• Tag Archives Readers
  • Book Reviews for the Rest of Us ~ A Step by Step Guide

    How many readers have seen graphics like the following on social media?




    I’m sure many people, both readers and authors, have seen these messages. And I must admit, what is described above is right on the money. We authors do need a certain number of reviews in order to advance our careers. Though sometimes I hesitate to share these messages, since I have no wish to nag readers, or try to guilt folks.

    Still… we have to acknowledge that we need the reviews! What are we to do?

    I propose the following: Instead of asking readers for “reviews”, which may make people feel like they need to write an essay, we can simply request a short comment on Amazon, along with a fair rating in stars.




    For example, I’ll link to one of the first reviews I ever received.

    Really enjoyed this and am looking forward to the next book……..good read!!


    I felt so darn happy and appreciative when I read the above comment. As authors always say — these are the reviews that hold a special place in our hearts. Of course we need and appreciate critical reviews, but comments such as this one mean a LOT more than the commenter or fan may realize.

    So, without further ado, I would like to get the point.

    Some people (I was one of them) are not really computer savvy, and the task of going online to write a comment can seem almost impossible.

    There is certainly no shame in that. Eight years ago I wouldn’t have had any idea whatsoever of how to navigate the internet. My mom is still learning. Lots of people don’t own computers at all, and I can understand why.

    Sometimes computers make me want to pull out my own hair.

    Ditto for my husband. Please look at the following pictures to get an idea about the man to whom I am married.




    My husband. A good provider. A great family man. A wonderful friend. And…a man who doesn’t like computers!

    I can’t stress this fact enough. He doesn’t like computers. Or printers. Or smart phones. Or text messages. I have asked him numerous times to set up a Facebook account so he can reconnect with old friends, and he has laughed in my face.

    He will not do it. He reads email only because he’s forced to at work, and learned rudimentary computer skills for the express purpose of buying and selling guitars and amplifiers on Ebay.

    Yet he managed to write reviews for both of my books. This was because having read the books, (besides telling me flat out which parts stunk and needed to be changed) he wanted to give his opinion on Amazon. So he managed to do just that.

    And it wasn’t impossible, even for him.




    So, here we go. By the end of this post, many readers who want to give the gift of a comment or short review on Amazon to authors whose work they enjoy, will be able to navigate the system.


    Step 1. Set up an email account if you don’t have one already.

    Many people already have email, but for those who don’t, it is necessary to set up an account in order to leave a book review. This is because reviewers must have email to set up an Amazon account, which we’ll get to shortly.

    For folks who don’t have email from a company like Verizon or Comcast, here’s a video tutorial on how to set up a Gmail (Google) account. And if you don’t like Gmail, there’s always Yahoo. Both are free.




    Step 2. Create an Amazon account.

    Creating your own Amazon account is necessary if you’d like to leave a comment about a book. And also, Amazon is a great company! I love Amazon. I like to shop online, and in addition to books for my Kindle, I can shop for just about anything. I would rather shop from the comfort of my own home and have my purchases delivered to my door than fight crowds in malls, so Amazon is my kind of company.

    The first step in creating your account is to find Amazon online. To do this, simply log onto the internet with whatever browser you use. Mine is Chrome. In the search bar (url bar) at the top of your screen, type the word Amazon. Several options should appear. Just click an option (red arrow below) or hit “enter” on your keyboard.


    Google AmazonThe next screen you will see is the Amazon home page. In order to create your account, you need to go through some other pages. To get to the screen where you can create an account, hover your cursor over the words: “Hello, sign in” and click on the pop up which will appear. That will take you to the screen below this one.


    Create acct


    This is the screen which appears after the one above. It gives the option of signing into an existing account or creating a new account. Click the button.




    And here we are on the Create an account page. You’ll need to fill in your name, email, and a password which you create. For password ideas click here, or make up your own. I have mine written down and keep them stored in a safe place. You can always get a new password if you lose yours.

    Once all the information is entered, click the button. You now have an Amazon account.


    Create account4


    Following is a video that might also help.



    Step 3. Buying books and merchandise.

    Again, Amazon sells products other than books. You can find almost anything by typing it into the search bar, but for the purpose of this post we’ll stick to books.

