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Monday, 17 June 2013

How To Write A Book Review

All authors are told they need reviews.

With on-line book publishing and e-books being churned out at an amazing rate, it has never been more important to obtain good informative reviews - and plenty of them! 

For readers of books, this has got to be a great time too. You can pick up books cheaply and sometimes free if the author is asking people for reviews of their work. Smashwords, in the Apple iBookstore, Amazon, Barnes &Noble, Goodreads are all good starting points. Look out for authors who are requesting reviews and sometimes give out contact info so that you can get in touch (I'm one of them!). 

Ahh … you ask … but how do I write one?

You can write a review in many different ways. My own experience (as well as receiving reader reviews as an author) comes from tutoring and training candidates in employability skills, management skills, customer service and advice and guidance.

The Hamburger Method   

Years ago we had different ways of reviewing another person’s work; the ‘Hamburger Method’ was one of them, where you would say a little about the positive things, then add a little about the negative parts but finish with how to make the negatives into positives and then give an encouraging pat on the back.

There were a lot of fors and againsts to this method, but I think most of us would agree that we need to hear both positives and how to improve on what we’ve done without being torn apart or made a fool of.

One more important point to bear in mind: authors spend months, sometimes years in creating a book. Sometimes they don’t know why they’ve even written it or who will read it. Other authors will write and hope that eventually they will receive recognition, perhaps even a small amount of money. And there are others who do it to educate us in certain topics.

What I’m trying to say here is this; remember someone has spent time writing, researching and putting those words together. No one ‘intentionally’ wants to write poor quality or badly written books. It’s damned hard work, so this has got to be borne in mind when you start your review – empathise with the author and encourage them to write greater, bigger and better things.

So these are my first two important tips on reviewing work and I hope they assist you when you write your review!

1) Read the book!  How can you review something you haven’t read?

2)   Don’t give the game away!

“I liked this book because the main character, Sarah, gets her head chopped off and deep fried at the local chip shop.” 

Who’s going to the read the book if you spoil it for them? Write about the characters and how the story unfolds, but don’t write about the story and the ending. By all means say it’s got twists and turns and double twists, but don’t say what they are!

Now you’re going to start your review, and although you can do a review in any order you wish, it’s easier for everyone if you start right at the beginning - the Title and cover.

Here goes:    

Written by.

Now we go inside and start reading to complete the following …

  • What type of book – Mystery, Thriller, Love Story etc.
  •  Who is it for – Age group for Children, Adults 
  •  How many pages?
  •  Set the scene:  Where does everything in the book take place? What year?
  •  Did the author give an age group on their site/bookstore etc.?
  •  How easy does the story flow?
  •  Are the characters described so well that you can imagine yourself as one of them or you believe they are actually real?
  • For children – is it split into chapters?
  • Are there any pictures or graphics?
  • Is the writing and speech relevant to the target audience?
  • Is the story gripping? Is there atmosphere?
  • What feelings/emotions does the story bring out in you?
  • Is the book a part of a series?

You should now be getting close to finishing your review, and his is when you have to remember why you wrote it and who you wrote it for – hopefully for other readers!

So they will need to know

Where can the book be purchased (unless you’re writing this for a particular bookstore or site –Apple  iBookstore, Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, etc. etc.

You could finish by saying that you’ve thoroughly enjoyed it, or you have read their work in the past and it has always been of a high standard, it is up to you!

Whatever you decide to do and however you choose to write it up, always, always write it truthfully, professionally and how you see it, not how anyone else does.

Final points:


Please contact via website if:

You are a reviewer interested in carrying out reviews, giving your website-link if you have one or a contact email.

You are an author requesting a review of your book.

Please note: space is limited so website address/email only please.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

50% off Jay-Pea-Eyes - this week only!!!

Hi everyone, this is to let you know that you can get a bargain JPI's ebook for 50% off for this week only.

Go to this link to obtain 50% off your mystery/whodunit book for children:

There is a voucher there for you to use to get your 50% discount - happy reading!
Feel free to contact me on to discuss Jay-Pea-Eyes aka Junior Private Investigators.

Remember this offer closes on 9th March prompt!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

How to use downtime positively

Using 'downtime' positively

So you've got no computer, no internet. What can you do?

Well the first thing to do is stay positive and use all the things you've forgotten about since you started relying on computers.

1) Get the pen/pencil out and the note pad and carry on writing! You can always type it up afterwards. If you don't want to continue writing your latest novel/article that's half finished on PC, then get those creative juices going and write the plot for your next book.

