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YA Author Rendezvous

Creativity Unleashed: Books for the young and the young at heart

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November 2017

What Makes a Good Book Review?

What Makes a Good Book Review? by Author Lauren Mayhew

Book Reviews - Lauren Mayhew AuthorI’ve always wondered what people like to see in a book review. As an author, any review 3 stars or more is greatly appreciated. Even a 3 star review can mean that the reader enjoyed the book, they just didn’t love it. Every review is appreciated by an author, indie or not.

One of my most liked posts on here is a book review. I wrote it almost two years ago now, and it still gets views. I do wonder sometimes how people stumble upon that post. It made me think why that review was so popular. If people enjoyed it enough to like the post, it meant the format of the review must have been to certain people’s taste. You can find it here.

These are the 5 steps that I use to write my reviews.

1- I start with the rating.

This way the reader can get an idea of what sort of review they’re going to read. If you can’t rate the book as 3 stars or more, don’t publish it. An author never knows if you’re reading their book (unless they’ve given you a free copy), so it won’t matter if you accidentally forget to write a review.

There’s nothing worse as an author than to wake up to a 1 or 2 star review. What’s worse, most low rating reviews don’t even give a good reason as to why the reader didn’t like the book. If you do insist on writing the review, make sure you have valid reasons as to why it wasn’t to your taste. Simply writing, ‘This character annoyed me’, isn’t enough. WHY did they annoy you?

2- I state whether there are any spoilers.

I try to avoid spoilers as much as possible, but sometimes it can’t be helped. I’ve read a book review before that didn’t warn of spoilers, and I found out about a character’s death. It took the fun out of reading the book, as I knew what was going to happen. Always warn of spoilers.

3- I include the blurb of the book.

So many reviewers summarise the plot of a book themselves. I don’t see the point of this. The blurb is the hook that reels a reader in, so just include that instead of spending time reducing the plot of the book into a few paragraphs. This is also where those pesky spoilers come in.

Sometimes the blurb on Goodreads can be different to the blurb on Amazon, so it’s usually best to pick the one that will grab most people’s attention.

4- I write about what I liked.

This can include plot lines, characters, quotes, the author’s writing style etc. Literally anything can go in this section. There are usually a few characters that I pick out and write a little bit about. If you’re reading a series of books, it can be good to theorise what might happen in the rest of the books in this section. This can lead to conversation, especially if others have also read the book. They might have a different opinion about what might happen next.

5- I write about what I didn’t like.

As above, this can include many things. I sometimes feel like there are characters in books that serve no real purpose, so I often include them in this section – without spoiling too much! There are often times when I have nothing to write here, so if nothing springs to mind immediately, don’t feel like you have to say something purely for the sake of it.

If you are reading a self-published novel, try and refrain from pointing out spelling and grammar mistakes. All books have them, indie or not. I find mistakes in the majority of books that I read, but I wouldn’t feel the need to mention this in a review for a traditionally published book, so why would I for an indie? Obviously, if there are mistakes on every page, the author should be notified, but not through a review. Send them a private message so that they can work on it for future readers. This way, if they edit the book, anyone reading the reviews won’t be put off by spelling and grammar errors that are no longer there.

Obviously all reviewers are different. This is how I like to write my reviews, and as an author, this is the sort of feedback I’d like to have for my books. A review only has to be a few sentences long to make an impact.

I’d love to know what your thoughts are on book reviews. Let me know what you’d like to see.


Want more from Lauren? You can check out her books on Goodreads HERE.

Find Lauren on the YA Author Rendezvous site HERE.

This was posted by Lauren Mayhew.

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Play-Writing – How Hard Can It Be?

Play-Writing – How Hard Can It Be? by Author Lauren Mayhew

Play Writing - How Hard Can It Be - Young Adult Author RendezvousWriting a stage play is a lot harder than I initially thought it would be. I knew it was going to be a challenge, as it’s the complete opposite of writing a story. It’s all dialogue and no description. In my novels, the dialogue is probably the bit I struggle with most. So why am I writing a play, I hear you ask. Because I like to challenge myself. If you don’t challenge yourself, life gets a bit boring.

So, I’m writing a murder mystery set in modern times. Normally, I have a title before I even start writing, but not for this one. The title has evaded me so far. I usually use a line of text from the story itself as a title, but no-one has said anything yet that’s catchy enough. That’s a little worrying now that I think about it.

Obviously, it’s still the early days of draft 1, and I think there will be quite a few drafts of this one to make it worthy for the stage, but I’m enjoying it so far. I keep trying to compare it to other murder mystery plays that I’ve read, to see if it fits with their formatting, but I have to keep telling myself that it doesn’t matter if it’s different. Different is good.

In ‘Murdered to Death’ by Peter Gordon, the first guests arrive on page 8, and the murder takes place on page 33. Inspector Pratt arrives on page 36.

In ‘A Murder is Announced’ by Agatha Christie, adapted by Leslie Darbon, the first guests arrive on page 20, and the murder takes place on page 35. Inspector Craddock arrives on page 38.

In my play, the first guests arrive on page 6, and the murder takes place on page 23. Inspector Dodds arrives on page 25.

As you can see, I have a lot of ‘filling out’ to do, but as of yet, I don’t have any clue what to add in. I don’t want to add dialogue purely for the sake of it, as the story has moved itself along quite nicely so far. However, I do want the play to be full length or around 80 pages. I’m not sure if that’s going to happen in its current state.

