I blogged every day this month. Let me show you it.

Hidey-ho, precious inklings!

Today marks the final day of Blog-Every-Day August (BEDAug), my grand experiment to see what would happen if I blogged every day for a month. That month has now passed, and I am pleased to report two favorable results for which I’d hoped:

1. I am, in fact, capable of blogging every day for a month.

2. Blog traffic did, indeed, increase.

Because I enjoy doing things backward, I’ll address the traffic increase first (delving into which posts seem particularly related to the increase, as well as general topics for the past month) and the discovery about my blogging habits last.

Here we go.

Blogging Every Day: Increase in Blog Traffic

I. Traffic Spikes

On one hand, compared to tons of bajillions of blogs out there, my blog doesn’t get a whole lotta traffic.

On the other hand, compared to tons of bajillions of blogs out there, my blog gets oodles of traffic.

The gripping hand (and my hat’s off to you if you get the reference) is that comparing my blog to other blogs is silly. Comparing your blog to other blogs is silly. Comparing ourselves to others is silly. But that’s another story and shall be told another time.

After 1 year and 8 months of this blog and attendant Google Analytics obsessing checking, you’d think I’d be a GA expert by now. I’m not. Stats interest me up to a point (see Keyword Searches, below, which keep me entertained), but beyond that point, I don’t care to delve into all the numbers and percentages and blah de blah. A lack of interest in stats is actually what kept me from pursuing a major in Psychology instead of a minor. That, and the fact that going to grad school didn’t exactly swing my verge.

But I digress. As one does.

So. I don’t understand all the ins and outs of GA. But what I do understand is this: Several times during August, Court Can Write saw happy spikes of visitors. Because I lack GA-expertise, I can’t tell if each spike is related to what I posted on that particular day, or if it’s related to the post on the day before. For the sake of nothing in particular, I’m going to assume the former.

With that in mind, here are the spikes and what I think are their related posts:

Date: August 3rd

Number of visitors: 34

Post: “Glances That Fall Like Sunshine”

Topic: discovering Truth via poetry and changing the world in a good way by focusing on your personal circle of influence

Number of visitor comments: 0

Date: August 9th

Number of visitors: 32

Post: “We Must Disenthrall Ourselves”

Topic: patriotism and the drivel of both Democrats and Republicans

Number of visitor comments: 2

Date: August 17th

Number of visitors: 31

Post: “I Was a Weird Kid and Here’s Proof”

Topic: how my parents bribed my 8- or 9-year-old self into going on a week-long class field trip by promising me that we would go snail hunting when I got home, because I was into that

Number of visitor comments: 0

Date: August 29th

Number of visitors: 61

Post: “In Which Pregnancy and Car Wrecks Don’t Mix”

Topic: how I was in a car accident at 36 weeks pregnant

Number of visitor comments: 6

I’m not sure what conclusions to draw from these numbers. What interests me is that the spiked posts all relate to my personal philosophies or my personal history; none of my posts on the Writing Life sparked as much traffic. This makes me think that most of my visitors would rather read about me than read about writing.

While that’s a ridiculously effective ego boost ; ) I’m not sure what to do with it. Blog less about writing? Blog more about writing? Keep doing what I’ve been doing? Questions…questions that need answers, but I don’t think anyone can provide them for me. I certainly can’t provide them for myself.

Experiments with partially inconclusive results are fascinating but somewhat frustrating. ; )

Ah well. Onward!

II. Google Keyword Searches

Sadly, the keyword searches haven’t been terribly interesting this past month. From what I can tell, the only search strings possibly related to posts for this month were:

º “courtney cantrell” (obvious).
and
º “36 weeks pregnant” — which would bring readers to “Pregnancy Still Isn’t for Sissies” and “In Which Pregnancy and Car Wrecks Don’t Mix”.

Again, it would seem that what leads most people to my blog is stuff I write about me, not stuff I write about writing. Perhaps “Court Can Write” is a misnomer. Perhaps I should consider re-naming the blog “Court Can Live” or “Court Can Philosophize.”

Hmm.

(If you’re curious, other top keyword searches and their possibly related posts were:

º “bachelor in writing”.
º “light bulb metaphor”.
º “alexander and the terrible horrible no good very bad day moral”.

