The book reviews that really matter

write-a-reviewWhen your hot-off-the-press book is released into the world there’s a trembly period of time when you obsess over how its audience is going to receive it. There’s a lot to be learned by reading the professional reviews but when someone from your targeted audience writes and tells you that your book touched them in some way… well, that’s all that really matters. After receiving the following review I knew that the time spent writing and editing this book was worth it. It was also a reminder to go back to my old practise of reviewing the books I love.

Oh Shelley Shelley Shelley!

I barely know what to say besides thank you for writing Dancing in the Rain. Wow.  I have JUST finished your book. I laughed, I shrieked, and I most definitely bawled my eyes out. You wrote such a beautiful, emotional, truthful, heart wrenchingly wonderful follow up (to Dancing Naked.) I could not have ask for anything more.
I will be honest, there were parts that were incredibly emotional for me to read. So much of my own life’s experiences could connect with this story. I found myself looking back over my own life and my adoption and how that got me to where I am. And who I am. So many of the questions Brenna had for Kia, I too once had about my own “other” life. I could honestly talk about this for hours. I am just so happy and thankful for this book. I think it has really hit a spot for me and I know I will hold it dear forever.

I just wanted to share my thoughts and feelings about your wonderful book with you. Thank you, Shelley.  (shared with permission)

And thank you, Christy Brain!

loveThis is the title of an unpublished book I’ve written. It’s a short, tongue-in-cheek story of the perils of on-line dating. (I write from experience.) This is also my first stab at writing fiction for an adult audience.

I actually had fun writing It wasn’t work at all, the story practically wrote itself and I smiled through the whole process. Perhaps I felt it was my chance to gently poke fun at some of the experiences I had when I briefly ventured down that perilous road.

I haven’t begun the submission process with this one yet, (I’m unfamiliar with the publishers of this genre) but I have shared it with a number of friends. Here is the latest review I received from a writer friend whose feedback I always trust.

“I loved, loved, loved this book. It is fast-paced and funny, with great characters, and a compelling story. I was charmed by it! I think you must send it out into the world …you might check some publishers of romance novels. There is such an authenticity to this manuscript. I thought it was sensational!” (Deborah Hodge)

Maybe there is an audience for this little story after all. Fingers crossed….

Photo credit:

Book Gestation

dancing in the rain launchAn elephant carries her unborn baby for 2 years.

A donkey can carry their unborn young for 14 months.

Humans grow babies in nine months.

My latest story took 5 years from first tentative words on paper to actual book, so to  have it in my hands now… well, it is beyond satisfying. (And there are no late night feeds or dirty diapers to deal with either.)

I wasn’t writing for those full 5 years. In fact, I signed a contract for its publication 2 years ago, but it had to wait in line behind other books that came before it, and then it went through the editing and publishing process. There were many moments of numbing uncertainty, confidence failure and near bailing, but I believed in my characters, they are real people to me, and the relief that their story has been told is sweet beyond belief.

Huge gratitude to all those readers who wrote to me after reading Dancing Naked, asking to know what became of Kia, Brenna and Justin. We may never meet, but you planted the seed, and it grew into an entirely new story. Thank you, and please continue to give your favourite authors feedback. You have no idea how much it helps.

How do I become a writer?

Calving writingI’m often asked this during school visits and by aspiring writers. The answer is surprisingly straightforward.

1. Read (a lot)

2. Write (a lot)

There is no magic. It boils down to hard work. No one can teach you how to write a book. You learn by doing.

Author Brian Doyle (The Plover) sums it up nicely. He says, “If you wish to be a writer, write. There are people who talk about writing and then there are people who sit down and type. Writing is fast typing. Also, you must read like you are starving for ink. Read widely. Read everything… ”

He adds, “A piece is not finished until it is off your desk and onto an editor’s desk. Write hard and then edit yourself hard. Look carefully at your verbs to see if they can be energized… You do not need a sabbatical or a grant to write a book. Write a little bit every day. You will be surprised how deep the muck gets at the end of the year, but at that point you can cut out the dull parts, elevate your verbs…find the right title, and send it off to be published.”

I might add one more thing to Doyle’s wisdom…

3. Get feedback.

A writing critique group (or partner) is critical to help you find those dull parts. This shouldn’t be your romantic partner or best friend, they will spare your feelings and tell you that your work is brilliant. It’s not. Every writer needs constructive feedback and editing.

Writing classes can’t teach you how to write your book, but they can get you warmed up through the use of writing exercises and assignments so sign up for one if you can’t get started.

No two writers approach their work in the same manner. There is no right or wrong way. Some outline in detail. Some revise as they’re going along. Some just sit and write madly  until the first draft is complete, and then go back and revise.

Whichever approach works for you, just do it. Turn off the TV. Unplug (or set to vibrate) the phone, and put your fingers on the keys.

Oh, one more thing. Please invite me to the launch party.


Cartoon credit: Calvin and Hobbes