Monday, July 27, 2009

How To Write A Book Review--Learn From My Mistake

When writing a book review, simply try to answer the question, "Why should someone read this book?" You should emphasize the following:

  • What you liked or thought about the book;

  • How it affected you;

  • How one may benefit from reading it;

  • Who you think would enjoy it.

According to Sell Your Book On Amazon, it should ideally be a paragraph or two. Things that would spoil the suspense such as telling how it ends should be left out.

On the other hand, if you didn't like the book, it's better not to write any review because authors have feelings too and a bad book review can go a long way in deterring people from buying it. I learned this lesson early on when I first started posting reviews on Amazon for every book I read because according to Sell Your Book On Amazon an author should seek to develop a presence by doing a lot of book reviews. I inadvertently hurt an author's feelings who I met on MySpace by posting a review of her book when I really didn't like it even though I hoped I would. Regardless of trying to be nice and still be honest, giving it 3 stars (which according to Amazon said "I like it" when in my heart I would have given it one star) she saw it and was deeply hurt anyway. I felt awful and immediately deleted the review but the damage was done. (The only exception to this is if it's a very controversial book, for example, The Shack, where people seem to either love it or hate it and which has many reviews. In this case the controversy is what makes people want to read it for themselves and is a good thing.)

Since this incident, I try to read the book before I let the author know I got it. That way if I don't like it, I haven't put myself in an awkward position and choose not to post an Amazon review. I certainly hope those who read My Funny Dad, Harry do not have this problem, but just to be safe, best not to tell me that you have it until after reading it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

How Do We Grow Strong Spiritually?

It's in difficult situations that we grow spirituality stronger, when we have to actually exercise our faith.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.
(Romans 5:3-4, NIV)

When I attended a Sweet Saturday women's get-together at church about a month ago, I realized that whenever God spoke to people in the Bible, he always chose ways to use them that challenged them to exercise faith. For example, telling Abraham to use sacrifice his only son, Isaac, Joshua winning the battle of Jericho by marching around the city, Gideon delivering the Israelites from the Midianites using just 300 men and horns, pitchers and torches, Moses with the parting of the Red Sea, speaking to a rock to get water, etc., and many, many more. What examples come to your mind?

When we encounter difficult circumstances and really have to exercise our faith, it seems that's when we see God at work in our own life which builds us up and increases our faith. Some of these times in my life were trusting God and obeying my parents even though I disagreed their decision to move, not knowing what to do after high school graduation and God provided a full 4-year scholarship, trusting God to do new things such as teach Sunday School, lead a youth group, learn to swim when I was afraid I'd drown, work as a temp which lead to a good permanent job, provide me a wonderful husband, provide us a great house we could afford, comfort in grieving and strength to do all that needed to get done when my dad died, courage to write My Funny Dad, Harry that I felt God leading me to do and be at peace about the future which I know he has all planned out for me and is in his hands.

I find it interesting that I schedule these posts ahead. I really needed this reminder now for myself because I just found out I need to have a biopsy on my right breast--they saw something "suspicious" on my last mammogram. This can't be good, but I know God knew all about this and will help me deal with whatever comes my way. Other people have gone through some bad times, now it's my turn again to keep growing stronger spiritually.

What has God brought you through that has increased your faith?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Why Write A Book Review?

Until I became an author and was faced with actually trying to drum up book sales once my book was published, I never new how big was. I never knew about book reviews. I had never written a book review and found out that most of my friends and the people I know didn't either. The only "book reviews" I ever did were book reports in school.

1. It encourages others to read the book so you're helping the author. One of the first tips that my publisher told me to do was to actually ask people I know to review my book on Amazon after reading it. Having reviews helps to get others interested in buying the book if they see others liked it and especially see a lot of people giving it 5 stars (the highest rating on Amazon). I never even went on Amazon until I got My Funny Dad, Harry published.