    Say you’re looking for books by a particular author. I’ve been wanting to read the work of Dean Koontz for awhile now, so I typed his name into the Amazon Search box. You can do the same with the title of a book, or a genre, like Mystery or Science Fiction.

    As you can see, Koontz’s latest book appeared on the screen, along with a link to his Amazon Author’s page. The complete works of any given author can be found on their Amazon page.




    I decided to click on Ashley Bell for the purpose of this post. You can decide which, if any, editions interest you. Many people buy paperback & hardcover books. I usually buy the Kindle version, since I like reading on my Kindle.

    The red arrows on the photo below show that you can buy the book with one click, or have a free sample sent to your device. And for folks who don’t have a Kindle but would still like to read on a laptop, tablet, PC or phone, there’s a solution to your dilemma. Look at the arrow, bottom left, and you’ll see that Kindle offers a free Kindle app. You can download the app and read Kindle books from Amazon without having to own a Kindle.




    Step 4. Reviewing or commenting on a book.

    The book I just reviewed is Fugitive From Asteron by Gen LaGreca. I took screenshots of each step. It’s not difficult at all.

    My first step was to sign into my Amazon account using my email and password. Then I typed the book title into the search bar and clicked.


    Fugitive From Asteron 1


    The following screen appeared. I clicked on the title, printed in red next to the thumbnail of the book cover.





    Next, the screen below appeared. As you can see, the option to buy is listed. To write a review, you need to scroll down the page.


    Fugitive From Asteron purchase


    I scrolled down. Gen’s author bio appears under the book title and description.


    Gen LaGreca 1


    I scrolled further down. A link to Gen’s author page is listed. And directly below are customer reviews. The red arrow shows the button which reads “Write a customer review.”


    Write a review


    Next you’ll see a screen which asks “How was the author’s writing?” Sometimes that will be the only question you’ll see, but once you give your opinion, other questions will open.

    As you can see, I answered the first question with “great”, because Gen’s writing is awesome. And I answered the rest of the questions honestly. Fugitive from Asteron is written in first person, so I clicked that button, however, sometimes books are written in a combination of the multiple answers listed, so if you’re not sure,  click I don’t know.

    Below the questions, you’ll see that you can rate a book from 1-5 stars. I have my own criteria for rating books, which anyone can see if you click on the book review tag on this blog. Fugitive from Asteron earned 5 stars from me.

    NOTE! If you happen to have a Kindle, and you finish a book, you’ll be given the option to rate the book directly from your Kindle. This is a nice feature for readers, however, the rating in stars does not count as a review. The author will be happy to get a good rating, but in order for us to advance enough for Amazon to begin promoting our books, we need actual reviews or short comments.




    Finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Time to comment or review the book.

    The first sentence of my review of Fugitive from Asteron was: I really enjoyed this Science Fiction story. I went on to write more about why I liked the book, but that short comment was nice in itself. One or two sentences with an honest star rating is all readers really need to write in order to help the authors they admire.

    And you have no idea how much we appreciate your effort. In addition to reading our books, you care enough to help us with encouraging comments. Or, tell us honestly what you might not have liked about the book you’re reviewing.

    All feedback is helpful. We always want to improve our writing, and we want to please our readers, who make it possible for us to do what we love to do.

    As you can see below, there’s also a space for a review header. It’s not necessary, but if there’s one thing that you really loved about the book, you might write it there.


    Write in box


    Once you’re finished commenting, hit the yellow “submit” button and you’ll be taken to the following screen. As you can see, your public name is displayed with the review. You can change what the public sees by clicking “change”. Some people use only their initials, or a nickname, etc.


    Thank You


    Amazon will process the review and notify you by email as soon as it’s live. Then you can go to the site and see it. Sometimes other people will find your review helpful, and up-vote or comment on it. It’s always great to see that your review helped another reader make the decision to read a good book.

    So, that’s all there is to it.

    I hope this post was helpful. Please share far and wide, and know how much you, as readers, mean to us. If not for you we’d have no reason to keep writing.

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  • Happy Thanksgiving

    Tomorrow we celebrate a beloved American holiday, Thanksgiving.


