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Posts Tagged ‘Amazon’

On Back to the Future Day, I’ll share my favorite Marty McFly quote: “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.”

In my opinion, that goes for art, writing, and life. Enough said!

So turn on your VCR or DVD player, or find a Back to the Future movie on Netflix or Amazon, and watch one of these fun movies from the past (or future depending on which Back to the Future you choose).

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tolkien On the pending publication of Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien said: “I am dreading the publication, for it will be impossible not to mind what is said. I have exposed my heart to be shot at.”

As a fan of LotR, The Hobbit, and other works by Tolkien, I can’t imagine him doubting the merit of this trilogy. Yet, I know as a writer when a book (or even a story, poem, or non-fiction piece) of mine is published, there is both joy at seeing the completion of a work and a sense of dread anticipating the less than positive comments and inevitable bad reviews.

Even those best books don’t please everyone, so I know there will be those readers who think my child (my book) is ugly or stupid. And though I steel myself for those critical comments and reviews, I know, I, too, have exposed my heart to be shot at.

I wonder if reviewers and readers who post reviews to Amazon, Goodreads, and elsewhere know how their words effect the author? Do you try to make your comments constructive criticism when you don’t care for a book? Or not?

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Skean copy The first reviews of The Enchanted Skean are in, and I couldn’t be happier. Now, I know that not all the reviews are going to be as positive, but I’m delighted that so far readers are pleased with my young adult fantasy novel.

First Amazon review: “5 Stars – What An Imagination. I loved this novel. It transported me into a three dimensional reality full of rich details and memorable characters. I only wish the second book were already published so that I could continue with the characters for the next phase of the journey. P.S. I really want a dragonet of my own!” – Dawn C.

The first review of The Enchanted Skean by Douglas R. Cobb appeared in New Yorker Times. It’s quite long, and I won’t include the whole thing here, but here are a two excerpts:

“Once you begin reading The Enchanted Skean by Vonnie Winslow Crist, you won’t want to put it down.”

The Enchanted Skean… is a remarkable fantasy novel that will have your enraptured from the opening page to the very last one. If you love reading epic fantasy novels filled with magic, myriads of cool characters and races, and plenty of warriors and action, I highly recommend you check out [this book]. I’m very much looking forward to reading the next book in the Chronicles of Lifthrasir, and you will, also, once you read The Enchanted Skean.”  To read full review: http://newyorkertimes.com/2013/04/theenchantedskean/ (Sorry, site has been taken down).

Curious about the book?  Here’s a link to The Enchanted Skean’s book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-8C9OkyJCU and a 3-chapter excerpt: http://vonniewinslowcrist.com/books/the_enchanted_skean_excerpt

Thanks Douglas R. Cobb and Dawn C. for your reviews. I hope other readers like the book as much as you.

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 I’ve reviewed books, movies, videos, and restaurants over the years for various publications. It’s not an easy job! As a reviewer, your thumbs up or thumbs down can have an impact on whether readers buy or pass up a book. Yikes! That’s a lot of responsibility – which is why I no longer review books.

“Wait a minute,” you might say. “Don’t you write the ‘Writer’s Block’ column for Harford’s Heart Magazine?”

And yes, I do write that column, but I don’t actually review the books presented there. I do interview authors and introduce books which have a local connection. In addition, I occasionally write a book-based column for the Holiday, Pets, or Children’s section of the magazine. But I try to not give my opinion as to the merits of the work.

“Why not?” you might ask.

Firstly, I’m interested in promoting reading, writers, and books – not in telling readers which books are worthy of their attention.

Secondly, as a writer I’ve come to realize a reviewer’s opinion is just what one person thinks of a book (or film or restaurant), and that view can be skewed for any number of reasons. Maybe the reviewer doesn’t care for a particular type of book. Maybe he or she just read a similar book and, consciously or unconsciously, is comparing the two rather than evaluating a book on its own merits. Maybe the reviewer is having a bad day. Or maybe the reviewer is trying to curry favor with someone. This isn’t meant to imply reviewers are dishonest, most are very honest. But reviewers are human.