But none of these three were BEDAug posts.)

III. Other BEDAug Blogging Topics

During August, in addition to posts and topics I’ve already mentioned, I also blogged about the following:

º editing
º my short stories
º being created to create
º the nature of sarcasm
º boundaries
º marriage
º zombies
º TEDTalks
º the power of doodling
º vorpal unicorn morphing powers
º my novels
º how to murder a character in a novel
º the Olympics
º famous people
º art
º parodies
º failure
º my Most Official Rules for Living
º relationships
º cats
º book reviews
º other people’s books
º my To-Read List
º reality

Just as a reminder, you can find all of the Blog-Every-Day August posts by clicking the tag “BEDAug” at the bottom of this one or by clicking “August 2012” in the sidebar on the left side of your screen.

Blogging Every Day: My Habits

Once upon a time, back in the dark ages of 2011, I resolved to blog twice per week and keep a cushion of blog posts. I started doing both of these things. I kept them up for a while. I’m not sure at what point these habits ceased, but cease they did.

If I rememory me correctly, blog traffic decreased incrimentally as a result.

As we’ve established here today, traffic has increased as a result of my blogging daily.

Increase in blog traffic is good. Increase in blog traffic means (hopefully) more connection with the readers of my novels and an increase in reader awareness of my novels. Both more connectivity and increased reader awareness are two of the main points of this blog’s existence.

Thus, it would behoove me to continue doing things that help meet these goals.

Thus, it would likely behoove me to continue blogging every day (and to work on my non-existent blog cushion).

Considering that I am about to become the main caregiver to a tiny, helpless human, it is not realistic to think I can keep up this daily blogging thing.

But.

At least until I see myself approaching the point of tearing out my hair, I intend to try. Keeping up this daily blogging thing, that is.

You heard it here first, folks.

Owing Copious Thanks

For my success in this month-long blogging adventure, I owe thanks to the following people:

Judy Lee Dunn, with whom I first started pondering the blog-as-lab concept and who spurred me on in this adventure by quoting Yoda and telling me not to try it but to do it;

Astrid Bryce, who saw my Blog-Every-Day August announcement on Twitter and promised me cookies if I made good on my intentions (Astrid, I’ll be in touch!);

and Joshua Unruh, who joined me in this scheme after I promised to give the month-long blogging challenge some “structure” (whatever that means), as well as deliver him cookies for his successful completion of said challenge. As of this posting, he has yet to finish up Blog-Every-Day August by tendering his August 31st offering, but I have no doubt that he shall do so by the end of the day.

Judy, Astrid, and Josh, I couldn’t have done this without you. Thanks for a great Blog-Every-Day August!

In Which Pregnancy and Car Wrecks Don’t Mix

A little less than two days ago, I had what was probably the scariest experience of my life: At 36 weeks pregnant, I was involved in a car accident.

My car. Click to biggify and behold.

I won’t say much about the details, because I’m not certain of what legalities I need to be aware of in discussing this in public (before all insurance claims are settled, that is). But the bare bones of it is that I was driving on a city street and another driver pulled out of a parking lot in front of me. My car collided with the other driver’s.

As far as I know, the other driver was not injured. Both vehicles sustained damage. The other driver received a citation.

Me, I went on my first ride as a patient* in an ambulance. By the time the EMTs were loading me up, the husband had arrived. I asked if he could ride in the ambulance with me, but the EMT said, “No, the police need him to stay right here and take possession of your car. He can come to the hospital afterward.”

Having witnessed the understandably reckless manner in which the husband had arrived at the scene in his pickup, I asked, “Is he okay to drive?”

The EMT shrugged and grinned. “Well, he drove here.”

And that was that. In the ambulance, the EMT checked my vitals and stuck an IV and some saline in the back of my hand. Over the next 15 hours, I would come to hate that IV. But in the meantime, I lay there on the gurney, watching the highway recede between my outstretched feet, wondering what would happen if one of the cars following close behind us plowed into the back of the ambulance.

The EMT talked to me in a soothing voice, especially as he explained (after I asked) that hearing a fetal heartbeat through a stethoscope in a moving ambulance was practically impossible. I took the opportunity to practice my yogic breathing.