    All day today I’ve been remembering what I’m grateful for. There are so many things! A loving husband and family, adorable grandchildren, a roof over my head, enough to eat, and my friends near and far. I’m thankful for music, the ability to run and exercise to keep fit, and for good health. I’m thankful to live in a free country where I can write the books I choose to write and post the blogs I choose to post. I’m very grateful that I’m free to worship as a Roman Catholic, a faith I love.

    I can never thank God enough for all that He’s given me. I can only be humble, and a gracious receiver of His gifts. Encompassing all is His redemption of me by His death on the Cross, something I do not deserve, and of which I am not worthy.

    Yet He did it anyway.

    There’s really nothing more to say.

    Catholic Church Crucifix

    Thank you, dear Jesus, for everything.

    Wishing family, friends and readers everywhere a very Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving.

    images copy 21


  • Thanks, Readers

    This week three great things happened with regard to my writing.

    First, my 20 year old niece finished reading The Notice, and told me the end made her cry. (In a good way). Here’s a screen shot of  our back and forth texts:


    Second, a longtime twitter friend, who is also an author, finished reading Tears Of Paradox. She also gave me great feedback, saying that my writing gave insight into the lives of practicing Catholics. Reading her review was the highlight of my day yesterday.

    Third, this morning at Mass, I ran into a lady who has read both Tears Of Paradox and The Notice. She told me she absolutely loved book two, and could not put it down until she finished. Hearing feedback like this makes all the hard work worth it.

    I am so grateful to the folks who enjoy my work. Almost everyone asks me this question: “Will Jason and his father finally meet in book three?” The answer is: Yes, they will. I truly hope I can do this reunion justice.

    I have done lots of research and planned many plot lines for book three. I don’t know the title yet. Titles are very difficult for me. I have written less than a chapter so far, but I plan to hit it hard over the summer. I am not the fastest writer, but I am a thorough one.

    In the meantime, if you are a reader who has enjoyed my work, please tell a friend. I’ll sign off with the following video. Click here, please, to watch and listen to the man who inspired much of my work. You Tube does not allow certain videos to be embedded.

    This song is part of my inspiration for Michael Sean, Jason’s father, This particular version is from a bootleg which was released with Springsteen’s Darkness On The Edge Of Town boxed set. My husband gave it to me as a gift a few years ago. This 1978 show must have been magical for people lucky enough to have been there.

    Here are the lyrics:

    “It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City”

    I had skin like leather and the diamond-hard look of a cobra
    I was born blue and weathered but I burst just like a supernova
    I could walk like Brando right into the sun
    Then dance just like a Casanova
    With my blackjack and jacket and hair slicked sweet
    Silver star studs on my duds like a Harley in heat
    When I strut down the street I could feel it’s heartbeat
    The sisters fell back and said “Don’t that man look pretty”
    The cripple on the corner cried out “Nickels for your pity”
    Them gasoline boys downtown sure talk gritty
    It’s so hard to be a saint in the city
    I was the king if the alley, mama I could talk some trash
    I was the prince of the paupers crowned downtown at the beggar’s bash
    I was the pimp’s main prophet I kept everythning cool
    Just a backstreet gambler with the luck to lose
    And when the heat came down it was left on the ground
    The devil appeared like Jesus through the steam in the street
    Showin’ me a hand I knew even the cops couldn’t beat
    I felt his hot breath on my neck as I dove into the heat
    It’s so hard to be a saint when you’re just a boy out on the street
    And the sages of the subway sit just like the living dead
    As the tracks clack out the rhythm their eyes fixed straightahead
    They ride the line of balance and hold on by just a thread
    But it’s too hot in these tunnels you can get hit up by the heat
    You get up to get out at your next stop but they push you
    Back down in your seat
    Your heart starts beatin’ faster as you struggle to your feet
    You’re outa that hole and back up on the street
    And them South Side sisters sure look pretty
    The cripple on the corner cries out “Nickels for your pity”
    And them downtown boys they sure talk gritty
    It’s so hard to be a saint in the city.

    Lately, the title of this song describes me, trying to live my life and be a good person. Being a follower of Christ is difficult at this time, with all the unrest in America and the world. Times are hard all over. It’s so hard to be a saint in the city that is this world. But just the same, we have salvation, if only we stay with Him.