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The importance of book reviews

I have recently been blessed with some lovely reviews for my latest novel, Abi’s Neighbour.

Reviews are the only way an author can tell if he or she is ‘hitting the spot’ or not. Obviously high book sales can tell you if your book is successful – but sale figures can do no more than reflect how good your marketing is. It is feedback from your readership that tells you if your stories are actually working.

If you wrote a thriller- did it thrill?

If you wrote a romance- did it melt the heart?

If you wrote a horror- did it give your reader nightmares?

Obviously this set of questions is simplistic, but the point is- authors need to know – and way to tell them is via reviews.

Good reviews improve our standing and our professional reputations. They improve our ratings on Amazon and equivalent book selling platforms. The more good reviews an author has, the better their sales will become.

I’m not saying that you should only give good reviews. If a book has disappointed, let you down and so on, then some constructive criticism can help an author- even though it might be difficult to swallow sometimes!

What you should not do is give a poor review because…

… of poor delivery packaging (nothing to do with the author)

…the book isn’t the one you meant to purchase- (you pressed the buy button)

…you didn’t like the cover after all, so you didn’t bother reading the book etc etc

My favourite 1 star review was for Another Cup of Coffee – it was complaining about all the sex in it.

This confused me. There is a suggestion that sex might happen on two occasions within that 97,000 word book. There is no actual sex.  I dread to think what might have happened if that reviewer had accidentally purchased one of my Kay Jaybee books!!!

If you enjoy a book – PLEASE review it.

It takes up to a year to write a book for you to read in a matter of days. Any positive feedback you can give helps us! A lot.

It’s tough in the world of publishing right now. We need to help each other to keep those books coming.

Whether you leave a review on the Amazons, WHSmith, Waterstones, or the brilliant Goodreads – every single one helps.

Every single one.

And with that…I have some reviews to write for some books I’ve recently enjoyed!

Thanks you,

Happy reading,

Jenny x

 


Imagine@Hazelwood: A heavenly writing environment

The wonderful Alison Knight and myself have been very busy since we launched our creative writing business, Imagine.

This week we were welcomed to the beautiful Hazelwood Spa, in the idyllic Wiltshire village of Sutton Benger, to meet and greet clients who after a well earned pedicure or massage, might like to come along to a creative writing class.

We were made so welcome by owner and manageress Sam at the spa’s recent open evening. The friendly staff kindly let Alison take over a treatment room so we could show off our books, explain how our classes work, and eat some delicious canapes. (It’s a tough job sometimes!)

If you would like to sign up for an Imagine@Hazelwood creative writing workshop you don’t have to be a spa client- although once you’ve seen the place I defy you not to want to come back for a little something!

The classes are going to run by Alison on the second Saturday of every month. Booking is now open!

IMAGINE@HAZELWOOD WORKSHOPS

June 10           Introduction to creative writing – what are your hopes for your writing?  Looking at styles, genres, opportunities and possibilities

July 8               Who will you write about? Developing characters, writing about real people.

August 12       Where is story happening? Looking at settings – using real places in your story and creating imaginary worlds.

Sept 9             When does the action take place – past, present or future?  Looking at time – historical, contemporary, speculative (future) and time-travel.

All workshops run from 3-5pm at Hazelwood Beauty Spa, Seagry Road, Sutton Benger, SN15 4RX. Each session costs £20.  To book your place, call the spa at 01249 720964.

After September 9th new class details will be added. Just keep your eye on our web site- https://www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk/news

You can sign up to one class, just a few, or all of them. Either way, with Alison Knight at the helm, I can guarantee you’ll learn a lot, laugh a lot, and have a fun and informative few hours in beautiful surroundings.

Happy writing,

Jenny x

 

 

 

 


Imagine: creative writing courses

Last month my lovely friend Alison Knight and myself launched our own business!

As you can imagine (pun intended!), it has taken a lot of time and organisation to get our new enterprise up and running.

It has already proved to be worth every second. With a number of classes completed and many more already timetabled to take place, we are loving get out and about across the UK.

Our next two public workshops are now open for booking-

 

If you’d like more details about what we offer- or if you’d like to book us to host a workshop at your venue, or arrange a one to one lesson, then check out our web site at www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk or email Alison and myself via imaginecreativewriting@gmail.com

Keep your eyes open for news about a workshop at the forthcoming Tiverton Literary Festival as well!

I’m particularly looking forward to a private life writing class I have at the end of May in a local retirement home. After all, everyone has a story to tell, and it’s never too late to let your book writing dreams come true.

Happy writing everyone,

Jenny x


The Importance of Instant Impact

There are many rules in the construction of good story. One of the most important is instant impact- the art of capturing the attention of your readers/potential readers as quickly as possible.

Take your lead from the balladeers and the storytellers of history. If they didn’t impress the audience who gathered to hear their tales by the end of the second line they’d uttered, then they wouldn’t earn enough money to eat that night.

For the modern writer this lesson is a good one. There are so many books in the world that, if you don’t take a firm grip of your reader’s imagination within the first two or three paragraphs (if not sentences), then the chances of you selling your work is automatically harder. If not impossible. Editors and agents read hundreds of first paragraphs each month. If you don’t engage them straight away they won’t read more than a few pages. Consequently, every single word you have written after page four is in danger of being nothing but a waste of time.

Here are a few ways to create instant impact to grab that elusive audience- and hopefully keep them grabbed!

–          Start with some powerful first line dialogue. Something that makes you want to know what follows, and why what is being said, is being said. Such as…

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” – (Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier)

–          Add immediate tension by starting in the thick of the action. Such as…

Dr Clouston could barely keep himself on the seat. The wheels of his carriage kept cracking over humps and puddles, breaking the night’s silence as they rode frantically towards Dundee.  –  (The Strings Murder, Oscar de Muriel)

–          Build a scene on paper that draws the reader in so much, that they want to be there- or that leaves them feeling relieved that they aren’t.  Such as…

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.” – (A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens)

–          Start with a sentence that makes sense- but makes the reader need to keep going to find out what on earth is going on. Such as…

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” – (1984, George Orwell)

–          Begin with a recollection. A situation that your novel will later explain. Such as…

“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.” – (One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez)

In an age of instant technology and an immediate availability of information, people are used to instant gratification- so the faster you engage your readers mind, the better!

Happy writing,

Jenny x

 

 

 

 


So you want to be a writer

So you want to be a writer.

8 questions it’s helpful to ask before you start.

Who are you writing for?

Yourself, friends, family…

What are you writing for?

Money, fun, to make a point, to leave something of yourself behind after your death, because you simply have to write?

So – you’ve decided to take the plunge, now you need to ask…

What genre are you going to write?

Crime, romance, paranormal, steampunk, fantasy, erotica, contemporary fiction, goths, thrillers….the list is huge- and expanding all the time.

Which age group/gender are you targeting?

Adults? Teenagers? Children? Men? Women? Everyone?

Let’s get practical!

Where will you write?

At home, in the local café, the library, or a hired office?

What medium will you chose?

Paper, computer, tablet, phone, dictation?

Will you approach an agent, a publisher, or self publish?

And- most boringly practical of all- can you manage your own marketing?

Don’t forget if you don’t market your writing, then all your hard work will have been wasted. No one will know your book exists if you don’t wave your flag! So, love it r hate, you will need to get to grips with social media.

***

Happy questioning!

Jenny xx

 

 


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