have made the book better?

Personally, I want to support Christian fiction as a genre. Because of that, the unwritten rule that I follow is that if I liked the book and it was pretty good, good, awesome or fantastic I will write a review honest to what the book deserves. If I didn’t like the book, if it wasn’t well-written, if there were major problems with it, I will choose not to review the book. I don’t give it a bad review, I just don’t review it at all. A lot of reviewers feel that they should write a review even if the book is bad, but this is the choice I have made.

Linda has a way of creating strong emotions in her characters that really make the reader feel connected to them. It’s no wonder she is a past RITA winner and the first two books in this series have been nominated for the 2011 RITAs.


Linda also has a gentle hand with setting. She creates a beautiful town filled with quirky characters in Redemption, Oklahoma, and uses such deft touches to bring the setting to life that the reader feels they are there without long, clunky paragraphs of description.

The Conclusion

Finally, I always tell the reader whether I recommend the book or not. Keep it short and sweet.

This is an excellent read and I highly recommend it.

That’s it. Writing a review is just that easy.

To see how my review of A PLACE TO BELONG looks all put together, click here. To see examples of other reviews, visit my Amazon reviews page.


WHERE SHOULD I POST MY REVIEW?

It’s okay to put the same review out there on the web in several places. Here’s some choices:

Your personal blog
Your Facebook page
Amazon.com
Goodreads.com
Barnesandnoble.com
Christianbook.com

Also, don’t forget to email Lacy a copy of your review so it will get posted to the OCFW blog. We also feature reviews of our members’ books in the OCFW quarterly newsletter, and often use those highlighted on our blog, so this is like double exposure.

You can also do a short review on:

Your Twitter page
Fictionfinder.com

What else can I do?

Ask your local library to carry the book
Recommend the book to a friend who you know likes to read
Recommend the book to your church’s library


Thanks for helping us spread the word about our awesome authors and their books. Every little bit helps.

Review of Linda Goodnight's A Place to Belong

A Place to Belong
By Linda Goodnight

Reviewed by Lacy Williams

Widow Kitty Wainwright is happy being single. She’s not interested in dating, only preserving her late husband’s memory and running her motel in the small town of Redemption, Oklahoma. Jace Carter has been in love with Kitty for awhile now, but he’ll never tell her. Why? Because of his dark past. He knows that even though he and Kitty have a shared faith now, what he’s done and who he’s been would ruin any chance of them being together. So why is he so drawn to the lovely widow? When someone from Jace’s past shows up in Redemption, Jace faces the choice of revealing his past or keeping quiet. Can God help Kitty get over her past love? And if He does, will He clear a way for Jace and Kitty to be together?

Linda has a way of creating strong emotions in her characters that really make the reader feel connected to them. It’s no wonder she is a past RITA winner and the first two books in this series have been nominated for the 2011 RITAs.

Linda also has a gentle hand with setting. She creates a beautiful town filled with quirky characters in Redemption, Oklahoma, and uses such deft touches to bring the setting to life that the reader feels they are there without long, clunky paragraphs of description.

This is an excellent read and I highly recommend it.

3/27/2011

Breakout Novel Workshop: April 30

On April 30, we'll be offering a hands-on workshop based on Donald Maass’ book Writing the Breakout Novel. The class will be moderated by OCFW president Lacy Williams.

In this class, participants will be given tools to write a novel that appeals to a broad audience. Bring your manuscript or computer for hands-on exercises.

PLEASE NOTE SPECIAL DATE: because of Easter weekend, we've delayed our workshop by one week. We will meet on Saturday, April 30 from 1:00 to 3:00 at the Mardel Christian Bookstore in Edmond. Come early for fellowship, and bring a friend!
If you have any questions, email Lacy Williams. Hope to see you there!

3/18/2011

Janet Lee Barton on Storyboarding: March 26

Join us this month as we host multi-published author Janet Lee Barton on the topic of STORYBOARDING. We will meet at Mardel on Saturday, March 26 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Come early for fellowship!


Janet Lee Barton is the author of fifteen novels and five novellas. She writes both historical & contemporary Christian Romance and is currently writing her sixteenth novel for Heartsong Presents.

Janet has been voted as one of Heartsong Presents top ten authors of both historical and contemporary novels, and she has also been a top ten Heartsong Favorite Author.

She's been a finalist in ACFW’s short historical romance Book of the Year contest (now the Carol Award) for her novel A Place Called Home and for her novella, The Cookie Jar.

Ms Barton has also written thirty devotionals for young girls that were included in a Barbour collection called Whispers of Wisdom for Girls.

If you have questions about our meeting, email Lacy. Hope to see you there!

3/16/2011

Sign up now for our April online class

Join OKC Christian Fiction Writers (an ACFW chapter) for upcoming online class “What to Expect After Publishing” with award-winning author Maureen Lang on April 11-22, 2011.


Signed that contract or getting close to being published but aren’t sure what’s coming next?

In this two-week class, multi-published author Maureen Lang will share insights and helpful tips on topics like edits, marketing, what you can expect from your publisher, and more. We’ll start by exploring a general overview of the published author’s life, explode some myths regarding expectations vs. reality, share some statistics, and take a peek at how a writer juggles a professional and private life while maintaining the identity God meant us to have.

Whether you are newly published, contracted, agented or close to being published, you won’t want to miss this class! Cost is $20.00 for local chapter (OCFW) members, $25.00 for all others.

ABOUT MAUREEN LANG: 

Maureen Lang has always had a passion for writing. She hand wrote her first novel around the age of ten, put the pages into a notebook she covered with soft deerskin for a “hardback” cover (nothing but the best!) then passed it around the neighborhood for rave reviews. It was so much fun she’s been writing ever since. Eventually Maureen became the recipient of a Golden Heart Award from RWA, followed by the publication of three secular romances. Life took some turns after that and she gave up writing for fifteen years, until her faith sent her in a new artistic direction. Soon she won a Noble Theme Award from American Christian Fiction Writers (now the Genesis), and a contract followed a year or so later for her Inspirational historical fiction Pieces of Silver, (nominated for a Christy in 2007). The sequel, Remember Me, released in February of ‘07. She also has three women’s fiction novels from Tyndale House Publishers, The Oak Leaves released in May of ’07, On Sparrow Hill and My Sister Dilly released in ’08. Her Great War Series followed, Whisper on the Wind, Springtime of the Spirit, and Look to the East, all three set in Europe during the First World War. Maureen lives in the Midwest with her husband, two sons and their dog, Susie.

Visit Maureen’s website at http://www.maureenlang.com/ .

NOTES ABOUT OCFW’S ONLINE CLASSES:

Unless otherwise noted, online classes are conducted via email. We use Yahoo’s GROUPS function so there is one email address that the instructor sends lessons to and that you send your homework to. Once you have paid for the class, you will be added to the special Yahoo GROUP (this happens about one week before the date the class starts).

PRICE: Our classes are $20 for local chapter (OKC Christian Fiction Writers) members; $25 for all others. Sign up online by visiting the ONLINE CLASSES page (link above).

If you have questions about this class, please email Lacy Williams at lacy@novelinspirations.com .