What Do You Look for in a Review?

Today I am part of a group of virtual friends who are answering the question:  What do you look for in a review?  The Reading-Romances blog asked over 40 book reviewers, readers, authors, and book bloggers to share their thoughts on this subject today.  I’m looking forward to seeing the answers from this widely varied group.  Book Reviews blog hop

I blogged about book reviews in February, discussing the mechanics of book reviews and some tips on writing them.  If you are interested in that kind of information, please see “On Book Reviews.”  I wrote that article hoping to encourage people to write reviews – all people – not just book reviewers.  As an author, I greatly value official book reviewers’ [Read more…]

A Real Good Story


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I last posted about “Keeping It Real” in writing and mentioned how some people responded to my book, Believing In Horses, turning fiction into reality. Last week, some local children made a significant donation to local rescues in their “Kids Can Do BIG Things, Too!” campaign. Please welcome my guest blogger, Kristy Alvarez, founder of Desire Ministries and the leader of this campaign, who tells the story in her words. 

As many of you know, or may not know, through Desire Ministries, we have been running an after-school Horse Club program since 2006.  We meet with the students of Cornerstone Christian Academy on a weekly basis so that the students who participate can learn the basics of horseback riding and horsemanship at Loftmar Stables in Bowie, Md.

[Read more…]

Keeping It Real at the Annapolis Book Festival

This year, the Annapolis Book Festival included a panel, “Young Adult Books: Keeping It Real.” The title alone fascinated me, and I was thrilled to be part of it. The Key School in Annapolis created the Annapolis Book Festival 10 years ago when a group of dedicated parents decided to bring a world class event promoting reading and writing to Annapolis, Md. Once involved with the event, I quickly recognized why the Annapolis Book Festival holds the reputation as one of the finest book festivals in the region. With over 40 authors and 25 panels, The Key School saw to every detail and ensured both authors and audiences enjoyed the event.

[Read more…]

Critiquing Guidelines via Edie Hemingway

I blogged recently about the value of receiving critiques as a writer. I then fortunately received the following guidelines from co-Regional Advisor of the Maryland-Delaware-West Virginia Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Edie Hemingway, on giving critiques. Edie graciously agreed to let me share these tips in my blog as a follow-up to my last post.

In Edie’s words, “I put these together when I started teaching my own workshops, based on my experiences ‘workshopping’ during my MFA program at Spalding University. I’ll also be using them for the online course I’m teaching this summer for McDaniel College’s graduate certificate program in Writing for Children and Young Adults.”

Edie Hemingway is the author of Road to Tater Hill
(Delacorte Press and Yearling paperback), winner of a 2009 Parents’ Choice Gold Award, and besides writing, teaches several writing workshops. If you’d like to find out more about her and her programs, she can be reached at
http://www.ediehemingway.com

This is a great list for those who belong to a critique group or plan on joining one. As Edie suggests, these are also useful during the revision process.

[Read more…]

Kings of Colorado – Book Review

Kings of Colorado by David E. Hilton

Not long ago, I received an e-mail that went something like this:

“Dear Valerie,
David E. Hilton’s debut novel KINGS OF COLORADO—now available in paperback (Simon & Schuster; January 3, 2012; $14.00)—is a powerful coming-of-age story set on a juvenile delinquent ranch in the Rockies….I would love to send you a copy of KINGS OF COLORADO to review, giveaway, or feature on Believing in Horses….” 

Since Simon & Schuster cared about my thoughts, I thought I would share them here as well.

In Kings of Colorado (Simon and Schuster, 2011) by David E. Hilton, Will Sheppard stabs, but does not kill, his father, and pays the price for the rest of his life. Sent to the Swope Ranch Boys’ Reformatory in Colorado across the country from his Chicago home, thirteen-year-old Will learns lessons one would hope a child protecting his mother from his abusive father would never have to learn. Two years at the brutal boys’ ranch toughens Will, but does not leave him devoid of emotions. His saving graces include friendships, a special horse he trains, and a kind nurse. Will endures one violent and tragic hardship after another, leaving the reader wondering if he can possibly survive.

[Read more…]

On Book Reviews

On Book Reviews

As an author, why should I review other writers’ work?  Because it makes me a better writer.

About a year ago, I read an article on Writing.com that suggested the same conclusion, so I thought I’d check it out.  After all, reviewing includes reading and analysis, something I’d spent a lifetime doing as an intelligence officer.  So how hard could it be?  Turns out, not so easy.  And how to synthesize several hundred pages into a paragraph, and cram those days of personal reactions into just a few statements?  I’ll offer some suggestions that work for me. [Read more…]