Friday, January 31, 2014

Don't Forget to Say Thanks

Thought for the day:  Words are the most powerful drug used by mankind.  [Rudyard Kipling]

Yep, words are powerful. They can be wielded to create lasting images, to express and arouse heady emotions, and the most memorable of them may linger in our minds and hearts for a lifetime. But let's just consider two of them... the words thank you.

Although most people don't seem to place much value on handwritten thank you notes these days, I'm guessing that most of you spent time at the kitchen table as children, legs swinging and tongue peeking out the corner of your mouth, as you hunched over a sheet of paper and wrote those Christmas and birthday thanks for the swell socks and underwear messages. Some of you may have rebelled against the practice as adults, or maybe you're like me, and still think of thank you notes as an appropriate way to express appreciation, and still write them. (Minus the swinging legs and protruding tongue, of course.) But it wasn't until about a year ago that I realized I'd been terribly remiss in expressing another kind of thanks. Most of you are avid readers. Have you ever considered the idea that a book... any book... is like a gift to the world from its author? And maybe, just maybe, some thanks are in order?

                                                        And by thanks,  I mean ... a review.

You have no idea how very much writers crave and relish readers' reviews. Heck, that direct feedback from (hopefully) appreciative readers means more than the darned paycheck. (Okay, okay, okay, so maybe not to the millionaires...) But to most writers. And guess what? Through places like Amazon and Goodreads, it's oh-so-easy for anyone to publish a review these days, so you, too, can now send a thank you to your favorite writers.

Nowadays, I only review books I really like. It's cowardly, I know, but I figure it's not my job to make people unhappy. I'll leave that to the professionals.  [Meg Rosoff]

I'm kinda like Ms. Rosoff. I never sink my teeth into a book to draw blood, and have written only a handful of reviews with less than a three-star rating. When it comes to books written by fellow bloggers, I follow Thumper's philosophy: If ya can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all.  If I vehemently DO NOT LIKE a fellow blogger's book, I simply skip the review, and keep my mouth shut. Cowardly? Maybe, but why be intentionally hurtful, right? I know first-hand how much work goes into writing a book. (The downside of that is when I know someone has my book and never says beans about it, I don't know if that means that person isn't into writing reviews, or they vehemently DO NOT LIKE my work, and I should maybe consider taking my untalented butt to the nearest bridge and jumping off.)  



Abuse is often of service. There is nothing so dangerous to an author as silence.  [Samuel Johnson]

Believe it or not, a writer's delight in receiving feedback doesn't end with the achievement of fame and fortune. Prolific author Joyce Carol Oates said,  A good sympathetic review is always a wonderful surprise. How about that? Even Joyce Carol Oates does a happy dance when she gets a good review. And, what's more... she's surprised. 

So, bottom line, please consider writing a review for the next book you read... it doesn't have to be fancy or long... to express your appreciation. Many writers have actually thanked me for reviews I've written, so it really does matter to them, and not just to their egos. In today's world, it also matters to their Amazon ranking. Pure and simple, the more reviews a book has on Amazon, the higher it'll move up in the rankings. Fair? Maybe not. But that's the way it goes.


Now then, I'd like to tell you about a WONDERFUL book I won through one of the Goodreads giveaways. (By the way, readers who write timely reviews for the books they win through those giveaways have a better chance of winning more of them. I've won four since the beginning of the year.)

Anyhow, this book was an utter delight to read, and (no surprise) the pictures are fantastic, too. In his fifty plus years as a news photographer, Dennis Brack's camera has captured many important moments in history, and in Presidential Picture Stories, he offers intimate background stories behind some of the photos taken by him and other White House photographers. Not only does he provide the inside scoop on the photographs and photographers, but he also provides a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at Presidents Wilson through Obama... and some of their families. If you have an interest in historical tidbits, or have a thing for photography, you'll love this book. It's a quality piece of work, and one you can be be proud to add to your library. The only reason I gave it five stars is because that's as high as the rating system goes.

I'm pleased to say that Dennis, who still covers the White House,  returned home from a trip overseas just in time to respond to a handful of questions for this post. (What a guy!)

1. So how does a photographer end up with a coveted White House assignment? Did you shoot for that goal, or was it more a matter of serendipity and being in the right place at the right time? (Oh, yeah, and of course... talent.)

