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?
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.