How to not piss off a book blogger when requesting a review


How to not piss off a book blogger when requesting a review

Well now, that’s an interesting question!

Would you like to know how I answered it?

Head over to author Cinthia Ritchie’s website to read my interview – it’s generating lots of discussions in the comment section of Cinthia’s blog post. In the few days since our conversation went live, the comment section has grown to 100+ comments and 500+ shares on Facebook. 

While you’re there, check out last week’s interview: Hello, Julie Valerie, book blogger extraordinaire. Sixty-nine comments so far in the comment section.

I really dig comment sections. Some of the best content on the web happens in comment sections.

Stop in and say hello! 🙂

Awards Rewards Prizes: #bookblogging vs #writing


Awards? Rewards? Prizes?

What’s the difference?

I did a little digging…

An ‘award’ is given to recognize personal achievement (e.g. scholarship, completing 100 hours of community service, etc.), whereas a ‘reward’ is compensation or incentive for doing something (e.g. completing household chores or returning a wallet). A ‘prize’ is something offered or won as a result of victory, as in a competition or contest.

When I was ten years old, I won $18 in bingo. The $18 was my ‘prize’ for having won. Recently, I won the BookSparks 2015 Summer Reading Challenge Grand Prize. More on that in a moment… But first, let me say this:

I love book marketing. 

Love everything about it.

I love reading books, love blogging about books, love connecting with readers.

I love connecting with fellow writers, love promoting fellow writers, love learning from fellow writers.

Readers, writers, books. I love them all.

My time as a book blogger has been so rewarding, it’s difficult to put into words. As I reflect on my work as a book blogger, I feel a sense of achievement, and that is my (personally felt) award.

So now that it’s 2016, and I’m entering my fourth year of writing, editing, reviewing, blogging and social media marketing-ing . . . I thought I’d pause a moment to take stock.

A (Very) Brief History with Much Left Out


2013: I launched “Julie Valerie’s Book Blog” with a reading campaign to “Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks.” I finished the year having read and reviewed 55 books in my genre. I attended BEA and other writing conferences; connected with readers, writers, and industry insiders; and learned A LOT about social media marketing, offline publicity, and what makes certain authors’ book marketing campaigns tick – while others fall flat. For me, 2013 was a year of firsts where much was learned. I finished the year with a solid understanding of how the industry works and a marketing plan for when my first novel is released.

CourageJacketWeb2014: Read and reviewed 67 books in my genre while finishing my first novel. Also launched a series of blog events, and a popular Wednesday “Hump Day Books” series that focused on the craft of writing and book publicity. What I learned from the “Hump Day Books” series? The value of building quality content. That Wednesday series brought my average website visitor reading time to over 17 minutes. Average page views per visitor to my website? Eight. That’s some crazy great stats in a crowded blogosphere and I’m grateful. Perhaps I’ll revive that program in 2016 . . . the verdict’s still out.

My proudest accomplishment in 2014? My short story, LLL, was published in A Kind of Mad Courage: Short Stories about Mothers, (S)mothers and Others.

2015: Read and reviewed 75 books in my genre while editing my first novel and continuing the many additional series and programs launched through my website. Big in 2015 (for me, at least)? The launching of the Fiction Writers Blog Hop and the 85K Writing Challenge.

Fiction-Writers-Blog-Hop (1)1

Also big in 2015? Winning the Grand Prize for the BookSparks 2015 Summer Reading Challenge. If anyone knows how to launch a great social media campaign promoting books and book reviews – it’s the folks at BookSparks. Fabulous. I won a beautiful vintage suitcase, vintage luggage tags, and a $300 gift certificate on Southwest Airlines. Still pinching myself. Thank you, BookSparks! A mighty fine prize. Much better than my $18 bingo winnings.


When I reflect on the 55 books I read and reviewed in year one, the 67 books I read and reviewed in year two, and the 75 books I read and reviewed in year three, I now realize I’ve read and reviewed 197 books in my genre. At the time of this post (January 25, 2016) I’ve read and reviewed two books in 2016 and will read and review one more before the month comes to a close . . . bringing my grand total of reading and reviewing to:

200 books in 3 years

Here’s some fun math:

If each book averaged 85,000 words – I read 17 million words
. . . and then sat down to write about those words through my 200 book reviews.

Folks, when it comes to reading and reviewing, I gotta say, it was fantastically rewarding, and even resulted in my winning a (grand!) prize. But I’m exhausted. Grateful and proud, happy to help, but exhausted because I’ve been reading and reviewing while also launching other programs and trying to focus on my personal and professional writing. The ultimate ‘award’ I’d like to achieve with my life is to connect with readers through my writing. So I think I need to set the ‘prizes’ and ‘rewards’ of book blogging aside for a bit and focus on achieving that personal ‘award’ of connecting with readers through my own work.

As the month of January tends to be a month for proclaiming New Year Resolutions, in 2016, my focus will be the launching of my own writing career (getting that finished début novel into the marketplace) and writing my second book.