Basically, how do photographers get the White House assignment.  The photographers get the assignment when they are at the top of their game. Many wire service photographers have been in critical bureaus over the years.  Quite a few have come from bureaus in the Far East.  Others have come from cities across the US and have covered political campaigns.  For example Jim Bourg who is head of Reuters photos in DC came from  Boston and covered the primaries for years before coming to town . Brooks Kraft worked for TIME in the Boston area and is now in Washington.

2. Do you think having an artistic eye for capturing memorable photographs is basically an innate talent, or can it be learned?

A good eye helps, especially on feature pictures. J. Scott Applewhite is a good example.  Scotty had covered wars for the Associated Press for decades, (Scotty and I were the two pool photographers for the first days of  the first Gulf War... a wonderful man).  Now Scotty is assigned to Capitol Hill, but often you will see a fantastic feature picture in the papers by J.Scott Applewhite.  As you can see, I am a big fan.

3. Politics aside, which president did you photographers find to be the most approachable and cooperative? Which was the least? How about the spouses?

 No politics needed.  Bush 41 would be the favorite of most  photographers who have been around for a while.  Nancy Reagan would be the favorite First Lady.  Some presidents have been more difficult to cover.  President Carter cut the press office staff by 20% which led to poor advance work and poor pictures.  I doubt if any photographer was happy during that time. 

4. Of all the photographs you've taken, is there one that stands out in your mind as your best, and of which you're most proud? Tell us about it.  

Which of my photographs is the best. Standard answer: the Pulitzer Prize winning photo that I will take tomorrow.

[HERE'S one of Dennis' photos, showing the Reagans at Normandy. Amazing, isn't it?]


5. What was your favorite travel assignment in the line of duty? The most dangerous?

 Favorite travel assignment?  I spent a month with the Nelson Rockefellers in Seal Harbour, Maine right before he was picked to be Vice President.  I was working for TIME. In August, there were never any hotel rooms so the Rockefellers let the TIME reporter and me stay in their garage. Don't worry, a Rockefeller garage is not like an ordinary garage.

 Most dangerous?  All of the riots in the sixties.

6. Anything else you'd like to add?

The picture.  We have a saying.  "F8 and be there."  Being there is the most important part.

 *******

Many thanks to Dennis for taking the time to respond to these questions. He's a pretty cool dude, huh? (SEE what neat people you can meet by writing a review...?) And thank you, Dennis, for sharing so much with us with this wonderful book.

During his illustrious career, award-winning photojournalist (and pretty cool dude) Dennis Brack has covered ten presidential administrations and a host of major news stories all around the world. Those of you who live near the Austin, Texas area can see a collection of some of his photos at the Briscoe Center at the University of Texas, because in 2012, he donated a 150,000-slide archive to the center.

[I cannot say enough good things about this book. Really. Check it out on Amazon.]

*******

Because of the Goodreads giveaway for Hot Flashes and Cold Lemonade, my book is now considerably more well-traveled than I am. To tell the truth, I had some major concerns as to whether readers in Lithuania, the Netherlands, the Philippines, and Kenya would be able to relate to the story and my weird sense of humor, but to my surprise and delight, the Kenyan gentleman who won it has already written a lovely review. So Jeremiah... thank you. I hope you win many many more books.

One last thing. For all you folks who read e-books, check out Bookbub. Once you join and answer some questions about the kinds of books you most enjoy, you'll receive a daily email from them, listing a number of reduced price and FREE books. (I must confess; I'm addicted.) Oh, if you join, it sure would be nice if you wrote a review for any books you get through them. Authors pay a good bit of money to have their books listed on there, and often offer it to readers for FREE. So what's in it for them? Reviews, reviews, reviews... and a (woo HOO!) better ranking on Amazon.

**************

He was such a bad writer, they revoked his poetic license.  [Milton Berle]

Honest criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger.  [Franklin Jones]

Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.  [Christopher Hampton]

Confronted by an absolutely infuriating review it is sometimes helpful for the victim to do a little personal research on the critic. Is there any truth to the rumor that he had no formal education beyond the age of eleven? In any event, is he able to construct a simple English sentence? Do his participles dangle? When moved to lyricism, does he write, "I had a fun time."? Was he ever arrested for burglary? I don't know that you will prove anything this way, but it is perfectly harmless, and quite soothing. [Jean Kerr]

Nature fits all her children with something to do. He who would write and can't write can surely review.  [James Russell Lowell]

A good day is one where I can not just read a book, but write a review of it.  [Christopher Hitchens]

From the moment I picked up your book up until I laid it down, I convulsed with laughter. Someday, I intend on reading it.  [Groucho Marx]

I'm writing a book. I've got the page numbers done.  [Stephen Wright]


                                       
                                             So have you read any good books lately?