But, as I said earlier, I shouldn’t try and match it to the murder mysteries that I’ve read. There were definitely scenes in both of those that were extremely long and a little dull at times. This explains why the murder takes place later on in those plays than in mine. I have to start seeing my play as unique, and if I try to replicate others, it’ll just turn into the same old murder mystery.

As I said earlier, it’s still draft 1, so it all might change by the time it’s finished. I need to concentrate on getting it finished before I start worrying about adding or removing sections. I’m sure it’ll all come together in the end.


Want more from Lauren? You can check out his books on Goodreads HERE.

Find Lauren on the YA Author Rendezvous site HERE.

This was posted by Lauren Mayhew.

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The Kanga Wola Fox and the Great Outback

At the Young Adult Author Rendezvous, we believe in fostering a love for writing in young people. One of our own, LJ Higgins, had the pleasure of judging a teen writing contest in September. We’re going to showcase each of the three winners. Enjoy the third story below.

A bit about the contest:

In September, Calliope, a small town in Central Queensland, Australia, held it’s annual Country Carnival. As part of the Carnival, YAAR Author L J Higgins was invited to judge a writing competition. She was blown away by the amazing entries, and along with two other judges, they chose one winner from each age category.


The Kanga Wola Fox and the Great Outback

By: Janay Jeynes

Friends Billy and Bridy set out on an adventure to find the magical kanga wola fox. The legend was, that the kanga wola fox granted wishes to whoever found him. They were cautious about what they were doing but they wanted the best for their loved ones. Billy and Bridys family were homeless, they had a couple of pairs of clothes and a handful of food. They lived in a poor country town of about two hundred other people, many with children under three years old. They wanted to help their town, friends, and family by finding the kanga wola fox.

They began to pack for their journey. They’d have to put up with the hot sun beaming down on their backs and the long tiring walk. Before they left everyone gathered around the town hall and wished them good luck. They began walking but before they could take one step an elderly couple grabbed Billy’s shoulders and warned him about the kangaroos. They mentioned that the creature was ancient and fierce. Billy thought the people were loopy. They told him that the creature lives in the middle of the forest about a kilometre from the river. Billy and Bridy were confused, they had been told that there were no kanga wola foxes in the area at all. They didn’t know what to expect but they were soon to find out. Off they went on their adventure.

Billy and Bridy had nearly reached the end of town. Billy had already started to list the things he wanted. Billy wanted an education, food and a home to live in. Bridy wanted the same things as Billy but she thought that was a little bit selfish so she didn’t mention any thing about wishes. When they had an hour to go on foot, Billy reached into the backpack looking for the water but they had forgotten to pack it. They came to a sudden stop then looked at each other and looked back and all they could see was little houses in the distance. They didn’t talk for half an hour then their mouths became sticky and dry. Suddenly they dropped and crawled. 

They told themselves half an hour left. They saw a puddle of water they wondered if it was real or not. They began to crawl faster and faster they touched the water and they mentioned that it wasn’t water it was air Bridy jumped in and floated back up and she told Billy to jump in. Billy had a gut feeling about it, he thought it was a trap. It took ten seconds to reach the bottom. They looked around and saw black shadows. They were frighted. A big kanga wola fox pounced out of nowhere. They didn’t expect to find it this close to the edge. It seemed the kanga wola fox didn’t expect them.

The kanga wola fox circled them, they could sense its fear and anger the fox spoke with his deep crackle voice, ‘‘why are you here, and what do you want?

Billy and Bridy stuttered with their words, “w.. w.. we are here to get wishes from you and maybe a little more.”

The fox laughed and laughed. He claimed he retired a year ago because no one needed him. But Billy and Bridy didn’t care, they knew he could do anything so they just stayed stubborn.

They looked up and saw that he looked sad so they asked, ‘‘what’s wrong?”

He replied in a soft voice saying, “I am lonely, and it’s been like this for many years.” 

Billy and Bridy were upset for what had happened so they turned and gave each other the thumbs up.

Bridy said, “well, we will make a deal if you give our whole town wishes you can come with us forever and you won’t be lonely.”

They had arrived at the small country town and everybody stared and clapped. Billy and Bridy got carried to the town hall and two little kids took the fox. Everyone started to line up for their wishes. The fox got upset because he realised that most people didn’t have a home to live in.

After he served them all he wanted to make wishes for him so he stood in front of a mirror and wished for a family and a name he wanted three family members and he wanted his name to be Sparks.

The next morning Sparks woke up he saw three foxes standing in the middle of the room. They ran up to him and hugged him. He was confused for what had happened but at the last minute, he remembers that he wished for a family. Sparks was proud of the achievements that he had created. Later on in the night, the town had organised a surprise party. Sparks was wondering where everybody was so he went home and when he opened the door everyone was there they had told Sparks it was for what he had done for the community.

On that night they all enjoyed themselves and they had the best times of their lives.

 

About the author:

Janay Jeynes placed first in the 6-12yr category in the Calliope Country Carnival Writing Competition.

Hello, my name is Janay and I am in year seven. I have recently moved to Central Queensland, Australia, and I am already off to a good start. My story took lots of effort and tears. It took me over a week and lots of reminders for me to write my story. I would like to thank the judges for choosing my story for first place in the Calliope Writing Competition, and I hope that everyone who reads my story enjoys it as well.    


Read the first story HERE.

Read the second story HERE.

This post was created by Michelle Lynn

The contest was judged by LJ Higgins

Don’t forget to check out more posts by the Young Adult Author Rendezvous HERE.

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