Tag Archives: writing

Watch RWISA Write: Laura Libricz

August is Watch RWISA Write month. Today, we celebrate author Laura Libricz!

“DENTON’S DEBBY DOLLS”

The lunch bell rings and I set my brush aside, returning the unpainted porcelain Debby Doll head to the tray. A kettle whistles. Sarah runs to make the lunchtime tea.

 

“Thirty minutes and that’s all!” Mr. Denton barks at her as he hurries towards his production office, whacking his elbow on the filing cabinet as he slams the glass door shut.

 

The shocked moment of quiet is replaced by the delicate clinking of brushes against glass jars, chairs scraping on the concrete floor, and the idle chatter of the doll painters on their way to the break room.

 

Do you remember Denton’s Debby Dolls? The ones from the 1947 film “Ten Days Till my Birthday,” where Tammy James plays a little girl who got one for her birthday? Denton’s Debby Dolls Inc. make the dolls the same ever since. Tammy is well into her 80’s but is still loved and remembered for that tearful scene where she unwrapped the Debby Doll on her tenth birthday and said, “Well, gee, Mother, all I ever wanted was a Debby Doll!”

 

All I ever wanted was a Debby Doll but I didn’t get one on my tenth birthday. That year I moved from the city to Krumville, to Aunt Fay’s, and she said I was too old for dolls. She was a recovering heroin addict who hung photos of herself dressed as a vampire on all the walls. I was not allowed in the kitchen and had to eat my meals in my bedroom decorated with Aunt Fay photos. She said if I wanted a Debby Doll, I should petition the goddess Diana. I thought she was being funny.

 

Aunt Fay’s house was in the oak forest. She made oak dolls with hair from deer. The deer hair was arranged to look like human hair. She said these were petitions to Diana. Under an oak tree, Aunt Fay had an altar where she buried the dolls. Sometimes she burned them.

 

There were always gunshots in the oak forest. I never went outside that fall. In the city, there was shooting every Saturday night in our neighborhood and I was never allowed out. I don’t remember my city house much. One day Aunt Fay went outside and never came back in. Child Services came and took me away. I was now a ward of the State of New York.

 

What luck, I ended up in the same city as Denton’s Debby Dolls. When I turned eighteen, I went to work in the factory and I still do.

 

“Aren’t you coming to lunch?” Sarah asks.

 

“I’m working on my doll,” I whisper.

 

“Don’t let Mr. Denton see you doing that,” Sarah says. “He’s in a bad way today. I heard we’re 500K down this year. We have orders but there’s no stock. We can’t work fast enough.”

 

“I can tell Mr. Denton that I’m experimenting with new colors on my lunch break, which I am doing.” I stroke my Debby’s porcelain cheek with my pinky. “Look at her complexion. It’s lavender oil and China Pink pigment.”

 

“She’s not real, you know,” Sarah says. “I’ll bring you some tea.”

 

“Tea. Thank you.”

 

A year has passed since I’d first started working on my own Debby. I’d modeled what was to be the hollow shell of her head. Each hand painted layer and each firing was personally carried out by me. Today, I am ready to add the final details and fill her empty eyes. It’s ten days before Christmas. She’ll be my daughter, mine all mine. Mommy loves you, Debby.

 

There had been a man once, just once. He left a few hairs on my gingham pillowcase. And a legacy. My body changed in ways it had never before; swellings in places that had been unripe. Rosy cheeks, like a Debby Doll. I so wanted the child. Although I could not yet feel the child, I could. The growing presence of another life made me feel otherworldly.

 

But I was unmarried, alone, and I would lose my job when the baby came. Panic set in. It must have been eight weeks into the pregnancy when the fever came, followed by some mild cramping. During the night the cramping pulsed and intensified until I finally passed out. The next morning, the otherworldly feeling was gone. My unformed child had been born, its life over before it even began.