                                      Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

79 comments:

  1. Every now and then I have to remind myself that it's the power of words that has given Rap such legs over so many years. But I still don't like it. No, thank you.

    But everyday, I look out of my office window at the people standing in line for a meal and sincerely say... thank you.

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    1. When you mention rap, you're opening up a whole new can of beans. Some of its words might be okay, but they're trying to pass that... stuff... off as MUSIC!

      I'm surprised you didn't comment on Brack's book. I figured that'd be right up your alley.

      Delete
  2. I still write thank you cards.
    I try to write a review on Goodreads. At the very least I will give a book stars. Like you though, I don't review ones I didn't like. Besides, if I didn't like it, I didn't finish reading it, and you can't write a review on a book you didn't read.

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    1. Nice to know you still write thank you notes. (But I'm not surprised.)

      I agree with you, but you'd be surprised how many people write lousy reviews based on a few chapters or less.

      Delete
  3. Writers definitely thrive on input about their works - - especially positive input. It has a very inspiring effect. When I used to do a lot of serious writing (other than my stupid blog) I always loved to get "fan" mail. I never received very much hate mail - but I learned to survive the few that were hurled at me.. Actually, some criticism sounds more harsh than it's intended to be. Some people just don't have a way with words...

    I used to write reviews on Amazon and Shelfari, but lately I've given up because it became so time-consuming. Much like you, I'm hesitant to write negative reviews. It's always best to be very gentle. Harsh criticism can cut like a knife.

    "Presidential Picture Stories" sounds fascinating.
    By the way, it's truly wonderful that your novel is being appreciatred in places like Kenya and the Philippines!

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    1. Yes, you're right. Deep down, writers want feedback to serve as feel-good affirmations that they connected with someone, but (sigh) I guess we have to accept the honest stuff, too. I haven't gotten any hurtful reviews yet, but if and when I do, I'll just have to swallow those bitter pills along with the ice cream sundaes.

      Writing reviews can be time-consuming, but I'm trying to get into the habit of not letting myself start a new book until I've written a review on the one I just read. (I'm so mean to myself!) And reviews don't have to be long. Some people only write a couple sentences.

      "Presidential Picture Stories" IS fascinating!

      Thanks. I can hardly believe it...

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  4. Hey Susan, great to see another post from you! I'm sure I've seen a comprehensive interview on TV with Mr. Brack, where many of his photos were also shown. Maybe it was on 60 Minutes? Or something like it. I know I would love this book, too. I'm a very amateur photographer and would like to became better at it. I've asked Santa for quite a few years for a "really good camera," but still...no camera. Guess I haven't been good enough :(
    P.S. I'm glad you liked my memoir well enough to give it a great review!

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    1. THERE you are! I was thinking about sending you another email today to see what happened to you. You sent me one a while back to see what happened to ME, told me to reply right away, which I did, and then... Oh well. You're here now. Good to hear from you.

      Could be. You might have seen him on TV. He's quite a photography star. (And really nice!) If you want a good camera, maybe you need to sock your book earnings away and buy one yourself. Santa might not know what kind of camera you want as well as you do.)

      P.S. I'm glad you're glad...

      Delete
    2. Hey Susan! Gosh, I thought I replied to you! Please e-mail me again, because when my laptop kind of crashed, I didn't lose e-mails, but I lost all the addresses. I was just searching for yours again, to see if I actually replied and then something happened to it or what. I can't find anything. So, please just send me a "test" e-mail and then I can search better. Again, I apologize though if I didn't respond right away. I keep trying to figure out a way to handle all the writerly/office/blogging/marketing/promoting stuff that I'm doing, but I haven't as of yet! I need help!!

      Delete
    3. Okeydoke, I just resent the last email to you. No biggie, though: I'm just glad all is well with you. (Sounds like you need a secretary... or a wife!)

      Delete
  5. Thank you for introducing us to Dennis. Fascinating interview and questions. And I love that photo of the Reagans at Normandy. And yes a thank you goes a LONG way. I am a firm believer in this from my days as waiter :)

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    1. You're welcome. I think you'd love Dennis' book.