When we reached the emergency room, the EMTs took me straight up to labor & delivery triage. On the way there, we passed through multiple winding corridors and rode two different elevators. The EMT who had driven the ambulance looked at me said said, “After this elevator, there’s a set of stairs.”

I looked at him, looked down at myself strapped to the gurney, and looked back up. “You guys have fun with that.”

He grinned. “Oh, no. We’re riding. You’re carrying.”

I motioned at my belly. “I’m already carrying!” And I was even able to chuckle through my tears as I said it.

Once I was in a room, a nurse came in and started doing things. A fetal monitor was involved, strapped to my belly. When I said something about Braxton-Hicks contractions, the nurse said, “Oh no, these aren’t Braxton-Hicks. These are the real thing.”

I managed an askance look and a shaky, “Oh.”

The most beautiful sound in the world was our baby’s steady, strong heartbeat, loud and clear over the fetal monitor. The most beautiful sight was her snub nose and plump cheeks on the ultrasound. (This was when I finally truly stopped crying.) The best feeling was her regular, healthy movement inside of me.

From triage, they moved me up one floor to labor & delivery, where the husband and I spent the (restless but as restful as could be expected) night. Tuesday morning, my doctor came in, pronounced the baby’s condition “excellent” and my lessening contractions “normal for anyone who’s 36 weeks pregnant,” and sent me home to relax for the remainder of the week.

I see the providential hand of God in every moment of this entire, terrifying experience. I see his protection of the baby and of me. I see his kindness and gentleness in the ministrations and the humor of the EMTs. I see his knowledgeability, his efficiency, and his loving care in my nurses and in my doctor.

In the story of my life, God is always present — but in this particular chapter, he’s obvious.

Have a good day, dearies. And tell someone you love them. : )

___________

*When I was 7, my grandparents came to visit us in Germany. Parents, grandparents, and I took a trip to Berlin. On the way there, we were involved in a 10-car pile-up on the Autobahn (which word, by the way, is nothing more than the German version of “interstate”). My dad had to stay with the car and talk with the Polizei. As the only other German-speaker among us, I had to ride in the ambulance with my grandma. At age 7. But that’s another story and shall be told another time.

Bad days aren’t easy, either.

Last week, I talked about having “good” days and “bad” days and what those qualifiers might mean when applied to our concept of “day.”

Well, by most people’s standards, my last 29 hours probably deserve the designation of “bad day.” Although it’s over now and I am emotionally okay about it, I certainly wouldn’t enjoy repeating the sequence of events that started this “day” (i.e. 29-hour period) off as “bad.”

Come back tomorrow, and I’ll tell you about it.

Oh, and lest anyone panic: The baby is just fine. : )

I have a To-Read List. Let me show you it.

Once upon a time, in case you’d forgotten, I shared with you my To-Read Shelf.

Go on. Click through, look at the pic that goes with that post, and then come back here.

Now look at the pic that goes with this post. Please to be noticing the only slight difference.

This is many words.

Some of those books are even still the same ones that were on the shelf last December. *sigh*

And you know what’s worse? The Shelf isn’t the only place where I store books I want to read.

Since September 6, 2011, I’ve also kept a written list of book. And today, Ima share that with you, too.

Do note, my dear inklings, that the To-Read Shelf and the To-Read List contain mostly different titles. The Shelf holds books I’ve acquired to read. The List holds books I have yet to acquire.

Again… *sigh*

Such is the Writing Life: so many books to read / write, and so very little time.

Anyway, without further ado or adon’t, here ya go. The List is heavy on the sci-fi and fantasy (surprise, surprise), but if you look closely, you’ll find some classics and some non-fic tucked away in there, too.