Leprechaun Cake fc One of the first reviews (and one that still lingers on the internet) I received for my kids’ book, Leprechaun Cake & Other Tales, was a bad review. After the initial sting of the reviewer’s words, I looked more closely at the content. It was evident this person was not someone used to working with kids, had never met a polite child (how sad), and seemed to be a bit of a grump. How unfortunate this one person’s opinion might persuade others not to buy my book. Before you pull your handkerchief out to weep for my misfortune, many more reviews of Leprechaun Cake & Other Tales were published, and they were all positive. But the impact of one nasty review is hard to calculate.

I’ve begun to list books I’ve read on Goodreads, but as of yet, I’ve not posted reviews. I’m planning on posting brief reviews shortly, but I’ll be certain to frame my comments with “in my opinion” rather than stating for a fact that a book is great, mediocre, or awful. Actually, I’m usually generous in my “stars” on Goodreads, and I try to appreciate a book for what it is – meaning I try to rate a children’s book as a children’s book (quality illustrations, age-appropriate text), a non-fiction book as a non-fiction book (adequate references, soundness of research), a fantasy novel as a fantasy novel (good world-building, uniqueness of characters), etc.

Which brings me to another problem for me with reviews: negativity. My mom was a fan of the “if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all” school of thought. And she passed that philosophy on to me. So instead of posting a poor rating on Amazon or Goodreads or elsewhere, I have a tendency to just not review that book. Cowardly? I don’t think so. Rather I remember that misguided review of years ago, and choose not to be unkind.

If you’ve read my books, please post your ratings/reviews on Amazon, Amazon UK, and Goodreads. And don’t forget to give the books a “thumbs up” if you enjoyed the read.

For you cooks out there, look for another easy, delicious recipe on Saturday, Feb.24th – Vonnie

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 Sending The Greener Forest out to reviewers wasn’t easy. What if the reviewers hated my beloved child? The Greener Forest is a collection of short stories (with a few fantasy poems & illustrations tossed in for good measure), and it’s therefore harder to find reviewers willing to read the book. What if reviewers begrudgingly skimmed the pages of the collection, then jotted down mean-spirited words? Yikes!

But an author must push aside her doubts, and send review copies out into the big, wide world. If she’s worked hard enough on her craft, edited judiciously, and listened to her editor — maybe, just maybe, the readers and reviewers will say positive things. And if the reviews are dreadful, then she must slip on her rhinoceros skin, ignore the critical jabs, and keep on writing.

Why bother with reviews? Because readers from Amazon to Goodreads to hundreds of other sites look for reviews to help them make their reading choices. And, as much as writers like to deny it, we need to hear from our readers so we can write better.

The Greener Forest has been well-reviewed to date. (She wipes the sweat from her brow and smiles tentatively). Thanks to the reviewers who took the time to read, then write a few words about my book. If you’d like to read a few reviews of The Greener Forest, check out the excerpts below, then follow the links.

Valentina at Carabosse’s Library wrote: “I highly recommend this collection.” http://tinyurl.com/carabosses-library-review-GF

Lindsay of Lindsay & Jane’s Views & Reviews wrote: “5 Stars. This book is filled with beautiful poems, magical fantastical stories and stunning illustrations.” http://tinyurl.com/lindsay-review-greener-forest

Natalie of Besotted with Books wrote: “There are so many great little stories throughout, some stories are beautifully magical and others sent a chill down my spine.” http://tinyurl.com/besotted-with-books-review

Laura Shovan, ed., Little Patuxent Review wrote: “Crist is a master of metaphor. In The Greener Forest her modern fairy tales stand out.” http://tinyurl.com/little-patuxent-rev-review

Fran Johnson, ed., Harford’s Heart Magazine wrote: “Crist has created believable characters, including some who are not-quite-human.” http://tinyurl.com/harfords-heart-review

And remember, after you read The Greener Forest to post on Amazon, Goodreads, etc. your feelings about the book.

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