Author Archives: shirleymclain930

About shirleymclain930

I am a retired RN, I am currently promoting my book, Dobyns Chronicles. My first book published in November 2010, called "The Tower", has been revised. I'm enjoying my retirement to the fullest. I like adventure and travel and making friends. I have 4 dogs and 3 cats. They are like having a house full of three years olds. They are a large part of my life and I can't imagine not having them.

Tips for Writing Amazon Reviews

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 This is books scramble. Many books to scatter under sky.wordsAmazon-Logo-300x109

What if a car manufacturer was to drop off a brand new car to a person’s home, completely at random, and explain they had 24 hours to drive the car? Afterward, they would take the car to another home at random and do the same thing, and repeat for three months. They only asked that the home owners/drivers would write a review of the automobile. What do you think would happen?

I suspect most of the drivers would do exactly what they should. They would write intelligent and informative reviews about how it handled, how it drove, gas mileage, the comfort, the power, the sound system, etc.

But there would be some drivers who would abuse this privilege. It’s human nature. Some wouldn’t even drive the car. Some would complain about everything from the visors to the texture of the floor mats. Some would complain about the color of the free car they were provided. Some would get drunk, drive 100 mph, wreck the car, and then write a bad review.

Power to the people is a wonderful concept, but total unadulterated power to the masses will always result in an unreliable representation of the truth. It’s as simple as pride or ego. It’s the same reason we have few real cable news anchors anymore, because the anchors consider themselves the star instead of the subjects of the stories they report.

And that sums up Amazon reader reviews. While most are very helpful, many are just people exercising their basic nature to be useless. So here are some tips.

TIP ONE
If you haven’t read the book, don’t leave a review. I actually read a one-star review recently that read, “I couldn’t get this stupid book to download.” That is a problem to be solved between you and tech support, not to use the review section to vent.

TIP TWO
Reviews should include something about the story. Fake example: “Set in the Civil War era with war looming, a young couple from the South tries to start a new life.” Too many reviews, however, are so generic they could apply to any book written. Actual example: “The plot was weak. The story dragged on.” When I read reviews like this one, I’m not sure the reviewer actually read the book and would direct them to TIP ONE.

TIP THREE
After you give potential readers a little insight into the plot, you can add your personal thoughts. Fake example: “I thought the premise was unique and the writing solid. I saw the ending coming a mile away though.” Personal thoughts should be about the story, not the reader. Actual example: “I hate dystopian novels.” Which begs the question: why are you reading and reviewing a dystopian novel?

TIP FOUR
A five-star review should be for a book that has everything: good writing, good editing, and a story that makes you want to read it again and tell your friends about. Some people are too generous, which is generally not a bad trait to have in life. But I’ve looked at all the reviews of some reviewers to find that they’ve given a five-star review to all 30 books they’ve read. And while it’s very polite, it doesn’t serve the purpose for potential new readers. Seriously, nobody could be that lucky.

TIP FIVE
If a book is well-written and well-edited, it should never get less than a three-star review. Just because you were not able to tell what the story was about from the book description, or if the story didn’t appeal to you as much as other books, is no reason to give a professional book a one or two-star review. That’s just petty. Stories are subjective, and just because it didn’t appeal to you doesn’t mean it won’t appeal to someone else. Explain in your review why you didn’t like the story. That’s what reviews are for.

TIP SIX
Although I find it extremely improbable, if a book has no redeeming qualities whatsoever and the writing is full of errors and typos, then and only then is a one-star review proper. But usually even badly written books have decent ideas. But this is a powerful tool — use it wisely, Grasshopper.

Thank goodness the majority of readers are very bright. Heck, that’s why they read, or vice versa. When they read one-star reviews that are poorly written, do not actually mention any details of the storyline, and just appear as immature rantings, they take them as such.

So let’s sum up. Reviews are about books and for readers; they’re not about you the reviewer for you the reviewer. If it’s in your character to need attention, don’t write useless reviews, start a blog. Or better yet, become a cable news anchor.