 

I forced myself up and out of the house, not wanting to be alone. I was working in the molding department that week and I would bear my child. From Denton’s secret mixture of minerals, bone ash, and alabaster, I poured the liquid clay. Before the first firing, I’d made a small imperfection on her cheek, like a chickenpox scar, so the other workers would reject her. I would always recognize my child. During lunch breaks, I stole moments to paint her face and sneak her head back to the kiln.

 

You’re here with me now, Debby, forever.

 

The lavender oil calms me as I blend your complexion to a natural sheen. I can almost feel your heartbeat. Light brown eye brows are added one hair at a time, your sense of humor. Would you like brown eyes like mine? Each brush stroke to your iris gives you another fleck of depth. Two dots of white on the left side of the iris ascertain your personality. I cover your eyes with high-gloss tears and now you have emotions. The creation process is almost finished.

 

See? I’ve made you a soft pellet body, into which I stitched your preserved mortal remains, hair from your Daddy, and oak bark—my petition to Diana. Your body lies hidden inside the top drawer of my workbench, along with your new gingham dress made from the pillowcase Daddy rested his head on. I forged a certificate from a midwife confirming your birthday, today, and your name, Debby.

 

Mommy’s here, Debby, don’t worry…

 

“What are you working on?” barks Mr. Denton. “Ten days before Christmas and you’re messing around with that B-stock? Those get smashed.”

 

I never saw him come up to my workbench. Debby, don’t cry, I’ll sort Mr. Denton out.

 

“You have a whole tray with these new dolls that have to be painted!” Mr. Denton’s face ran red. “You’ve been messing with that one since I came in!”

 

“Sorry, sir, it’s lunch,” I whispered.

 

Now Debby, be a good girl and get in my top drawer.

 

“You want to hide the thing as well! Is that a pellet body in there? Are you the one out selling B-stock on the weekends?”

 

“No, sir, I…experiment.” We may have to make a run for it, Debby.

 

“So, it is you! I’ve been told there’s a woman on the flea market every weekend with B-Stock Debby Dolls for real cheap. Give me that!”

 

“No, sir, don’t, you don’t understand…”

 

“Tea!” Sarah plunks my unicorn mug onto my workbench, brushes my Debby’s head into my top drawer, and slides it shut with her hip.  She grabs my hand and pulls me up. “Come on, we got pizza and it’s getting cold.”

Laura Libricz, RWISA Author Page

Watch RWISA Write: Lynn Hobbs

August is Watch RWISA Write month. Today, we celebrate author Lynn Hobbs!

Not Interested

by Lynn Hobbs

“Cordell.”

A booming voice called his name above the chatter of the crowded café. Cordell perched sideways on a swivel stool.

“What’s up?” An older man approached, narrow reading glasses sliding on his nose. His bald head glistened.

“Mr. Moore.” Cordell stood, and they slapped each other on the arm. The older man towered over Cordell’s lanky frame.

“Look at you.” Mr. Moore stepped back, cocked his head to the side, and scanned the younger man. “What’s with the beard?”

“It’s growing.” Cordell gave a half- smile, and motioned toward the stools.  “Lunch is on me. Glad you could make it. This hot weather isn’t healthy, is it?”

Mr. Moore chuckled. “No, but summer heat is part of Texas.”

Both ordered the lunch special with iced tea. He glanced at the young man.

“Heard some talk…heard you divorced Twyla.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Pretentious female, and all about herself. Guess you know that now.”

“I know it well…and I should have trusted your judgment… not my hormones.”

“Cordell, sometimes no one can tell anyone anything. They have to experience it firsthand for themselves.”

“Oh, it was an experience. I did everything for her.” He frowned at his older friend. “It was never enough, though.”

Mr. Moore grimaced.

Conversation ceased while the waitress set their food on the counter.

“Anything else I can get you?” She yanked two straws from her pocket placing them near their iced tea glasses.

“We’re fine, thank you.” Mr. Moore focused on his friend as she left.

Gazing at the heavy laden plates, Cordell appeared lost in thought, and slowly cut into his chicken fried steak.