Courtney’s To-Read List

begun September 6, 2011

This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti
My Soul to Keep by Melanie Wells
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Shadows in Flight by Orson Scott Card
Sisterhood of Dune by Brian Herbert
Sorceror by James Byron Huggins
With Fate Conspire by Marie Brennan
The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell
The Taker by Alma Katsu
Stealing Faces by Michael Prescott
Terroryaki by Jennifer K. Chung
Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
Night of the Living Dead Christian by Matt Mikalatos
Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby
Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel
Beta Test by Eric Griffith
My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland
Wild Seed by Octavia Butler
Winterling by Sarah Prineas
Devil’s Lair by David Wiseheart
The Rook by Daniel O’Malley
Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
Divergent by Veronica Roth
The Bible Made Impossible by Christian Smith
The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett
Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire
Starters by Lissa Price
The Alchemist of Souls by Anne Levy
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Above by Leah Bobet
Indigo Springs by A. M. Dellamonica
Enchanted by Alethea Kontis
God Behaving Badly by David Lamb
Silence by Michell Sagara
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Kop Killer by Warren Hammond
For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
The Best of Evil by Eric Wilson
Thieftaker by D. B. Jackson
Skylark by Meagan Spooner
Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines
The Grass King’s Concubine by Kari Sperring
Clockwork Angel by Kevin J. Anderson (story & lyrics by Neil Peart)
Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman
Dracula, The Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker & Ian Holt
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
World without End by Ken Follett
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Worthing Saga by Orson Scott Card
Club Dead by Charlaine Harris
Paul of Dune by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson
Sandworms of Dune by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson
Beyond the Shadows by Brent Weeks
Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind
Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings
Zombie Notes: A Study Guide to the Best in Undead Literary Classics by Laurie Rozakis
Death: A Life with George Pendle
A Scanner Darkly: A Graphic Novel by Philip K. Dick
Prey by Michael Crichton

_______

So, there you have it. The list is subject to change from one day to the next — admittedly, change by increase in length. I don’t think I’ve decreased it at all since I started it, mainly because other good reads keep dropping into my lap. Oh, and speaking of good reads Goodreads, you can always visit my page there to see what I’ve read and what I’m currently reading.

Back to The List, though: Which of those books are you interested in? Which ones have you read? Which ones have you already read and found UPDA* and why? Which ones would you warn me away from and why? Let’s talk!

*UPDA = unputdownable

Pregnancy Still Isn’t for Sissies

Hey y’all. It’s been a rough weekend pregnancy-wise. You probably won’t hear anything coherent from me until tomorrow.

Or mayhap Tuesday. I didn’t get much accomplished this weekend, and I might be doing ketchup catch-up over the next few days.

Play nice!

Oh, and 36 weeks, 1 day, and counting if you were wondering. ; )

Advance Reading Copies of Noir Viking Fantasy!

Click to embiggen noir Viking coolness

Ooooh, I am particularly pleased to announce this one!

My friend and fellow Consortium Books author Joshua Unruh is getting ready to release his second novel: Saga of the Myth Reaver: Downfall.

And you, my dearest inklings, get a chance to read it before it’s published. That’s right, we’re talking Advance Reading Copies here!

I am particularly pleased to announce this because of reasons. Here are several of them:

1. I’ve read Viking fantasy before and did not enjoy it.

2. I read Josh’s Viking fantasy, and I loved it.

3. Josh’s novel isn’t just Viking fantasy, it’s dark (read: NOIR) Viking fantasy, and Josh does dark so very, very well.

4. As part of my gainful employment at Consortium Books, I had the privilege of being Josh’s writing coach on this novel. We had a blast.

Get Your ARC!

You’ll probably want to know what you’re getting yourself into, so here’s what that is:

Noir: Everyday men and women drowning in the murky, corrupt waters of their own flaws.

Saga: Peerless heroes fighting epic battles yet ultimately doomed to fail.

At the crossroads of these two literary traditions stands the Saga of the Myth Reaver.

The Nine Worlds have never seen a hero like Finn Styrrsson. Blessed with an unmatched thirst for victory and the supernatural strength and vigor to slake it, Finn might have been the greatest warrior-king his people had ever known. But he was born the youngest of eight princes with a conniving eldest brother who won’t abide the threat Finn poses to his rule. Despite Finn’s unfailing loyalty, he is forced from his home to forge a new destiny.

Already a powerful warrior and deadly reaver, Finn discovers that he above all others is equipped to kill the monsters, the giants, the myths that besiege Midgard. He becomes the Myth Reaver and a living legend.