What you need to know about Twitter #Hashtags Infographic and LIST…

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What you need to know about Twitter #Hashtags Infographic and LIST…

shirleymclain930:

I don’t know enough about using hashtags and Twitter. Chris the Storey Reading Ape’s blog is always so full of information. Since I need this type of knowledge I thought someone else might so I reblogged. Have a blessed day.

Originally posted on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog:

twitter-hashtags-power-guide-infographic

  • #amwriting: Designed specifically for writers who are experiencing writers block and just want to relieve the anxiety.

  • #eBook or #Books: Gives the latest posts.

  • #Reading: Dominated by GoodReads users who are also on Twitter

  • #mustread, #read, #reading, #readers, #bestread, #greatread, #greatbooks, #weekendreader, #GoodReads

  • #Fridayreads: One of the most popular literary hashtags of all time on twitter. It even generated a global trend at one period of a time, it is still one of the best ways to find out about good books.

  • #Nook: Gives the latest posts according to Nook published books.

  • #epub, #ePub : Specifically for independently published authors, this hashtag platform promotes eBooks published on Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, Nook, etc.

  • #Amazon: Considered the mother of all tweets. Here you can find everything Amazon related, most particularly books.

  • #AmazonKindle: Same as the one above, but more useful for sale of Kindle Devices and eBooks.

  • #kindlebooks, #Kindle Touch…

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Use this ONE EASY TIP to help ME share YOUR content!

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shirleymclain930:

Always good information. Have a great day.

Originally posted on LMC:

One Trick To help others%0AShare your

I love to share content. I love to share news articles, cool posts, and even some inspiring quotes and stories. In fact, I would go even as far to say that’s what Twitter is for. Is for sharing.

So why, WHY on God’s green earth would a content creator make it a CHALLENGE for me to share and to credit that share?

Isn’t that the point of making content? Is to share it?

Here is one BIG tip to make people not only share your work, but also to ensure you get the credit for it.

Could it really be simple? Could it really be free? Yes, and yes! My two favorite words strung together: easy and free.

So here it is. Are you ready for it? Here is the number one tip I have found the most frustrating when trying to share YOUR content:

Make sure your sharing tool…

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My top 10 blogging tips on building an audience

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shirleymclain930:

Another wonderful post from The Story Reading Ape about a topic that all bloggers like. How to get more readers to your blog. Enjoy.

Originally posted on Suffolk Scribblings:

blogging wordcloud image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/barnett/ licensed under creative commons

It’s been a week of milestones for my little blog. Firstly, I passed the 30,000 views mark. For a blog that’s been going less than two years, where I post on average once a week, I’m both thrilled and humbled by this achievement.

The second milestone is that this is my 200th post. It has been quite a ride since I first posted about a cat that defecates in my garden and I’ve learnt an awful lot along the way. My blog has changed from being a platform for me to play around with writing to a blog about writing, and specifically self-publishing. During my blogging time I’ve published two books, met many wonderful people, been introduced to the wonderfully supportive writing community, as well as discovered some fantastic books by new and exciting authors.

Thank you to all of you who read, comment and share…

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Bay Area Book Festival Defends Author Solutions Sponsorship

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shirleymclain930:

I thought this was a blog which should be shared. Author House is well known for its deceptive practices. If you are thinking about the BayBookFest, read and make up your own mind whether you want to participate.

Originally posted on David Gaughran:

BABFASI discovered yesterday that Author Solutions was sponsoring the inaugural Bay Area Book Festival – something at odds with the breathless verbiage on the event’s site:

A new kind of book fair… the largest, most innovative, and most inclusive… [we will] create the nation’s leading book festival.

The event doesn’t take place until June, so I thought it was a good time to try and stage an intervention.

After I sent that tweet I felt a little bad.

Maybe the organizers didn’t know the full history of Author Solutions. Maybe they weren’t aware of the specific scam that Author Solutions runs at events like this. Deciding to give them the benefit of the doubt, I emailed the Executive Director of the festival, Cherilyn Parsons.