“I’m here for you, man.” Mr. Moore spoke in an easygoing manner. “You may have graduated high school three years ago, but I will always be your mentor.” Blending gravy into his mashed potatoes, he waved his fork at Cordell. “Tell me about Twyla.”

Cordell’s shoulders slumped. He glanced at the other customers, and one couple looked in his direction.

“Twyla.” He paused, lowered his voice, and made eye contact with his mentor. “Twyla would not cook. I’d buy something after work, and bring it home. I heard one lie after another. She’d say she didn’t feel good.  I didn’t know she stayed up all night, and slept all day. She wouldn’t wash dishes or clothes, wouldn’t pick up after herself…she always had an excuse. After I washed or cleaned, she’d get out of bed and act sleepy saying she felt a little better. Then on weekends, she’d go out with her friends feeling great.”

“Cordell, there is an old saying for your marriage.”

“What?”

“That’s too much buck for a little sugar.”

“I did try hard to please her…and for what? She never did anything for me.”

The older man gently bit his lip. Leaning forward, he looked straight at Cordell. “Ever consider it was your will to have Twyla, and not God’s will?”

“What are you talking about?”

“Had it been God’s will for you to have Twyla, she would have been a blessing, not a lesson.”

“Wow. What a powerful statement, Mr. Moore.”

“Same principal applies to your money, and your budget. Is it something you want, or something you need? What happens if you over spend on something you want? Something you need in an emergency might not be affordable.  You could be broke by then, or your credit rating could hold you back.”

The young man nodded.

“Hear me out, Cordell. I pray for God’s will and guidance in my life. It is as important to me as is the choice between a good life, and an evil one.”

“I appreciate you, Mr. Moore, and I intend to pray like you do.”

“Wonderful. Thank the Lord. I’m happy Twyla is gone.”

“No more women for me. I’m done.”

“I wouldn’t go that far.”

“Nope, not interested.”

“See our waitress taking drinks to the corner table? I think she’s close to your age. Don’t you think so?”

“I guess.”

“Her face glows when she talks to customers. Seems genuine, and friendly.”

“She doesn’t know anything about them. Give her time, she’ll be manipulating.”

Mr. Moore flashed Cordell a wide grin. “Easy on assuming, now. They aren’t all like that.”

“Maybe, but I’m still not interested.”

“Here she comes, behave.”

“Sir, may I get you anything else? Would you care for dessert?”

“No, thank you, we are done. I’ll take both tickets.”

She scribbled on the order pad, and handed Cordell two slips of paper. “Hope you enjoyed the meal.”

“It was delicious.” Mr. Moore beamed.

She smiled, hurrying to the other end of the counter.

“So… what did you think about the waitress while she was here?” He pivoted to face Cordell.

“I wondered if I’d ever find a bag of rotten potatoes gooey on her kitchen floor…”

“Shame on you.”

“I found that on mine and Twyla’s kitchen floor, scooted against the wall.”

“Not everyone is nasty. Most are clean.”

Finishing their meal, each rose, and veered toward the cashier. Cordell paid while his mentor stuffed a five dollar bill into the tip jar. They meandered through the crowded café, and Cordell opened the exit door. The outside heat engulfed them.

“Mr. Moore, thanks for meeting me here today.”

“My pleasure.”

“Let’s do this again, same time, same place next week.”

“Cordell, I’ll look forward to it.”

They strolled in opposite directions to their vehicles when the waitress came barging out of the café. She raced toward Cordell.

“Sir, you left your phone on the counter.”

Recognizing his phone she waved high in the air, he stopped.

“Why, thank you.” For the first time, he gave her his full attention noticing her warm, caring eyes. “Thank you, indeed.”

He felt her skin flush as she slipped the phone into his hand. Whirling about, she hastened back inside.

He opened and closed his mouth realizing he didn’t know her name, and knew he’d return.

Sprinting to his car, he drove off with a glance at the café while the waitress lingered on his mind.

 

The End

Lynn Hobbs, RWISA Author Page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Robert Fear Finds The #RRBC Spotlight!