2. It's a nice thing to do that makes the author feel good. I always get a thrill when I see a good review of my book and am encouraged by that, especially if it's someone I don't know personally. A good review makes my day when I see people actually reading my book and liking it! At first, I would check every day to see if there were any more but now, after 1 1/2 years, I check only now and then. At first, it was people I knew who were willing to do me a favor and help me out, with my husband being first, then my cousin Roger and Jan, one of my co-workers. The first one I got from someone I didn't know personally was J. Kaye Oldham who gave it only 3 stars (liked it) but wrote a very good review. I knew people who knew me would be kind but was nervous about what strangers would think of it--still am!

3. It helps you to remember what you thought of books you read. This is helpful for recommending books to others. Sometimes I'll be reading a blog post and something will remind me of a book I read but I can't always remember the author or the specifics. sometimes I'll come across a discussion thread on a forum about reading or a book and I'll want to look up something quick about it. Then I just go to my "books" document on my computer and look it up. I list all the books I read by author. I can also be blunt here if I didn't like the book and didn't post a review on Amazon or write it here and spell check it and then copy and paste it into Amazon. It's also helpful when discussing books in an online-forum because I can look books up quickly to make sure I get the title right and the author.

Coming up in this series:
How To Write a Book Review
How To Post a Customer Review on Amazon

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Sad Fourth Of July--Striper Was So Much Fun!

On the 4th of July I always remember and think of Striper, one of my dad's stray cats that he brought inside his house. Striper was a great climber and loved to climb on both me and my dad. He would like to go on my dad's back and up by his neck. One day my dad danced with Striper on his back in front of the mirror. Too bad I didn't have my camera with me that day! Striper didn't mind all the junk in the basement and liked climbing on the desk down there. The basement was Striper's territory while Blackie and Timi owned the main floor and Softie, Sweet Thing and Sylvester ruled the upstairs.

I nicknamed Striper "The Entertainer" because that cat would do the funniest things. He loved catnip so much that even when Harry put it in the high kitchen cupboard, Striper managed to climb up there, open the door and get it out! I brought him upstairs now and then when I went over to play with him. He didn't mind being held like the other cats. He tried to avoid the other cats and for the most part, he did.

Poor striper had some kind of blood problem and grew very week very quickly. He climbed up in the drop ceiling of the basement one day and would not come down for days! When cats don't feel well and are about to die, they go off looking for a quiet spot away from people and that's exactly what Striper was doing. Harry could hear some mowing and finally found Striper up there. He set up a ladder and we tried coaxing the cat down using tuna, cat treats but nothing worked.

Finally, on one 4th of July, Striper came down on his own and was extremely weak. Dad called me early that morning to let me know. I was supposed to be in a parade to hand out fliers for our Vacation Bible School but I told Gerard to go without me because I wanted to help dad take Striper to the vet. It being a holiday, we had to go to an emergency care place. When we got there, the vet said the cat was very, very sick and should just be put down. Dad and I said our last good-bye to poor Striper that day but brought him back home and Gerard helped dad bury the cat in his backyard.

Read about all of dad's cats and more about Striper in My Funny Dad, Harry. click here to order (available at or Bookstores can also order it for you or contact me for a copy at

Comment Showcase For June

Here are some of the most interesting or funny comments I got on my posts during June that I'd like to share since sometimes people don't bother looking at the comments:

On Why Wash Your Car

Joel said:
This is really refreshing. Like your father, I have never voluntarily washed my car, inside or out. It has at times in my life been a point of contention with my parents, my bosses and my significant others. I have at times been forced to concede to it being washed, but always under protest. Its nice to know that there's someone else as adamant as I about not washing their car.

On What A Great Lawn Mower--

Homesteadh mama said:
That's the kind of lawn mower I need--complete with the little box for rocks! :-)

I swear, your and my Dad's minds worked alike!

Ratty said:
The box on the mower is a great idea. I assumed it came with it because it looked so logical being there. After you said it I realized I had never seen one with a box like that.

"My Funny Dad, Harry" Book Giveaway

Congratulations to all the winners of the giveaway for "My Funny Dad, Harry" at Red Pine Mountain. I am so happy that four of my regular commenters won! Read what Tim thought of it at Everyday Living.