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Fleshing Out a Story

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              Good day everyone, I want to share an article that I found that explains fleshing out your story in great detail.  I have always had problems due to the fact I am a bare bones writer.     I’ve never had the ability to sit down and write a story without an editor or another knowledgeable person telling me it needs to be fleshed out.  I wasn’t even sure what that meant.  I write like “The cat climbed the tree.” Fleshing out, to my understanding would be like “The white cat climbed the tree with the purpose of catching a bird.”

I had a English teacher by the name of Mr. Collier. He walked into class one day and set a coke bottle up on the chalk ledge of the chalk board.  He then proceeded to tell the class to write three pages on describing that coke bottle.  How can anyone use three pages to describe a Coke bottle. You know, some students got an A on that assignment.   Needless to say I wan’t one of them. The best I can recall, I failed.

I hope this article helps you as much as it did me.  Have a blessed day.   Shirley

                                                       How To Flesh Out a Story Without Padding

by Marg McAlister

You’ve finally finished the first draft – celebration time!

Or is it?

When you read it through, you realise with a sinking feeling that it seems a bit… well, skimpy. And maybe it’s a tad short.

There’s no getting around it. You have to concede that your story needs a bit more flesh on its bones. But how can you make sure that you add substance, rather than just padding? How DO you flesh out a story?

Some Signs of Padding

If a story is padded, it is packed with inconsequential detail that makes the story longer, but doesn’t enhance it in any way. Here are some signs of padding: 

  • Dialogue that meanders and doesn’t move the story forward.
  • Too much description (flowery or technical).
  • Too much interior monologue. (The viewpoint character ponders too much and for too long.)
  • Extra ‘walk on’ characters who just bloat the cast without adding value to the plot.
  • Grandstanding. (The author is obviously using the story as a soapbox to espouse a pet cause or to express feelings about an issue.)
  • Inconsequential ‘problems’ for the characters to solve. (The hurdles put in the characters’ way are perceived by the reader to be annoying side-tracks rather than genuine sources of conflict.)
  • Inefficient transitions. (The author takes unnecessary pages to move the characters from one place or time to another.)
  • A delayed ending / unnecessary explanations. (The story should have been over in Chapter 29, but the author has added another five chapters to ‘make it the right length’. Sometimes this is in the form of tedious explanations about why characters did things and how they outsmarted people. This should have been obvious from the action in the story.)

How to Flesh Out a Story

If the above list shows you signs of a story that’s padded, rather than well-rounded, then what can you do to fix it? What are some good ways of adding depth and texture?

First, you have to decide what your specific problem is. Some writers have problems with their stories because they are ‘bare bones’ writers: they have difficulty adding emotional punch, exploring their characters’ thoughts, and bringing people and places to life with carefully chosen descriptive phrases. Their stories are all action.

Other writers can handle all of these things, but always seem to end up with a story that’s too short. They know it needs expanding, but how? (Sometimes their story is novella length – say, 30,000 words. Too long to be a short story; too short to be a novel.)

Let’s look at each of these in turn.

1. If your story is too short…

(a) Add a new plot twist. (This brings with it more problems and a new level of complexity to the main story).

(b) Add a new sub-plot. (This should be a secondary issue that CAN be removed from the main story without affecting its flow or the outcome of the story. However, it must add depth to at least one of your story people. It might explain a character flaw, or distract the main character from seeing something obvious, or generally make his/her life more complicated in some way.)

(c) Add a new character (A SIGNIFICANT character, whose life is interwoven with the main character’s life – not just a caricature whose job is simply to take up a few more pages and add extra lines of dialogue!)

(c) Add a new dimension to your main character – a secret in his/her past; a secret hobby or interest that for some reason needs to be hidden from others. This may or may not be related to a new plot twist or sub-plot.