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  6. I am a believer in the old adage that if you don't have something nice to say about someone or something, say nothing at all. I also feel guilty though because silence speaks volumes.

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    1. Ah, you're a follower of the Thumper school of philosophy, too, huh? (He may have just been a "dumb bunny", but I think he was right.)

      Yeah, that silence one is a stickler. Even if it isn't our intention, our failure to say anything can project a harsher criticism... or a stronger endorsement... than our words ever would have.

      Delete
  7. Yes...still writing thank you cards. Old habits die hard.

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    1. I'm glad to hear that. It fits the image I have of you in my mind.

      Delete
  8. Positive reinforcement helps everyone. I'm now onto Saul Alinsky's books. I'm trying to find out what makes socialists tick.

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    1. Manzanita ~
      Are you sure they do?
      Maybe that's actually a bomb that one of them set.

      Have you read 'WITNESS' by Whittaker Chambers? I thought that one was pretty instructive in getting down to what makes socialists _____ [*whatever it is that socialists do*].

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

      Delete
    2. I'm almost ashamed to say it, Manzie, but I'm not familiar with Alinsky. Let us know what you think of his books.

      Now, now, Stephen. Play nice. (Okay, so that WAS kinda clever...)

      Delete
  9. It is sometimes quite hard to right a review that is meaningful!

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    1. Yes, it is, but you have a way with words. I'm sure you'd do a terrific job.

      Delete
  10. I feel the same way you do about reviews. Especially if it's someone I know. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings but on the other hand I want to be honest AND kind. Sometimes it's hard to do both.

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    1. Exactly! I mean, how do you tell someone you really like that her book is seriously in need of a good editor and some fact-checking?

      Delete
  11. SUSAN ~
    That was indeed a very interesting picture of the Reagans at Normandy.

    >>... So have you read any good books lately?

    I have! It may be one of my Top Ten favorite books ever. Certainly very high up on 'Favorites' list regardless of the actual ranking. And, yes, I intend to post a review of it on my blog before long.

    In fact, a Super-Star Blogger here at this .com site has even volunteered to contribute an original work of art to illustrate my review. This should be fun. It's almost always easy to write a good review for a book one loves.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. Isn't that photo super?

      Ah, I'm intrigued. I look forward to hearing more about your new top ten book. (Regrets to the poor book that lost its place on that list.)

      Delete
  12. I'm in your camp, review-wise. Can't bring myself to trash any book.

    Brack's book looks fascinating -- thanks for sharing it with us.

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    1. Not sure, but I kinda think we're in the same camp a lotta-wise.

      It really is fascinating. I may just have to read it again.

      Delete
  13. Well a good bad review beats no review at all
    Unless you don't having nothing nice to say at ones hall
    But still it lets the author know where to improve
    And hopefully find their groove
    But just trashing them away
    Should never be done at any bay

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    1. Yep, "trash" is for the compost pile,
      Or in the city dump.
      It does no good to review with bile
      Or on writers' backs to jump.

      Delete
  14. As always, so many elements to this post... and so many things available for comment.

    Thank you notes... yep, I was one of those kids who grew up writing them. When I graduated high school, my mom bought this lavender stationery with my name printed on the front. I used those as my Thank You Notes for many years. However, I haven't written one in years. I am not sure what that says precisely. I think that with the advent of email my letter writing has dwindled to nearly non-existent.

    Thank you by way of book review... I love to read and rarely write a review. Now I don't know why that is either. I think it might stem from the fact that I feel a review should, particularly on Amazon or Goodreads, should be succinct and I don't do that well. I recently received an arc from a blogger buddy that I just loved. I fully intend to write a review, but I am already mentally struggling. I want it to fully capture the essence of the book and I find ME lacking.

    The book you reviewed... I find these sorts of books fascinating. Did you read the one on the Presidents written by the Secret Service members? If not, you would enjoy it. Naturally, I cannot think of the title right now.

    I wouldn't take a lack of review personally by a blogger buddy. People who aren't in the HABIT of reviewing simply don't think of it.

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    1. Let's see, what might it say that you haven't written a formal thank you note in years? Maybe that there haven't been any formal gift-giving occasions for a while, and no need for condolence messages. Or you could be like a lot of people... email messages and FB messages do the trick for you. (Heck, I even found out about the birth of our youngest grandchild through a post on FB!)

