• Fiona McIntosh: Voyager Author of the Month

    Fiona McIntosh was born and raised in Sussex in the UK, but also spent early childhood years in West Africa. She left a PR career in London to travel and settled in Australia in 1980. She has since roamed the world working for her own travel publishing company, which she runs with her husband. She lives in Adelaide with her husband and twin sons. Her website is at www.fionamcintosh.com.

    Her latest book, The Scrivener's Tale, is a stand-alone and takes us back to the world of Morgravia from her very first series, The Quickening:

    About The Scrivener's Tale:

    In the bookshops and cafes of present-day Paris, ex-psychologist Gabe Figaret is trying to put his shattered life back together. When another doctor, Reynard, asks him to help with a delusional female patient, Gabe is reluctant... until he meets her. At first Gabe thinks the woman, Angelina, is merely terrified of Reynard, but he quickly discovers she is not quite what she seems.

    As his relationship with Angelina deepens, Gabe's life in Paris becomes increasingly unstable. He senses a presence watching and following every move he makes, and yet he finds Angelina increasingly irresistible.

    When Angelina tells Gabe he must kill her and flee to a place she calls Morgravia, he is horrified. But then Angelina shows him that the cathedral he has dreamt about since childhood is real and exists in Morgravia.

    A special 10th Anniversary edition of her first fantasy book, Myrren's Gift, will be released in December!



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Much Ado About Review Part II –10 Tips for Writing Reviews

Some journalist report the best way to write an eye catching review is ring up the author’s ex and ask them the questions. In lieu of this second hand (or under hand) approach, here are ten tips to consider when writing a review. Additions most welcome!

  1. Know your audience. If you want to capture the readers’ interest by using tone, vocabulary and references that make sense to them, you need to know who they are.
  2. Know your publication. Whether you review for a blog, newspaper, magazine or online forum, familiarize yourself with their previously published reviews. What do the editors/moderators want? Word count? Tone? Emphasis?
  3. Review the book, not yourself. It’s easy to talk about how you might have handled a certain character, dialog or event differently than the author. These kinds of anecdotes are fun in forums but they aren’t the best way to present the book review unless it fits the tone of the publication. It may help to avoid using the first person. Keep in mind that the review, read against the grain, may tell more about the reviewer than the actual book.
  4. Take notes as you read. Gather examples of characterizations, world building, action, style, sensuality, (sound, taste, texture) passages that grab you, or not. These are the aspects of the review that will give it distinction.
  5. Adjectives. Most writing does better without them. Instead of a poignant, stunning, breathtaking, awesome surprise ending, consider ‘the end will leave readers smiling for days to come.’ Also avoid redundant modifiers like final ending. See Jennifer Fallon for further insights.
  6. Things to exclude. Spoilers, slander, personal judgments, biases, typos, unfair comparisons, anecdotes, rewrites, recipes, ten movies you liked better, what the dog had for breakfast.
  7. Things to include. Impact, immersion, ideas, gender roles, innovations, POV, voice, writing style, theme, plot, sub-plots, character development, setting or lack there of.
  8. Remember the Author. It may be appropriate to note something about the author. Is this their first novel? What else have they written? Qualifications? Are there more works coming?
  9. Remember the Reader. Give readers enough information so they can assess the book’s appeal. Objectivity is the challenge here. Think matchmaking.
  10. Develop your own Voice. The review is a composition with its own style, tone and impact. It is your voice, your freedom of speech. Polish and revise until it’s the best it can be. Remember, publishers will be reading it too!
Kim Falconer practising for her next book!

Kim Falconer practising the sword

Well written reviews give attention to new works and authors. They also bring attention to the genre. Mostly, they can engage you with a readership, bringing an invitation for further discussion, a gift offered to those who might want it. (see Part I) Have you written any reviews lately? Read any memorable ones? Voyager authors, would you like to share your best/worst review experience? Discussions welcome!

Read Much Ado About Review: Part I

Kim Falconer is the author of The Spell of Rosette (Quantum Enchantment Book 1), which was published this month by HarperVoyager. Kim lives in Byron Bay and runs the website Falcon’s Astrology as well as a website dedicated to the Quantum Enchantment series.

Read the Australian Bookseller & Publisher review of The Spell of Rosette.

The Specusphere interview with Kim and a review of her book.


7 Responses

  1. Thank you for this, it has been very helpful. I just started writing reviews for an online site and it can be a little nerve-wracking. Especially in the light of some events of recent days regarding reviewers getting death threats…

  2. Death treats? Oh that is extreme! Reviewers do need to feel free to express their opinions, their analysis. Freedom of speech! Seriously, death threats?

    What happened to any publicity is good publicity?

    Glad these tips are helpful, Joanna. Where are you reviewing?

  3. ASif. http://www.asif.dreamhosters.com/doku.php

    Only had my first one published so far, with another waiting in the wings. Yes, I have been managing to work this fact into most conversations I have lately *grin*.

  4. Thanks Joanna for the link to ASif. I got lost there for an hour reading reviews–and I liked the tone and flow of your take on Graceling. How interesting to compare it to the others. Do you avoid reading any reviews of the work until after yours is complete or do you research them as well, to compare/contrast your take with theirs?

    I noticed ASif has two aims in their reviewer’s guidelines:

    1. To bring attention to the Australian speculative fiction scene and to bring in new readers to it.

    2. To be an honest, open and unbiased critique of the work and discuss what worked and what didn’t work and why.

    Great guidelines! 🙂

  5. Thank you for such a kind review of my review *grin*. I purposely didn’t read any other reviews until after I had written mine, especially since the New York Times had already reviewed it as well. They pretty much said the same thing as me though, just better!

    ASif is an easy place to get lost (and they are always looking for new reviewers, in case you ever find yourself at a loose end…).

  6. What’s a loose end? 🙂

    I have done movie reviews in the past and really enjoyed the process. I will contact ASif when my pace slows down a bit. The more reviews there are, the better it is for Spec Fiction!

  7. Cool. Look forward to seeing you there…sometime! *grin*.

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