Writing is a solitary act, one that can be confused with being a crazed hermit or grumpy bear. At least that is what goes on in my house. When I go into my writing “cave” the other members of my family push crumbs of sustenance under the door and hold conversations from the hallway. It may be that after several hours of typing my glazed eyes scare them a little, but I am at peace with it. (Totally kidding about the crumb pushing by the way). When I write, I immerse myself completely into the world I am creating, often losing track of time and sense of place. It reminded me of a song I love by Wilson Phillips – In My Room.
Sitting in front of my laptop, is very much like traveling to the world they describe. A safe place where I can air out my thoughts and secrets. Not that anything I write is kept secret for long mind you, as it ends up either on the internet or for sale on Amazon – but you get my drift.
For me, writing requires a clutter-free space, a droning fan to buffer outside noises and a large chunk of uninterrupted time. Not even the hunger pangs are enough to remove me from my perch. The final edits on Sea of Dreams took 3 days, and when I finally joined the rest of the human race, it was with the knowledge that I had completed something monumental in my life. Something that I could be extremely proud of. It was well worth the pains in my back and the cramps in my fingers, and continues to be as I finish the series. Now…where was I? Oh yes…I remember now…in my room!
I am in no way an expert on the subject of reviews, but I know what I like. That’s the first step in writing a review that is honest and informative. There is a difference between a rating and a review, and while both are helpful, I tend to concentrate more on the written review.
Simply put, a review is a written description of what you like about a story, and yes, even what you don’t. I am going to share with you three rules I keep in mind when doing reviews, the most recent of which can be seen on Goodreads under my Author page.
Not all reviews need to include a 5-star rating
– I will be the first to say that there are some incredible (and little known) books out there, and while they are fabulous, they don’t always warrant a 5-star rating. In a perfect world, we would be able to give star ratings with decimals. This would allow us the flexibility of giving a book a 4.5 rating for something well-written and witty, that wasn’t in the same literary category as a beloved classic. So far, we only have 1 to 5 star ratings at our disposal, but in my opinion, what you say about the book is much more important than the rating you give it. A rating of 3 or 4, backed up with a thoughtful and telling review, can be more powerful, and believable, than a 5-star rating alone. In all honesty, it is what I would rather see as an author, since I am always looking for constructive feedback. It allows me to see how the readers are connecting to the characters I develop and the situations I place them in.
A short review is better than no review
– I do tend to write wordy reviews, however, there are times when I am unable to give the review proper attention, based on schedule conflicts, deadlines, etc. Sometimes one line can be very intriguing and powerful, interesting a reader enough to check out a particular author. For instance, my review of Seven Years by Dannika Dark included the simple statement, “Loved it! Never knew an explosion could be so romantic!”
There is always something positive to say
– I feel pretty strongly about this rule, especially considering how hard it is to complete a novel and bare your soul to the world (in a literary sense of course). In every book I have read, I have found things that I connected to or liked. In reviews, I feel it is important to focus on those things, as well as the things that you felt were missing. If a novel is poorly written, lacks editing, or has been improperly advertised, I feel the author should be contacted directly via email with a list of things that require attention. This gives the author an opportunity to correct the issues and learn what doesn’t work moving forward.
Well-written reviews can be helpful not only to other readers, but also to the authors whose stories have made their way into your life. Taking the time to post a review, or at the very least a rating, is appreciated more than you know by the writing community. Thank you to everyone who makes it a regular part of their reading experience.
With a draft of my second book behind me, and the third staring at me from the blank screen of my laptop, I decided I needed a break. Mixing research with pleasure took me to Sedona, AZ, which was not only an amazing trip, but ended up being a fabulous setting for my next book. The people are friendly, the colors of the ancient stones are brilliant, and the food is out of this world! I especially liked learning about the area vortexes, which are sites used for meditation and spiritual healing.
My experience with the vortex was quick, not much more than a brief walk to the peak. I did notice a small tingle in my lower arms and fingers, and felt the most overwhelming sense of peace and connection to the area. There were no deadlines, no communications with the outside world, just me and the endless beyond, filled as far as you could see with powdery red mountains. The pull was undeniable.
It would have been easy to check out Sedona, or even the Grand Canyon by way of the internet, but I’m glad to have made the trip to both in person. Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon is something I won’t soon forget and photos can’t do this magnificent place justice. Both Sedona and the Grand Canyon filled me with a sense of awe and wonder, replenishing my soul just in time to feed my next novel. Honestly, I believe it’s like that with most places you travel. The experiences you have flavor the memories you keep and, often times, the stories you tell.
When describing a setting, if at all possible, I highly recommend visiting it in person. Take in the culture, talk to the locals, and breath in the nature that makes the area unique. Your writing will thank you and so will your soul. Where does your story want to take you?