      You're right; I think it's best to try to keep reviews on the short side, too. I've seen some long ones that try to summarize the entire book, but three or four paragraphs usually does it for me.

      No, I haven't read the book by the Secret Service members, but I'll see if I can find it. Hmmm, now how will I Google that...?

      Yeah, you're probably right. Just because I've got the habit doesn't mean everyone else should have it. Thanks.

      Delete
  15. As one who is sometimes remiss in writing Thank-yous, I am making a point of doing so on this occasion. So here I sit, tongue swinging and legs peeking out the corner of my mouth, expressing appreciation for such a wonderful and informative post. Thanks Susan.

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    1. Now, this is gonna sound a teensy bit sexist, but I rarely expect married men to write thank you notes. I mean, isn't that the "little woman's" job? (It always has been in this family.)

      HA! You nut. You're welcome, dude.

      Delete
  16. Oh, this book looks wonderful. How cool that you won it!

    And I'm with you on reviews. I am a firm believer in "if you can't say something nice..." My biggest problem is forgetting to do reviews. I have several I need to write - including one for your book - but I keep forgetting. Maybe this will be the reminder I need to get my butt in gear.

    Enjoy your weekend, Susan.

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    1. I KNOW! That book IS wonderful, and I won a ANOTHER book from Goodreads today! The fifth this month. Amazing. The latest one is all about Antarctica. Cool, huh? (Literally.)

      I feel behind on doing reviews for a while last year, but once I caught up, (by writing like twenty of them) I've tried to write a review as soon as I finish a book. No review, no next book. Works for me!

      You enjoy your weekend, too, Julie.

      Delete
  17. I guess I had never thought of reviews being a "thank you" to an author. But you're right. They are ways to say thanks and help an author out.

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    1. Absolutely! A good review is enough to put a smile on a writer's face for the whole day.

      How ya liking that Georgia weather now? It was darned near sixty today. Weird stuff, huh?

      Delete
  18. The book looks good, and I love the photo of the Reagans. When I review a book on my blog, sometimes I include a little constructive criticism. When I transfer the review to Amazon, I leave out the criticism.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. That's a better way to handle it, but I'd still feel awkward about criticizing via my blog. I'd rather do it in a personal email, if at all.

      Happy weekend!

      Delete
  19. Yay! I write reviews all the time, I feel like a good girl now. I mostly post good reviews because if I don't like a book I abandon it, but I did just write one bad review on Goodreads. I tried to be extremely specific about my objections. I seriously doubt the author will read my review, but if he's super bored and stumbles across it, hopefully it will read like a good critique instead of a mean-spirited bashing.

    I love Bookbub, too, though it's highly hit-or-miss. Do you subscribe to Kindle daily deals? I get quite a few good books for cheap that way.

    Good to know about the Goodreads giveaways. I wondered about that. I've won two books so far but haven't reviewed either: they're on my TBR but I better hurry up and get to that.

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    1. Yes, Stephanie, you are a very good girl!

      Yeah, not all the books recommended by Bookbub pass my sniff test, but I have gotten some really good books. No, I havent' checked out the Amazon daily deals. (With all the books I'm already getting, I'm not sure if I dare...)

      I won ANOTHER book from Goodreads today... that's five this month! So, yeah, I think writing a timely review stacks the odds in your favor. So, hurry, hurry, hurry!

      Delete
  20. Thanks to Dennis for his insightful answers. Technology will never replace the skill behind the camera. Will check his book out. What have I read? Zip! The TBR list is very high!) It's been kitchen renovation, holidays and now pre-moving to NC. . . definitely need a clone . . .

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    1. Well, you'd better get moving with that renovation and relocation stuff, because I've been reading my share and yours, too. (Somebody's gotta pick up the slack!)

      Talk to Alex... maybe he can help you with that clone. I think he has several.

      Delete
  21. I'm with you -- I absolutely will not trash a friend's book. Those 1 and 2 star ratings seem to hurt more when you know the person who gave them.

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    1. Absolutely. (Looks like I'm in very good company with that one.)

      Delete
  22. I don't think it's cowardly to only review books you like. Doesn't Grandma say, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything?"

    http://joycelansky.blogspot.com/

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  23. Susan, I long to make time to read a great deal of books... maybe when I retire in about 20 years. I used to read so much and I love to comment... I do admit I look for the good when I comment... If I find none... I don't comment... just like you :)

    I love that book, I have a really nice coffee table book that is a picture book of all the highlights of the 80's... that is the era my oldest grew up in... some really interesting things happened then.