2) If you have a dictaphone then use that to get down some ideas.

3) Local libraries - are fantastic and if you can't do without feeling that plastic keyboard beneath those fingers, then use the library facilities. They normally have free access to computers so give it a whirl.

4) Grab a few books while you're at the library or take a trip to a book store. This is the opportunity to learn your craft or improve your writing, and I don't think it hurts to read different genres in your study.

5) Any novels/articles you're about to send out to publishers/agents - read through and polish.

6) Any writing workshops that are advertised, phone up and book in.

I'm sure there are more things you can be doing, but these are a good starting point. Just remember it's not the end of the world when your computer decides to collapse on you. In fact, it might be a refreshing change! latest book - Jay-Pea-Eyes aka Junior Private Investigators

How to restore your Apple iMac after a hard drive replacement

 How to restore your  Apple iMac  after a hard drive replacement
If you've read my other blogs or visited my site you will see that I am the author of several children's books, the latest being Jay-Pea-Eyes aka Junior Private Investigators, a mystery whodunit for children.
Back in November 2012, I received an e-mail from Apple stating that there might be a problem with some 1TB Seagate hard drives and it was my decision whether or not I took it into the store for a replacement drive under the 3 year Apple Care warranty.
When my 27 inch came back, there was still a lot of work to do regarding reinstalling software etc. 
I finally have my iMac working how I want it work, and if you want the same, just follow the instructions below or use what you think might help - but remember - everyone has used their computer in a different way, so anything you do is your own responsibility and I will not accept any responsibility for your actions!  This is the method that worked for me and also has my own conclusions. If in doubt, go to an Apple store!
2) Get a pen and paper and write down the steps you take, sometimes you can refer back to this to make certain you did things correctly. Make a note of the date and time too if you do the installation etc over a few days, it is easier to find sections where everything went well - and sections where it went bad!
3) If your machine is connected to the internet DISCONNECT. I found that it is too easy to click on 'update software' and this software seemed to ruin the installation as though it may well be too advanced for the 'older' system you try to put back on from your CDs.
Example - say you bought your machine with Leopard 10.6. 3 and  every piece of software works with that version.
BUT - if you now update say , Safari,  BEFORE updating your OS (Operating System) you may find it will not run it because your original OS is outdated. The main priority is to get the ORIGINAL stuff back on your computer and then start updates when you're happy the OS will cope with them.
4) I then turned off my iMac and while off, inserted the INSTALL CD that came with my iMac. On the CD itself it says to hold the 'C' key down.  So with the iMac off, I inserted the CD, held down the 'C' key and switched back on. I held the 'C' key down until after the picture of the grey/silver Apple logo came onto the screen and then took my finger off and the CD loads up.
Following the CD instructions, I erased my drive first, but it's entirely up to you. I felt it was better to clear everything and make a fresh start.
So, from 4),  a menu will ask you what language you want, so click on one of these. To erase you now need to look at the TOP LEFT of your screen and here you will see a Tab with UTILITIES and click on it, then click on DISC UTILITY.
5) Once in DISC UTILITY - select or highlight the volume to erase, which is normally Macintosh HD
Note that this will erase everything on that drive, so if happy with this and you have your backup, click ERASE.
6) Now you need to QUIT the Disc Utilities so do this now by going to the top left of screen again and clicking quit from the Disc Utilities menu.
7) Now you can follow the instructions and INSTALL as follows -
8) The Mac OS X Snow Leopard Installer screen allows you to click CONTINUE.
Click AGREE to the license agreement appears.
The disk you erased. should now be highlighted with a green arrow. Click Install.
A status bar will appear on the bottom of the screen to show you how the installation is progressing. 
An Additional Information screen appears, advising you that you operating system has been installed. Click Continue.
  Install Succeeded screen appears next and you will do a RESTART, followed by a welcome video and now you can start your loading up of software.
 After reconnecting the internet, I went onto the Apple site and searched for versions of Snow Leopard and there is an update called 10.6.8  'COMBO' which I then downloaded and installed.
Now that I knew the OS was up to date I knew I could check for software updates BUT  check them first! I wanted to see what the updates were and downloaded them ONE AT A TIME, recording the version e.g. Safari 5.0.5 
That's about it - the only thing I'd say is that if it fails, just try again using the notes you've made and adjust what you did or what you downloaded. It worked for me and it should work for you! is the place to go for other queries and don 't forget there are lots of Mac Forums where you will find helpful tips.