It is always an honor to host talented authors here on The Indie Spot. Today’s guest is no exception. Please give a warm welcome to RRBC’s June Spotlight Author, Robert Fear.

Mi blog es tu blog, Robert…

Robert Fear - Author Pic

I was born in Leicester, England in 1955. My family moved south to a village in Surrey called South Nutfield when I was eleven years old. We moved into Dawn Cottage and this was where I spent my formative teenage years. During this time I attended Reigate Grammar School, which was a five mile journey by train and bus. It was here that I picked up the nickname of Fred.

 
In 1974, after gaining three A Levels (English Literature, British Government & Politics and History), I started work at a private bank in the city. I had every intention of working for a year and then going to university. In the end I worked there for three years.

 
During the summer of 1976 I went on a two week holiday with three mates to the Spanish island of Ibiza. We had a fantastic time and vowed to go back for the summer the following year. Come the next April I returned there on my own, although my mates joined me later in the summer. I ended up working in a bar called Grannies and loved the whole vibe, met plenty of young ladies and had a great time, but didn’t sleep a lot!

 
I returned to England for the winter and worked twelve hour night shifts at a plastics factory to get more money together for the next summer. In the spring of 1977 I set off again, this time to hitch-hike around Europe. For four months I made my way through Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia, Greece and several islands. Then I travelled to Italy, France, Spain and back to Ibiza for the last two months of the summer.

 
It was during this return visit that Fred met Rita and this time when I left Ibiza it was to head for Frankfurt in Germany. I moved in with Rita, who lived with her parents in a house in Ruppertshain, a small village in the Taunus hills. I got work on a building site and then in a Coca Cola factory.

 
By the spring of 1979 there was enough money in the coffers to fund a trip to the States and Canada. I started in New York where I spent a week before travelling on a three month Greyhound bus pass up the east coast. Then I travelled across Canada, and down the west coast where I stayed in Los Angeles for two weeks. After that I headed across the States to Florida and back up the east coast to end my journey in New York. An incredible round trip.

 
Back in Germany I got a job as a messenger at the First National Bank of Chicago. Within six months I was promoted to the accounts department as I picked up the language and proved my worth. The travel bug didn’t go away though. I stayed there for fifteen months before heading off again, this time to Asia.

 
This period is covered by my travel memoir Fred’s Diary 1981: Travels in Asia. It was the only time in my life I recorded almost everything I did, sometimes in excruciating detail. The trip lasted six months and I travelled through Hong Kong, Thailand, India and Nepal.

 
Returning to Frankfurt in the late summer of 1981 was a shock to the system, a real case of reverse culture shock. Things got back to normality when I returned to the bank and worked there for another five years, becoming group leader of the accounts department. By the time I left my German was fluent.

 
During this period I lived in Sachsenhausen, the bar and restaurant area of Frankfurt near the Main River, often staying out late and enjoying life. Holiday allowance was generous in Germany and I could take a month of travelling each year. I enjoyed trips to the Canary Islands, Scandinavia and Turkey.

 
After returning from Turkey in November 1985 my life changed. I got together with the love of my life and in July 1986 I moved to Eastbourne (on the south coast of England) to be with her.

Robert and Lynn                                                              Robert and Lynn

Lynn and I are still together over thirty years later and have lived in the same house since 1988 (the mortgage will soon be paid off!). We got married in Kenya in 1994 and are cat lovers, having had a succession of rescues.

Robert and Jet                                                               Robert and Jet

 
The travel bug has never gone away. We have had great holidays in Portugal, Crete, Germany, Australia and the Seychelles. More recently we spent a week in New York in 2015 and a week cruising around Norway in 2016.

 
I had to start from scratch with my career in England, but found my niche in accountancy and computer software. This provided the opportunity over the last fifteen years to travel with work. I have been all over Europe, as well as Singapore, Australia (for a week!), Ghana (at a Guinness brewery) and Suriname (in the middle of the rain forest).

 

Exclusive Pedigree v3

Social Media Links!