    Have a great weekend :)

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    1. Don't worry. If you love to read, you'll find time for it. If not now, then later. Once a reader, always a reader.

      I used to have a terrific coffee table book of some of the iconic "Life" magazine photos and news stories from the '50s and '60s, but a friend "borrowed" it. Now, I guess he has a terrific coffee table book of some of the iconic photos and stories of the '50s and '60s.

      You have a super weekend, too!

      Delete
  24. I just love modern technology (well, most of the time...) - before e-books, there was no way to comment and provide feedback to an author.

    Once I realized that an author loves and thrives on feedback, I started writing reviews. Like you, I'd hate to say anything negative. There is always something positive in a book, so I'll just focus on that. If I loved the story, I'll mention that and forget about the bad grammar or spelling or formatting. Luckily, your book was a great story and flawless with grammar, spelling, and formatting! :-)

    I did not realize you could win books by writing reviews. So many books, so little time...

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    1. It really IS fabulous to be able to comment on books and communicate with writers, isn't it? This is the best time ever to be a book nut.

      Thanks for the nice comment on my book. That should keep a smile on my face for a while.

      You've got that right! I just won ANOTHER book through Goodreads today, so that's FIVE just in the month of January! It seems the more I read and review, the more I win. A delightful self-sustaining cycle.

      Happy weekend! It's gonna be in the sixties here tomorrow, so I guess it'll be eighty there... enjoy!

      Delete
  25. Not sure what it says about me, but I don't write reviews, mostly because all I could say was I did or didn't enjoy it. (the book) Explaining why is beyond me.

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    1. I've seen how well you write, so I'm sure you could whip up some terrific reviews if you cared to add your opinion to the mix. That you don't write them tells me you simply don't want to, and that's just fine. I have a feeling that when you come across THE BOOK that blows you away, you'll wanta review... or maybe you'll just mention it on your blog. What's most important is that you're still reading. (Gotta keep those ol' gray cells happy!)

      Delete
  26. Thank you for blogging. You bring joy each week. Also - that photo book looks neat, and that's very cool of him to answer your questions. Indeed - please and thanks can get one far in this world. Neat post

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    1. Aw, how sweet. Thank YOU for blogging, and for stopping by here to read & leave a comment. It's always good to hear from you.

      Yes, good manners can take us far. It's kinda funny, though. I was raised to say, "Yes, ma'am" and "No, sir" as a sign of respect for my elders. I still DO say "ma'am" and "sir", but it isn't as easy to find "elders" as it used to me. I have met the elderly, and it is I...

      Delete
  27. I struggle with the idea of reviews. I will tell anyone who asks me in person how I feel about a book, but an online review has so much more power, that I too hesitate to write anything negative. Loved your interview with Dennis Brack. Being there...camera in hand. Yep.

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    1. You're right; an online review can wield a lot of power. Not only to express appreciation to the writer, but to serve as a personal recommendation (or warning) to other readers. A well-written review can potentially convince other readers to purchase and read a particular book.

      Thanks. I'm glad you liked it.

      Delete
  28. What a great blog post. I really enjoyed it! You have a great touch in your essays. Just great.
    Thanks.
    Jack.

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  29. This post spoke volumes to me. I really, really liked it. I agree with Meg Rossof and that's what I do nowadays. I review only books and albums I like. Especially when it's music and books by people who don't have the same opportunities as more mainstream composers or writers.

    Greetings from London.

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    1. I'm glad to hear the post struck a chord with you. I like your philosophy for reviewing, and have certainly enjoyed the different types of music you've highlighted on your blog.

      Greeting from Georgia!

      Delete
  30. I've just recently started reviewing books I've read. I simply never thought about the author checking for reviews even though I know I'd be doing it if it were me!

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    1. Good for you. Good reviews are like water and sunshine to a flower.

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  31. An interesting post that I enjoyed reading.

    Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.

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    1. Thanks, Andrew. And thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I'll be returning the favor asap. Nice to meetcha!

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  32. Hi Susan,

    Great post! Thanks for sharing!

    Ahem, after thoroughly skimming through your posting, I now reach the point where I leave one of my highly treasured comments. Or something like that.

    I do my best to maintain the fine art of handwritten thank you's. Besides, that way, folks take my autographed cards and sell them on eBay. Can get up to a nickel on my cards. Quite the bidding war.