Yet despite his prowess and fame — indeed because of them — Finn never wins that which he most desires. He never finds a home. After a lifetime spent battling dread monsters and shining demigods, Finn realizes that in all the Nine Worlds, there is only one enemy whose defeat can give him the renown he so richly deserves.

Whether it’s in search of glory or a glorious death, Finn always overlooks his true enemy. That mistake will be his downfall.

If you think this sounds just fabulous, and if you’re willing to write a review of the novel after you’ve read it, you’ll need to go to publisher Aaron’s blog and leave a comment with a valid email address (which will not be used for any purpose beside this ARC). Consortium Books will send an ARC to the first 100 readers who ask.

ARCs of Viking fantasy Saga of the Myth Reaver: Downfall — get ’em while they’re hot noir!

In Which I Misuse Bananas

So. As pregnancy progresses, one finds that sleeping becomes more and more of a difficultness.

Sleep Deprivation

For one thing, there’s the increased size of belly. It gets in the way of rolling over. It gets in the way of finding a comfortable position. And if I don’t keep a pillow under it to support it, there’s pulling and pressure and all sorts of achiness. And yes, I gotta be on my side because of circulation to uterus, blood flow to baby, and fun things of that nature.

Also, there is a small head now continually using my bladder as a pillow. Getting up three times a night to go to the bathroom is pretty standard nowadays.

The thing is, when I wake up to pee or to change positions, it takes me anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours to get back to sleep. The 3-hour thing is especially bad, as the illustration here illustrates in a most illustrative manner.

My Thing with Bananas

Last week, after a particularly restless night (i.e. one of the 3-hour I’m-awake-and-can’t-stand-it things), I felt groggy and blah beyond all reckoning. I fixed my breakfast, ate it, and then started cleaning up my dishes. I’d had a banana in my cereal. I picked up the banana peel and headed for the bathroom.

I picked up the banana peel and headed for the bathroom.

I still don’t know why.

What was I going to do with the banana peel in the bathroom? Let us not speculate. Let us not go there. Ever, ever, ever.

Yesterday, there was another banana incident.

Once again, I hadn’t slept. But still, I eventually rolled out of bed (this is neither exaggeration nor metaphor) and fixed my breakfast. The bacon was in the oven. The raw eggs were in the skillet, awaiting their scrambling. The cereal was in the bowl, awaiting its milk. I picked up the banana, peeled it, and commenced to slicing it.

I looked down.

I had sliced the banana not into the cereal bowl but into the skillet of raw eggs.

As one does.

For the record, I picked the banana slices out of the eggs and threw them out; sliced another banana into the cereal; cooked the eggs; and ate a yummy breakfast.

I’m afraid of what will happen the next time I can’t sleep.

What will the bananas have in store for me next time?

I wait.

Defining Rape

If you know me, you know that I mostly roll my eyes at politicians and at politics in general.

But if you know me, you also know that on occasion, I get very angry with politicians and politics in general.

This is one of those occasions.

If you don’t want to read any more about Rep. Todd Akin or his definition of rape, you should probably stop reading this post and read something happier.

Todd Akin on Rape

A few days ago, in an interview on KTVI-TV, Akin stated:

“From what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy caused by rape is] really rare…If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume maybe that didn’t work or something….”

From there, Akin went on to discuss his views on abortion, which I am not going to get into here.

What I am going to get into is his definition of rape and how it affects women.

And yes, I realize that he later apologized and attempted to clarify by stating that what he really meant was “forcible rape,” not “legitimate rape.”

Excuse me, sir — but what kind of rape is not forcible?

Defining Rape

Yesterday, I posted the following status update on Facebook:

I know I’m inviting a firestorm, but I don’t care. I’m going to say it anyway.

Rep. Todd Akin is an idiot and an enemy of women.

That is all.

As of 11:50am today, the firestorm I expected has not come. But a few responses did prompt me to post further comments on the status, and I thought these worth sharing here:

I do agree that Akin’s comment is being used to distract from other issues. But that’s not what concerns me.

What concerns me is that every day, the burden of defense in rape cases is placed on the shoulders of the woman who was raped instead of being placed on the shoulders of her rapist. In private circles, in public, and in courts of law, a woman who has been raped must prove that she really meant it when she said “no.”

