Sunday, August 26, 2012

Blog Critique: Kid Lit Reviews

In this series I give constructive feedback about the look and function of an author blog from a marketing perspective. As always, I rely on help from graphic designers Tom Barnes (my hubby) and Joe LaRue. To review the blog elements we look at or to submit your own blog for critique, go here.

Today we look at the other side of book blogs - the reviewer blog. Sue Morris of Kid Lit Reviews has been kind enough to offer up her blog for this week's critique. Check it out, spend some time, and meet below.

Overall, I really admire your site's extensive depth. You have a lot of reviews and information available and your navigation makes it easy to access. I think this is a much better option than a word cloud for this type of site. 

There are a few picky things I have in regards to your menu. The Contests/Giveaways button has a drop down to exactly the same thing. It should be like your Contact button - no drop down. 

Also, the navigation needs to use a bigger. bolder font. It's a little hard to read some of the info.

Your header is absolutely beautiful. It's a whimsical design that fits your site's topic without being literal. I like the bottom graphic as well. Problem is we can't see it very well. Additionally, that beautiful header needs to extend into your site more. Right now we see beautiful header, then we scroll down and it's kind of  "meh". 

A great place to add more of that whimsical design would be in your sidebar. Currently your sidebar has no separation from the main part of your blog, a common error we see in blogs. To really highlight your posts, make your post area a lighter color. Then carry some of your design elements down through your sidebar.

The use of fonts and styles is really inconsistent. This is a little off-putting when the rest of your site is so organized in terms of structure and review policy. Making it uniform will give you a more professional presence. 

Giving each book title a different color, for example, makes the page too busy. I see they match the books you are reviewing, but a lot of the colors are just hard to read against the background and making it uniform will really class you up. Try pulling some of the colors from your header as your colors in your posts. Keep them consistent and you'll look really sharp.

One of the biggest font issues we have is withe the Times Courier font you use for your star ratings. This font is really outdated and not bold enough for such an important part of your posts. Choose a prominent, heavy font and a bold color to show your star reviews. This should be the item people see right away (after the title of the book) when looking at your posts.

Your sidebar could use some clean up. You have a great deal of items and that makes me want to ignore the whole thing. I love that you have the search box right on top - this is essential in a site like yours. Under that I'd like to have a way to subscribe and follow you. You want me to come back, right? Make it easy for me to do so. Your RSS feed is in a good spot, but it's tiny. It needs to stand out. 

Awards and past events you've been involved in are fun and entertaining, but I'd lose those. Weed out anything that isn't essential to keep the blog clean and easy to read. You could always make a page for "fun stuff" and put them all there.

What I really like about your blog is the organization related to the reviews themselves.You make it easy for people to ask for a review and you are really consistent and detailed in the information you provide in your reviews. Since this is what your site is all about, this is great. 

I know you mentioned increasing traffic to your blog in your email to me. The first step is to really make your site unified and up to the next level of professionalism. Then I'd suggest doing some blog tours to get the word out about your site. Do you let authors know when you've reviewed their books? Do you invite them to share your reviews? These might be some areas you could buff up. Great reviews should earn you some shares if you properly get the word out. Hope that's helpful. Shoot me an email if you have more questions regarding this.

Anything from you folks? How do you suggest driving traffic to Kid Lit Reviews?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Forged By Greed Cover Reveal

I'm very pleased to be part of a Cover Reveal today for Angela Orlowski-Peart's Forged by Greed. You YA fantasy lovers are going to adore this one. Here is the exciting cover:

The cover art was designed by Jeannie Ruesch  
And here's more about Forged by Greed:

Their choice had been taken away long before they were born. 

Two Seattle 16-year-old Shape Shifters, Jatred and Jasmira, are torn between following their hearts and protecting the order of the world.

The ancient Shape Shifter Races—the Winter wolves and the Summer leopards—exist on Earth, living among humans and perfectly fitting into modern life. Their secret societies are organized, each united by their own laws and traditions.

Two Goddesses, Crystal and Amber command their respective Races. One is on a quest to tilt the scale of power to her side. The other will never let it happen, even if it means sacrificing Jatred and Jasmira’s love.

The Amulet commissioned to bring stability into the world remains hidden and concealed with the help of advanced technology. Jatred is the guardian of the Amulet and key to the Goddesses’ conflict.

The forces of nature are disrupted. Earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions rake the world. The Goddesses go to war and summon all their Shifters to join in the conflict. Jatred and Jasmira fight not only for their star-crossed love but to protect the future of both Races and humankind.

Angela Orlowski-Peart was born and raised in Poland. She describes herself as European born, American by choice. She was just seven-years-old when she decided to learn English to translate her favorite Polish fairytales.

Angela is a Young Adult and Adult fiction writer. She completed her first YA paranormal romance novel, Forged by Greed, which is scheduled for publication on September 20, 2012. This is the first book in The Forged Series. Angela writes in multiple genres, including paranormal, fantasy, urban fiction, sci-fi, and short stories. She is a member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Western Washington Chapter (, and several authors’ and readers’ networking groups on Linkedin and Goodreads.

Angela loves reading good books almost as much as writing them. She can’t decide which is her favorite season—summer or fall. She speaks with Polish accent, but loves listening to the Southern drawl. 

She is passionate about watercolor painting, fashion—especially stilettos, rock climbing, environment, and organic food and gardening. She lives in the Seattle area with her husband, two children, and a very independent and chronically curious cat.

