My Book Review Rating Worksheet

reviews

I love reading almost as much as I love writing and I do a ton of book reviews.  Because I have been through the gauntlet of bringing an idea to life, I know that every book requires a great deal of work. When I do a book review, I keep this in the back of my mind, so even if I don’t particularly care for the story, I can focus on the positives.

I decided recently that I needed a system that would not only streamline my review process, but also help me to remain as objective as possible.  I realize that ratings are ultimately reflective of the reader’s likes and dislikes, but sometimes I find myself in the position of reading a genre am not necessarily a fan of. I feel this system I am about to share helps me to rate the books fairly no matter the story or genre.

My rating system is set up for 10 points, but you can easily adjust it for a 5-star rating by cutting your score in half and rounding up or down. I have 10 criteria that I have listed on a worksheet, and each of those criteria are given a score of .1 to 1.  They are:

Cover – Style/Color/Theme

Formatting – Justification/Flourishes/Spacing

Editing – Typos, punctuation, sentence structure

Blurb – Does it sufficiently describe the book?  Or misleading?

POV – Is it consistent? Does it switch with sufficient transition?

Character Depth – Is character realistic?

Character Motivation – Does character’s motivation make sense? Is it explained?

Character Description – Is character description adequate? Can you visualize their qualities?

Plot – Does the plot move along, or does it lag in any areas?  Any holes or things that don’t make sense?

Impression – Based on this book, would you purchase more from this author?

If you feel that this rating system will help you with your reviews, I have provided a copy of the document that I developed. Feel free to use it or pass it along to other reviewers who may find it helpful.  I would like to add that I will only post reviews that I rate between 3 and 5 stars.  Anything less than that would, more than likely, be the direct cause of poor editing or severe plot holes. I feel in these rare cases, the direct contact with the author with some constructive criticism is much more helpful to them than posting a negative review.

Authors truly appreciate feedback and I hope that you will consider leaving a review the next time you read a book that you feel others will like. I would love to hear from you if you feel this tool has been helpful, just make a comment here or shoot me an email. Happy reading (and reviewing) everyone!

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Coming Soon – Winds of Change

Winds of Change is being finalized, and will be available in May 2017!  Cover reveal coming soon, but in the meantime here is a sneak peek at the blurb.  Enjoy!

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Amie Petridis isn’t looking for love when it comes breezing into her life; her job as a full-time pilot leaves little time for dating.  But when a charming air marshal walks onto her plane and into her life, magical things start to happen. When Amie receives a tarot card reading from an ancient gypsy during a layover in England, her eyes are opened to a world of possibilities.

U.S. Air Marshal Aleck Eyres has always taken his job seriously. So seriously, in fact, that he hasn’t allowed himself to be tied down.  His occupation allows for the freedom to travel and to visit his friends, but the day he helps a captivating pilot with her persistent ex-boyfriend – everything changes. Love finds him quickly and affects him deeply. Will it be enough to overcome the painful secret that has kept him from sharing his heart for so long?

Fate has conjured the winds of change and blown them Amie’s way. These changes will not only affect Amie and Aleck, but also the magical beings in a land called Wisteria. Suddenly Amie’s world is filled with winged creatures and she learns that she is meant to harness the element of Air. As she discovers her power, the gypsy’s warning haunts her. Should she follow her head or her heart? And when she makes the choice, will it be the right one?

#newbook, #fantasyromance, #comingsoon

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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#Love

Whether you write it, read it, or love to be in it….this day is for you!

#fantasyromance, #themusecrew, #thepoweroffour

Never-say-neverisms by William Safire

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Loved this quote I came across in Goodreads and thought I would pass it along for those of us who struggle with sentence structure. Enjoy!

“Not long ago, I advertised for perverse rules of grammar, along the lines of “Remember to never split an infinitive” and “The passive voice should never be used.” The notion of making a mistake while laying down rules (“Thimk,” “We Never Make Misteaks”) is highly unoriginal, and it turns out that English teachers have been circulating lists of fumblerules for years. As owner of the world’s largest collection, and with thanks to scores of readers, let me pass along a bunch of these never-say-neverisms:

* Avoid run-on sentences they are hard to read.

* Don’t use no double negatives.

* Use the semicolon properly, always use it where it is appropriate; and never where it isn’t.

* Reserve the apostrophe for it’s proper use and omit it when its not needed.

* Do not put statements in the negative form.

* Verbs has to agree with their subjects.

* No sentence fragments.

* Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.

* Avoid commas, that are not necessary.

* If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.

* A writer must not shift your point of view.

* Eschew dialect, irregardless.

* And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.

* Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!!

* Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.

* Writers should always hyphenate between syllables and avoid un-necessary hyph-ens.

* Write all adverbial forms correct.

* Don’t use contractions in formal writing.

* Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.

* It is incumbent on us to avoid archaisms.

* If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.

* Steer clear of incorrect forms of verbs that have snuck in the language.

* Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixed metaphors.

* Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.

* Never, ever use repetitive redundancies.

* Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.

* If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times, resist hyperbole.

* Also, avoid awkward or affected alliteration.

* Don’t string too many prepositional phrases together unless you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death.

* Always pick on the correct idiom.

* “Avoid overuse of ‘quotation “marks.”‘”

* The adverb always follows the verb.

* Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; seek viable alternatives.”

