All I Could Be

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“Riveting and enjoyable reading…  A powerful story.”
- Colonel Paul L. Ladd, USMC (Ret)

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Lynda O'Connor
Principal, O'Connor Communications, Inc.
333 Warwick Road
Lake Forest, Illinois 60045
Phone: (847) 615-5462
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Who writes reviews? Readers do.

Who writes book reviews?  For any author, the answer is everyone that reads her book … please.  Now I know a lot of readers don’t feel “qualified” to pen a review but think about it like this.  When your sister or your best friend goes to a new movie or checks out a new sports bar, do you really care how they phrase their “review” of it?  Of course not!  You want to know the gist of the plot, whether the action was entertaining or dragged on, maybe a detail about one of the actors … could someone that normally did comedies play a serious role well?  Did he get really ripped for the part?  Or, in the case of the sports bar you would want to know if the beer selection was unique, if the servers were fast, if the appetizers were tasty and if they played your team on the big screen.

Why the pressure friends?  Book reviews drive book sales.  For the same reason you end up going to that movie or that bar because it was recommended, a reader will purchase a book that’s recommended because they trust they will get their money’s worth.  There’s a lot of competition out there and that’s the bottom line for all of us not living as independently wealthy heirs.  We have, at some point, a limited amount of funds to spend on entertainment so we’d rather take a risk on something someone else liked than on something no one knows anything about.

A review can be a few sentences long.  Believe me, “I liked it overall.  It was not what I expected but would recommend it to anyone, especially young women,” is more powerful than (silence).  There are a lot of questions you can address in a book review but here are a few starting points:

1. How do you know the author?  Are you in the same industry that the book is about?  (That can validate her expertise on the subject matter).

2. What did you learn?  Did anything in particular surprise or amaze you?

3. Were you entertained?  Was it a “good read,” “fast read,” “easy read,” etc.

4. What was the writing style?  Was there a lot of dialogue, dictionary words, long sentences, or references to other literature?

5. Was it honest, objective and relatable to a common reader’s life experiences?

6. What was the goal or purpose of the work, do you think?  Was it achieved?

7. Does it fill a gap in books in the current marketplace?  Is it a first account, unique perspective, discuss new or developing topic?

8. What was your overall feeling of it and because of that would you recommend it?

The best part is there are no right or wrong answers.  You’re not submitting a thesis for a literature course and no one in spectacles and wool socks wrapped in Birkenstocks will reach for a red pen.  In fact, less academic reviews are preferred.  Everyone appreciates honest, everyday language.  And no author expects a glowing review.  Criticism is valued and helps writers move their craft to the next higher level.  So, reviews that include some questions or parts they didn’t like, as long as they are balanced with positive aspects are highly beneficial to both a potential book buyer and the author.

So get real and get writing … then post your review first to, and iTunes under the author’s book.  Good secondary options to post your review include your website, and any of your social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Tumblr, Goodreads, LinkedIn, Pinterest, You Tube or by simply emailing it to your contact list.  If you want credit, tag or CC: the author so she can Forward it, Like it, Share it, Retweet it or Pin it.  And more importantly, so  the author has the opportunity to reciprocate heartfelt thanks to you for spending valuable time in order to help further her writing dreams.


Writing: A Collective Story

photoWhy do I write?  It’s a common question, a fair one.  But it almost always stumps

me, sort of.

I’ve been writing a long time, since elementary school.  Outside my class assignments, I scribbled on lined paper dozens of poems, plays and musings.  I kept journals.  I don’t know why I had so much to say, or how so many of those days reached a threshold that required written reflection.  But over the years, writing has become habit.  And my favorite piece to pen is, and probably always will be, a handwritten letter to a friend.

But this is only the beginning, a rather superficial explanation really.  And I don’t have all the in depth reasons mapped out.  I can think of one, however, that is worth mentioning.

I write, not to tell my story, but to connect to others—to start a conversation.  We all have a story.  All are worthy of ink on bound paper pages.  But most of our lives will not be re-experienced in this medium.  A writer, a storyteller, needs an audience.  If I can reach you with my words, you might write back and I will have the pleasure of being your audience.  Then we are no longer strangers, but part of something, a community of readers and writers, a virtual coffeehouse of acquaintances that may share nothing other than a story.  But a story that began as mine, then yours, becomes ours.  Our lives become a collective life.  And seeking life together, building that “us” story, is well worth writing for.

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All I Could Be All I Could Be
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All I Could Be: My Story as a Woman Warrior in Iraq is a compelling tribute to women who serve. More than a wartime romance, it honors love of country and the unique contributions women bring to the battlefield. It deserves to be read alongside the classics in military history. Debra Engle, author of Grace from the Garden: Changing the World One Garden at a Time and president of GoldenTree Communications
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Published by History Publishing Co.