    This posting was food for thought. A lot of folks ask me to review their manuscripts. They are either desperate or consider me a cheap alternative.

    I'm outta' here.....

    Gary

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    1. Hi, Gary.

      Thanks! Thanks for reading!

      It's very kind of you to send handwritten thank you notes, not only to express your appreciation, but also to provide your admirers with a bit of income.

      Or another possibility: they respect your opinion, and trust that you won't say anything hurtful. Sorry, but that's your rep... you're doomed to be the good guy with the kind heart. (So you might as well stop wearing the badass biker jacket... we're on to you.)

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  33. Your post gives one much food for thought and although I am not one to send thank you notes as I receive so few gifts.
    I second what River said (above). I love to read but my choice now I am older is for simple to read books; nothing too thought provoking. I too would find it difficult to do a review of any book for the same reason. I either like a book and read it right through or I don't like it so don't bother finishing it.

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    1. Last year, I included a thank you inside a Christmas card to a couple who'd opened their home to several other families who'd relocated to GA back in '71. Most of us had left our families and friends behind in other states, and this couple... and their six kids... created "new family" of sorts for us. For several years, their home was a refuge... a place where we shared holiday meals and card games, and good company. And all because our husbands happened to work for the same company. I couldn't remember if I'd ever thought to thank them properly back then, so I wrote them a long note. (It's never too late, right?) They'd moved away some time ago, and we'd lost touch some years back, but the gal called me after they received that card... to tell me how much that note meant to them. So, sometimes, no actual "gift" is required to make a thank you note appropriate. They're both well up in their eighties now, and were touched that someone remembered their kindness all those years ago.

      For you then, if someone asks you if you liked a book, you could rightfully say, "I read it, didn't I?" HA. Love it. Reminds me of the hubby in my book, who when his wife asks if he loves her, says, "I married you, didn't I?" Thanks for making me smile.

      Take care.

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  34. How awesome you won a book from such a fascinating author. :)

    I wrote several reviews today. I don't write a review on every single book I read, but I do write them for most. I know authors find it helpful.

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    1. I KNOW! I've really been a lucky duck in winning so many terrific books.

      A lot of writers owe YOU and thank you note. You do a wonderful job reviewing and promoting books. (Thanks!)

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  35. I should have read this before I scheduled my post for Monday. No matter, I won't rehash my opinions here other than to say when it comes to the if you can't say something nice… philosophy, I come down squarely on the side of saying nothing at all. I'm reconciled to the new world order. I understand that reviews now have little to do with the book and more to do with marketing, but I'm still hesitant.

    Well written, critical reader reviews that help authors become better writers, and readers to find books they'll love, are a thing of the past, and I'm still in morning.

    It's interesting to note, I will be begging for reviews for an anthology later this week. Hope I'm up to it. :)

    VR Barkowski

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    1. Yeah, reviews do seem to have a lot to do with marketing these days, because a lot of writers all but stand on their heads to get people to write reviews for them, but to me, the primary purpose for writing reviews remains the same. In the end, it's about giving honest opinions and offering personal recommendations to other readers. It's also a way to express genuine appreciation and respect for the writers' work.

      No need to beg. If there's ever anything I can read and review for you, I'd be happy to oblige.

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  36. Great post and fantastic interview. Dennis does sound like a cool guy.

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  37. You struck a nerve on reviews. I rarely write them because I'm just not good at it. Whenever I try, the result is so stiff and forced - even when I've loved the book - that I fear they'll sound like I'm "damning with faint praise". I wonder if anyone else has this problem.

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    1. Interesting. Your writing is usually so readable, and so... "you". (Ya know?) I can't imagine you having trouble writing anything. But evidently, you aren't alone. Others have already expressed a frustration with knowing what to say in a review.

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  38. Hi Susan - how interesting to read about Dennis' book and how he came to be able to be at the White House .. love the Rockefeller story - I bet their garage was some what better kitted out than most homes. I'd love to read through his book ..

    Also 'thank yous' - are just a critical part of life for all things ... and I must get to the review arena too .. especially when I do start reading = soon I hope!

    Cheers Hilary

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    1. Hi, Hilary.

      Dennis has another giveaway going on Goodreads now, but it's about to be over. Tomorrow, maybe. But if you go over there and enter, who knows? You might get lucky!

      Cheers!

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