Facebook – fredsdiary1981

Twitter Handle – @fredsdiary1981

Website – http://www.fd81.net/

Scrap Irony

Some interesting tidbits here from the blog of Joseph Ajlouny.

J. Ajlouny, Author

Scrap Irony

These items can be described as “things I discovered while looking up other things.” I have tons of them and I will continue to supplement this compilation from time to time. They are in no particular order but each is a great conversation starter. The only thing they have in common is that they are not commonly known, and that’s what makes them fascinating. I have many more such items so I will continue to supplement this compilation when the spirit moves me. So read on and you will learn things you never knew or thought you would.

Giraffes have the same number of bones in their neck as do human beings: six.

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Jackie Robinson is well-known as the first African-American to play baseball in the Major Leagues, beginning in the 1947 season as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers. But what is almost completely unknown is the…

View original post 4,482 more words

The Taxing Process of Writing!

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Today I am sharing space here with indie author and publisher Traci Sanders. Traci has written a fantastic new series that will help even the seasoned pro write it better. Here, in her own words, is Ms. Sanders…

MY 3 BOOKS

Tip 358: What you can “write off” as an author

(tax deductions)

*This tip can be found in Living The Write Life: Tips on making the most of your writing skills, now available in digital and paperback format.
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Are you an Indie author? If so, you are a contractor, whether you like it or not. Regardless which company you publish with, you will be required to answer a few basic questions to set up your tax account with them. When you sell any books, they need to know how and where to send your money.
Therefore, no matter how much (or how little) money you make on your books, you must claim it, because the publishing companies do.
 
The good news is, you also have tax deductions available.
 
Here is a list of deductions you can claim as an author:
         Office supplies
         Telephone/internet fees
         Cabs, subways, bus fares
         Book, magazines, reference material
         Agents’ commissions (if included in income)
         Film and processing – book trailer fees
         Copying – brochures, flyers for events
         Editorial fees – costs to hire professional editors
         Promotional fees – advertising materials
         Office rent – If you use a dedicated space for your writing – cannot claim for two businesses at once
         Utilities – a percentage for your writing (dedicated) space
         Memberships (professional organizations) – book club fees, writing organizations
         Messengers, private mail carriers, postage – shipping costs for giveaways, etc.
         Business insurance
         Tax preparation fees
         Travel costs – for out of town events – conferences, signings, etc.
         Business meals and entertainment
         Equipment – rentals of video/audio equipment for events
         Software – writing/editing/illustration software
         Legal and professional fees – patent lawyer, copyright lawyer
         I actually claim the books I buy and read because I consider them “study material” for my craft, especially those in my genre.
         As a public figure, for instance, when you do book signings and other events, you must have a professional appearance; therefore, you can write off your salon costs, new clothes, and even the food you serve at the event. Just be sure to keep the receipts and make notes on them.
         If you are at lunch and you pass out a business card or book to someone, write off that lunch by writing the person’s name and the book you talked about at what became your “business luncheon.”
         Treating your writing business like a professional entity will help you save money and avoid tax audits in the process, especially if you are like me and operate a separate business at the same time. The deductions must be kept separate.
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Here are a couple add-ons to this tip, shared by Stephen Geez:
 
Research can be an important expense to track. That 250-word essay I’ll be writing about what it’s like to spend a month scuba diving in the Caymen Islands is definitely going to require some hands-on research…
 
Just thought of another point that used to be very useful: If you’re writing for a client, an assignment, an intended buy, or even if you eventually sell to a client, you might be surprised by how much the end-user will be willing to reimburse expenses that s/he can write off. Don’t leave that money unclaimed if a bit of assertiveness might compensate you. You could find that the combo of reimbursement and your own write-offs can cover 100% of the income.
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Traci Sanders is a multi-genre, multi-award-winning author of ten published titles, with contributions to three anthologies. 

An avid blogger and supporter of Indie authors, she writes parenting, children’s, romance, and nonfiction guides.