2. If your story is too bare-bones…

(a) Identify what you are NOT doing that you SHOULD be doing. Explore this by reading the work of other authors. Identify writing that seems (to you) to work well, or to be something you’d aspire to. Then write out several pages of the published book by hand, or type it into the computer. Get a ‘feel’ for the way sentences flow and the way words are used. Then take an excerpt from your own work and try to replicate the technique.

(b) Look at the way you describe people, events, and places. You’re quite likely to find that you are too economical with words, and that you haven’t chosen words or phrases that evoke what you want. Rather, you settle for something that easily comes to mind, then move on with the action of the story.

Take the colour RED.

What is the red of embarrassment?
What is the red of sunset?
What is the red of a fire?
What is the red of plush velvet curtains?
What is the red of a fine wine?
What is the red of blood?
What is the red of a stop sign?

Find pictures of all of these things, if you can (do a search via Google images). Now look at the range of tones in ‘red’. What are all these shades actually called? Can you think of a creative colour name that will help readers to see exactly what you can see?

In my copy of ‘Words That Sell’, I can find these:

rose, burgundy, ruby, crimson, scarlet, vermilion, russet, auburn, copper.

Then I typed ‘Words to Describe Red’ in to a search engine. On WikiAnswers.com I found these:

Scarlet, vermilion, crimson, ruby, cherry, cerise, cardinal, carmine, wine, blood-red, coral, cochineal, rose; brick-red, maroon, reddish, rusty, cinnamon, damask, vermeil, sanguine.

No doubt a thesaurus would turn up even more.

But… don’t just think of colour names. When you look at a ‘red’ object, start using your other senses.

What is the smell of red wine?
What is the sound of a fire (or fire engine?)
What is the texture of red velvet curtains?
What is the taste of blood?

Already, you can see how your bare-bones writing might start to develop depth and texture. (If you do nothing else, start thinking in terms of the five senses. That alone will give your story more emotional punch and help the reader to picture the scene.) Your special challenge is to use this sensory detail in a well-turned phrase that will help the reader to experience your character’s life. The trap you can fall into is to write too much boring description.

Closely tied to using the five senses – for obvious reasons – is the task of getting viewpoint right. A lot of writers produce bare-bones narrative because they can’t get into the mind of the main character in the scene. They ‘tell’ the reader everything, moving along at a rapid clip, instead of playing out the scene and letting the reader become part of it.

In the end, being able to flesh out a story means that you need to develop more mastery of your craft. It will involve either adding more pages (working on plot and characters) or adding more depth (working on viewpoint and emotional punch). You should be constantly building your skills and adding to your writer’s toolkit.

Writers who work at their craft are the ones who ultimately succeed.

Author vs. Writer

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Author vs. Writer

shirleymclain930:

I was thinking about this very question this morning and lo and behold Anita Lovit posted this blog. It was shared on Chris the Story Reading Ape’s blog. Enjoy.

Originally posted on Anita Lovett & Associates:

Authors and writers are one and the same, are they not? After all, your favorite author is the genius writer of your favorite novel, right? You may be surprised to learn that some professionals dislike being labeled a writer because they are, in fact, the author of a literary work. Confused? Let us help.

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Author incomes – when does the money come in?

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Author incomes – when does the money come in?

shirleymclain930:

We all go into writing with our eyes wide open, knowing that we are not going to instatly get rich. I think somewhere in the back of our minds we are hoping that someone will see how talented we are and everything will fall into place to make a great deal of money. This post was posted by writerlywitterer and it brings us back to reality about how long it takes to earn from writing. Enjoy. Shirley

Originally posted on writerlywitterings:

This is a quick post to answer the question I have been asked several times recently, which is: how soon are authors paid for their work?

Oh, boy, I remember the day Marion Donaldson called me to confirm that Headline wanted to buy my first book, and that she wanted another two titles in the series. I danced a jig in my hallway, so thrilled that at last all my money problems were over … yeah, right. Hindsight is a wonderful thing!

However, it was interesting later when I looked back on things, to consider that number. What would make the publisher think of a three book deal?

