I bumped into Carolina Hinojosa-Cisneros for the first time at the Five Minute Friday Twitter party one week, and she piqued my interest from Day One. But what really impressed me were the video book reviews she shared on social media. And the reviews keep coming! I love seeing Carolina’s passion for reading books and supporting authors, so I asked her to share some of her motivation with us.
I can personally testify to the benefits Carolina lists in her post below, as I’ve enjoyed reviewing books for a number of publishers over the past few years. Besides getting to read amazing words for free and build my library, it has been such a blessing to make new author friends as a result.
Queue red flashing lights. Pause for the train wreck about to happen. Shield your eyes. Ask for mercy and continue typing. Welcome to writer’s burnout. This is the point where your blog posts and Twitter feed stop making sense. Guilty party of one! Three months ago, I was this writer.
Writer’s burnout is the complete opposite of writer’s block. Burnout is a gigantic mind dump of information spilt onto the pages. And good luck sorting it out. It feels like your entire writing life was predicated on this moment. You want to switch brands and change your writing style completely.
At the height of my burnout I emailed a dear writing colleague and confided in her, “I’m burnt out on Christianity. I don’t want to write anything that has to deal with faith anymore.”
I was right there, friend, battling demons of writing about faith rather than understanding from where my burnout was coming.
I wanted to hide in a cavern full of books and munch on tortilla chips and guacamole – heavy on the cilantro and lime. I wanted to be left alone with my Topo Chico mineral water and throw my journal away.
It was time for a fresh start.
I had already reviewed a book or two for The Blog About and discovered new avenues for receiving free books. The only stipulation was that I had to write about them. Fine! I joined a couple of book launch teams and this was yet another way to receive free books. Free books for writers is like guacamole, friend. You can never have enough.
God has this way at laughing at your plans when you try to write Him off. You can burn out on religion but never burn out on your faith.
The further I dug into reading books (and reviewing them), the more I learned about a huge community of writers and book lovers just like me, and in the faith world, no less. The idea was never that I would stop writing; God’s idea was that my focus would shift but the writing would continue.
I set up a series at my blog and had no idea what that covering was for until after it started. I didn’t have to write a blog post for three months. My full focus shifted toward writing poetry and finishing my book proposal. Is it ever finished?!
My series was on God’s second chances for us to begin again. Book reviews were God’s way of telling me to start over. I learned from my own series to push the reset button.
Lest I forget to stay faithful and keep showing up.
Beverly Cleary said, “If you don’t see the book you want on the shelves, write it.” God is preparing me for my book. He is preparing my mind for market research, books like mine, and a community of book lovers who will engage with me on writing it.
I highly encourage writers to review books as it fits into their schedules. The best piece of advice I received in college was, “In order to be a better writer, read as much as you can.”
Here are five benefits from writing book reviews:
1. Refine Your Skills
Although ideas aren’t pumping out for new blog posts, words and ideas are forming nonetheless. The mind stays fresh and the focus shifts but you keep staying faithful and keep showing up.
2. Find Your Voice
The more you read, the more you’ll start to find your writing voice. Gather information on different styles and start to see more clearly what styles you gravitate toward.
3. Network With Authors
This has been the most fun. Authors are people just like you and me. They love that we love their words so much! And even when we don’t, it’s a great opportunity to ask questions and get to know fellow faith writers.
4. Stay Abreast Market Research
When writing a book, it becomes imperative to research competition. If there are no books competing with yours, that’s not a good thing. It means your book idea may not bode well. You want healthy competition.
5. Satiate Your Book Hunger
Did you read the line about free books? Enjoy your guacamole, friend.
Are you motivated to explore some Christian book review options?
Click here for a list of 13 publishers looking for Christian book reviewers.
I am a San Antonio, Texas native and mom to Faith, Ryan, and Brooklyn. I spend my life having soul-filled conversations with my Hip Hop nerd of a husband, Erasmo. We love to gather with a diverse group of friends, open our table up for grubbin’, and road-trip to the far reaches of the earth together. My work has appeared in The Acentos Review, Rock & Sling (forthcoming), Mudroom, The Lookout Magazine, Creative and Free, Zouch Magazine, Amity Coalition, Sagebrush Review, and more.
Find Carolina at her website, Cisneros Cafe, on Facebook, and on Twitter.
Carolina your articles are always smashing. Love this. I really love your style here as if you’re talking to us. This is becoming my favorite way to write at the blog. You’re going to go far in the writing industry I do believe. Thanks for reminding us to keep showing up. This has been my challenge as I unearth which few things I’m meant to tend to. Also, thanks for sharing your struggle. I understand the burn out on the religion thing. Way to go with shedding light on that ol fella. Love and hugs to you!
<3 Thanks, friend. I think it was like having a convo with Kate instead of writing out into the blogosphere. I'm learning a lot from reading others words and feeling around for my own online voice. I am so appreciative of your continued support. It blessed me the world over to know I have friends like you! Love and hugs. Keep rockin' your site. I love it!!
Thanks Kate for hosting Carolina. I might have stumbled upon her on FMF too, not sure.
Carolina, You are such a great inspiration! I don’t know how you read so much, write so much, have a full time job and be a mother of 3! You are an inspiration and motivation 🙂 Keep going. Oh BTW, big fan of guacamole with extra cilantro and lime! Yum! 🙂
Alice: And the best part is, we’ll all get to meet each other IN PERSON in just a few short weeks! Hooray!
Kate, you bless my socks off. I can’t wait for the FMF Retreat. God’s up to something beautiful. This community is so wonderful. xoxo #home
Alice, I may or may not live on boatloads of coffee and grace. 🙂 I can’t wait to hug you in person and talk face to face. You inspire me too. I love that I bumped into you. And guacamole for the win! Bonding over food is my jam. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!
Great article my friend! Thank you for sharing how, though you might have been ready to chomp on chips, God had other plans. I love how His ways are never forceful, but rather a gentle guidance. I think that is what makes the revelation so sweet. Love you and your heart! xoxo
Love you, my friend. Amen to his plans and to how He is never forceful. His plans are higher. You bless me. Sending you my hugs and love. xoxo
Thanks for the encouraging post! I love writing book reviews (my old blog is full of them). And yes! you learn so much when you are reading To Write a review … different kind of reading altogether. Blessings!
Rachel, I’m so glad you stopped by. Thank you for your encouragement. Have a wonderful rest of your week!
I agree with Carolina. Book Reviews create another avenue for your words and a place to network with other authors!
Sally, thank you for stopping by. I’m a huge fan of networking and sharing Jesus and books. Have a great rest of your week!