So from this point forward, I plan to channel my energies into writing a book a year (the inspiration behind my launching the 85K Writing Challenge) and I’m looking forward to serving on the Communications and Annual Conference Committee for James River Writers. I’m going to continue running my Fiction Writers Blog Hop series (last Wednesday of every month) and see about launching the 85K Writing Challenge out of the Facebook group platform where it is now and onto its own self-sustaining website so it can grow and become whatever it is meant to be.


My things-to-do list for 2016:

  • Introduce Book #1 to readers. (I’m currently exploring options in publishing.)
  • Spend the first three months (January, February, March) writing Book #2 while also hosting the 85K Writing Challenge.
  • Spend the second three months (April, May, June) editing Book #2.

Come July 2016, I’ll reassess and make plans for the second half of what I hope will be a great year.

But I must say, as far as awards, rewards, and prizes go, I’m proud of the 200 books on my book-review bookshelf. When I look at them, I smile, remembering the places I traveled and the lives I lived through the pages of those books.

I am forever grateful to the writers who wrote the 17 million words I read. The pleasure was all mine. A truly awarding, rewarding, and prize-worthy experience.

Thank you.

Oh, and, a little something I like to say that’s especially applicable at the moment . . .


Fiction-Writers-Blog-Hop (1)


Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP click here:

Size doesn’t matter, fellas. It’s what you do with your sentence that matters. #amwriting

verlyn klinkenborg

I read Verlyn Klinkenborg’s Several Short Sentences About Writing so I could add it to my collection of books about sentences.

That’s right. Sentences.

Some of my favorite books on my sentence bookshelf:

Building Great Sentences: How to Write the Kinds of Sentences You Love to Read by Brooks Landon

The Art of Styling Sentences by Ann Longknife and K.D. Sullivan

It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences: A Writer’s Guide to Crafting Killer Sentences by June Casagrande

How To Write a Sentence: And How to Read One by Stanley Fish

Another classic book about sentences that’s on my TBR list:

Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style by Virginia Tufte

My thoughts on Verlyn Klinkenborg’s Several Short Sentences About Writing:

Enjoyed Klinkenborg’s book very much; read it in one sitting; and found several places in the text to be so thought provoking, I’d place the book on my lap, stare off into space and think for a while.

Thought long and hard about his notions of “flow” and whether it impacts writer’s block. The short answer is: No. Flow is something that belongs to the reader. Here’s a page of the three or four he dedicates to this topic:

Verlyn Klinkenborg

I loved how he dissected precise, “nano” issues in writing. He whooshed away the clouds and zeroed in on raindrops. (Okay, okay. That was probably a lousy sentence. Opps.)

I wish the book didn’t use the second-person point-of-view ‘YOU’ along with the occasional first-person plural ‘WE’ — especially when telling YOU how horrible your education was and that everything YOU learned about writing was wrong. Not that I entirely disagree with what Klinkenborg was saying; I get it. We have to rethink the “rules” taught to us by our high school English teachers. But the use of second-person point-of-view when telling YOU, the reader, there’s something’s wrong with YOU (fingers pointing, fingers pointing), placed the author and the reader on two opposing sides of a table. It felt confrontational. Almost, condescending. How does Klinkenborg know what kind of education I had? I must have a brain in my noggin . . . for Pete’s sake, I just spent an afternoon reading a book about sentences.


I also read books about words. Even books about letters.

I loved Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch: Let Verbs Power Your Writing by Constance Hale.

And I loved Letter Perfect: The Marvelous History of Our Alphabet from A to Z by David Sacks.

I agree with Klinkenborg’s assertion that short sentences are grand, but I disagree with his attack on longer sentences and the way he dismissed rhetoric and logic. When done correctly, longer sentences add much, and the figures of rhetoric are so stinking cool to read, write, and study. Without the figures of rhetoric, where would Shakespeare be? And without Shakespeare, where would we be?

That reminds me. I forgot to add this beauty to my list of favorite books about sentences:

The Elements of Eloquence: Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase by Mark Forsyth

( i heart mark forsyth, that inky fool . . . )

But enough about all that. Let’s return to the issue Klinkenborg raises about sentence length.

I’ll never understand why books about sentences fight over length. Size doesn’t matter, fellas. It’s what you do with your sentence that matters.

Perhaps the only way to settle this once and for all is to stage an arm-wrestling match between Landon’s Building Great Sentences (in favor of longer sentences) and Klinkenborg’s Several Short Sentences About Writing (in favor of shorter sentences).

Unfortunately, books can’t arm wrestle. They may have sentences, even sentences about sentences, but they don’t have arms. So the issue of size remains unsettled.

#BookReview: A Jingle Valley Wedding by Martha Reynolds @AuthorMReynolds


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Greetings Book Lovers! Say hello to Martha Reynolds, author of Best Seller, reviewed here summer 2014. Newly released A Jingle Valley Wedding is the subject of today’s post. But first, a bit about Martha. Bestselling author Martha Reynolds is a Rhode Island resident … Continue reading

#BookReview: What Jennifer Knows by Wendy Janes @WendyProof


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Folks, this is Wendy Janes. One of the nicest, most supportive writers/editors in the blogosphere. And this is Wendy’s book, her solo début novel, What Jennifer Knows. Wendy also wrote the following short stories: ‘Verity’ in A Kind of Mad Courage (anthology) ‘The … Continue reading