Angela can be found around the web:
her website

The wolf stood under the trees, several yards from the fence. His eyes were fixed on the stone statues. He growled and took a few slow steps back. Then he sprang forward and ran full speed toward the gate. His upper lip drew back, showing sharp, long canines. He jumped over the spikes of the fence, his belly inches away from the pointed iron finials. The wolf landed on the other side and left large paw prints on the freshly mowed grass. He lost his balance but regained it momentarily.

He heard her footsteps even before he heard her voice.

“Jatred!” From the house Jasmira ran toward him. Her long curly hair billowed behind her. “J, you made it. You made it.”

The wolf whimpered and trotted forward to meet her. Without slowing down, she threw herself onto him. Her hands grabbed his thick fur. His body was massive, and Jasmira looked like a child hugging an uncommonly large dog. The air around them pulsed and shivered. Jatred shifted into his human form and fell onto his back. Jasmira sprawled on top of him. Holding his face in her hands, she kissed him. His face broke into a broad smile.

Forged by Greed will be released on September 20, 2012. The second book in the series (untitled) is scheduled for publication in summer 2013.

Visit Angela on her website ( and on her Author Goodreads page ( to read more excerpts from Forged by Greed and to learn about upcoming giveaways and other events. Add Forged by Greed to your To-Be-Read list on Goodreads. Check back on September 20th for the buy links and the book blog tours information.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Blog Critique: Celestial Prescriptions

In this series I give constructive feedback about the look and function of an author blog from a marketing perspective. As always, I rely on help from graphic designers Tom Barnes (my hubby) and Joe LaRue. To review the blog elements we look at or to submit your own blog for critique, go here.

I'm posting late today so let's just jump right in. Today's blog comes from Celeste Vaughn at Celestial Prescriptions. Not a writer blog today, but there's lots we can learn from her. Head over and return below.

Celeste, you have done a really great job at creating a total package product. The name of your blog ties in to your name plus your job plus what you do on your blog plus the Christian aspect. Awesome. And your blog header is unique and has a distinct color palette. All good.

As for suggestions to improve, let me first start with Joe, our graphic designer. He (and I) feel that your body font is a little too big. You also need sidebar separation - a different color on the sidebar or a line separation would be good. 

Now, I'm not all about fonts like the designers, but Joe suggests not using the Zaph Chancery font in all caps for your date and other headers. It's meant to be a font that is only used for the first letter of a page because all the letters run into each other. You might like the look, but it's not really clean and can be hard to read.

You have a nice palette, as I said before. But you can go further.There are two different blues in your header - did you know you used two different? They are only slightly different. Joe suggests increasing the difference and playing with that more. You could also add another color to the palette and play with that through your blog.

I love the layout of your navigation tabs across the top. And the topics themselves are great. For the sidebar, though, I would place your profile at the top so people can see who you are first thing.  The twitter bird by himself is cute, but you already have a twitter link smaller with facebook and email and all that. I'd stick with that to clean things up. I think you should move your "Follow this blog" up higher. People have to search too long before finding it. I also prefer having less in your sidebar. I think it's too long, but so are your posts. I say 5 posts on a page at most and your sidebar should not be longer than that. Are there things you feel you could cut or put on another page?

Overall, I think you do an excellent job of having your blog speak your message. I'm glad to read that your health is better and your sharing of your story is very inspiring. Thanks for being a victim and God bless!

Any other thoughts to add, readers?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Blog Critique: Mina Lobo

In this series I give constructive feedback about the look and function of an author blog from a marketing perspective. As always, I rely on help from graphic designers Tom Barnes (my hubby) and Joe LaRue. To review the blog elements we look at or to submit your own blog for critique, go here.

Two critiques this week. Because I love you. Not at all because I slacked off last week. Nope. Nosiree.

And the critique today? You're gonna love it. I mean, seriously, because Mina Lobo is pretty entertaining. Visit her and meet below.

Mina, I adore you. Very much. Your posts are awesome, your personality exudes. You got greatness. And, for as few followers as you have, you get a lot of comments, which is a sign that you are good at engaging your readers. That's awesome. 

There are many elements you have that work for your blog: I like that you have pages for your important stuff, your name is in your header, your profile is nice and high, we know who you are, you're easy to follow, you use labels, you tell us when you blog, you use colors consistently.Yeah, lots of awesome.

But now I'm going to get all critiquey on you and tell you what I'd do differently:
  • Colors - You think I'm going to get all grouchy about your color scheme, but I'm not. It fits what you're about. But Joe suggests that you pull some of that really light purple from your background and add it to your posts to round out your palette. Use it to replace the white - it will be easier on the eyes.
  • Your font needs some variation. Especially in your posts. It's awfully big and, again, hard on the eyes.
  • I love that you have pages, but it drives me crazy that one of the page links sits on the next line of your navigation bar. Can you shorten one of the titles so they fit on one line?
  • I wish you had Link Within. I want to read through lots of your posts and it would be a great way to do it. Also, it would add some nice color without having to change your palette.
  • I like that you only have a few posts on a page, otherwise it can take forever to load. But I don't like that your sidebar goes on a long time past your posts. I'd cut some of the unessential stuff off the side.
  • Hmm, I totally thought I had more, but I guess I don't. 
Do you all have advice for Mina? Or kudos for her? Read some of her posts. She's truly entertaining.

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