(New York Times, November 4, 1979; later also published in book form)”

William Safire, Fumblerules: A Lighthearted Guide to Grammar and Good Usage

Goodreads Giveaway – Sea of Dreams

One more week to win one of 10 signed copies of Sea of Dreams being given away between January 15 and February 15, 2017! Anyone in the US or Canada is eligible. Follow me on Goodreads, Amazon or my website for updates on the Power of Four series.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Sea of Dreams by D.A. Henneman

Sea of Dreams

by D.A. Henneman

Giveaway ends February 15, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Soundtrack of my Life – Entry #6

For those of you who are familiar with everything 80’s…I apologize in advance for the song that will be stuck in your head the rest of the day.  For those of you who aren’t, this next entry in the Soundtrack of my Life is something that resonates with me at this particular point in my life.

I have had my fair share of setbacks, some self-induced, and some completely out of my control. I have had friends and family members pull me out of some pretty dark places and for those of you who have been there for me, I am forever grateful. What this song reminds me of, is that ultimately, I am the one in control of my destiny. If I want something bad enough, the only one that has the power to manifest it…is me. So, while it took me 30 plus years to come full circle back to writing, I know that I need to pursue it with everything I’ve got. Let’s face it…no one lives forever.

So while I am not dreaming about being in a little rowboat to China, I do have to say that the chorus of this song is exactly what I am telling myself on a daily basis. I keep this in mind as I write down the stories that have been rolling around in my head for decades and when the occassional setback comes my way, I remember:

Ain’t nothin’ gonna break-a my stride
Nobody gonna slow me down
Oh no, oh no, I got to keep on moving
Ain’t nothin’ gonna break-a my stride
I’m running and I won’t touch ground
Oh no, I got to keep on movin’ – Break my Stride by: Matthew Wilder

To sub-contract or DIY…that is the question

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I am a capable person and can learn new skills pretty quickly. On several occasions, I have forced myself out of my comfort zone and researched everything there is to know about an obstacle that has been placed in my path. I have studied a variety of topics, anything from flora and fauna genus to formatting your text through Microsoft Word. What I have learned (at times the hard way) is: just because you can do something, doesn’t always mean you should.

If you have already published, either traditionally or Indie, chances are you have already figured this out. But for those of us just starting out, here are 3 areas of developing your book that, in my humble opinion, you want to leave to the experts.

Editing – Hire someone even if proofreading or editing is something you do for a living.  I can’t stress this enough. It isn’t enough to have your close friend look through your manuscript for typos,  although if you have a limited budget that is a very good start.  Even after going through rounds of editing and polishing, I still managed to find enough corrections in Sea of Dreams to publish a second edition. A fresh set of eyes, or two, will allow you to make your story the best version of itself it can possibly be, and doesn’t necessarily have to break the bank. There are a lot of free-lancers out there who do a wonderful job, organizations such as the Editorial Freelance Association can help you find one to suit your needs. Another thing you can do, is pull out the books by all of your favorite authors and see who they had their editing done by. There may be a chance that they used someone that takes on new projects, and if not, it will at least get you looking at websites that will lead you in the right direction.  Be sure the editor you choose offers to do a reading and comment session on the first few pages of your manuscript prior to committing to a contract.  This will give you a good feel for the person, and let you know if they will provide good feedback for your particular writing style.

Cover Design – No matter what anyone says, books are judged by their covers, so you need to make sure you have one that reflects the theme of your book adequately. If you are a graphic designer, then by all means, have at it and create your own cover. But chances are you aren’t and you should stick to what you are good at. Writing. So, because I am a glutton for punishment, I can tell you that I did take an Adobe In Design class at a community college nearby. Not because I wanted to create my own covers, but so I could wrap my head around the time it takes to develop one.  I highly suggest doing the same, if for no other reason than you will understand and appreciate what you are being charged for the service. Even the most visually simple designs take  a great deal of time and I was blessed to have a very patient teacher who held my hand through the assignments. He was quick to ask if I needed help, and I was so impressed with him and the passion he had for his work, that I hired him to do the cover and formatting for my first book long after the class had ended. We have been working collaboratively ever since.

Formatting – This is one of those things that can be done pretty easily, but if you aren’t comfortable with it, there are a ton of services out there that can assist you at a pretty reasonable cost. I chose to have my graphic designer handle the formatting for the print versions of my books which I feel gives them a more finished look. He is able to add drop caps and chapter break images that reinforce the theme of my series. The formatting for the digital versions I decided to tackle on my own, at least for now. With my background in technical writing and the classes I took along the way, I felt it was something I could handle.  I can tell you that a book by Audra North entitled The Romance Writer’s Self-Publishing How-to Handbook was invaluable to me in those beginning months!  She walks you step-by-step through the process of formatting your manuscript in Word, and does it with easy to follow dialog. If your budget doesn’t allow for hiring someone right now, I highly recommend downloading this book, which isn’t just for romance by the way. You can apply the techniques to any genre. At the time of this article, it is free on Kindle, which means the prices is right as well!

I realize that there are authors out there that have complete creative control over their product and may have also done pretty well for themselves, but I find that for me, I would much rather be spending my time doing what I love. Writing! Besides, in a small way, I feel I am helping the economy by paying someone to do something I am perfectly capable of doing. So while I know I can do it…it is that I choose not to… which frees my time up to do what makes me happy.  I call that a win win!