Her ultimate goal is to provide great stories and quality content for dedicated readers, whether through her own writing or editing works by other authors.

Giveaway!

I’ve decided to give away two prizes during this tour:
*ONE unsigned paperback copy of Before You Publish – Volume I 
*ONE unsigned paperback copy of Beyond The Book – Volume II 
To enter, all you have to do is email me a proof of purchase of a digital copy of either of these two books during the tour.
I will draw TWO winners total, at the end of the tour.
Please email your proof of purchase (can be a screenshot) to tsanderspublishing@yahoo.com.
GOOD LUCK!

Bonus: Video Tip!

Writers: Don’t Get Lost in the Traffic!

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Wrote a great book, did you? Looking for ways to reach readers, are you? Well, have I got the place for you. It’s called RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB! Yep! I’ve been telling you all about it for the past three-plus years.

And just what exactly is RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB? I’m glad you asked. RRBC is an online community of readers and writers whose sole goal is to support one another. Members buy, read, and review fellow members books. It’s what we do.

But wait!!! There’s more!!!

By joining the RRBC community, you will have your book(s) placed in the club’s online catalog, making it available to the entire membership (currently at just under 400). Those who choose to be supportive of fellow members will discover the perks of membership. Books of the Month? We select three titles and promote them on Twitter, blogs, and Facebook each and every month. Many club members purchase these titles and review them.

Spotlight Author? Well, let me explain it to you. When chosen to stand in the spotlight, the author embarks on a month-long journey that includes wicked Twitter support, a blog tour, a seat on the shelf with club President Nonnie Jules (chit-chatting about you and your book), and a live interview on one of the RRBC Blog Talk Radio programs.

Look, most of us here are writers. We understand the marketing struggles indie authors face in today’s world. RRBC is meant to be a tool for the writer. But it requires more than just signing up. Support is vital. Those who don’t support, well, they receive little support themselves. It is through support that members become familiar with the names of fellow members. Marketing, branding — this is a foothold, an opportunity to meet other authors who also happen to be readers. This is the writer’s chance to build a foundation on which to establish their work.

If it sounds like something you may be interested in, stop by the RRBC site and have a look around. It only costs $25 per year.

Click here to visit the RRBC SITE!

Writing the (Almost) Perfect Book Review

Today we will take a look at what goes into writing the (almost) perfect book review. Nothing is ever really perfect, but those imperfections should never be an excuse for being unprofessional or rude.

Okay, so you’re new to the fine art of writing book reviews. Maybe you’re not quite sure how to go about sharing that incredible (or terrible) story you just finished reading (or couldn’t force yourself to read the entire thing). The hope here is that perhaps we can shed some light on approaching the task—regardless of your feelings toward the book in question.

Book reviews are opinions and nothing else. But these are valued opinions (when done correctly) that can guide readers to—or away from—an author’s hard work. Opinions will always vary when it comes to books, movies, restaurants, or anything else that is often the target of reviews. I may not have enjoyed the mashed potatoes at Cracker Barrel, but those same spuds may stir recollections of Granny’s home-cooked Sunday dinners from way back in another patron. So does that make my opinion any greater than another’s? Not a chance. My opinion is just an option for those reading reviews of dinner choices at the local Cracker Barrel.

But this presentation isn’t about culinary creativity. We’re here to discuss books and the reviews we seek to write. I’ve written over a hundred book reviews and dozens of concert and record album reviews. Book reviews (and movie reviews) are a different breed from other write-ups in that there are certain things of which you need to be aware when sharing your thoughts on the latest novel you’ve read.

The first (and most important) item to remember is: NO SPOILERS! Not even with a “spoiler alert” attached to the front end of your review. If there’s a twist at the end of the story that really blew your mind, then please allow the next mind to be equally blown. I hate it when such things are divulged—even with a warning. I may choose to not read beyond the warning, but that doesn’t mean a friend will stop at that point. This friend then decides to bring up the twist as I’m mentioning the new book I just added to my Kindle.