Was she wearing clothing that “invited” the attack? Did she fight back? Did she try to hurt her attacker? Did she scream? If she doesn’t answer these questions to her questioners’ satisfaction, then the assumption is that she didn’t really mean “no”; that she must be lying in some way; that she maybe even enjoyed it; that she wasn’t really raped.

The reality is this: If a woman says “no” and the man continues and succeeds in penetrating her, then it is rape — even if saying “no” is all she does. If she chooses to lie there and take it instead of “fighting back,” it is still rape. If she chooses to lie there and take it and not subject her body to further stress beyond what she is already enduring, it is still rape.

What Akin has done is take away a woman’s right to defend herself in whatever way she sees fit — even if the single way she chooses is to say “no.”

A political figure has uttered a stupid, ignorant statement in an admittedly uncomfortable situation — and it’s a statement that, once again, places the burden of proof on the woman who was raped. Yes, we all make mistakes, and we all say stupid things sometimes when we’re under stress. But if Akin doesn’t know the basics of human biology and can’t keep his tongue under control when in public and under stress, he needs a different job. Most of us don’t utter our stupidities in an arena that affects the lives of billions worldwide.

As for the question of stress and ovulation, I can speak only from personal experience. No, I haven’t suffered the kind of stress brought on by rape. But still, my body has been subjected to fairly heavy amounts of stress since I had my first period. Not once in the 21 years since I had my first period have I missed a cycle due to stress. Not once has stress had any effect on my ovulation.

The times I have attempted to get pregnant, I got pregnant on the first try — no doubts that it was the first try, and no paying attention to where I was in my cycle, either.

But according to Akin, if I get “raped” and get pregnant as a result, then my knowledge of my own fertility means nothing. According to Akin, if I get “raped” and get pregnant as a result, it means (1) that I wasn’t “fighting back” hard enough to cause my body enough stress OR (2) I’m lying.

Again, the burden of defense rests on the shoulders of the woman. Again, she must prove that she was “legitimately” raped — and her single, possibly quiet “no” is not enough defense. Not against her attacker, not against Akin, and not against accusations.

Minutes after I hit “enter,” an acquaintance replied with a link to this excellent letter to Todd Akin from Eve Ensler, a rape survivor in the Congo.

Since I have never been raped, her words present the realities of all of this far better than my words ever could.

5 Points on How to Write an Effective Book Review

Hile, inklings,

If you pay any attention at all to publishing industry news — specifically e-pub and indie pub — you know that we indie writers have a nearly insatiable craving for online reviews.

There are many reasons for this, but the crux of it is that the more favorable reviews we get, the more books we sell. Our greedy little writer-hearts like to know that the world is reading and enjoying our stories (not to mention the fact that our pocketbooks appreciate sales, too), so seeing favorable reviews and selling more books flips our bangerang switches most verily.

(Translation: We like it a lot.)

A Word on One-Star and Two-Star Reviews

And that word is: “blech.”

(By which I don’t mean “Blech,” which is German for “tin.”)

No, we don’t like low-star reviews. But I would venture to say that most of us accept them (whilst heaving heavy sighs), accept the reality of them, and accept even the necessity of them. A well-written low-star review can actually tell us valuable information about what works for readers and what doesn’t.

(Philosophical sidenote: Though I don’t believe in pandering to the crowd, I do believe in knowing one’s audience. Understanding + respecting reader expectations = okay. Pandering = not writing what writer really wants to write = not okay. Please to be noticing the difference.)

(Also, sorry about the penchant for parentheses. It’s a thing today, apparently.)

Me, when I read a low-star review of one of my own works, I indulge in a 24 to 72-hour wallow of self-pity. (I do not write a response to the review.) Then, I re-examine said review to see if there’s anything of value in it. If there is, I file that information away for possible future reference. If there isn’t, I attempt a brain-dump so that the self-pity doesn’t come back.

Sometimes, I have to repeat the brain-dump several times before it takes.

But I digress.

Brief Interlude

NOTE: Yes, I am a writer. Yes, I have strong opinions about the reviews I receive. BUT. I do recognize that reviewers aren’t writing for me. Reviewers are writing for their fellow readers.

