goodreads stars & how i use them

I see a lot of things about reviewers on Goodreads who give reviews that are either 1 star or 5 stars, with little in-between, and whenever I read about reviewers like that, I always feel a little confused.

This is the exact opposite of how I rate books.

I like a nice bell curve.  Most of my reviews are 3 stars, because that’s an “average” rating.  Three stars means I liked the book… because, surprise!  I like to read, and I like books.  I like most things I read.  That’s normal right?  If I hated 50% of the things I read, I probably wouldn’t like to read so much.

It’s very rare that I absolutely HATE a book, and usually I can’t even say that I hated it.  Most of my 1-star reviews are for books that I couldn’t finish.  And sometimes even a favorite author will make that list (Stephen King, for Dreamcatcher).

Two stars, that means I could finish the book but didn’t particularly enjoy it.  A lot of school reading falls into this category.  Or sometimes I didn’t enjoy it, but can see the literary value.  Or sometimes it’s the rating version of “Meh.” (The official Goodreads description of a 2-star rating is “it was ok.”  Meh.)

When I give a book four stars on Goodreads, that’s a recommendation from me.  Usually I will rate a book 4 stars if I can imagine myself recommending the book to someone (as a librarian, I do this a lot!).  These are books that I think are well-written, that captured my attention, and especially series books that I am likely to continue reading.

Now, when I rate a book FIVE stars, that’s something rare.  (Almost as rare as 1 star!  Because I like my bell curve!).  Sometimes a book transports me into another world, where I think about the characters outside of the story, or maybe I imagine myself IN the story.  I’m emotionally invested, fully.  These things might also describe a 4-star book as well.  But I’d also re-read a 5-star book.  I hardly ever re-read anything.

Some of the books that I’ve given 5 stars to:

  • Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  • The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
  • The Changeling by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
  • The Stand by Stephen King
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • The Twilight & Hunger Games series
  • The Vampire Armand by Anne Rice
  • A Solitary Blue by Cynthia Voigt

Now, when I write reviews on Amazon (which I do very rarely), the rating scale slides a little bit.  Some of my 3-star reviews become 4-star reviews, because on Amazon, 3-star is “it was ok.”  Which I guess makes sense.  But I like my Goodreads bell curve :)

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Scavengers is out! And Camp Nanowrimo win!

scavengers ebook cover 6 copy

Finally, it’s done!

I managed to publish the Kindle edition on the actual date I had planned for the release (April 30), and it should be available over at Smashwords (and then at Barnes & Noble, iBooks, etc.) shortly!

If anyone is interested in a free digital copy of Scavengers to review, please contact me via email (spoffk(at) or send me a message on Goodreads.

Here are a few fun things I found while editing:

  • Originally I had named the character Will as “Lucas.”
  • I had forgotten that Zeke killed his father, not Ben (aka the black wolf).
  • Geo’s eyes are coal black (something I’ll need to deal with when I revise The Madman, currently it’s a major plot point that Geo has blue eyes with a bit of orange in them)
  • Originally Zeke called his father “Pa” throughout the entire book… then I re-read Hitchhikers and discovered that Zeke calls his father “Dad.”

Also, this:


Yeah!  I made it to my goal of 20K!  I’m very close to finishing The Madman.  I’m hoping to get that out before the next round of camp in July.

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a week of writing and revising

As April winds to an end, I find myself in the midst of two things: finishing up my story for Camp Nanowrimo, and preparing Scavengers for release later this week!

Currently I’m at around 18,500 words in “The Madman,” which will be a second Wolf Point prequel novella.  I only need to write about 500 words a day to get to my goal of 20K by the April 30th deadline.  Along the way some interesting things have happened.  I had planned for this installment to be all about Fallon Loupe going mad.  I wasn’t sure what part Geo would have in it… and it’s been a much bigger part than I expected!

I took this week off so I can edit and prepare Scavengers.  After finishing the first draft last month I needed to take some time away from it before really editing.  Now I have the whole week… here we go!

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hi-ho it’s off to camp i go

This year Camp Nanowrimo is already making me do great things.  I finished the rough draft of Scavengers (YAY! You can even see that it’s moved from my Works in Progress to Novels!) because I needed it to be finished before I started camp.

I had a whole 2 days to spare, and I decided to use them to do a little pre-editing for Scavengers – by that I mean I’m re-reading Hitchhikers and Dreamwalkers.  (Usually I leave a newly finished novel to sit for a while before editing).  Mostly I was forgetting details like character descriptions and various places, and re-reading was mostly for me to remember the tone and voice of each novel and to be able to record all those things in my master notebook of info.  Well, damned if I haven’t found a bunch of types and errors in Hitchhikers alone!  I’m talking stuff like Kayla referring to her father as “Uncle Buck” and Daniel forgetting if his mother is Julie or Jenny (it’s Jenny).  Ugh.  I also described Remy in a totally different way than I remembered, so once I get through Dreamwalkers I’ll match them up and hopefully get all the details straight and upload revised editions.  And hopefully I’ll then be able to edit Scavengers and have it out by the new release date, April 30!

For Camp Nanowrimo, I’m writing another prequel.  This one is called “The Madman” and picks up where The Beast left off.  Naturally, I will have to re-read The Beast at some point to get all those details straight.  Because this is a novella, my Camp Nanowrimo word count is only 20,000, and as of Day 1 I’m right on track!  I’m excited in that way that comes after finishing a novel, like anything is possible.  I’m already trying to plan for what I’ll work on in July.  Wolf Point #4?  The third prequel novella?  Something totally new??

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book clubs and week-long freebies!

I’m so bad at promoting my own books.  This week (March 23-March 27) The Art Kids is free on Amazon Kindle.  Go download!

Tonight I’ll be appearing at my first book club discussion of one of my books!  My coworker Sue read Bethany Caleb after the author panel I did at the library back in December.  She loved it and had her book club read it, so tonight I get to make my second official author appearance.  It’s a little scary – what if everyone hates it??, but Sue has been so positive about it that I’m feeling pretty good.

All month long there have been people coming into the library and saying, “Oh, Katie, you’re the one who wrote that book!” which has made it all too clear how little into self-promotion I am.  When I self-published my books, I didn’t put much thought into promotion.  I did some Goodreads giveaways, and offered up free copies to some review groups, and occasionally do free days on Amazon.  I liked that it was all online, and sort of anonymous.  I had this secret life as an author.

When I was a teen I read this book by Christopher Pike called Master of Murder, about a teenage boy who wrote bestselling novels, only he wrote under a pen name so no one knew it was him.  Everyone at school thought he was a loser – meanwhile, he had legions of fans of his novels.  Something about this scenario appeals to me…

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writing weather?

You’d think, after having four giant snowstorms in as many weeks and getting a number of days off from work for that very reason, with nothing to do other than sit in my apartment alone, that I would have done MUCH more writing than I have.


Yesterday cabin fever set in and I had to get out.  My couch has become synonymous with marathoning TV shows and watching movies, and not writing.  I had some luck after taking advice from another blogger about changing location to break out of writer’s block – took my laptop into the kitchen to sit at the table and write and actually got quite a bit done.

Today I’m with Janina at Barnes & Noble writing.  I updated my word count over on the Scavengers page so you can see that I really am trying!  It seems like everyone else in the world also has cabin fever and is out today…

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more writing soundtracks

I’ve added a few new playlists over at 8tracks:

You can get an idea for the track listings on the book pages, although because of 8tracks’ rules I can’t always include every song I listened to while writing.

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