I call to mind the first time I saw the movie The Others. I hadn’t even heard of this film prior to my viewing it one lazy afternoon. I remember thinking that the film trotted along at a rather slow pace—so much so that I nearly turned the channel. I’m glad I didn’t. As the film progressed, I became even more invested. And as it reached its conclusion, POW! I honestly did not see that twist coming. And thankfully, I was able to be floored by the brilliance of the writing and the acting because nobody spoiled it for me.

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I’ve read the novel Me & Emma by Elizabeth Flock. This wonderful story contains a twist at the end that spins the entire story into a whole new perspective from the one through which I’d viewed it right up to the final two chapters. Good writers will do these things. Good reviewers will leave those things hidden, allowing the next readers to discover those gems for themselves. So please leave the spoiler alerts out of your reviews.

The next thing to keep in mind is: DITCH THE PLAY-BY-PLAY! A review is never meant to be an outline spilling plot details. Neither is it supposed to be a road map through the story. If I can gather most of what’s going on between those book covers from your review, what reason do I have in investing money and time in reading it for myself? This only serves to cheat the reader out of a good read, and it snuffs out a sale for the author.

A well-written review will give us just a taste of the plot, a glimpse into the lives of the characters, and offer opinions on whether or not the author has what it takes to tell a fine story. It should be a critique of story and style.

This leads us to another very important point: ATTACKING CONTENT MISSES THE MARK! Okay, so what exactly am I talking about? Saying you didn’t like the story in question because the girl was raped or a child died says more about the reviewer than it says about the book. If we’re voracious readers, we’ll eventually run into a story that may, at points, make us feel uncomfortable. My skin was crawling at times while reading The End of Alice by A. M. Homes. It’s a dark read, this story. But Miss Homes is one of my favorite writers. Her stories are vivid with living characters. She, as a writer, is skilled at yanking the reader from his or her comfort zone. The best writers are able to do these things without a second thought.

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The End of Alice is a bestseller. I mention this only because, as such, there are quite a few reviews for this work. The titles of some of those reviews posted on Amazon are rather telling. Beautifully Disturbing; Disgusting, But Impossible to Forget; Fascinating, Frustrating and Disappointing—but Unforgettable. Most opinions of this book award four and five stars—even though many of these reviewers found the story quite disturbing. Then there are those who simply attack the content and do all they can to steer potential readers away from this work.

Did the writing captivate you? Are the characters believable? What sort of emotions did you experience while reading? Did the author pull you out of your comfort zone? Is it a well-written story without punctuation or spelling errors? Did you care about the characters or were they worthy of being hated? These are the sorts of questions we should ponder while determining our opinions of the works of others.

Not all reviews warrant four and five stars. But that’s not license to attack an author’s work either. An honest review should be constructive in its criticism, not destructive. Social media is rife with mean and nasty comments that are designed to tear down rather than build up. Take into consideration the author may learn something from your review, and thus become a better writer because of you! Be honest, be tactful, be kind—even if it’s a 1, 2, or 3 star review. If you don’t like a particular story, explain the reasons behind your opinion.

As reviews coordinator for RRBC, I’ve heard from members who found issues with books they’ve read. They tell me they feel guilty writing a one or two star review. Well, if that’s their honest opinion, then that’s what they should award. I challenge them to offer the author—as well as potential future readers—an explanation on why they arrived at this rating. Are there punctuation problems? Plot holes? Is the story just too unbelievable? Share these details—but do so in a way that teaches. Be encouraging rather than discouraging.

And finally, when posting your reviews, be sure to proofread before sharing with the world via Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Nothing is quite as ridiculous as a critique of another’s work in a review filled with misspellings, missing or poor punctuation, and sentences that make little or no sense at all. If need be, allow another pair of eyes to do the proofreading for you—before you hit the post button. Your words represent you as a writer—whether they’re reviews, blog articles, essays, or novels. Always strive to make a strong impression. And remember, writing reviews is another way to make connections in the indie author world. If you’re needlessly harsh in your criticisms, that’s a reflection on you.