It was some years before that I’d been wandering around a bookshop, early for a client meeting, and happened to spot a book by some geezer I’d never heard of. The cover was interesting, the back intriguing, and I liked the writing…

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Fiberead Helps Foreign Authors Break Into China’s E-Book Market

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Fiberead Helps Foreign Authors Break Into China’s E-Book Market

shirleymclain930:

This is a great opportunity for writers to get into an untapped area. I have asked for more information and I will pass it along. Have a blessed day. Shirley

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

China’s book publishing market is worth about $20 billion and e-books are a fast-growing segment, but it’s difficult for foreign authors to gain a foothold. First they have to find a publisher and then wait for their book to be translated and edited, a process that can take up to a year. Fiberead, a Beijing-based startup, wants to make the process faster and more straightforward.

Founded by Runa Jiang in 2011, Fiberead is currently taking part in 500 Startups’ accelerator program. Jiang says she launched the company because digital book platforms are proliferating in China and there is strong interest in works by foreign authors, but the traditional publishing industry can’t keep up with reader demand.

At the beginning, Fiberead focused on books about entrepreneurship, startups, and the Internet, but its catalog has expanded to include fiction, self-help, biographies, and other genres.

Fiberead currently has 100 authors on its roster…

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A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A BOOK CRITIC

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I found this article very interesting and decided to share it with you. Have a blessed day.  Shirley

Sean Farrell

lots of booksSean Farrell,professional book critic and resident reviewer with Ireland’s best-selling daily, tells us how it’s done

Critics come in many varieties. Everyone has an opinion, and, with blogging, more and more people are getting that opinion out there. Even for those who DON’T blog, there are many opportunities to say what you think. My local Murder and Mystery Book Club meets monthly to dissect a crime novel. And boy do they criticise! Every author ( and wannabe) should join their local book circle. It’s free, and usually, the critique and analysis insights to be gained are invaluable. And, remember, this audience is potentially –  and actually – your market.

I’ve been reviewing books seriously (i.e. reading, writing and getting paid by national media) for several years. And I’ve evolved my own personal  approach. It’s my firm belief that  a good critic should have written something, preferably, though not necessarily, in the discipline of the book to be reviewed.  In my own case I’ve written a novel and even though it hasn’t been published – yet –, the writing experience has proved invaluable in terms of understanding just where a book’s author is coming from . It’s no mean achievement to write a novel  and the very least the author should receive is an honest appraisal doing justice to the work and the effort put into it. When you have put in that effort yourself, you can empathise better with the author.

It goes like this. The book arrives. My first step is to establish the basics: readingthe deadline for filing the review, the word count required, the length and subject matter. Then I do some basic research on the author and any previous works. Obviously with a Jo Nesbo or any other established author, what you see is pretty much what you get,  but with a new author it’s different. Websites and online interviews are important for getting inside the author’s head, and finding out what s/he has in mind for the book, as well as its context.

After that I read the book – fully, and at a pace sufficient to absorb it and give it appropriate attention. Note: very few novels – and fewer nonfiction works – can be read in one session. Even the greatest critics have a limited attention span. A 200-page novel might/can be read in a day, over several sessions; longer books take … longer. I take notes – sparingly, and only on specifics I wish to recall. Too many notes diminishes appreciation of the book as a whole.

What do I look for?  On the macro front,  the basic requirements are a good story, with well-developed characters and plot and, ideally, some original element or twist. On the micro front, I look for style, pace and the absence of bad writing practices ( it’s amazing how they slip through). Then, taking the book holistically, I examine whether the author has successfully delivered what I perceive to be the book’s aim. This determines whether the review will be favourable or not.irish-hands

Then, I draft the review – in rough at first, and about one third longer than the final version. After that it’s a case of editing, paring down and polishing up what I want to say. Quite a bit like the story writing process, in fact. Finally, an absolute ‘No-no!’: I make a point of never reading what anyone else has written about a book until I’ve filed my review.