Allow me to re-state, because this is a thing of importantness:

A book reviewer writes a review for the benefit of other readers, not for the writer’s benefit.

Basically, the purpose of a book review is to tell other readers why they would or wouldn’t enjoy reading a particular book.

Keeping this in mind, I shall ignore my greedy little writer self for the remainder of this blogpost. You’re welcome. ; )

Onward to what you really came here for.

5 Points on How to Write an Effective Book Review

1. Make it readable.

Use good grammar. If people can’t understand what you’re trying to tell them, then your review will “fall on deaf ears.” Don’t make review readers squint at their computer screens as they try to decipher whether you thought a character didn’t win ( = lose) or whether you thought he was a slut ( = loose).

For the same reason, and for the sake of all that’s good and writerly in this world, check your spelling. Use a spellchecker if need be. The pregnant main character is not a rotary phone: In the third chapter, she’s dilated, not “dialated.”

And if you’re going to write more than 7-10 lines, do please consider the beauty of the paragraph. Giant blocks of text hurt the eyeballs.

2. Be honest.

If you loved the book, say so.

If you feel neutral about the book, say so.

If you hated the book, say so.

If you didn’t finish the book, say so.

Recently, I challenged a reviewer who left a one-star review on a friend’s novel. I didn’t challenge the solitary star. I challenged the fact that the reviewer provided erroneous information in his review: He stated that Character X did not appear in the novel. He also admitted to not having finished the novel.

My challenge: Character X actually does appear in the novel — which the reviewer would have known, had he finished the book.

Now. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t advocate reading all the way through a book you’re not enjoying. I don’t finish books I don’t like. Who has the time for such shenanigans?

But. If you don’t finish the book, be honest about it — and be cautious about making absolute statements concerning the parts that you didn’t read. If you provide erroneous information about a novel, you are not helping fellow readers make informed decisions about their reading choices.

3. Give your fellow readers something they can relate to.

“If you like beach reads, you’ll enjoy this one.”

“Fantasy readers are going to eat this up.”

“This book is for the reader who’s always wondered what would happen if Orson Scott Card collaborated with V.C. Andrews.”

“If you enjoy YA novels, this probably isn’t the book for you.”

“This book reads very differently from the author’s other works, so keep that in mind.”

Whatever genre you’re reviewing, write toward it — because most of the people who read your review are going to be familiar with that genre. Let them know how a book follows expected conventions. Let them now how the book breaks from convention. Let them know whether or not the break from convention works well.

Know the expectations your genre’s readers will bring to the novel you’re reviewing. Tell them whether or not the novel will meet those expectations.

If the writer does something crazy original that amazed you, tell them to expect that, too.

But for the sake of all that’s good and writerly, do heed the following point:

4. Warn fellow readers of spoilers.

Provide details.

But not too many.

You know when you’re reading a review, and you’re trying to figure out based on the review whether or not you want to buy this book that sounds kinda cool but you’re on the fence about it, and you’re reading along and BAM! the reviewer tells you exactly what happens at the story’s climax?

No? You don’t know? Well, maybe it’s just me. But trust me — it stinks.

The words “SPOILER ALERT” are your friends. For the love of Grabthar’s Hammer, use them.

5. Have fun with it.

Don’t worry too much about what I said in #1. Make your review readable, yes. But nobody’s going to grade you. Your fellow readers just want to know what you liked or didn’t like and whether or not they can relate to your opinion.

I was going to continue this point by saying that you should have fun with your review even if you didn’t have fun with the book. But you know what? That’s probably not very realistic of me, and that might be the writer in me coming out.

If you didn’t have fun with the book, you’re probably not going to have fun with the review (unless you’re feeling gleefully vindictive, I suppose). If you feel dismal about writing the review, then your tone will likely show it. And — although the writer in me mourns this part — that’s probably something your fellow readers need to hear about, too.

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And there you have it, y’all. My thoughts on writing an effective review. So, who are my blog-reading book-reviewers out there? Did I miss anything? Is there anything here you disagree with? Let’s talk about it. I’ve got a lot of opinions, but I’m not in the habit of reviewing everything I read. So I’d love to hear from you! What do you think?